Regional Coordinator

Yolonda Washburn Smith

Yolanda was born in Rhode Island and raised in a single-parent household. Her mother struggled to provide for her, and at age fourteen, Yolanda was placed in the foster care system. 

Yolanda found herself becoming a mother as a teenager, and being pregnant in high school added another layer of difficulty. As she aged out of the foster care system, Yolanda was forced to balance caring for her son, finishing high school, and earning enough money for basic necessities. 

Shortly after aging out, Yolanda began working as an intern at one of her former group homes, helping provide young mothers like herself with education in care and resources. Yolanda’s job helped her realize the need for former foster youth to get involved with the system. “Who better to help change the child welfare system than those who grew up in it?” she asks. 

Yolanda graduated from high school and went from intern to full-time employee. Later, she earned her Associate’s degree from the Community College of Rhode Island. The day after graduation, she traveled to Washington, DC, as a Delegate for the 7th Annual Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day. 

“I spent a morning discussing my ideas with Congressman Jim Langevin, who is also from Rhode Island. Being able to discuss ways to improve the child welfare system with a Member of Congress was empowering and inspiring,” she said. 

Yolanda recently earned her B.A. in Psychology and is currently a Staff Consultant at the National Foster Youth Institute, an Educational Specialist for youth in foster care, and the Founder of Beyond Measurement. Yolonda resides in Rhode Island with her husband and four sons Kiel, Yahmair, Kenaz, and Kingston.

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