Honoring Lisa Dickson for International Women’s Day

As with any foster youth, Lisa Dickson didn’t choose the family she was born into. Instead, she was born into a family that included an abusive father – and a mother who had experienced abuse from her biological family, and eventually lost her life in a battle with cancer. During her time in foster care, Lisa was focused on building her immediate future. From the moment that Lisa transitioned from foster care to adulthood, ahead of time, at age 16, she cared both about building her future and improving outcomes for others.

Since 2006, Lisa has had the honor of working 70 hours a week. She volunteers 30 hours a week in her volunteer roles as co-facilitator of the OHIO Youth Advisory Board (the statewide voice of Ohio foster care youth ages 14-24) and Communications Chair of ACTION Ohio (the statewide voice of foster care alumni). She also works 40 hours a week in her paid job as a Children’s Librarian. Her volunteer roles are focused on informing and empowering current and former foster youth about policies and procedures, and inviting each of them to share their insights. Foster care youth, young adults and older alumni of the system are invited to advocate for what is needed when it comes to policies and resources – with the ultimate goal of helping Ohio foster care youth and alumni have the best chance at healing, growing, and being successful.

Empowering the voices of current and former foster youth within the state of Ohio has led to a ripple effect of local, statewide and national change — including a federal bill, the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act, which has recently passed unanimously in the US House of Representatives and is currently being championed in the US Senate, and HUD Secretary Ben Carson creating FYI on-demand housing vouchers for foster youth.

This year, International Women’s Day is celebrating women who work every day for an equal world. Ms. Dickson’s work goes beyond gender equality; it’s truly equality for all people – adults and youth who deserve families and love and equal access to life’s resources. Her own experiences have inspired her unwavering diligence and fierce advocacy, and that’s why we are honoring her for International Women’s Day.