As part of Miracle Foundation’s strategy for 2023, we want to listen to and invest in people with “lived experience.” We cannot solve problems by simply looking at them from the outside. We need the unique perspective and insight of young people who have been through the US Foster Care System.
Madison Dao-Whitten is one such person who joined us in February at our first-ever Social Impact Summit. This 3-day event brought young change makers together from all over the country for workshops in how to vision and lead successful community initiatives. It included topics on leadership, marketing, finance and more. Then we listened to their plans for impactful change and awarded grants to the most compelling ideas.
Madison co-designed the event and served as a gifted facilitator. She brought her incredible skill set, expertise and knowledge from her own lived experience, ensuring a very successful event.
Madison was in the foster care system for seven years. At 19 years old, Madison had her first legislative win when she led a small team of former foster youth to draft the Nevada Foster Care Bill of Rights. At 20 years old, Madison worked in the U.S. Congress and raised awareness around the overmedication of foster children and youth. She is now a leading expert and advisor for a national agency that partners with family and young adult leaders to enhance and improve the child welfare system.
With the Summit now complete, we asked Madison a few questions about her experience during the event.
Q: Hey Madison. Thanks for taking some time.
A: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for reaching out.
Q: Can you tell us what you hoped to accomplish with the summit?
A: The only goal I had was to encourage my peers to reach higher and dream bigger. And I’m happy to say…I saw this happen over the course of the three-day event. I watched everyone involved grow and change, through relationship building and having folks talk more deeply about their dreams and their goals.
Q What was the greatest take away from the event?
A: The biggest take away for me was the generosity of the Miracle Foundation and their team. I felt that everyone at Miracle truly believed in us, encouraged us, and was respectful to us. That kind of support is very powerful.
Q: Any surprises over the weekend…or powerful moments?
A: The most powerful moment that I experienced was watching one of the grant winners shine more brightly. It was so amazing to watch her feel more confident because everyone believed in her and her dreams.
Q: Why is it important to you to work with people who have lived experience?
A: It’s important for me to work with people with lived experience because it’s my way of paying it forward. Throughout my life, so many people have poured into me and it’s time now that I pour into others.