annie blackledge

Dear Friends and Allies,

Our annual Youth Leadership Summit happened a few weeks ago, and I’m still buzzing with the excitement of what is possible when young people are truly engaged as partners and leaders. You will hear much in the pages of this issue that pertains to the youth chapter recommendations and the Summit itself, so I would like to share with you another peek behind the curtain to the months, weeks and days leading up to the Summit.

At the Summit we all see confident, passionate young leaders and their thoughtfully crafted proposals. In my first eight months with The Mockingbird Society I have had the opportunity to spend time with many of our chapter members from across the state as they discuss, research, and refine their proposals and practice their presentations. But this is only part of what is happening in our local chapters.

In addition to their hard work, I have also been privileged to witness the development of community, personal transformations, and the impact that meaningful youth engagement has on individual young people.

I have seen chapter members create shared community with one another that exists beyond the development of their policy and practice issues as they come together to create positive change in the world, to make meaning out of their shared experiences, and to share their triumphs and struggles. I’ve watched as they embrace, encourage, and support one another. This is true not only with individual chapters but across chapters, too. Nowhere was this more evident than the attention, support, and acknowledgement they gave to one another from the audience as each chapter presented at Summit.

During my time at Mockingbird, I have met young people attending their first chapter meetings, not knowing anyone, hesitant to engage. These same young people emerge only months later as leaders in the issue development process. I have seen young people begin to see themselves differently and begin to chart a future for themselves. There is power in youth engagement that runs deeper than any one event can ever convey.

I want to thank our Summit sponsors, the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Foster Care, the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs Advisory Committee, our staff and board, the issue development advisors, and the many guests who attended the Summit. But most of all, I want to thank the young people for standing up, sharing their stories, and proposing solutions to some of the most persistent barriers they face.

If you were not able to witness the power of the Youth Leadership Summit, I invite you to join us for our annual luncheon on September 29th, where you will have an opportunity to hear directly from some of our youth while supporting the work we do to improve foster care and end youth homelessness.


annie blackledge sig

Annie Blackledge
Executive Director

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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.