Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Canada Flintridge), in partnership with Pasadena City College, hosted a Foster Youth Town Hall to provide information and resources for foster youth. This year’s theme was centered around exploring opportunities in a virtual world.
“It’s an honor to be able to connect with current and former foster youth and help them succeed both in academics and their careers,” stated Senator Portantino. “This year’s townhall was a great opportunity to learn how to turn ideas and talents into a virtual business. I am grateful to the panelists and all our community partners who were on hand to answer questions and offer resources. Many thanks to Pasadena City College for partnering with us on this event over the years.”
This year’s keynote speaker was Sjacquis Johnson, a former foster youth who spent 18 years in the foster care system. Ms. Johnson is an international model, designer, creative director, model coach, mental health advocate and a natural hair influencer. She wanted to remind youth that “you can’t lose when you’re living your truth.”
Other speakers on the panel included Shaina Brown, Manager of State Government Relations for eBay with over ten years of government relations experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, as well as Kimberly Lockwood, a former elementary and middle school teacher and entrepreneur who obtained her personal training certification and started her own online fitness training business.
“eBay is honored to join Senator Portantino’s Foster Youth Townhall – we believe in empowering people and creating economic opportunity for all,” stated Shaina Brown of eBay. “We hope that all participants were inspired by eBay seller and owner of Lots of Pets, Harry Shamoyan. His business demonstrates the value of entrepreneurship and how to leverage ecommerce to build a successful business.”
eBay seller and owner of Lots of Pets Harry Shamoyan also spoke about his experience and successes in reaching a global audience with his online business. Harry, who has always been a devoted animal lover, saw an opportunity to sell affordable pet supplies at competitive prices and took his business online through eBay.
The panel also featured speakers from Pasadena City College. Jason Barquero, Director of Robert G. Freeman Center for Career and Completion, discussed career and workforce development opportunities for students and alumni. David Sigala, Educational Advisor for NextUp, presented on foster youth programs offered at community colleges, which include a comprehensive set of services for current and former foster youth, as well as caregivers of foster youth.
Ryan Methany, who is Managing Librarian for Legal Education at the LA Law Library, also joined the townhall panel. Mr. Methany develops and oversees educational programming for attorneys, professionals, and self-represented litigants.
“LA Law Library is happy to serve as a resource to young entrepreneurs, especially those coming out of the foster care system,” stated Ryan Methany, Managing Librarian for Legal Education at the LA Law Library.
“Starting your own business and succeeding involves the law in so many ways, and yet there’s so little free and affordable help out there. We help fill that gap, through classes, clinics, and research assistance. We applaud Senator Portantino for organizing this event and helping connect foster youth to the resources they need to thrive,” he added.
Senator Portantino, the panelists, and community partners fielded questions at the end of the program to address any concerns that townhall participants may have.
Community partners for the event included the Alliance For Children’s Rights, California State University Los Angeles, California Youth Connection, David & Margaret Youth & Family Services, Journey House, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Office of Education Foster Youth Services, Pasadena City College EOP&S/CARE/NEXTUP, and the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health.