Ker Hope Richmond on Seen Out Loud Podcast_(1000x1000px)

Season 2 / Episode 5

The Risk and Power of Storytelling with Keri Hope Richmond

One storyteller’s advice for organizations in engaging people with lived expertise and sharing their stories.

Keri Hope Richmond, Child Welfare Policy Advocate, Speaker, and Podcast Host, joins Matt Anderson in conversation on engaging storytellers with lived experience with the child welfare system. Listen as Keri talks about her experiences sharing her story about navigating foster care—some empowering and some not—and the lessons she’s learned along the way. She also passes along advice to organizations on the do’s and don’t’s in engaging storytellers with lived expertise.

00:01:33

Meet Keri Hope Richmond.

00:02:55

When was the first time Keri publicly shared her story?  

Keri shares, “When I did, I felt so at peace and I was met with so much encouragement and empowerment that I no longer ever needed to hide that part of myself. Seeing how opening up and stepping into this place of vulnerablity and authenticity also helped my fundraising goals for a nonprofit I was interning for. I saw just all-around the personal impact and then the larger scale impact that sharing our stories can have.” 

00:04:46

Keri expresses feeling anger leading up to the moment  she shared her story. Here’s why:

“That anger comes from not having the family privelage that many other do. When you have a history of foster care, child welfare involvement—not even for me as a child that went through the system, but for the parents that experience the system— you can be thrusted into spaces where teachers are giving genealogy assignment in class and saying, ‘do your parents have a cleft chin?’ and the child is either in foster care or was adopted and has no idea is their parents have a clef-chin. It’s things like that where people just assume that everyon has the privilege of a nuclear family. It’s really hard when you spend of many years in those spaces to not feel something.” 

00:06:41

Keri shares what it was like shifting from anger to empowerment. 

“For me it was letting more of myself be seen. Not feeling like I needed to hide. For [the audience] it was stepping out of maybe that place of being shielded and not understanding what people may experience.” 

00:10:10

Keri talks about her experiences stepping into her role as a storyteller with lived expertise leading up to her participation in TEDxKent State.

“Being in the federal advocacy space where it’s a different form of storytelling and I started to see that a little bit. But at that point I did not understand how we can tell our story in difference spaces and have different intentions and different approaches. And also understanding the level of safety we feel to share our story,” Keri says. 

00:11:22

What was Keri trying to accomplish in sharing her story at TEDxKentState? Hear a clip from Keri presenting in her talk.

00:13:48

How can including people with lived expertise at the organizational level as employees impact conversations and organizational priorities and policies? 

“I think it’s so easy to be in policy spaces and assume that we have all the expertise and knowledge about what children and families need, but when you step back and actually talk with families about what they need it’s often times different from what you think the solution is,” says Keri. 

00:17:05

Keri shares an account of when she felt like her story and the sharing of her experiences were taken advantage of. 

“You want to help the mission because you know what it’s like to be a child navigating the foster care system but then when you’ve shared you don’t want to feel like ‘oh I was just totally used for my story of trauma and kicked to the curb’,” Keri says. 

“We’re setting ourselves up to be retraumatized. We also have real life expertise of what it’s like to walk through the system and so don’t just invite us to come tell our stories. Invite us into spaces where we’re talking about solutions and what families need. Really see us as the experts and then honor us as experts. Pay us like the experts.” 

00:22:30

Now, Keri is a part of Unbelievably Resilient, which hosts a storytelling platform and spurs important conversations about foster care and child welfare. Hear from Keri as she explains the nonprofit’s goals.

“We want to educate. We are taking back the narrative,” says Keri. “We’re saying we are the experts and we’re going to make our stories be heard in the way that we want to share them and in a way that feels okay to us. And we hope that people understand that yes, we are resilient, but given the circumstances it sucks that we have to be resilient.” 

00:25:32

Matt and Keri talk about key principles and practices for organizations to honor storytellers with lived expertise: 

  • Having proximity to the people you’re trying to serve by building relationships 
  • Compensate storytellers 
  • Preparation for listening to stories and in engaging with lived expertise 

Keri mentions free resources like the Unbelievably Resilient podcast for getting insight from people lived expertise. 

00:27:44

Final thoughs from Keri on engaging storytellers with lived experience.

00:29:24

Matt shares his final thoughts. 

Matt: Hey everybody, this is Matt Anderson and welcome to Seen Out Loud. This is the podcast where we bring you stories and conversations that recognize child welfare transformation starts with seeing families for who they truly are.

