Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Names Its 2022 Board Chair and Officers

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 10, 2022 – The Board of Directors of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) has named its officers for 2022: Susan Neely (Chair), Rita Lewis (Vice Chair), Brian Graff (Treasurer), and Susan Hirschmann (Secretary).

CCAI is grateful to its co-founder and outgoing Board Chair, the Honorable Mary Landrieu, for her commitment to CCAI and its belief that every child deserves a safe, stable, and nurturing family. While in the Senate, she led the charge with her Congressional Coalition on Adoption co-chairs to establish CCAI as a resource on adoption and foster care. Senator Landrieu has played an integral role in CCAI’s mission throughout its 20-year history, including the past three years as its Chair. CCAI is delighted she will remain a member of the Board of Directors and continue to support policies that make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families.

“It’s been my honor to serve with a terrific Board, advisory council, and very dedicated Members of Congress including my dear friends Senators Roy Blunt, Amy Klobuchar, and others these last three years as Chair,” said Senator Landrieu. “I look forward to serving on the Board in a different capacity and helping with the challenges ahead. CCAI’s mission of building solid bipartisan consensus and progress on the best family supports with this country’s child welfare policies remain an important goal for all of us.”

Susan Neely has served on the CCAI Board of Directors since 2016 and was the organization’s Vice Chair in 2021. Since September 2018, Ms. Neely has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Before joining ACLI, Ms. Neely led the American Beverage Association, where she helped companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola navigate the sugar wars by forging unlikely partnerships with President Clinton’s Global Initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. Before that, Ms. Neely was special assistant to President George W. Bush on the frontlines of creating the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, serving as the first DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. In addition to her work with CCAI, she is a director on the Board of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation. Ms. Neely is the mother of two adult children, Eve and Ben.

“I thank Senator Landrieu for her leadership as CCAI Chair and her tireless work in support of its mission,” said Ms. Neely. “For two decades, CCAI has worked with Members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle to help children in need of a nurturing and loving home. I am honored to be named Chair of CCAI and look forward to building on the organization’s efforts that have helped millions of children find a forever family.”

For 20 years, CCAI has been an established resource for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, the largest bicameral, bipartisan congressional member organization. CCAI works to engage Members of Congress on issues pertaining to children in need of permanency, domestic, and international child welfare, as well as to advocate for every child’s right to a safe, stable, and nurturing family. CCAI works to provide federal policymakers with the information and resources needed to make the dream of a forever family for every child a reality through its core programs, including the Congressional Resource Program, Angels in Adoption®, Foster Youth Internship Program®, and 20/20 Vision Program.

CCAI is governed by a Board of Directors whose members include Susan Neely, President and CEO of American Council of Life Insurers; Rita Lewis, President of RML Strategies; Brian Graff, CEO of American Retirement Association; Susan Hirschmann, CEO of Williams & Jensen; Kim Carver, Vice President Governmental Relations of Gulf Coast Bank; Kelly Gage, Director of Advancement of Nomi Network; Sarah Gesiriech, Principal of 127 Strategies and Former U.S. Government Special Advisor on Children in Adversity; The Honorable Mary Landrieu, Senior Policy Advisor at Van Ness Feldman and former U.S. Senator from Louisiana; Joyce Rogers, Vice President of U.S. Policy & Public Affairs at Pfizer; Rick Spielman, General Manager of the NFL Minnesota Vikings;  and Russell Sullivan, Shareholder of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and nurturing homes and to eliminate the legal, social, and financial barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

For more information or to learn about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit http://www.ccainstitute.org or contact info@ccainstitute.org or (202) 544-8500.

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Names Kate McLean Executive Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Board of Directors of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) announced that it has promoted Kate McLean to the position of Executive Director.

“We are so happy that Kate has agreed to step into this important leadership role with CCAI. She is passionate about our mission and brings a joyful and collaborative spirit to our work with Members of Congress and many strategic partners,” said Mary Landrieu, Chair of the Board of Directors. “The combination of Kate’s executive leadership and deep commitment to our mission makes her the ideal new Executive Director,” said Susan Neely, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. “With her strong engagement, CCAI has had an extraordinary year of impact. We look forward to continuing our progress with Kate at the helm.”

