Our Mission, Vision and People

A new kind of youth service.

We believe in the power of story to impact the world, one young person at a time.

We envision a world in which everyone has the same person-centered access to their own personal history, stories, and medical information.

We provide person-centered support for fostered youth and adoptees by advocating for their access to information, the training of parents and professionals, hands-on support for young people, and the completion of Lifebooks and Social Medical Histories.

We Believe:

  • In-depth, truthful stories are essential to wholehearted lives.
  • In prioritizing excellence and spending time gaining knowledge.
  • Everyone has built-in worth and deserves respect and understanding.
  • We need each other to see clearly.
  • Everyone deserves access to their history, no matter what.


Alisa Matheson

Founder and Executive Director

Alisa Matheson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Counseling, in 2017 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 experience as an adoption recruiter, educator and contractor; completed 30 Lifebooks and 80 Social and Medical Histories. In every role over the past 11 years, she has championed communication, relationship building, and respect for the personhood and rights of everyone involved in the child welfare system.



  • Have nonprofit or county system expertise.
  • Are intergenerational, from young adult to retirees.
  • Have personal or professional experience in adoption or foster care.  Members include former foster youth, adult adoptees, former county staff and adoptive parents.
  • Reflect the diversity of the constellation of adoption and foster care.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Diane Stang

Board President + Founding Board Member

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


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!

Join our monthly donor family or make a one time donation, purchase an item from our Amazon Wish List, or set up a time to donate on the phone or in person.

A Special Thanks To

Individual Donors: Jay, Ann, Abigail, Sarah Oquist and Anonymous Donors (2)

Connections to Independence

Thank you for supporting Power of Story, as our friend, fiscal sponsor at launch and sharing with us your wealth of knowledge.

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

Thank you for believing in our mission and taking a chance on us by being our first grant funder!

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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