So in every introduction, I always say this podcast brings you stories and conversations. Well, today’s episode, is definitely a conversation and an important one about storytelling and in particular about lived experience.

So this idea of engaging people with lived experience and telling stories, it’s not really new, but I think it’s become almost ubiquitous in our field over the past couple of years.

That’s a good thing and I would say this podcast is probably an example of that. But at the same time, we have to be thoughtful about this. So I want it to use this episode to take a step back and consider a few important issues. First, I want to do a little self-check. Am I telling stories with the right intention and impact?

I also want to talk about both the power of telling stories and the potential risks and harm that can be done when people share their very personal experiences. And lastly, I hope to spotlight just a few ways in which we all can get better, yself included, that using platforms like this podcast to learn from people’s stories and from their expertise. And so that brings me to today’s guest.

Keri: My name is Keri Hope Richmond and I wear three very important hats in this space. One is that I have lived expertise as someone who went through the foster care system. The other is that I am an advocate working in the federal policy space at the American Academy of Pediatrics. And the third is that I’m a storyteller and I lead the organization Unbelievably Resilient, which exists to shatter the stigmas and stereotypes about those who are coming from the foster care system.

Matt: So Keri, definitely an emerging leader in our field. And I would say in many ways, she is one of the people that’s really driving this movement towards storytelling and lived experience. We’ve known each other for a couple of years now. And I’ve had a number of conversations that lead up to today’s episode in this conversation.

We actually don’t talk specifically about Keri’s foster care experiences. Now, if you’re curious and you want to learn more, which I think he probably will. We’re going to put links to other interviews with Keri in the show notes. Instead, what I wanted to talk about, or her experiences of telling her own story and what we can learn from how her approach to this has evolved.

So I decided to start this conversation by asking Keri, just to tell me about the first time that she told her story in a public forum. 

Keri: The first time I publicly shared to a pretty large audience that I had this foster care experience was when I was in college and my sorority was hosting these weekly presentations about everyone’s family, culture and traditions, and people were going up there and sharing, you know, about their Italian heritage and what their Italian family did for holidays. And those went by for a few weeks and it brought up some emotions coming from chaotic family backgrounds and in foster care. And so I asked our sorority president if I could share. 

And I joke that we went from family traditions to family trauma real quick. When I stood up there and said, all right, guys, I want to talk to you about something really serious. I was in foster care and here was my experience. And it was the first time that I think there was anger in the previous weeks that I couldn’t share about family culture and traditions. And that really spurred my desire to get up there and share my story. But when I did, I felt so at peace and I was met with so much encouragement and empowerment that I no longer ever needed to hide that piece of myself, and seeing how opening up and stepping into this place of vulnerability and authenticity. Also helped my fundraising goals for a nonprofit I was interning for. I saw just all around the personal impact and then the larger scale impact that sharing our stories can have.

Matt: The the anger that you said you were feeling anger the weeks leading up. What was the anger?

Keri: It is the anger that comes from not having the family privilege that many others do. When you have a history of foster care child welfare involvement, not even for me as a child who went through the system, but for the parents that experience the system, you can be thrusted into spaces where teachers are giving out genealogy assignments and class and saying, do your parents have a cleft chin? And the child’s either in foster care was adopted and has no idea if their parents have a cleft chin it’s, things like that, where people just assume that everyone has the privilege of a nuclear family. And it’s really hard when you spend so many years in those spaces to not feel something, you know, here it is, it’s a no brainer that everyone’s going to be able to stand up and tell the story in this way, but that isn’t everyone’s story. And if we continue to perpetuate the shame that comes from not sharing those hard things, we’ll never find healing.

Matt: Yeah. And it’s, the first thing that came to mind as you started telling the story originally was just, we don’t know what we don’t know. That’s not coming from a bad place, obviously. But when we don’t stop to ask the questions or we don’t allow somebody to share their full story, we don’t create the space for that then we’re going to remain ignorant to the things that we don’t know. And so for your sorority sisters, they didn’t know all of this that was underneath the surface. Like what the true story of your family experience was and this is where. Somebody being safe and a place to tell their own story becomes really powerful for not just you, like, you went from a place of anger to empowerment, but also for the audience, they went from a place of ignorance to awareness. And wonder what that, what that sort of shift felt like, what did that mean for you and for them for that matter?

