PAST EVENT: Foster the Conversation Panel 2023

Foster the Conversation
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
4pm PT

It’s National Foster Care Awareness Month!

We are excited to invite you to our panel event on Tuesday, May 23rd, at 4 pm. Our panelists hold a wealth of experience and insight and include one of our Program Managers, former foster youth, and alumni.

At this awareness-building symposium, you will learn more about the significant barriers foster youth encounter during pivotal times in their lives and the challenges they face. Our panelists will bring their lived experiences and expertise to illuminate the harrowing but exciting milestones in a foster youth’s journey from finding their own purpose, to making it to college.

We hope you’ll join the conversation to gain knowledge and help spread awareness about the needs and successes of LA County’s youth in care.





Michael Jelks is a writer, composter, rapper and father from Southern California. Mikol grew up in the foster care system until the age of 10 and is an alumnus of the UFC Pathways Program. He uses his music to build bridges, tell his story, and amplify people’s stories. He studied Sociology at California State University, Los Angeles, and works with the music brand LEGENDARIMINDS. He also works as a case manager at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Essie Calderon has been with United Friends for ten years. During her time at United Friends, Essie has encouraged college-bound youth, empowered young adults as an advocacy counselor, and serves as a Program Manager. Essie’s professional trajectory is rooted in serving others; this work has always felt like a calling for her.

Brittianna Robinson is a resilient and outgoing youth advocate with a powerful story that can connect with diverse communities. Brittianna has used her voice to improve systems for youth across the County through her involvement in programs like Saving Innocence, Two Wings, and UCLA’s Fellowship. She is currently a United Friends of the Children resident and has a clear vision for improving the child welfare and juvenile justice system. In addition to her advocacy and county employment, she is an inspiring chef currently taking classes at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

Karen Chavez is a former foster youth who entered the system when she was 12 and became a part of United Friends when she was 13 years old. Thanks to United Friends and the guidance that the programs bring, Karen is now enrolled as a Junior at Cal State LA. Karen’s journey has been filled with struggle, challenges, and trials, but thanks to United Friends, she has persevered and created a life filled with hope and success.