3rd Annual NFYI Virtual 5K Race Ambassador Recap

The 2023 Virtual NFYI 5K race weekend is officially in the books! We appreciate your support! It was an astounding success thanks to you. To date we’ve raised $13,850.47 with participants from coast to coast! We are excited to be close to our fundraising goal of $20,000 for the #FosterYouth5K. If you’d still like to make a donation please visit our site.

From October 6-8, National Foster Youth Institute supporters, members, staff/board members and former/current foster youth from around the country walked, rolled, strolled or ran five kilometers to support positive transformation of the child welfare system through the work NFYI does year round.

This year we also debuted our inaugural class of race ambassadors to uplift and amplify #FosterYouthVoices. These ambassadors are all lived experience experts as former foster youth from around the country who advocate each and every day to improve the child welfare system.

Meet our 2023 #NFYI5K Race Ambassadors

Mayda Berrios, MSW

Title: Lived Experience Leader

Organization: FosterClub

Mayda Berrios is a rising social worker and youth advocate, dedicated to creating positive change in her community. Berrios is a recent graduate of Delaware State University. She graduated in May of this year with a Masters in Social Work, having previously graduated

Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work in May 2022. As a Lived Experience Leader with FosterClub, the national network for youth in foster care, Berrios has collaborated with staff to deliver orientation and training to All-Star Interns, & develop SPARK Curriculum focused on team building and connection within the foster care system. Outside of her work, Berrios is active in various extracurricular activities and organizations, including Delaware’s Youth Advisory Council for Foster Youth.

2. Natalie Clark
Title: Lived Experience Leader
Organization: National Foster Care Alumni Network FosterClub

Natalie Clark spent six years in and out of Utah’s foster care system between two journeys through the system from the age 3 to when she was 17-years-old. Clarks’s dedication to advocacy began in 2015 when she became a peer mentor with Salt Lake County Youth Services. Clark most recently left her position as the first Lived Experience Transition to Adult Living (TAL) program through Utah’s Department of Child and Family Services to begin as an MSW Intern Therapist with Salt Lake County Youth Services where her journey first began. Currently, Natalie is a Co-founder of the 1999 Collective; a Utah organization built by young adults with lived experience to fill the gaps supporting foster alumni. Her extensive involvement in local and national advocacy aims to enhance and inform state foster care systems through the lens of lived expertise. Her life mission is to empower young people with lived experiences in their pivotal role of reshaping the child welfare system for future generations.

“It’s not about what you go through in life, nor necessarily how you make it through so much as about how you help others get through what you made it through” – Natalie

3. Mikey Doucet
Title: New Home Specialist
Organization: Cretin Townsend Homes in SELA

In August of 1996, Mikey Doucet and his brother were placed in their first foster home, and his sisters placed in another foster home. Things did not last long in his first home as he was separated from his brother and placed in another foster home with new foster brothers and foster parents. On November 14, 1997 he got placed in guardianship/custody with his grandfather and his wife in Dry Creek, La. He believes this was one of the happiest moments of his childhood. In 2002 he was placed with “friends of the family.” His grandfather and his wife petitioned the court to have him placed with this family but the court denied the transfer of care to that family in September 2003. He became a “couch surfer.” He believes he “aged out” after moving around from home to home from 2003-2006 until he lived with another relative who happened to be the greatest savior of them all. He graduated in 2014 with his now wife.

“I currently feel led to speak about what has happened to me not just for the awareness but for the hope that other foster youth may not have to experience the same path of malicious intent that went unknown by the “system.” – Mikey Doucet

4. Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH
Title: Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships
Organization: Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Daniel Hatcher is the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation where he has served since 2008. Adopted as an infant, Hatcher is passionate about high-quality early learning experiences to help prepare foster youth for success. He is committed to supporting educators in creating inclusive environments where all children feel love and joy. A nationally recognized workshop facilitator, Hatcher has spoken at education and youth development conferences in over 35 states and Canada. Hatcher has a BA in International Relations and a Master of Public Health, both from Western Kentucky University. In 2022, he was certified in Mental Health First Aid and became a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide.

5. Eugenia Doreen Wallace
Title: Miss Black Missouri USA 2024
Platform: Dream Big

Eugenia Doreen Wallace is a former foster youth turned advocate, who is inspiring the next generation of trailblazers. Her platform “Dream Big” is teaching at-risk youth in foster care the importance of education and leadership development. She facilitates workshops teaching youth about college readiness, leadership development, and navigating the foster care system. With over 10 years in the foster care system, Wallace is teaching foster youth, families, and agencies how to overcome adversity and dream big! As the reigning Miss Black Missouri USA 2024, she is using her voice, her story, and her expertise to empower the generation of trailblazers.

Coming Up: Ways to Keep Involved with NFYI

This October is National Youth Justice Action Month and NFYI will be relaunching the “Lost Days to Juvenile Justice” campaign to stop the foster care-to-prison pipeline that continues to cripple current and former foster youth from pursuing healthy lives and prosperous careers. #LostDaysJJ