A Message from Sam: Sharing Important News with You

To our supporters and friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I am writing to let you know our Co-Founder and Vice President of Policy, Deanne Pearn, will be moving on from First Place for Youth at the end of this month, to be Executive Director of Contra Costa Interfaith Housing. It is hard to express just how much First Place will miss Deanne. We wish her all the best in her new role, where she will lead CCIH’s efforts in providing critical support to vulnerable populations in Contra Costa County.

Back in 1998, Deanne and Amy Lemley saw a gap in the safety net for foster youth and co-founded First Place to bridge that gap. Their original idea has grown from serving five youth in Oakland that first year to now serving 2,000 throughout California. Deanne’s leadership and advocacy have grown First Place into a nationally-recognized leader in our field, fueled by her fierce compassion and dedication to our community’s at-risk young people.

Deanne has worn so many hats at First Place, from designing our original program, to leading the organization’s fundraising activities, to building out a Policy Department that advocates on behalf of foster youth at federal, state, and local levels of government. We cannot thank Deanne enough for helping to get First Place to where we are today, and we look forward to supporting her efforts on behalf of vulnerable populations in Contra Costa.

The staff and youth of First Place are deeply grateful that Deanne and Amy had the understanding, as graduate students, that direct services alone are not enough to change the trajectory for foster youth in the United States. They were at the forefront of connecting direct services with systems change in order to end the poverty that affects so many foster youth. Because of Deanne, this connection has been firmly implanted into the organization’s DNA. We will continue to advance our policy agenda, as part of eliminating disparities between foster youth and their non-foster peers—it just won’t be quite as much fun without Deanne.

Please reach out if you have questions about this transition, and thank you as always for being on our team.


Research & Publications

2023 Annual Report

In 2023, First Place for Youth and our network partners in Massachusetts, New York, Mississippi, and Cincinnati served 1,660 young […]

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Love, Legacy, and Lessons Learned on the Road with CEO Thomas Lee

Following the First Place for Youth retreat in Alabama, I continued to New York, Washington D.C., the Carolinas, and ultimately […]

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A Transformational Journey Through America’s History: First Place for Youth Travels to the Legacy Museum Sites 

First Place for Youth is committed to rectifying historical inequities and empowering historically oppressed groups by acknowledging the importance of […]

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