Keri: I think for me, it was like, just letting more of myself be seen. Not feeling like I needed to hide. And for them it was, you know, stepping out of maybe that place of being shielded and not understanding what people may experience. And so that also is, you’re stepping into this new awareness that I also think could be exemplified by light.

And I think, for me, I just felt like it really is that simple shift from, I don’t have to be ashamed of this and I don’t have to hide this piece of me and it doesn’t define me, but it is a huge part of my story and it makes up who I am and how I show up in the world today.

And for my peers hearing my story, I think. They saw me with more compassion and empathy than maybe they did before. And that’s always a better thing for everyone. We always say the quo and I think it gets thrown around way too much without actually thinking about it intentionally that everyone has a story. We say it all the time, but it’s like, when you really think about it, we don’t, most of the time walk around and show up in the world really approaching life like everyone has a story.

Matt: And everyone’s story has power as well. So that experience was that the first time you felt that power, that your story has. I was like a hydro-boost, you know, like video games where you hit that button and you just feel propelled forward. I had this watered-down version of my story for many years. For the entire time I was in grade school and high school, where I only shared the highlight reels, the really happy parts that I thought people wanted to hear.

And when I told my story to my sorority, I didn’t water it down. I said, you know, these are the things that happen. And they were really hard and kids are still experiencing that. And that’s really problematic and we all should be aware of that. And many of my sorority sisters then told me so many other people need to hear your story and you should be out there telling it and that’s what one of my sorority sisters and I started doing on the, on Sundays, we would go around to other sororities and fraternities, and I started sharing with their chapters and saying, I don’t know if any of you are aware about foster care, but I was in foster care. Here’s my story. And I think you all should know about this if you don’t already.

Matt: Yeah. I love that idea of sort of the power boost but I think what’s interesting in all of that too, is the point that you made, because you and I have talked about this before, the point that you made about not watering it down, that we can hold within our stories, both the success and the challenge, you know, the beauty and the sorrow, right? Our stories have all of that within them, but oftentimes the expectation of the audience. Might lead us to telling the positive parts, like I made it against all odds. And I know that’s something that you’re really focused on is yes, success is important, but the challenges along the way we have to, those are the things that we can learn from.

And so you go from that first story to then going around campus telling your story, and then at some point you do a Ted Talk as well. Is that sort of the next evolution or were there steps in between?

Keri: The big step in between was interning with the congressional coalition on adoption Institute, coming to DC, telling my story on Capitol Hill, at the White House, just being in that federal advocacy space where it’s a different form of storytelling. And I started to see that a little bit, but I, at that point did not understand how we can tell our story and different spaces have different intentions and different approaches and also understanding the level of safety we feel in a certain setting to share our story. When I was sharing my story with my sorority sisters, these are people I had relationships with when I’m telling my story at a congressional briefing, I don’t know, half the people in the room. So how does that impact the way that you share your story and how much you want to share? And, and, and I think that’s, when now looking back, I can sort of see, I was stumbling along, trying to navigate that part of storytelling then comes the TEDx talk.

Matt: Yeah, so let’s, let’s talk about the TEDx talk. So what were you trying to accomplish with that talk?

Keri: Simply put for people to understand what foster care was and how many kids are walking through hard things every day?

Keri (TEDx): In 2015, 427,910 kids were in foster care. That is enough to fill the horseshoe stadium at Ohio state university four times over with just foster kids. That’s a lot of kids.

Keri: I talked about trash bags and kids moving from home to home with trash bags.

Keri (TEDx): What kind of message does that send? What do you put into a trash bag? Spoiled food, disgusting, garbage things you don’t want or need anymore. But here at this scary and uncertain time, in a child’s life. We are throwing their belongings into a trash bag and sending them on their way to a new home. I think we can do better than that. 

Keri: The foster care system, so complex. So grounding it in the simple idea of, Okay let’s introduce this audience to the idea of a child carrying a trash bag. That is a very tangible image that you can understand and feel some type of way about.

Keri (TEDx): These kids are not trash. No kids are, and they deserve to move from one home to the next, with a little bit more dignity. 

