Giving Thanks: 2021 Board Member Spotlight

As we dust off our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and get ready for quality time with friends & family, The Kempe Foundation would like to highlight some of the people we are most grateful for this holiday season – our board members. These passionate individuals share our commitment to building better futures for children and families.

To celebrate their hard work, we sat down with board members Jill DeRaad and Cristina DeVito to learn about their involvement in the Kempe community.

What inspired you to get involved with the Kempe Foundation? Why is this work so important?

Jill DeRaad: For much of my career, I have focused on raising support for the holistic child development of those who live in extreme poverty around the world. During the pandemic, I started to realize the dramatic impact that ‘shutting things down’ and moving into a remote environment for school/work was having on kids and their families, including my own. I began hearing reports from local hospitals about increased cases of child abuse and neglect in addition to a tragic spike in youth suicides. The reports about the steep decline in mental health for many populations, and the overall vulnerable situation so many kids found themselves in, was devastating. 

I wanted to find a high impact way to bring life changing resources to kids and families in my own community, in addition to the work I was already doing internationally. I was compelled to find an organization to partner with in elevating the health of our society’s kids.

Kempe sits at this incredible junction of research, resource and practice in the prevention and treatment of childhood abuse and neglect. Their depth of involvement in securing critical funding for programs supporting the most vulnerable kids in our communities is unmatched. I’m so glad I found Kempe. 

Cristina DeVito: I was very lucky to have been brought up in a loving, nurturing and supportive family and home environment. That experience early in my life has shaped me even to this day, and my experiences as a child have deeply enabled me to become the adult, friend, family member and professional that I have grown into. Every child deserves to have a good childhood, to have someone who is on their side as they grow, and to have the chance to become who they were meant to be, free from fear and harm. The work that the Kempe Foundation does helps to ensure that this is true for every child, and I want to be part of enabling that mission and purpose.  

In your opinion, how is the Kempe Foundation creating a better future for children and families? 

Jill DeRaad: In the short amount of time I’ve been involved with Kempe, I have been so encouraged by the intentional focus to bring a trauma responsive approach and education to classrooms, pediatricians and human services providers through programs like TRIP.

Kempe has a laser focus and decades of practice meeting specific needs of children impacted by trauma and abuse. The programs they implement are far-reaching and effective. They seek to provide practical interventions and supportive resources that not only treat kids impacted by child abuse and neglect, but also work toward prevention in practical ways. From where I sit, the more I learn about the impact of Kempe’s work, the more encouraged and hopeful I am about our kids’ future. 

Cristina DeVito: Kempe helps in three major ways. First, the organization brings awareness to the issue of childhood abuse and neglect and why it is critical to bring attention to fighting against this, on behalf of children and families.  Next, it works tirelessly on advocacy for legislation that can both address prevention measures and help bring resources to children and families who are healing from childhood abuse and neglect. Lastly, it works in the community with boots on the ground to help in programmatic ways for children and families in Colorado.

Kempe is THANKFUL to our dedicated board members! We are so grateful to Jill, Cristina and the entire board for sharing their passion for community with us. Together, we can achieve a better future for children and families.

Feeling inspired? Learn more about how you can get involved in supporting the mission and work of the Kempe Foundation as a Kempe Ambassador here.