Help Us Welcome Our New Co Directors!

Friends,

Happy New Year! 

In 2016 A Way Home America was formed to build the movement to end youth homelessness on a shared belief that the genuine leadership of young people who have experienced homelessness is essential to end youth homelessness. That belief is what prompted us to reshape our Leadership Body in 2019 to ensure the majority of seats are filled by young people.  

When we look across the past several decades, it is always young people who lead the most powerful movements for change. I’m excited to be standing alongside Marcella and Amanda as we move into this next shift in the movement to end youth homelessness.” Sarah Hunter (She/Her), NIS, Center for Housing Justice and A Way Home America Leadership Body Member.  

Today we are thrilled to announce Amanda Clifford and Marcella Middleton as Co Directors of A Way Home America. Amanda and Marcella have served as Leadership Body Co-Facilitators and are original “Founding 8” members. Both bring an understanding of and connection to young people experiencing homelessness that will elevate all of A Way Home America’s work and they both enter these roles with the full support of AWHA’s Leadership Body, staff, partners, and funders. 

“I wholeheartedly support the organization’s decision to move towards a co-directorship model. 2020 taught me that there are different ways to achieve a goal, and one of those ways is through shared power and decision making. Having two very qualified people making decisions for how we end youth homelessness, especially for Youth of Color and Queer Youth, means a more thoughtful and intentional process,” Roderick Hall (Gender Neutral Pronouns), Organizing Director for Abundant Housing LA and AWHA Leadership Body member shared. 

As we continue our collective work, A Way Home America is prioritizing our commitment to the Grand Challenge, the New Deal to End Youth Homelessness, and growing the movement to end youth homelessness in 2021.

Megan Gibbard Kline, Former Director of A Way Home America said, “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to transition AWHA leadership to Amanda and Marcella, and look forward to the transformative year ahead.”

We invite you to learn more about A Way Home America’s leadership transition and 2021 priorities at the next State of the Movement on Tuesday, January 26 from 12:00PM – 3:00PM EST.

Learn more about Amanda and Marcella below: 

Amanda Clifford (she/her) based in San Jose, California is likely to tell you four things about herself. 1. She is married and expecting a baby girl and that she and her husband are SUPER excited to welcome Sofia! 2. Education is extremely important to her. She nearly missed the opportunity to attend college and six degrees later continues to not take education for granted. 3. Amanda loves fun facts! She is an only child with no cousins! 4. She wants two kittens, to be named Snickers and Twix (and yes, their coats need to look like the candy bars). 

Since 2017 Amanda has dedicated herself to the movement to end youth homelessness. At the Bill Wilson Center, a local non-profit agency serving youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, Amanda offered insights from her lived-experiences to shape federal, state, and local policies for youth experiencing homelessness and address how homelessness intersects with the justice system. 

In the past 3 and half years Amanda has been recognized locally with the Phenomenal Woman Award by Building Peaceful Buildings and nationally by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice where she received the Spirit of Youth Award.

Marcella Middleton (she/her) based in Raleigh, North Carolina is a connector, motivator, and survivor. Determined to challenge the stereotype that “people mostly do what they see and not what they hear”, Marcella dedicated her life to traditional ideas of success such as school and a career. It is through personal and professional experiences that Marcella has gained the confidence and knowledge to challenge society’s ideals of success. Her evolution through consistent adversities has shifted her values which empowers greater self awareness and awareness of the world around her.

Marcella is a Black mom, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend fighting everyday for freedom, equity, and protection for herself and those just like her. Marcella is book smart, street smart, and everything in between. She has a degree in Social Work and has advocated for 15 years for youth in foster care and other nontraditional living arrangements. Marcella’s advocacy started in 2005 at an organization called Sayso where she advocated, mentored, and worked on behalf of youth that are or have been in substitute care. After being introduced to the work in 2005 she went on to continue work as a social worker, social work trainer, and member of Hope Centers Board of Directors. Her work on the National Forum on Homelessness empowered Marcella to center her lived experiences to help guide the transformation of the youth homelessness system.

Join us in welcoming Amanda and Marcella as the new Co Directors of A Way Home America. You can reach Amanda at amanda@awayhomeamerica.org and Marcella at marcella@awayhomeamerica.org

“I am beyond excited about the new leadership structure for AWHA as we are actively embracing and living into our values. Marcella and Amanda bring that individual and collective wisdom, leadership, and passion that will take us to the next level toward our ultimate goal of ending youth homelessness for youth of color and LGBTQ youth on a path to ending it for all,” Sherilyn Adams (She/Her), Executive Director of Larkin Street Youth Services and AWHA Leadership Body member shared.

Please join us at the State of the Movement on Tuesday, January 26 from 12:00pm – 3:00pm EST to hear more about our transition to Co-Directorship and other updates within the movement.