What We Do

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS for REFCA 2019

Keynote Speakers

Morning Keynote: Elise Cutini, CEO of PIVOTAL. It is a leading Silicon Valley non-profit that provides young people in foster care with scholarships, tutoring, internships, job placements and coaching from experts in trauma and foster care. Young people in foster care face significant obstacles to success and have been shown to improve their chances for success when they work with professional coaches who help them navigate the critical years from high school to college and into the workforce. Pivotal programs help youth build the skills and confidence they need to determine their own education and employment paths. Since 1997, Pivotal has awarded over $3M in college scholarships and helped hundreds of foster youth defy the odds stacked against them. The agency graduates high school and college foster students at higher rates than the local and national foster youth averages. 

Afternoon Keynote: Sherry Lachman, CEO of Foster America & 2019 REFCA Champion. She has devoted her career to improving government systems that serve vulnerable children and families. She was previously a domestic policy advisor to Vice President Biden, a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education, a senior education counsel to Senator Al Franken, and an attorney at the Juvenile Law Center. Since founding Foster America, she has been recognized as a GLG Fellow, a Halcyon fellow, and a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur. Sherry earned a master’s in philosophy from Cambridge, a J.D. from Columbia and master’s in public policy from Harvard.  Her commitment to child welfare stems from her experience in foster care as a child.

Closing Keynote: Steve Gross, Chief Playmaker of Life is Good Playmakers, the Signature Program of the Kids Foundation. Steve is a clinical social worker and a pioneer in the field of using playful engagement and relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma. Steve’s talents have been called upon to respond to some of the greatest catastrophes of our time. At the heart of his work, Steve helps others discover the power of optimism so that they can build resilience and bring greater joy, connection, courage and creativity to their lives. The term “Playmaker” comes from sports and refers to someone who makes good things happen when their team needs them most. Simply put, a Life is Good Playmaker is someone who spreads the power of optimism to children who desperately need it. Through our signature Playmaker Program, the Life is Good Kids Foundation supports the men & women who dedicate their careers to helping children heal from the devastating impact of early childhood trauma. We provide retreats, tools, and on-going coaching to more than 10,000 childcare professionals (that we call Playmakers) working in schools, hospitals, and social service agencies across the US and Haiti.  We help these professionals transform their care settings into optimal environments for kids to learn, heal, and thrive. Each year our work with Playmakers helps more than 1 million kids overcome the traumas associated with poverty, violence, and illness.