Who We Are

Kids Impact Initiative was founded in 2017 by Wendy Lazarus and Laurie Lipper. They have worked together in three organizations and for more than 30 years forging advocacy strategies for children that blend research and policy development with communications narratives and strategies. This blend has enabled them to identify emerging issues and be effective in a variety of advocacy environments, leading to significant advances in policies and practices that benefit children.

Together, they have also mapped altogether new areas affecting children, such as the advent of technology, and defined an actionable agenda for children in important but uncharted areas. Ms. Lipper and Ms. Lazarus have also worked to create positive and productive workplace cultures and to recruit and mentor advocates new to the field.

Co-Founders

Wendy Lazarus, Co-Founder

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Wendy Lazarus is Co-Founder of Kids Impact Initiative, a nonprofit started in 2017 to improve the lives of the nation’s 73 million children. As a leading child advocate and strategist for more than 40 years, she created Kids Impact to develop and promote next-generation strategies that support and strengthen the child advocacy field as a whole. Kids Impact analyzes advocacy trends and lessons across a broad range of issues, advancing new ways to support effective efforts already underway and strengthen accountability and advocacy for children.

In addition, Ms. Lazarus is a Senior Fellow at UCLA’s Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities, a board member of Leading for Kids and of Connected Nation, and a Senior Advisor to The Children’s Partnership. She is spearheading Kids Impact’s partnership with StriveTogether’s initiative, “Shifting Accountability and Resources to Center Youth.” Read more…

Laurie Lipper, Co-Founder

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Laurie Lipper is Co-Founder of Kids Impact Initiative, a nonprofit started in 2017 to improve the lives of the nation’s 73 million children. After more than three decades as an advocacy organization executive, Ms. Lipper created Kids Impact Initiative to develop and promote next-generation strategies that support and strengthen the child advocacy field as a whole. Kids Impact analyzes advocacy trends and lessons across a broad range of issues, advancing new ways to support effective efforts already underway and strengthen accountability and advocacy for children.

She currently serves as a senior advisor to The Children’s Partnership and on the Washington Advisory Council of Common Sense Media. Read more…

Advisors

Lauren Asher, Principal, LJA Strategies

Lauren Asher is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader, policy expert, and strategic advocate. At LJA Strategies, she partners with foundations and nonprofits striving to improve the lives of low-income students and working families. Focused on lowering barriers to equity and opportunity, her experience spans the nonprofit, philanthropic, and public sectors and education, labor, and health care issues. As president of The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) and co-founder of its Project on Student Debt, she led a high-impact research and policy nonprofit devoted to strengthening college affordability, accountability, and outcomes—nationally and in California.

Lauren previously served in senior positions at the Kaiser Family Foundation, National Partnership for Women & Families, and U.S. Department of Labor after starting her nonprofit career in California at Children Now. Lauren holds an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA from Brown University.  Find Lauren on LinkedIn.

Yolie Flores, National Campaign Director for Parent Nation

Yolie Flores is the National Campaign Director for Parent Nation, an initiative of the TMW Center at The University of Chicago.  Parent Nation is a platform for change, a national mobilization effort of parents uniting to create demand for a society that better supports parents in raising healthy, successful children. Most recently, Yolie served as Chief Learning Officer at the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR), directing learning and engagement efforts for a network of 300+ local coalitions across 45 states, each of whom is leading efforts to advance early literacy and third-grade reading proficiency for children from low-income families.

In this role Yolie also managed CGLR’s Successful Parents portfolio and strategic partnerships with organizations equipping and supporting parents and with organizations leading innovative and evidence-based efforts in the early learning space. Throughout her career, Yolie has served in leadership roles for local and national nonprofits, local government, and schools in the fields of early childhood, K-12 education, and health and human services.  From 2007-2011 Yolie served as an elected member and Vice President of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Board of Education, and she was a candidate for congress in 2017. Yolie lives and plays with her dog Molly in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park. Find Yolie on LinkedIn.

Linda Fowells, independent consultant, coach, and thought partner

Linda works with individual leaders, community and civic organizations, and multi-organizational efforts to strengthen their leadership, effectiveness, sustainability, and impact. Linda brings unique cross-sectoral experience to her role, having worked in nonprofit, corporate, and government settings. With extensive expertise in strategy, organizational capacity, leadership development, networks, and public policy, she has provided counsel to a broad range of organizations and collaboratives of varying sizes and stages of growth. Linda has guest taught at several colleges and graduate schools. She also writes and speaks publicly on topics such as networks, civic engagement, and organizational effectiveness.