Matt: These early experiences of sharing your story in a variety of contexts, it sounds like a lot of what you were doing there was building awareness, it’s building, it’s educating, but it’s also having an impact, right. You know, whether you’re on Capitol Hill advocating for a policy change or, on campus, you know, driving a fundraiser to support kids in foster care. And then if we jump forward to, to where you are now with American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, your role is, a new role for them. You’ve been bringing people into the organization with lived experience to help shape organizational priorities, policy priorities. And I wonder in that work, if there are examples of where you’ve seen the conversation, maybe go in a different direction. Because of people with lived experience being at the table with you, like, were there difficult conversations, different conversations, places where it took a turn that if not for the individuals that you brought into the conversation, it wouldn’t have gone in that direction.

Keri: I think it’s so easy to, be in policy spaces and assume that we have all the expertise and knowledge about what children and families need, but when you step back and actually talk with families about what they need, it’s oftentimes different than what you think the solution is. And so, what I think is unique about that situation that we were in is, we really did try to come into the project with a blank slate in our minds, And we want to work with these individuals who have lived expertise and learn and listen.n And so we’re not going to craft the agenda without them. We’re going to wait until they get in this room and then do it together. 

Matt: In that, like following, letting this group take the lead, was there a direction that really surprised you, something specific that came out of that, that you thought, oh, wow. I didn’t, see this coming or that maybe even challenged the organization a little bit.

Keri: Absolutely the first thing that comes to mind is the interactions. When you have a birth parent, a individual who was in foster care, a kinship, caregiver, and adoptive parent, all in a space together, foster parent, how their different perspectives impacted one another. And when you bring all of these different stories together that have a common thread, they didn’t, they didn’t bash each other. They didn’t say my idea is better than yours. And I’m the foster parent. I’m caring for these kids in foster care. I know what’s right. It was like, how do we come together as a constellation to figure out what’s beneficial to the kids and the families. I wasn’t necessarily expecting that when we were bringing those different perspectives together, if anything, I was expecting that there would be more conflict because you’re bringing together very, very different views.

There is a lot of trauma when we’re talking about the child welfare system. And so if we want to work with individuals who have lived expertise, then we have to be thinking from that lens of people are going to get triggered. Emotions are going to show up and we have to be ready to have containers of safety that hold that acknowledge it. All of those things.

Matt: I think what’s really interesting about this part of our conversation here is that. We all run up against the limits of our own experiences and expertise right. So, I do all the time in my work. Like I’m always running up against the limits of what I know and what I’ve done and where I’ve been and how I see the world.

And if you, if you open up to other people’s stories and experiences you bring in the diverse knowledge that we need to make the best decisions possible you know, to educate, to build awareness, to have an impact, to create change and, that’s why this is an important conversation, right? I mean, that’s the movement that’s happening, which is great and at the same time, you know, there are benefits and there are some risks associated.

 I know you felt some of that personally, so I wonder if you could share, like a real standout experience where you felt like, okay, my story in this moment, isn’t my story. It feels like I’m being taken advantage of, or my story is serving somebody else’s agenda.

Keri: Yeah, I’m being invited to tell my story at an event, getting on stage sharing vulnerably about my foster care experience and highlighting a program that I was asked to highlight. Getting off stage, the organization, raising almost $150,000, and then I’m set on my way. No payment, no real acknowledgment of the expertise that I’m bringing into that space to contribute to what’s happening.

That was a moment. I was like do you care about my story or do you care about raising the money that you just raised? You want to help the mission because you know what it’s like to be a child navigating the foster care system, but then when you share, you don’t want to feel like, oh, I was just totally, used for my story of trauma and then kicked to the curb.

Matt: Kerri, you may not be comfortable or able to do this really, but can you be more specific about that?  

Keri: I’m not going to call out organizations. I don’t want to shame organizations. I had a conversation with the organization after, and I think having this conversation, Matt is really important so that other leaders who are working in the child welfare space, who are asking people to come tell their stories, know how it makes us feel.

We need to talk about this because it is a sacrifice each time we tell our stories. We are setting ourselves up for the potential to retraumatize ourselves. We also have firsthand expertise of what it’s like to walk through the system. And so don’t just invite us to come tell our stories, invite us into spaces where we’re talking about solutions and what families need. see us as the experts and then honor us as experts pay us like the experts.

Matt: Yeah and is that where that experience felt? I don’t want to put words in your mouth about how it felt, so you can say how it felt to you, but there was no recognition of all that you are, who you are, what your story is, what you have to offer, the value that you bring. It was just sort of like you’re the, four minutes on our program today, and we need you to say X, Y, Z. And then we’ll go on. You’ll go on. That was the issue?