Kate has been at CCAI since 2017, first as an intern and then attaining a spot on the team as Policy & Programs Associate beginning in January 2018. Prior to being named Executive Director, Kate managed the organization’s outreach, development, and programming as Director of Programs where she supported the implementation of CCAI’s core programs and annual projects including the Foster Youth Internship Program®, Angels in Adoption®, and National Adoption Day.

As Managing Director and now Executive Director, Kate leads the organization in increasing CCAI’s visibility and impact among members of the adoption, foster care, and greater child welfare community; strengthening and diversifying the organization’s funding sources; and maintaining the strong relationship that exists between CCAI and Members of Congress.

Originally from New York, Kate has been a District of Columbia resident for almost eight years. She enjoys volunteering with CASA for Children of DC and has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate since 2019. Kate holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs with a concentration in conflict resolution and minor in Spanish from The George Washington University.

“Over the past four years, I have been honored to be able to grow with CCAI and I appreciate the board’s confidence in me to lead this important organization into our third decade,” Kate said. “I believe wholeheartedly that CCAI’s resilience and relevancy will continue to build as now, more than ever, we need a world in which every child knows the love and support of a family. I look forward to continuing my work with the caucus and CCAI community to identify and remove barriers for vulnerable children and families.”

For 20 years, CCAI has been an established resource for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, the largest bicameral, bipartisan congressional member organization. CCAI works to engage Members of Congress on issues pertaining to children in need of permanency, domestic, and international child welfare, as well as to advocate for every child’s right to a safe, stable, and nurturing family. CCAI works to provide federal policymakers with the information and resources needed to make the dream of a forever family for every child a reality through its core programs, including the Congressional Resource Program, Angels in Adoption®, Foster Youth Internship Program®, and 20/20 Vision Program.

CCAI is governed by a Board of Directors whose members include The Honorable Mary Landrieu, Senior Policy Advisor at Van Ness Feldman and former U.S. Senator from Louisiana; Susan Neely, President and CEO of American Council of Life Insurers; Brian Graff, CEO of American Retirement Association; Susan Hirschmann, CEO of Williams & Jensen; Kim Carver, Vice President Governmental Relations of Gulf Coast Bank; Kelly Gage, Director of Advancement of Nomi Network; Sarah Gesiriech, Principal of 127 Strategies and Former U.S. Government Special Advisor on Children in Adversity; Rita Lewis, President of RML Strategies; Joyce Rogers, Vice President of U.S. Policy & Public Affairs at Pfizer; Rick Spielman, General Manager of the NFL Minnesota Vikings;  and Russell Sullivan, Shareholder of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and nurturing homes and to eliminate the legal, social, and financial barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

For more information or to learn about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit http://www.ccainstitute.org or contact info@ccainstitute.org or (202) 544-8500.

Statement on Ma’Khia Bryant

The tragic shooting and death of Ma’Khia Bryant earlier this week in Columbus, Ohio, requires a full and complete investigation into the law enforcement response that night and the underlying foster care provided by the family. This tragedy could and should have been prevented and we, at CCAI, will continue our advocacy work here on Capitol Hill with our strategic partners across the country and world to fight for best practices in family support and stabilization and nurturing family based care for vulnerable children.

U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA-09) Named Adoption Caucus Co-Chair for the 117th Congress

For Immediate Release
Contact: Taylor Draddy
202-544-8500
taylor@ccainstitute.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2021 –The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), in partnership with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA), announced the newest CCA co-chair for the 117th Congress: U.S. Representative Adam Smith of Washington state.

