Our Story

The focus of the child welfare system is the immediate safety and wellbeing of young people, however those same young people often have problems obtaining and having equal, consistent person-centered access to their history, stories, photos, and medical information.

Power of story is a response to disconnect.

As former foster youth Adam Starks puts it, “We need to know our story to succeed in the future. It’s extremely difficult to wander through life without knowing your past. That void haunts and revisits you in unexpected ways if left unchecked.”


Staff

Alisa Matheson

Founder and Executive Director

Alisa Matheson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Counseling, from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul and completed an Advanced Certificate in Therapeutic Lifestory Work and The National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative Courses.

She has previous experience as an adoption recruiter, educator, and contractor, with over 11 years of experience in the child welfare system. In every role, she has championed communication, relationship building, and respect for the personhood and rights of youth in the child welfare system.

Board

Diane Stang

Board President

Diane has over 23 years in Child Foster Care and Adoption in county government and is a current consultant with Quality Parenting Initiative, a national non-profit organization promoting excellent parenting in the child welfare system

David Elkin

Board Treasurer

David is the Chief Financial Officer of Glacial Lakes Energy has nearly two decades of extensive corporate finance and accounting experience.

He has earned a Bachelor in Business Administration in finance and accounting from Texas A&M University and the University of Houston-Downtown, respectively.

He is currently earning his Master of Business Administration from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is a licensed CPA.

Julie Richards

Founding Board Member

Julie comes to the board with 20 years of experience in the field of youth and human development across several systems such as education, juvenile justice, affordable housing, and non-profits.

Her belief in breaking down systemic oppression in order to imagine and re-build a more inclusive and equitable community drives all that she does.

She is thrilled to support young people and the right to their identity.

Arnisia Coleman

Founding Board Member

Arnisia is a powerful advocate for youth who are being treated unfairly.

With her strong commitment to justice and personal experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to the work of Power of Story.

Abby Fenton

Founding Board Member

Abby Fenton has worked in the non-profit sector as an organizational founder, program director, and board member in the field of youth leadership development for over 25 years.

This includes the Voyageur Outward Bound School, Will Steger Foundation, River’s Edge Academy, and the Farm and Wilderness Foundation.

Zena Mohler

Founding Board Member

Zena has worked in various roles in the human services field for over 10 years, including as a behavior therapist and a foster care case manager.

She obtained her MSW from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with an emphasis in child welfare.

Volunteers

Serena Adeleye

Volunteer since January 2022

Serena was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. In May 2022, she graduated with a degree in Psychology from Loyola university Chicago. She enjoys enjoy photography, digital art, and reading.

Ashley Perttula

Volunteer since January 2022

Ashley is a recent graduate from UW-Eau Claire. She is a graphic designer who is excited to be a part of power of story, and bring her lived experience of being an adoptee into her volunteer work.

Emily (Lee) Noyes

Volunteer since May 2022

Emily (Lee) is originally from Maine, but attended college at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN where they earned a degree in History. In 2018, they moved to Philadelphia for a VISTA year at the School District of Philadelphia and to pursue a Master’s in Education, focusing on student’s rights and teacher advocacy. Once again a resident of Minnesota, Emily is so excited to participate and contribute to the mission and impact of the Power of Story.

Athena Tedesco

Volunteer since June 2022

Athena is an undergraduate student at Saint Mary’s College of California majoring in politics and minoring in law. She grew up and continues to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, Athena loves to read, play with her dog, and hang out with friends.

Joni Hillary

Volunteer since July 2022

Joni has a Masters in Social Work and has been working with youth & families for the last several years. Joni is a mom of two little ones and loves to travel and cheer for the Iowa State Cyclones!


Our Supporters

Connections to Independence

Minneapolis-based, Connections to Independence (C2i) provides holistic and unique programming and advocacy for foster care youth, ages 14–24, to promote a successful and healthy transition to living independently as they reach adulthood.

Sauer Family Foundation

The mission of the Sauer Family Foundation is to invest in strengthening the well-being of children so they thrive in their families and communities. And the vision is that children experience well-being. They grow up and develop in environments where they are:

  • Supported and nurtured
  • Safe from abuse and neglect
  • Resilient in the face of trauma
  • Successful in school
  • Thriving in their families and communities.

View the newest video on the Power of Story on our homepage.

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