Keri: Yeah. It felt like, here’s the box. Step into it. And I walked away feeling really resentful and really upset about, I went through hell as a child, living through the foster care system. And as an adult, I’m sacrificing a lot of myself to work in this space because I don’t want any kid to experience what I experienced. I don’t want any family to continue to experience what I experienced. So many of us with lived expertise step into the child welfare system, because we want to see a change because of our personal firsthand journeys. But then it’s really insulting when we are used and tokenized and the most frustrating thing about that particular event was that the MC was paid. So to learn, that I am coming on stage with that emotional nakedness. And I am sharing from such a place of vulnerability and my own expertise. And they raise over, $150,000 only to find out that I am, am truly, am I, am I valued? Do you actually value what I just did stepping up there and telling a part of the trauma that I lived. Do you value that? And if not, why would we keep sharing our stories? But we also know it’s a double-edged sword because we need to talk and share our stories to see change and people need to know what’s happening.

Matt: And that’s the, crux of the matter, That everything you’ve shared up until now is about the power of story. The power of lived experience, and the risk, right? Because this is a bad experience for you. This is a painful experience. Like I can hear it, right. This is a, hurtful experience on so many levels. And yet the drive to do it again, is there because you know, what you offer is necessary. If we’re going to get better as a system, if I’m going to get better as a professional, what Keri offers is necessary and how I value what Keri offers, is the key to the whole, the whole thing, right?

Cause I’ve, I’ve been in that same spot before myself as the professional who has brought somebody in with lived experience to share their story on an agenda that is maybe my agenda or our agenda, but not their agenda. And they have not been compensated for that time, for that energy, for that work that they put in.

You know, for me, that’s what these conversations are about, because what you offer is important, but what’s more important is Keri’s happiness, well-being compensation, all of those things are more important than what the agenda is that somebody else has.

And,so I wonder how much that is sort of the backdrop to what you’re building now with Unbelievably Resilient, because now you are in charge of building a platform with a group of others with lived experience to say, well, this is how we’re going to do it. We’re going to get to create the rules of the road, so to speak with Unbelievably Resilient. what are you trying to accomplish with this, this new organization?

Keri: Yeah, we one are trying to shatter stigmas and stereotypes about people who have been in foster care or are in foster care. We’re sharing our stories in a way that feels comfortable for us to share among peers who understand what we’ve been through and can hold space for us in a way that others can not, who have not walked through the same experience as us. That in itself is so healing. We want to educate. And so we are taking back the narrative. We’re not letting anyone put us on a stage and only let us share about our trauma and then dismiss us and bring in the expert. We’re saying we are the experts and we are going to make our stories be heard and the way that we want to share them in a way that feels okay to us. And we hope that people understand that yes, we are resilient, but given the circumstances, it sucks that we have to be so resilient.

And I love what my friend says, he’s in the UK and he was in foster care system there and he says, “we are no longer asking for an invite to the table. We are the table.” And we would not all be at the table if it weren’t for the kids who have gone through the foster care system, the families who have experienced the child welfare system.

So let’s just reset how we all approach this work with that as the anchoring point. 

Matt:I think that’s what honestly is really really interesting to me about Unbelievably Resilient that, you know, in our field, we use that term all the time. Like we need to create more seats at the table for people with lived experience. Well, yes we do. And we should, and again, we should be very thoughtful and intentional about how we do that, why we’re doing that. Does somebody walk away feeling empowered or feeling hurt and taken advantage of how do we make sure. That the end result is good for everybody. But then the transformative thing that I think you all are doing, which is so exciting is that we’re going to create our own table. And we’re going to invite you to our table and it’s going to be a different conversation because this is a space where we get to set the agenda and own the narrative and own the story. And then we’re going to bring people in with a variety of other sets of experiences and stories. That’s what, we’ve not yet seen a lot of in the child welfare field is a new table being created where now, people like Keri and your colleagues that are Unbelievably Resilient are really kind of the setting, the agenda and leading. I think that’s particularly exciting.

Keri: Thanks. We do too.

Matt: And so as you’re building that, let’s talk about like, how do we make sure that experience isn’t repeated where you show up at the event and share your story and then walk away feeling really hurt by that. Are there, are there some key principles or practices that you think are really important?

