Dr. Jamie L. Bennett has a decade of experience in direct practice, training, and consulting for organizations who aim to improve outcomes for young adults leaving foster care. She holds a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Social Work and Doctorate of Education. Jamie's research agenda focuses on coaching methods for college support staff working with students from foster care. Jamie is the Executive Director of Cetera, a non-profit in St. Petersburg, FL that aims to increase educational and housing support for young adults leaving foster care in the Tampa Bay region, and serves as the lead youth engagement partner for the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. Jamie is also the Senior Trainer for the Fostering Success Coach Training and participated in the launch of the Seita Scholars Program at Western Michigan University. Jamie has coached dozens of college students from foster care and led the Fostering Success Coach Training, developing curriculum and providing training to hundreds of education and child welfare professionals working with students from foster care in several states. As an alumna of the foster care system, Jamie is passionate about practice and programming that improves holistic outcomes for young adults who have experience in foster care.
JAMIE L. BENNETT, EdD, LMSW, ACC
Executive Director, Cetera
Owner, JLB Training and Consulting
Senior Trainer, Fostering Success Coach Training
SARA I. GAMEZ, EdD
Director for Student Support & Equity Program
Cal Poly Pomona
Dr. Sara I. Gamez is an immigrant, with lived-experience in foster care, and a first-generation college graduate. She has spent over 16 years of her career in educational helping roles assisting students who are first-generation, low-income, homeless, and those who have experienced foster care to access resources, empower themselves through education, and to graduate from college.
Dr. Gamez currently serves as the Director for Student Support & Equity Programs at Cal Poly Pomona, assisting to oversee the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Renaissance Scholars (RS) foster youth support program, and the Undocumented Students Services. She has served as an educational counselor, program coordinator and Director of two foster youth support programs at the university level where she developed and provided critical support services and programming to increase the retention and graduation rates of young people with experience in foster care. Additionally, Dr. Gamez has led campus wide, regional and national efforts. She led and organized the efforts on her campus to address student food and housing insecurity through the development of what is now known as the Broncos Care - Basic Needs Initiative. Regionally she provides leadership and advocacy serving as the chair for the Southern California Higher Education Foster Youth Consortium, where Student Affairs professionals across Southern California gather to share best practices and create a network of support for campus representatives engaged in serving foster youth students on college campuses. Nationally she has served as co-chair for the Community on Homelessness and Foster Care, under the Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education Knowledge Community (SCIHE-KC) within NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. In recognition of Dr. Gamez's dedication and commitment to improving the lives of foster youth in higher educations and her contributions to the field, she was recognized by John Burton Advocates for Youth as the 2017 College Hero, and most recently recognized by NASPA's SCIHE-KC as the 2021 Outstanding Professional.
Dr. Gamez’s research interests are primarily on the experiences of foster youth in college. Her dissertation research was titled Moving in, moving through, and moving out: The transitional experiences of foster youth college students. She also wrote an insightful blog titled College foster youth, family privilege and the holidays through NASPA, and has a book chapter forthcoming titled Fostering Success: Supporting College-Going Foster Youth on Campus.
Dr. Gamez holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Cal Poly Pomona, a Master of Science in Educational Counseling from the University of La Verne, and an Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership from California State University, Long Beach.
Angela E. Hoffman-Cooper, PhD Candidate is an advocate, educator, and scholar. Aging out of foster care fueled her determination and her life's work supporting youth with experience in foster care in their pursuit of education. Angela has over 15 years experience working in a number of higher education and non-profit professional development, education assessment, and research association settings. She has experience designing and implementing campus-based support programs for students with experience in foster care and developed a student-centered faculty-scholar mentor program. Angela has also advised students and instructed courses on human-centered design thinking, psychology, sociology, sexuality and gender.
As a scholar-practitioner, Angela positions her research as a form of advocacy and partners with youth with experience in foster care. She received her bachelor's degree in Psychology with minors in Spanish and Social and Behavioral Studies from Michigan Technological University and her master's in Educational Leadership and Policy with an emphasis in Student Affairs Administration from the University of Utah. Her master's thesis is titled From Foster Care to College: The Role of Student Affairs Practitioners in Addressing the Challenges Foster Youth Face in Accessing Higher Education. She has continued her studies and is a PhD Candidate in the Higher Education Leadership Program at Colorado State University. Her dissertation research explores the identity development of people with experience in foster care. Angela currently serves as the Director of Admissions at Montana Technological University and continues to present on promising practices, serve as a Foster Scholar consultant on research and evaluation projects, and facilitates youth empowerment workshops.
ANGELA E HOFFMAN-COOPER, PhD Candidate
Director of Admissions
Montana Technological University
Foster Scholar Consultant
More About Angela: AngelaHoffmanCooper.com
KIZZY LOPEZ, EdD
Interim Associate Dean, Graduate & Professional Studies
Assistant Professor, Social Work
Fresno Pacific University
Research and Evaluation Consultant
Dr. Kizzy Lopez has 17 years of experience in higher education in academic and student affairs as a champion for educational equity for underserved students, particularly those who have experienced foster care or homelessness. Dr. Lopez currently serves as Interim Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences and Graduate and Professional Studies. She is also an Assistant Professor in Social Work at Fresno Pacific University.
As a practitioner, Dr. Lopez led the effort to create a campus-based program for foster and homeless youth at Fresno State known as the Renaissance Scholars Program (RSP) and for Promise Scholars at Fresno Pacific University. These programs are designed to increase college access and graduation rates for foster and unaccompanied youth attending the university.
As a scholar, Dr. Lopez’s areas of interest and research on issues related to educational equity, experiences of students with foster care backgrounds in post secondary, family privilege, foster and race. She is a TEDx speaker on the topic, The Trauma of Being Black in Foster Care. Dr. Lopez has co-authored several publications focused on strategies to support college-going foster youth. She has been recognized for her contributions to equity and advocacy and received several awards such as Heroes Unmasked Award, Fresno’s Black Magical Woman, Rosa Parks Award, Child Advocacy Award, and Diversity and Social Justice Advocate Award. Dr. Lopez earned a doctorate in higher education leadership from Azusa Pacific University and her master’s degree in Educational Counselor (emphasis in K-12) and bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from National University.
MOLLY SARUBBI, PhD
More About Molly:
Dr. Molly Sarubbi earned her Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Denver and her M.A. in higher education and student affairs from the University of Rochester. Her diverse experiences as a scholar-practitioner has afforded her over 15 years of nonprofit management expertise and multiple leadership roles in student affairs, teaching, education policy and advocacy.
Her current academic research focuses on education outcomes for traditionally marginalized populations. Specifically, she addresses educational pathways for foster care alumni and the resulting imperatives for higher education policy and practice. She has presented her research and counsel at various local, national, and international presentations and authored multiple publications calling for interdisciplinary and transformative policies and programs for foster care alumni. Additionally she has served in multiple teaching and research endeavors focusing on equity and access in higher education and qualitative research methods. Molly also serves in multiple advocacy, outreach, and consulting roles regarding personal and educational supports for youth currently in care and foster care alumni and has served as a CASA Advocate for the last 12 years.
Molly believes in the power of integrative education policy to positively impact equitable outcomes for students and communities at scale. As a Policy Researcher, Dr. Sarubbi has engaged in state-level education policy serving leaders in all 50 states through reports and counsel regarding foster care alumni degree attainment and a variety of other P20 and workforce development policy issues. Currently, Dr. Sarubbi serves as a Project Director at Sova.