Binti’s First Annual “Put the Child First” Advocate of the Year Award

One of Binti’s core values is “Put the Child First,” meaning, in every decision we make as a company, we prioritize what’s best for the child over everything else.

Working in child welfare can be challenging, and there are many individuals who are working hard every day to support and advocate for children and families. With the first annual “Put the Child First” Advocate Award, Binti wants to regularly recognize individuals who are driving meaningful change in the field and helping shape a more equitable, loving, and prevention-focused child welfare system.

We received many nominations of amazing individuals making a positive impact for children and families, and were humbled by their inspiring stories. Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations; we wish we could have given awards to every single person. It was a very difficult decision to choose this year’s four winners! This year, we’d like to announce the first ever 2021 “Put the Child First” Advocates of the Year:

Diane Carlson

Diane Carlson is one of a kind. She has been fostering for fifty, yes, you read it right, “50” years for San Mateo County, Children & Family Services. She has touched the lives of hundreds of children and their families over those years. It does not stop there, she is a RFA pre-service trainer that facilitates two support groups, and is lead mentor for the San Mateo County’s mentoring program. Diane makes a difference in the world by treating each child she has cared for with kindness, respect, and compassion.

She and her husband began as pre-adopt parents and helped organize the Medically Fragile Infant program as the first HIV and drug exposed babies came into the system. They took the legal guardianship of their youngest daughter at this time. During this period Diane was also teaching teenagers who lived in the Receiving Home. Her husband passed away in 1996, may he rest in peace, but the need for and the joy of taking care of children was still strong in her life. Working with birth families, nurturing children, partnering with social workers and training and mentoring new parents has been gratifying and rewarding for Diane.

We are humbled and grateful for Diane’s unparalleled commitment to children.

Thank you to Ayse Dogan from San Mateo County for the nomination.

Krystale Bezio

A woman on a mission, Krystale began her career at Upbring as a social worker and continued to climb through her hard work and commitment to breaking the cycle of child abuse. As the Chief Program Officer at Upbring in Texas, she oversees all program direction for all foster care, adoption, supervised independent living, residential treatment centers and the Office of Refugee and Resettlement programs.

Krystale has spent over 17 years dedicated toward directly serving 50000+ foster children in Texas. Her work spans a wide range of child services and nearly two decades of unpredictable external forces like COVID-19, Hurricane Harvey, and other disasters that have required steadfast leadership. As a mother of multiple girls, Krystale still even finds time to be at nearly every one of her children’s sporting events while managing staff needs and overseeing programs that serve upwards of 30,000 people each year. She also developed and implemented a Quality Management program to meet the demographic and epidemiological needs of the children and families in Upbring’s care.

We recognize and are inspired by Krystale’s selfless dedication in promoting child wellbeing and breaking the cycle of child abuse.

Thank you to Ryan Park from Upbring for the nomination.

Anthony Williams

Anthony Williams’ passion for working with youth comes from his personal experience as an orphan in Honduras and his own adoption at age eight. He has never forgotten his roots. For the last six years he has pursued his life goal of working with youth at The Children’s Village. With no previous experience, Anthony had to learn quickly. He has emerged as one of The Children’s Village best Youth Advocates.

Anthony has a unique ability to connect with young people. He makes them feel safe and secure and realize he is on their side. He is especially adept at developing employment opportunities, helping young people begin to develop life skills they will need like building a resume, learning how to secure a driver license, figuring out transportation to get to work and helping to develop Independent Living Skills. Anthony’s hard work has been recognized regularly because of his efforts to help youth. In the last few years, he has won numerous awards and has been invited to top performer events, hosted by the company’s CEO, Dr. Jeremy Kohomban. He holds records for SYEP job placements and has been labeled “the employment guy”.

We are deeply appreciative of Anthony’s passion in advocating for youth and promoting equality of opportunity.

Thank you to Danielle Gaffney from The Children’s Village for the nomination.

Nikki Greco

As the Child Placement Specialist at New Alternatives for Children in New York, she plays an instrumental role in identifying specialized foster home placements for children with special needs as well as youth who are in jeopardy of disruption. Nikki carefully and thoughtfully matches children in need of placement with prospective parents in an attempt to minimize trauma, especially for NAC’s hardest to place youth. Nikki coordinated in-person pre-placement visits before the pandemic, and she creatively ensured they continued safely, virtually during quarantine.

Nikki also does kinfinding work, where she coordinates outreach to birth parents and attempts to identify kinship or fictive kinship resources for children. Nikki’s dedication to kinfinding is predicated on her understanding of research that shows that children who are connected to their family, identity, and culture have better stability and long term outcomes.

She began at NAC as a case planner in the therapeutic program and she worked hard to establish permanency and emotional and physical safety for youth. While no longer in this role, she still maintains contact with her children and families to make sure that the children continue to receive the best support and services possible, as she believes supportive adults in the children’s lives are vital to their success.

Nikki, we are truly humbled and inspired by your unwavering compassion and commitment to child wellbeing.

Thank you to Muriel Vancol from New Alternatives for Children for the nomination.