annie blackledge

Dear Friends and Allies,

It is my great privilege to write my first Mockingbird Times letter from the editor. These past six weeks have held many inspiring firsts for me. I have had the honor of stepping into the role of Executive Director and getting to know many of the incredible people who make our work at The Mockingbird Society possible, including staff, board members, youth advocates from across the state, foster parents, and many of our partners and supporters. I have also had the opportunity to dive into our advocacy agenda, and participate in our Youth Advocacy Day in Olympia. My dream job is off to a fantastic start.

As an alumna of the foster care system and as the new Executive Director, I must acknowledge how grateful I am to our founder, Jim Theofelis, for making The Mockingbird Society a reality and for his support as I transition into this new role. It was his vision and dedication that created the HOPE Act, providing foster youth and young people experiencing homelessness with the additional supports and services they need to make successful transitions to adulthood. His strong belief in the importance of true youth/adult partnerships and the ability of young people to be active agents of change is an enduring legacy at Mockingbird, and is a value I hold close to my heart. Both he and Laura Pierce, our interim Executive Director, have made my transition smooth, providing support and counsel and leaving the gift of a strong organization well positioned to take on the opportunities and challenges the future holds.

I started this role during a very busy time for Mockingbird with the start of the 2016 legislative session. For others in my position this could have been a challenging start to a new situation, but given the expertise of TMS staff, Board, youth advocates, and Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) foster parents, I have been able to “hit the ground running.” Our 2016 Youth Advocacy Day in Olympia was the largest yet with over 340 people in attendance. This is a 28% increase in participation, enabling us to conduct over 35 legislative meetings in one day. In partnership with our supporters and allies we continue to advocate and educate for our legislative priorities: fulfilling the promise of HOPE beds and Street Youth Services; ensuring that youth experiencing homelessness are seen and counted so we can strategically plan to prevent and end youth homelessness; and requesting a formal evaluation of the MFM so we can have the data needed to inform policy makers about its effectiveness. From the outside, the work of TMS can appear effortless, but I can share with you now from an insider’s point of view that our work is the result of the tireless dedication of Mockingbird staff and youth advocates.

TMS is an exemplar of the Margret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I am proud to be a part of such an amazing organization, and I am looking forward to the work ahead as we continue to improve the foster care system and work towards ending youth homelessness in Washington state. It is my deep belief that together we can change the world.Sincerely,

annie blackledge sig

Annie Blackledge
Executive Director

<< go to March 2016 Mockingbird Times



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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.