The next talk in the Community Voices fall 2011 series features Norma Wood, on Oct. 25, who will speak on youth in the foster care system at The Lyric Theater at 7 p.m. 

Wood serves as the Western Region Independent Living Consultant with Project LIFE, a contractual partnership between the Virginia Department of Social Services and United Methodist Family Services.  Project LIFE is a team of regional Independent Living and Best Practice Consultants working throughout Virginia to improve independent skills training and promote permanency and success for older youth who are in and transitioning out of the foster care system.

In her talk, "Youth in Foster Care: A Community Opportunity," Wood will provide a brief primer on the foster care system for older youth.  She will provide a short history of the Chafee Independent Living Program.  Delving into the impact of unsuccessful youth on our community, Wood will point to ways on how to improve youth success – what we can do as a community.

A representative panel of older youth transitioning to adulthood while in foster care will join Wood after her talk to share some of their personal stories.  They will discuss the importance of adult connections and support.  The young people will also address individuals within their community and how the community as a system might improve their chance for success.

Victor Horton will moderate the panel. As one who was himself a foster care child, Horton brings shared experience and insight to the panel conversation. Horton works in graduate admissions at Radford University.

“Following the well-received talk by Nancy Agee at the September Community Voices program,” says Max Stephenson, director of Virginia Tech’s Institute for Policy and Governance, “our next program promises to be equally engaging.  By bringing the young people to Community Voices, we are adding a new dimension to the series that we believe will help us all deepen our understanding of community, leadership, and change.”        

“We are grateful to our sponsors who make Community Voices free to all who wish to attend.”  

Community Voices video records the presentations and makes them widely available through a public access website.  The talks and interviews with the speakers are also available by local broadcast over town television station WTOB and radio station WUVT-FM 90.7.  A compilation of the spring 2011 talks is available as well on DVD.  For more information, contact the Institute for Policy and Governance at 540-231-6775.  The Community Voices program is one hour. 

The theme for the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 series is Creative Leadership for Community Innovation and Resilience. Upcoming Community Voices speakers will include Woody Crenshaw, a Floyd County entrepreneur asking, “What do the farm and farm family of the 21st century look like?” and, Dr. John Dreyzehner, formerly director of Virginia’s Cumberland Plateau Health District and now Commissioner of Health for Tennessee asking what the connections are between community health and prosperity.

The Community Voices speakers are engaged in fostering work that strengthens community.  Their leadership includes the capacity to speak cogently and concisely about their experiences, to tell stories that are revealing of their work, and to present ideas for change, ideas that matter.

Community Voices is free and open to the public. 

Sponsors for the Community Voices Fall 2011 series include the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance, The Community Foundation of the New River Valley, Virginia Tech Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships, The Floyd Country Store, Virginia Tech Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, Planning, Governance and Globalization Program of Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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