MEET THE Foster SCHOLARS

 
 
 
 
 

JAMIE L. BENNETT, LMSW, ACC

she/her/hers

Owner, JLB Training & Consulting

Senior Fellow, Case Commons

Senior Trainer, Fostering Success Coach Training, Western Michigan University

President, Cetera, Inc.

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, a clinical license in social work, and a coaching certification through the International Coach Federation. Jamie is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Program Development and Educational Innovation from the University of South Florida, with a research agenda focusing on coaching methods for college support staff working with students from foster care. Jamie is a Senior Fellow with Case Commons, supporting youth engagements efforts within the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, and is also the Senior Trainer for the Fostering Success Coach Training. She 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. Jamie is the co-founder and President of Cetera, Inc., 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. As an alumna of the foster care system, Jamie is passionate about improving outcomes for young adults who have experience in the system. 

SARA I. GAMEZ, EdD

she/her/hers

Associate 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 15 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 Associate 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 Veterans Resource Center.  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 serves as co-chair for the Community on Homelessness and Foster Care, under the Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education Knowledge Community within NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. 

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, MEd

she/her/hers

Director, Professional Development, ACPA - College Student Educators International

Instructor - Human-Centered Design Thinking & Honors Pathway Advisor, Pavlis Honors College, Michigan Technological University

More About Angela: AngelaHoffmanCooper.com

Angela E. Hoffman-Cooper 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 experience working in a number of higher education setting including: campus housing, critical incidents and case management, admissions, orientation, and student success initiatives.  In these roles, Angela worked with campus-based support programs for students with experience in foster care and developed a number of student-centered programs and resources including a curriculum of workshops, community building events, and a faculty-scholar mentor program. She has presented on promising practices at a number of regional and national conferences and has led youth empowerment workshops.

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 third year doctoral student in the Higher Education Leadership PhD Program at Colorado State University, focusing her research on the identity development of students with experience in foster care. 

Currently Angela serves as the Director of Professional Development at ACPA - College Student Educators International, coordinating over 10 annual professional development institutes for higher education practitioners, and the ACPA Annual Convention for over 2,000 attendees. Angela also teaches as an adjunct instructor at Michigan Technological University on human-centered design thinking and is an Honors Pathway Advisor for the Pavlis Honors College. 

KIZZY LOPEZ, EdD

she/her/hers

Assistant Professor in Social Work
Fresno Pacific University 

More About Kizzy: https://www.fresno.edu/person/25891/kizzy-lopez-edd

Dr. Kizzy Lopez has worked in higher education for 13 years 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 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). This program was designed to increase college access and graduation rates for foster and homeless youth attending the university. Dr. Lopez was the founding coordinator and served in this role for 10 years. During that time, she served over 200 students, developed innovative services and practices that increased student retention and graduation rates.  

 

As a scholar, Dr. Lopez is a speaker on educational equity, foster care, and race. She is a TEDx speaker on the topic, The Trauma of Being Black in Foster Care. Dr. Lopez has co-authored publications focused on strategies to support college-going foster youth, including Transitional-Age Foster Youth: Getting Them Into and Through College and forthcoming Fostering Success: Supporting College-Going Foster Youth on Campus. She has been previously recognized for her contributions and received Fresno Black Magical Woman, Fresno’s Heroes Unmasked Award, 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

she/her/hers

Senior Project Manager
Education Commission of the States 

More About Molly: https://www.ecs.org/about-us/staff-list/staff-profile/?smid=19322

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 Senior Project Manager at the Education Commission of the States (ECS) leading the SSTF national network of partner organizations providing technical assistance for systems and institutions to drive equity outcomes at scale.

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