Keri: Yeah, I think having proximity to the people that you’re trying to serve, building relationships, if you’re an organization or a professional that says that you want to engage individuals with lived expertise, be intentional about how you do that, really think through your processes. And if they honor that person’s story, value them enough to compensate them. And if you can’t compensate, then there are free resources where you can listen and learn from individuals with lived expertise and Unbelievably Resilience podcast is one.

Matt: That was a good plug well done. Yeah, no, I think you, you hit on a few keys that, that for me, I think are really important. Relational over transactional. You and I have known each other for a couple years now before doing this podcast together, right before I asked you to share some of your experiences. You know, I think there’s this idea that, if we want to really understand the problems, then we have to get close to where they’re happening, which are not in boardrooms, so to speak or on Capitol Hill, they’re in communities. So we have to get close and recognizing that, then the closer we get to where the issues are happening, the closer we’re getting to the solutions. and, compensation.

Okay. The MC of that event has expertise and Keri  has expertise, we should value and compensate accordingly. And I think even more basically, preparation and intention before somebody comes on our platform to share a story? Why do you want to share your story? What is important to you? How do you want to do this in a way that feels right to you? What’s going to happen after you share your story right? So those sort of like preparations debriefing, making sure that it’s a safe environment for somebody to share their story.

Keri: And not even just from the person who’s sharing, but also the, from your seat MAtt. Why do you want to hear their story? What, are you trying to learn? What are your goals and intentions and really getting clear on how they’re aligned. 

Matt: Yeah, exactly. Um, just ask if there’s anything else that you want to share that we haven’t, I haven’t asked you, we haven’t talked about? Is there anything else  this conversation about storytelling and lived experience I know is important to me and to yo., Is there anything else that you want to say?

Keri: I am grateful for this conversation. I think it’s a conversation we will continue to need to have as people and organizations say that they want to engage individuals with lived expertise more. We have to really start to dissect what a storytelling look like in media. How do we help journalists to tell an accurate story and not contribute to false stigmas and stereotypes?

How do we help Hollywood to write better storylines that are not portraying the kid in foster care as the drug addict or serial killer? How do we help policy makers? To not just see these individuals as vulnerable victims, but as empowered advocates with expertise and solutions.

I think we have to continue to have these conversations so that we have our own perspectives shift, and that’s how we start to really rewrite the narrative and that’s how we start to see real change. And so I hope we’ll continue this dialogue moving forward.

Matt: I mean, the dialogue is definitely going to continue this move towards, engaging with story and lived experience it’s happening and it’s happening fast. And I think this is an important conversation to say, okay, let’s pause for a minute and step back and be thoughtful about intention and expectation and. engaged, maybe in consultation, right. With a group like Unbelievably Resilient. I think there’s opportunity there. So Keri awesome. As always. Thank you.

Keri: Thank you.

Matt: Before we bring this episode to a close of course, I want to say thank you again to Keri for coming on the podcast. And I want to come back to this point that this is a, to be continued conversation. You know, if these issues. Resonate with you. If you want to engage in this work of bringing stories and lived experience into your practice, then we’re going to be developing some materials that you can go to our website to find that are going to pick up on some of the key themes that came out of this conversation.

And what we really want to do is just provide you with some resources, some ways in which you can get better at bringing story and lived expertise into your work.

In a responsible way. Thank you again for listening to today’s episode and I’m going to pass it on to Isaiah for our ending credits.

Isaiah: Keri gave us some great insight and wisdom, and I really hope it inspires you all. Keep that same momentum going by checking out the great resources in the show notes of this episode and see exclusive content about this episode on our website at SeenOutLoud.com 

We can’t leave without thanking our incredible team. So shout out to our executive producer is Michael Osborne, mixing, mastering and sound designed by Morgan Honaker. Our composer is Christian Haigus and our creative team members are April Dilon and Candice Kearse. As you all know I’m Isaiah Strozier and thank you all so much for listening. 



Guest(s)

Keri Hope Richmond

Keri Hope Richmond lives in Washington, D.C. where she serves as the Manager of Child Welfare Policy for the American Academy of Pediatrics. With experience as a youth in foster care and adoptee, Keri is passionate about building platforms for individuals with lived expertise to share their insights, wisdom, and stories with the world. This passion led her to Unbelievably Resilient (UR), where as Executive Director she leads her team of storytellers with lived expertise. UR is a nonprofit composed of individuals who have spent time in the U.S. foster care system. They aim to empower current and former foster youth by authentically sharing their own journeys of moving from trauma to triumph through storytelling.