The CCA is the largest bicameral, bipartisan congressional member organization and works to engage Members of Congress on issues pertaining to the needs of children and youth in the U.S. foster care system, adoptees, supporting and strengthening families, and strengthening domestic and international child welfare, as well as to advocate for every child’s right to a safe, stable, nurturing, and permanent family. The role of the CCA co-chairs is to lead and actively engage their colleagues in Congress and draft and support federal policies that help vulnerable children, youth, and families and strengthen child welfare systems.

Representative Smith was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and represents the 9th district of Washington. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. The Congressman previously served in the Washington State Senate and has a long history of being a strong advocate for children and families as an adoptee himself. He has led the efforts to close a loophole to provide U.S. citizenship to international adoptees brought to the U.S. as children but were never granted citizenship.

Representative Smith joins the CCA’s three current co-chairs: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama.

“I am proud to co-chair the Congressional Coalition on Adoption for the 117th Congress with Co-Chairs Amy Klobuchar, Roy Blunt, and Robert Aderholt,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “We must ensure we are providing support for our most vulnerable children, including orphaned and foster youth, and enacting policies that give children in need an opportunity to find permanent homes. I look forward to continuing the great work the coalition has done to raise awareness about issues related to orphans, youth in foster care, and adoptees.”

“I’m thrilled to welcome Representative Smith – a longtime advocate for children and families and an adoptee himself – as a co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption,” said Klobuchar. “I’m confident that together we’ll continue to advance policies that support families and children during the adoption process, helping to ensure all children have the safe, loving home they deserve.”

By joining the CCA, Members of Congress have the opportunity to participate in programs and events throughout the year that allow them to interact with vulnerable children and youth, the families that care for them, and subject matter experts to hear the stories of the challenges and opportunities they experience and to strengthen federal policy with this information.

“The Congressional Adoption Caucus is the largest bipartisan, bicameral caucus in the U.S. Congress for a reason. Ensuring that all children have a stable home and loving family is a bipartisan priority,” said Blunt. “I look forward to working with Congressman Smith and our fellow caucus co-chairs and members to continue our efforts to improve the adoption process, support families, and get us closer to our goal of seeing every child in the safe, permanent home they deserve.”

“Congressman Smith and I are both members of the Congressional Class of 1996,” said Congressman Robert Aderholt. “I’ve known him for a long time now, and he will make a great addition to our efforts to promote and support adoption – both domestic and international.”

The co-chairs and CCA are supported by CCAI, the non-profit institute dedicated to raising awareness about children in need of families both domestically and internationally and to eliminating the policy barriers that hinder children from having safe, nurturing, and forever families.

“CCAI is happy to have Congressman Smith is stepping into the role of co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption,” said CCAI’s Board of Directors Chair, The Honorable Mary Landrieu. “Amazing things can happen when Members choose to come together across party lines to elevate the needs of children, youth, and families. We are so grateful for Congressman Smith’s willingness to join the three other co-chairs of the CCA who work with their colleagues on behalf of vulnerable children.”

In the last 36 years, Members of the CCA have led Congress in the passage of legislation that has dramatically improved the lives of children and families including the “Family First Prevention and Services Act,” the “Adoption and Safe Families Act,” the “John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act,” the “Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act,” the “Hope for Children Act,” the “Intercountry Adoption Act,” the “Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act,” and the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.”

Today there are over 423,000 children in foster care, and nearly 123,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, waiting for families to call their own. Children living in orphanages globally are estimated conservatively at eight million, with unknown numbers living on the streets.

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (www.ccainstitute.org) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that serves as an objective, educational resource for information critical to advancing the efforts of federal policymakers on behalf of children in need of families. To learn more about CCAI, follow the organization on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

CONGRESS INCLUDES COVID-RELIEF FOR FOSTER YOUTH IN THE LATEST STIMULUS PACKAGE

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2020 – Last night, Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package which included the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R. 7947), introduced by Adoption Caucus member and Ways & Means Worker & Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Ranking Member Jackie Walorski (R-IN). This legislation addresses the many urgent and unique needs of vulnerable children and youth who encounter the U.S. foster care system by providing targeted and temporary relief during the pandemic.

