In order to better meet the changing needs of the adoption and foster care adoption community, DAI is currently transitioning its Senior Fellows Program to an innovative new model. Please stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Council of Advisors

Since 1996, The Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI) has worked to improve the lives of children and families across our country and around the world through research, education and advocacy that have led to better laws, policies, practices and perceptions. To achieve our goals, we investigate the issues of greatest concern to birth parents, adopted persons, adoptive/foster families, the people who love them and the professionals that serve them. We then determine best practices and offer policy recommendations working with a broad array of partners in educational efforts and advocacy campaigns.

As we enter into our twentieth year, DAI is committed to taking our critical work to the next level. In order to ensure strong families, DAI recognizes the need for expanded conversations and continued changes in perceptions and behaviors.

To that end, DAI is building on its distinguished Senior Fellows Program by expanding and growing it into a new structure: the DAI Council of Advisors (CoA). The overarching purpose of this group will be to harness expertise and experience from across the adoption and foster care adoption spectrum. It will provide strategic and programmatic guidance to DAI, enabling it to better serve its communities and ultimately broaden its reach.

Members of the CoA will have the unique opportunity to impact DAI’s work surrounding research, advocacy, and education as well as to build community within a diverse group, drawing from multiple disciplines and including various stakeholders. CoA members will be exposed to differing perspectives and experiences, giving potential for cross disciplinary projects, studies and collaborations. From time to time, DAI will also call on Council members to engage in writing projects and commissioned research as well as to amplify DAI’s work throughout their networks.

A commitment to being on the Council of Advisors includes participation in a yearly plenary meeting which will provide a rich and unique learning experience for Council members. Additionally, members will participate in quarterly teleconferences throughout the year.

DAI looks forward to developing a unique and strong group of dynamic individuals that have relevant experience and vision in the areas that coincide with DAI’s work. We have every hope this collaboration will allow all of us to reframe critical conversations, build authentic relationships and provide valuable resources to encourage stronger families and stronger communities.

How is CoA different from DAI’s previous Senior Fellows program?

 For many years DAI has been engaging an amazing and diverse group of professionals via our Senior Fellows program. The Fellows are among the most prominent and esteemed researchers, lecturers and writers in the field of adoption and child welfare and they strengthen and expand DAI’s initiatives by;

  • contributing their knowledge and expertise,
  • providing content from their research and experience,
  • helping to shape projects, and
  • assisting in focusing efforts on the vitally important issues that affect children, birth families, adoptive families and professionals.

The majority of the Senior Fellows were focused on academic research with one or two individuals representing other areas. Today, we recognize the need to constantly evolve into an organization that addresses the changing needs of families and the professionals and advocates that serve them. CoA will be an expanded program to engage an even wider range of professionals and stakeholders so that we can continue to evolve and make substantive contributions to research, education and advocacy. DAI is committed to fostering a spirit of listening and working together as we know we are more powerful as unified, informed voices for reform.

How many CoA members will DAI be engaging?

The Council will consist of 25 members coming from three core groups: academics and researchers, practitioners and professionals and the community itself (i.e., birth parents/family members, adopted people, adoptive parents/family members). The majority of the Council members will have either a personal or professional connection (or in some cases both) to adoption/foster care adoption. The group will be augmented by other professionals drawn from outside of the community to provide expertise in areas such as social media and marketing in order to bring even more depth, diversity and collective thinking.

What are the main responsibilities for CoA members?

Basic engagement:

  • Set overall rules of engagement for the group – DAI will provide an overview and guardrails in terms of how often the group will meet but we’d like the group to engage initially to make decisions on how best to operate overall.
  • Provide feedback on DAI programmatic direction.
  • Provide expertise and review on specific projects.
  • Advise DAI on needs of their constituencies and developments from the field.

Additional opportunities may consist of:

  • Lead specific research projects (with mutually agreeable compensation)
  • Identify the next generation of leaders in their fields
  • Participate in DAI events/presentations as appropriate and as they are able
  • Guest blog on the DAI blog
  • Co-write commentaries for publications outside of DAI’s channels

What is the time commitment for CoA members?

CoA members are asked to commit to a minimum of two consecutive years of service. The basic activities will be as follows:

  • Attend a one or two day in person annual meeting in NYC (first meeting will be in 2016 date TBD) note: DAI is working on identifying sponsors for airfare and hotels in order to help defray the costs. Our hope is to host the group at no major cost to CoA members.
  • Participate in one hour quarterly teleconference.
  • Expend time on various individual projects as discussed and agreed upon.

In addition to these group activities, specific CoA members will be asked/invited to participate in various activities and the time commitment will depend on the individual project/activity and CoA availability.

How might CoA be beneficial to its members?

DAI’s CoA members have the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of individuals, participate in dynamic conversations and annual sessions/workshops and contribute to adoption and foster care adoption reform in unique ways. Our hope is to offer new and different experiences and “first looks” at some of our programming.

How are CoA members identified?

The inaugural members will be identified by DAI staff and Board and we welcome suggestions as the new group is forming.