Stephanie has over 12 years of experience in Health and Human Services and is deeply committed to improving the lives of families and children across Virginia.
A social worker by background, Stephanie has worked both directly with families and children in the child welfare system and on the policy level in various roles in the public and private spheres.
Stephanie received her Masters of Social Work Administration and Policy Practice and a double major in Women’s Studies and Biopsychology, with an African American studies minor from Virginia Commonwealth University. Stephanie is a new “bio” mother to a baby girl and a kinship parent to an 11 year old boy .
COO/Community Engagement Program Director
Karen's work and volunteer experiences have shown her the power of connections and community engagement to achieve a common goal. She recognizes the tremendous opportunity to end Virginia's foster care crisis by mobilizing all Virginians to do "something.” She brings her skills in program management, communications, organizational development, and her passion for speaking up for those who need to be heard to VKB. Karen is working with business and faith leaders to develop strong support networks for foster families and social workers. She loves to encourage others, explore new places, and anything related to food or music.
Community Engagement Director - Southwest Region
Matt has worked in the community mental health field for over a decade. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker he has helped children and families process through crisis and trauma and has seen first hand the challenges that kids face in foster care. Matt will be focused on providing better outcomes for kids in the Appalachian Highlands region. A native to southwest Virginia, Matt lives in Abingdon with his wife and their two children. In his free time, Matt enjoys being outdoors, playing with his kids, and cooking yummy food. He believes in the power of community and volunteers at his church and in local youth sports as often as he can.
Community Engagement Director - Eastern Region
Lauren has been an advocate for vulnerable children and families in Virginia since 2012. She and her family began their own foster care journey which eventually added two more children through adoption making a total of five kids! After finalizing their first adoption, Lauren saw a huge need for awareness and greater access to resources for foster families in the Hampton Roads region and began building a network to help. Lauren finds great joy in connecting parents, faith communities, and child welfare professionals with valuable resources and meaningful community while they serve the most vulnerable of our population.
Kate Ashby Bachta
Born and raised in Virginia, Kate Ashby grew up with a love for children and a passion for the arts. She spent 20 years working in television and event production. Kate Ashby's love of teaching children and her heart for the vulnerable coupled with her film and tv background makes Kate Ashby a great asset as we grow our storytelling work at Virginia's Kids Belong.
I Belong Project Manager
Ashley loves working with children and finding ways to enrich their lives. She started volunteering with Virginia Kids Belong in 2020 and jumped in wherever she was needed to ensure the best experience possible for the children who attended the I Belong Projects. Now, Ashley’s background of strong team communication and desire to give the vulnerable a voice make her an excellent leader for the I Belong Project. She is excited to not only work with the children but with all of the incredible volunteers and sponsors who come together as one to make each I Belong Project experience sucessful. Her goal is to help each child, volunteer, and child welfare worker who attends feel seen, loved and appreciated.
Adoptions & Operations Manager
Emily loves working with families and children and keeping everyone organized. A proud Hokie, she has a degree in child development and spent her early career running a Quality Child Care grant for a local DSS in Virginia. Her recent work with a local modeling agency was a perfect segue to managing our I Belong Project videos program where she lovingly encourages the kids eligible for adoption to shine in their introduction videos. In 2017, she became a volunteer for VKB and joined the staff in 2020. Emily lives to be creative and is full of joy. She is a wife, and a mother to 3 kids and 2 dogs. She also loves to clean!
As an adoptive mom and former Secretary of the Commonwealth, Janet gained first-hand knowledge of the struggles and joys of parenting a child from foster care. In the Governor’s office, she ran a first-of-its-kind campaign that resulted in 1041 kids being matched with permanent families. She also acquired a healthy discontent with the state of the current foster care system and a deep desire for an environment where every child has true belonging. She enjoys engaging leaders from all backgrounds and beliefs to focus on the common goal of ending Virginia's foster care and adoption crisis. She and her husband, Ryan, have three children ages 18, 11, and 9.