Seasons Change: The Emerging Leaders Rearrange

Seasons Change: The Emerging Leaders Rearrange

Michaela Battle and Rachel Shifaraw smiling in background looking at Zoe Bulitt and Tony Parson smiling on stage
Written by Rachel Shifaraw, Adult Adoptee, C.A.S.E. Creative Content Specialist
Published on: May 03, 2024
Category Adoption

As the seasons change, the Emerging Leaders are rearranging! After four years of spearheading the Emerging Leaders project, founders & now former chairwomen, Michaela Battle & I are passing the torch to new hands. It was our own rule…persons in places of leadership were allowed to serve two, two-year terms consecutively before having to step down. So, simply stated, our time was up.

Battle & I were up late one night talking…our normal routine. I asked her what she’d miss most about all of this…

“One of the things I’ll miss the most is the opportunity to connect with & empower fellow adoptees on their journey. Being able to provide support, guidance & a sense of belonging to others who share similar experiences has been incredibly rewarding”, she said.

For me personally, the thing I’ll miss most is my daily interaction with Michaela. Over the past four years, she has become the sister I never had. The work we do is indeed quite rewarding, however, the greatest gift I got from all this is having a built-in “she just gets it” person by my side.

In the past, I’ve described the Emerging Leaders Council as our baby…something we essentially created, nourished & “raised” over the years. We continued our conversation discussing our hopes for the future of the EL’s…

“Looking ahead, I hope to see the group continue to thrive & evolve, reaching new audiences & expanding our National reach”, Battle stated.

I quickly agreed with her. I believe so deeply in the power of storytelling & I think our “lived experience” is invaluable. My hope for the Emerging Leaders is that they never forget the importance of using their voices in a society where silence still sometimes wins.

As Michaela & I depart from the Emerging Leaders, we are thrilled to be taking on new roles at C.A.S.E. Michaela intends to make big impacts as a new member on the board of directors. She’ll become the acting liaison between the board & the Emerging Leader Council. I’ve slipped into a role creating content for C.A.S.E. I’m excited to bring new ideas, a new writing style & new creative insight into the organization. My plan is to continue working the voices of lived experience into C.A.S.E.’s content.

We couldn’t feel better about walking away from this knowing that we’re leaving it all in good hands. Under new chairman, Tony Parsons & co-chair, Zoe Bulitt, we have no doubt the council will continue to function appropriately.

I was able to catch up with both Tony & Zoe to discuss a bit about their feelings in their new roles…

“What really helped me make the choice to step up & lead is the opportunity to work closely with Debbie Riley, Laura Ornelas & other executives at C.A.S.E. Also, the chance to work closely with Zoe Bulitt & Emily Kwiatkowski is something I could only dream of. Together, we will take the Emerging Leaders to the next level”, Parsons said when asked what inspired him to take a shot at the chairman position.

Zoe also felt inspired to step up by those around her, stating, “I was approached about becoming an Emerging Leader co-chair from other members. I was super honored & grateful for the encouragement.”

I asked them both about their goals for the Emerging Leaders under their watch…What are their hopes & dreams for this dream team?!

Zoe gave a quick response, “my main goal for my term is to make sure the EL’s are being utilized throughout C.A.S.E. Having regular social media posts dedicated to the adoption experience highlighting our specific stories is something I’d like to see happen more often.”

Tony agreed, “during my term, I hope to continue to expand the reach of the Emerging Leaders both geographically & at C.A.S.E. As the organization continues to grow on the national stage, I want the Emerging Leaders to also reflect C.A.S.E.’s national presence.” Parsons also mentioned something important to him about growing diversity on the council… “I am hoping to balance the composition of the EL’s by adding more males to the team as well. Keith (Sciarillo) & I are doing a great job but we’d love some help”!

From my conversations with our team, one thing was abundantly clear…everyone wants growth. There is this fire of passion burning amongst this team & we can’t wait to see how they continue to flourish in the years to come!