/12 March, 2021

Board names Marie Zemler Wu Executive Director

Recently, Foster America’s governing board unanimously voted to nominate Marie Zemler Wu, Co-Founder and previous Chief Program Officer, as Executive Director. She had been serving as interim Executive Director since mid-January, when the previous executive director, Founder Sherry Lachman, was named Associate Director for Education, Income Maintenance and Labor in President Biden’s Office of Management and Budget.

Below, please read a note from our board chair, Rafael López, and Marie as she outlines her vision for the coming months.

Co-Founder and Executive Director Marie Zemler Wu, left, stands with Cohort 1 fellows and Founder Sherry Lachman.

Dear Friends of Foster America,

We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well. On behalf of our board of directors, I am delighted to share that we have unanimously voted to name Marie Zemler Wu as the Executive Director of Foster America. As a co-founder of the organization, Marie has led with integrity, a commitment to reforming the child welfare system, organizational acumen and grace. She is passionate about the work, widely respected both within Foster America and in the field across the country, and is ready to lead Foster America in authentic partnership with all of our stakeholders. 

As we reimagine and create the future, our board looks forward to collaborating with Marie in service of a more just world for our children and families – one where equity is centered in all that we do, where families have the supports they need to thrive, and in the rare instances where foster care placement is needed, children and families experience the respect, dignity and healing they rightly deserve.

The board considers this a moment of transition – for our nation, for children and families, and for Foster America. Over the course of this year, we look forward to sharing the transformative work of our fellows and alumni with you, and to hearing your perspective on our present and future as we celebrate our five-year anniversary. We are deeply thankful for your continued support. Below, Marie offers her thoughts as she steps into her new role.

In partnership, 

Rafael López, Board Chair


Dear Friends, 

I am honored to be named Executive Director of Foster America. When we launched our first call for new leaders and innovators to work in child welfare, I could scarcely imagine the force for change our fellows and fellowship would become. 

Over these past five years, it has been a privilege to serve as Foster America’s Chief Program Officer.  We have assembled a stellar team, launched 55 fellowships, meaningfully collaborated with agency partners across the nation, grown with the help of an esteemed network of supporters, and designed innovations that have and will continue to matter for children and families. 

This transition coincides with a time of unprecedented stress and isolation for children and families, and a national reckoning with the pervasive and insidious harms of racial injustice. The coming weeks and months will be a time of deep reflection—on the lessons we’ve learned, our impact, our continued evolution and sustainability, and our responsibility to dismantle racism in ourselves, our organization, and our systems. I look forward to connecting with you as we embark on the next steps of our journey together.

In gratitude, 

Marie Zemler Wu, Co-Founder and Executive Director



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