For those of you who know me well and have been instrumental in helping us get Foster Care Initiatives off the ground then you know there have been two things driving us in our work:
1) the incredible needs of vulnerable and hurting children, youth, and families in our city.
2) the Holy Spirit moving on local churches, leaders, and pastors all across our city to care for the orphan through movements like AZ127, Helping AZ Families, the Hope Initiative, Refugio Phoenix, and the Edge.
The later act of the Lord has been the only reason we have been able to play any part of the solution. There has been no lack of churches who have welcomed and supported FCI to journey with them as they seek to faithfully engage in the child welfare system. It is an incredible gift to spend our time as an organization serving and supporting the work of local churches.
In working with these churches, the Lord has gifted me with rich relationships with many pastors and churches and this has developed a deep love and commitment to our local churches in Arizona. As I have had the gift to work with some of Arizona's most incredible leaders and pastors over the last several yaers, through this the Lord has provided an opportunity for me to serve these churches full time by opening a door for me to become the Executive Director of The Surge Network.
The Surge Network started in 2009 when multiple lead pastors came together around a common desire to be churches that equip leaders to serve the Lord and our city. Surge has come to represent many churches in our State who seek to saturate our city with transformational leaders fully engaged in all aspects of God's kingdom.
As the Surge Network has grown and become a network with a strong reputation, it has come to the point of needing full time leadership. I am humbled and thankful for the opportunity to move into this role. Surge has been a beautiful picture to me of the unity within the body of Christ. As I've watch leaders and churches within Surge be a part of this unifying work that God has been doing for several years now, I can't help but be drawn to spend my time serving this specific group of leaders and pastors.
The other reason I am drawn to the Surge Network is the burden these churches have to be faithful to God's call to be a people who do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I believe this opportunity will allow me to continue to live out my life calling: to speak up for the vulnerable and nurture environments that foster community for the marginalized and overlooked in our city. My drive and passion is to see the poor and wealthy, vulnerable and powerful worship together as brothers and sisters as we work together to fill our city with the good news of Jesus Christ.
What does this mean for FCI?
I am remaining deeply involved in FCI as the founder/ president, but my role will be as a board member. We have an incredible team in place that has been working very hard this last month to transition the day-to-day tasks off my plate. The Lord has provided FCI great, high capacity leaders and through this transition rather then slowing down, things have only sped up.
We have also hired an incredibly gifted executive director to lead and continue to develop the work of FCI. Berisha Black has been serving on our board since the inception of Foster Care Initiatives, has helped craft most of who we are, and has worked closely with AZ127's lead team.
There is truly no one better in the state, including myself, to lead FCI forward. Berisha is well respected, highly knowledgable on the system, known within the child welfare community, and shares our heart and passion to see FCI's mission continue out of a rootedness for our love of Jesus. I am incredibly thankful for the Lord's provision in gifting Berisha to FCI.
Berisha has been one of my strongest tutors and mentors in the field of child welfare and has taught me much about non-profit leadership. Please take a moment to read her bio below. If you do not already know Berisha, I am confident it will be an incredible gift to get to know her soon.
As the founder and a board member of FCI, I look forward to using my role with Surge to continue to raise awareness and ensure churches have the tools to engage in Arizona's orphan crisis. I believe this move allows FCI to continue to mobilize more churches toward wholistic orphan care. Our incredible team has already doubled our capacity in the last few months and remains on mission as we serve and love vulnerable families suffering under the weight of darkness that rips families apart.
Thank you for praying and supporting us and I look forward to continuing to work hard alongside one another as we seek to be light within the child welfare system.
Foster Care Initiatives has a lot of work ahead of us and I'm thankful you are part of what makes us who we are!
Berisha Black is an alumnus of the foster care system where she spent 15 years in care and then aged out of the system. She graduated from California State University; Los Angeles with her Bachelor’s in Social Work and is now finishing her Master’s degree in Non-Profit leadership. Currently, she works for The Governor’s Office of Faith and Community Partnerships working to help restore people from poverty to wholeness with the support of the faith-based community.
Prior to that she worked for Casey Family Programs for 5 years in the training and technical assistance unit. She has created and ran the Los Angeles County Youth Ombudsman office for 6 years. She has also been an advocate on foster care issues locally and nationally sharing her ideas for change and her expertise to impact policy. Berisha was recently voted the Chair of the South Mountain Works Coalition, a collaborative project of many leaders and organizations in South Phoenix that has had great outcomes in serving the South Phoenix area.
Berisha is married, has a 3 and a half year old son, and recently began the process of adopting a 14 year old girl. She was a founding board member of Foster Care Initiatives and is looking forward to seeing how the Lord uses this ministry to touch the lives of the most vulnerable in Arizona.