Key provisions include:

  • Places a national moratorium on youth aging out of foster care during the pandemic;
  • Allows re-entry into foster care up to age 22;
  • Increases Chafee funds by $400 million to meet the urgent and unique needs;
  • Expands Chafee eligibility through age 26;
  • Increases Education & Training Vouchers (ETVs) from $5,000 to $12,000 per person per year;
  • Waives extended foster care work and school requirements; and
  • Lifts the 30% Chafee housing cap for youth who have aged out.

While the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) does not lobby for or against or endorse individual bills, we are very committed to bringing objective, accurate information to Members of Congress and their constituents on all issues related to federal foster care, adoption, and child welfare policy.

CCAI would like to thank Chairman Davis, Ranking Member Walorski, the bipartisan group of cosponsors, and child welfare advocates for championing this important relief for young people who have been hit hard by the pandemic. CCAI’s 2020 Foster Youth Internship Program® class met with these members this summer and shared their special COVID relief report and recommendations.

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the legal, social, and financial barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

For questions, please contact Taylor Draddy at 202-544-8500 or Taylor@ccainstitute.org. For more information or to learn more about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit www.ccainstitute.org or contact info@ccainstitute.org or (202) 544-8500.

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Celebrates 2020 Angels in Adoption® Honorees in a Virtual Gala

WASHINGTON, D.C. – [September 28, 2020] – Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) will celebrate 96 honorees as 2020 Angels in Adoption® for their outstanding advocacy with adoption, foster care, and child welfare issues on September 30 at 8PM EST in a virtual gala.

The Angels in Adoption® Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an annual opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of children and families in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 95 Angels from 42 states are being honored through the 22nd Annual Angels in Adoption® Program.  

“The Angels in Adoption program gives a platform to the families, advocates, and experts who so often serve quietly behind the scenes yet make a huge impact on behalf of children and families. Together with the Adoption Caucus, we are thrilled to shine a light on the extraordinary work of our Angels,” said CCAI’s Executive Director, Nancy Kay Blackwell.

In addition to the Angel honorees from around the country, CCAI also honors a select number of National Angels in Adoption® whose contributions have had a national impact. The 2020 National Angels are Magnolia Earl & Family (Gerber’s 2020 & First Adopted Spokesbaby), Todd Tilghman (adoptive parent and 2020 Winner of The Voice), Miranda & Luke Caldwell (adoptive parents and stars on HGTV’s Boise Boys), and This Is Us (award-winning family drama television show with adoption and foster care storylines).

Past National Angels include Muhammad Ali, First Lady Laura Bush, Kristin Chenoweth, Scott Fujita, Deborra-lee Furness, Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley, Patti LaBelle, Ne-Yo, Rhea Perlman, Shonda Rhimes, Korie and Willie Robertson, Al Roker, Jane Seymour, Sean Anders, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, Bruce Willis, Nia Vardalos, Bill Klein and Jen Arnold, Scott and Tracie Hamilton, Connie Britton, Rachel Crow, CBS Studios, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, NVIDIA, Hallmark Channel, and PEOPLE Magazine.

CCAI is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about children and youth in the United States and around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes. Founded in 2001 by the co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan adoption caucus – the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premier caucuses – CCAI works with the caucus to eliminate policy barriers that hinder children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise congressional and public awareness about adoption, foster care, and child welfare. 

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. The 22nd Annual Angels in Adoption® Program would not be possible without our Platinum Partners: Arnold & Porter, Carlson Family Foundation, and Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption; our Gold Partners: American Council of Life Insurers, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Casey Family Programs, and Retail Orphan Initiative; and our Silver Partners: American Retirement Association, Bella Grazia Fund, Both Ends Believing, Comcast NBCUniversal, ConocoPhillips, The Neely Family, The Paul & Emily Singer Family Foundation, Rita M. Lewis and Susan B. Hirschmann.

To register and stream the virtual gala on September 30 at 8PM EST, please visit bit.ly/2020angelsgala. For more information, visit http://www.ccainstitute.org.