Please join us in welcoming Scarlett Aldebot-Green as she embarks on her first weeks as Amara’s Chief Executive Officer. Scarlett is a former Amara foster parent and an accomplished community leader. She has held leadership roles at the University of Washington Center for Human Rights and at New America. She holds a J.D. and a Ph.D. Scarlett shares some of her thoughts about Amara in our 100th year, child welfare and family wellbeing, and her role as a mother and an advocate.
What excites you most about Amara?
There is so much that excites me about Amara! The last 18 months have been an exhausting and challenging time globally. For those who began the COVID-19 pandemic in a position of relative vulnerability, the past 18 months have been devastating. The impacts of economic hardship, the strain on families, illness, and access to supports but it’s offered us an invaluable lesson about what truly matters, to embrace every moment as a chance for real connection with the people you love, to continue to stand up for the rights of and speak out with BIPOC communities who face deep injustice, and to care for one another with love and respect. At our core, this is what Amara is about: facilitating and supporting relationships and authentic connections for the wellbeing of kids and families experiencing foster care, and for adoptees and their families, with a focus on the lives, experiences, and rights of Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA+ children and families.
I am honored to lead Amara into this next stage of its organizational life. This year, Amara celebrates 100 years of working to change the world for the better with kids, adults, and families experiencing foster care and adoption. And, as a mother of two young children and a former Amara foster parent, I want to express my appreciation for this extraordinary achievement. I hope that each of us, whether we’ve been a part of the Amara family for a day, a year, or for decades, know we play a crucial role in creating positive, long-lasting change for kids and families. There is so much more to do. I invite everyone reading this to join our community of supporters, clients, volunteers, and partners as we head into this next exciting phase.
One of the things I’m most excited about is the innovation that lives in Amara’s DNA. We are an organization that embraces a bold vision to ensure that all people in our community, regardless of circumstance, have the opportunity to thrive. But we can’t do that alone. In the last 12 months, Amara has created new mission and vision statements that center positive long-term outcomes for kids and families, by prioritizing those who have historically been and continue to be marginalized, along with a strategic plan rooted in racial and LGBTQIA+ equity — all of which was led and informed by our community. We were awarded funding from the Pierce County Council to dive into the master planning phase for our “Re-envisioning Child Welfare” project in Pierce County that seeks to bring together resources, partners, and supports for children and families to prevent family separation, promote family reunification, and improve the life-long well-being of kids. Also, this year the University of Washington’s Alliance for Excellence in Child Welfare and Amara entered a critically important partnership to support kinship caregivers, LGBTQIA+ foster parents and kinship caregivers through the Amara CaRES Program. And, truly, this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Amara has been able to do in partnership with all of you, over the last year.
Finally, I am excited to meet you! If you haven’t yet, please consider joining us on Friday, October 15th at 6:30 pm for Together We Thrive, our virtual fundraising event. It’s an opportunity to honor where we’ve been and to look to the future of creating a better world with kids and families (and to have some fun as well!). If you can’t make it, or even if you can, please sign up to meet me at one of our Meet and Greet sessions this month where I look forward to listening to your thoughts and ideas on how to create a more human-centered child and family wellbeing system.
What does it mean, to you, to be a leader?
When I think of being a leader, I think about the fact that I truly am the least important person connected to this organization. At the forefront are the families and children we support. Second, and closely linked, are our staff whose jobs it is to support the wellbeing of the families and of the children we hold during some of the most difficult times in their lives. Our staff work every day to be a resource and create trauma-informed environments, foster connections, and support healing. Incredibly important, too, are our staff that work on system change, those who work on the sustainability of our organization, and our many, many stakeholders who are committed community members who care deeply about kids and families impacted by foster care: donors, our dedicated Board members, our Advisory Councils, mission-aligned partner organizations, and our community writ-large.
When I think of leadership, and particularly leadership at Amara, I think humility. I see my role as a convener and aligner of the ideas and vision that percolate from the many touched by our organization for over 100 years. To hold the history of that love and care, however imperfect, as human things often are, and help us shape it into how we love and care in the future is an incredibly humbling task. When I think of being a leader, in this context, I think of ensuring that we keep at the forefront of everything we do, the crux of what we do – equitably foster healing for kids, adults, and families who have experienced foster care and/or adoption.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I think what I want to impress upon anyone reading this is that we have an unprecedented moment to look at how we create positive, long-lasting change for kids in foster care, parents whose kids are in foster care, caregivers (foster parents and kinship caregivers), adoptees and their families, while prioritizing equity. I truly look forward to doing this in partnership with this community!