Linda was previously executive vice president of Community Partners, where she played a key role in setting the strategic direction and generating opportunities for the organization. Linda is also a Leap Ambassador, a member of a community of nonprofit, philanthropic, and public-sector thought leaders who are committed to high performance. Linda has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School, and a BA from Pomona College. Find Linda on LinkedIn.

Ruth Holton-Hodson, recently retired
Ruth spent her thirty-five year career as a health and consumer advocate in government, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors. She was formerly the Deputy Treasurer for Health and Consumer Policy for State Treasurer John Chiang, where she represented the treasurer on the CalPERS Board. She also developed and led the outreach and stakeholder engagement efforts for California’s new retirement program for private sector workers, CalSavers. Prior to that, she served for six years as the Deputy Controller for Health and Consumer Policy where she partnered with labor and management to develop a state employee worksite wellness program, Healthier U.

She spent almost ten years working for The California Wellness Foundation as a Special Projects Director and then Director of Public Policy where she focused on increasing access to health care in low-income communities and educating the philanthropic sector about public policy grantmaking. She was the advocate and then Executive Director for California Common Cause where she ran two successful statewide initiative campaigns on campaign finance and ethics reforms. She began her public policy career as a lobbyist for the California Children’s Lobby. She has a master’s in educational administration from The University of Chicago. Find Ruth on LinkedIn.

Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs
Dr. Raphael J. Sonenshein is the Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at CSU Los Angeles. Previously, he was Chair of the Division of Politics, Administration, and Justice at CSU Fullerton. He received his BA from Princeton and his M.A. and PhD from Yale. He is the author of three books on Los Angeles politics and government. Dr. Sonenshein served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles (Appointed) Charter Reform Commission. He served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Review Commission.

He was Best Educator and Distinguished College Faculty Member at CSUF. He received a Wang Family Excellence Award. He was the first winner of the campus-wide Carol Barnes Award for Teaching Excellence and one of two co-winners of the Haynes Foundation Research Impact Award. He was the fall 2008 Fulbright Tocqueville Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the University of Paris.

Team members

Jenny Kattlove, Consultant

Jenny has developed and grown several policy and programmatic initiatives that have resulted in systemic change toward improving the lives of low-income communities, especially children and youth of color, in both California and Ohio. Jenny has authored several seminal pieces of research and has worked directly with communities, including youth, to identify and implement solutions to better their lives and their communities.

As a consultant, Jenny supports nonprofit, governmental, and philanthropic organizations with public policy research and writing, advocacy agenda development and strategic guidance, program development and implementation, community engagement, and coalition building. Find Jenny on LinkedIn.

Karen Nabavi, Consultant

Karen has worked for over twenty years to help nonprofits and universities leverage the power of digital communication to achieve their goals.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wake Forest University and received her M.A. from Georgetown University. She began her career with The Children’s Partnership, supporting the organization’s efforts through writing, research, and web content management. She later joined the central IT group at Georgetown University, working with a diverse group of departments in creating websites, web-based applications, and digital communication strategy. More recently, Karen primarily consults on web content and site development for nonprofit organizations.

Ilana Ross, Consultant
Carrie Spencer, Consultant

Since the early 1990’s, the principals of Kids Impact Initiative have used this model of conceptualizing and framing issues and strategies that have had far-reaching impact on child advocacy and, ultimately, the nation’s children. For example, in 1994, in their leadership roles at The Children’s Partnership, they wrote the first report on how the Internet could impact the nation’s children and laid out an action agenda. In 1995, they developed the first guide for parents in the online world, both of which sparked widespread advocacy action. In the health arena, they laid out in a 1999 publication the way the majority of uninsured children could be found and more easily enrolled in coverage through nutrition and other programs in which they were already enrolled. This approach, called Express Lane Eligibility, was adopted in a number of states and included as part of the Affordable Care Act, resulting in millions of children gaining coverage. These seminal publications (and related advocacy) are a few examples of how research and strategic direction can spark large and ongoing advocacy activities that lead to tangible results for kids.