We had the good fortune of connecting with Teresa Stivers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Teresa, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Our focus at Walden is helping vulnerable foster children heal from trauma, finding them safe and loving homes and getting them the right support to move forward to create healthy, happy and productive lives for themselves. I am proud to say that after 45 years of pioneering some of the most innovative and inclusive foster care programs in California — our Walden Family Services’ reputation is strong. The most important factor behind our successful reputation? I would have to say it is our dedication to the children, youth and families we serve.
Founded in 1976, Walden Family Services is a foster care-to-adoption and transition-age youth housing agency serving the Southern California region. Our comprehensive approach includes mental health care, parenting education and programs that develop independent living skills. Since its start, Walden has been committed to diversity, equity and inclusion – while our mission-driven team continues to grow and reflect on how we do our work so that those we serve get our very best efforts. Walden Family Services set the standard among California’s foster-to-adoption agencies through its programs that embrace children and youth navigating a wide range of challenges— including those with special health care needs, disabilities, as well as pregnant/parenting teens. We are also proud to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children, All Families Initiative for our commitment to being an “Innovator” in providing inclusive and affirming services to LGBTQ+ children, youth and parents.
With a staggering 60,000 children and youth in foster care throughout Southern California, we need more resources to better meet their needs. I hope you will consider making a donation to our work at waldenfamily.org. Please tell your friends about us. Encourage them to donate. If you’ve thought about becoming a foster parent to a child in need, we would love to help make that happen for you. The work we do together as the Walden Community is important. At Walden, we know that when you invest in a child or youth, society reaps the benefit for future generations. Thank you so much.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As the CEO of a nonprofit organization, I am honored to lead a team of 115 professionals who are dedicated to changing the trajectory of abused and neglected children in Southern California. Running a nonprofit is never easy. There are always financial and other issues that challenge us every day. Covid made it much more difficult. But, our team stepped up and with the help of donors and supporters, we were able to meet the needs of our children and youth. Our essential workers did not stop working during the pandemic and together, we learned that teamwork and communication are critical to the success of our organization.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend were visiting San Diego, I would take them to spend the day hiking Torrey Pines while enjoying the ocean view and great weather. In the evening, we would go to the Convoy Asian District for some amazing food followed by a relaxing Asian massage. My idea of a perfect day!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Our amazing foster adoptive parents are like angels on earth! They take abused and neglected children into their hearts and homes while giving them love and the time to heal. Many of these children are medically fragile, have developmental delays, mental or behavioral health issues, or identify as LGBTQ+, making reunification with their biological family difficult. When that is the case, many of our foster parents step up to adopt these children and make them their “forever family.” They are my heroes!