Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jenny Konrath, 2013 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader

Foster Care Experience
Jenny Konrath entered foster care at age four, in Chicago, Illinois. At age eight, she was moved to Dayton, Ohio, to live with her aunt, as part of an official interstate foster care placement. One of many things that Jenny takes seriously, and is eager to advocate about is what it's like for foster care youth to be caught in the limbo of dual state custody.

Jenny Konrath serves a volunteer in the following capacities:
  • 2013 Acting Media Spokesperson of OHIO Youth Advisory Board
  • Lead Youth Representative on Ohio's statewide Transitional Housing Task Force.
  • Montgomery County VISION Board member
  •  Selected member of Law and Leadership in Dayton, Ohio 
  • Member of UCREW, addressing social needs through the development of social enterprise
Jenny believes in making a difference in the world, by taking action. One area in which she hopes to make a difference is the foster care system. Her advocacy efforts include focusing on achieving equal opportunities for interstate youth who are a part of the foster care system. Jenny is also very passionate about youth who have the option to live with family members. Her own placement with her aunt provided Jennifer with the opportunity to reunite with her younger brother.

Jenny has presented as a youth panelist during the NILA Conference, the Ohio CASA conference, and at local workforce development meetings.

As the only Youth Representative on Ohio's statewide Transitional Housing Task Force, Jenny took the initiative to design a Youth Survey, and to reach out to youth all over the state to invite their insights. This was all Jenny's idea. She scheduled phone calls with young people representing multiple regions of the state, throughout Ohio. This is because when Jenny shared insights on the Statewide Task Force, she wanted to represent the Collective Voice of young people in and from foster care throughout Ohio.

Jenny stands out -- clear and simple. If you give her a task, she gets it done. If you provide her with an opportunity, she makes the very most of that opportunity. If you give her a chance to speak on behalf of foster care youth, she always focuses on the Collective Voice and not just her own.

That's rare. That's exceptional. That's important. From the moment that Jenny entered the advocacy arena, she has been focused on the Big Picture. From the time she took her first statistics class, she has been on the lookout for ways for foster care youth throughout Ohio to share their voice.

Awards / Achievements
In March 2013, Jenny Konrath was chosen, in a statewide competitive process, to participate in Three Days On the Hill. After DC-based training and preparation hosted by CCAI and the Office of Representative Karen Bass, Jenny and 11 other Ohio foster care youth met with:
  • Representative Pat Tiberi 
  • Representative Mike Turner 
  • House Speaker John Boehner 
  • Becky Shipp, Health Policy Advisor to the Senate Finance Committee 
  • Senator Rob Portman 
In May 2013, Jenny participated in Congressional Youth Shadow Day, and was paired with Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, representing Ohio's 11th District. Participating youth accompanied their Members of Congress to hearings, meetings, floor votes, and other activities throughout the morning. These young people had the opportunity to share their stories with Members of Congress and discuss reforms to the foster care system.

Future Goals
Jenny is currently in the process of submitting her application to several colleges and universities. She is thoughtful, articulate and detail-oriented. Her decisions in terms of higher education and her future career will be practical and knowledge-based. And, whether in a paid or volunteer role, her future efforts will include a focus on improving long-term outcomes for young people in and from the foster care system.

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