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Fostering Change - Award Winning Podcast

Episode 32: Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer

March 17, 2020

Episode 32: Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer


In this episode, Rob and Dana talk to Alia Innovations founder Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer. Alia is working to reform the child welfare system with a focus on keeping families together. She talks about how there is no evidence to show that removing children from their biological families is beneficial and how fostering the family is a lot more effective for positive outcomes.

Read more about Alia Innovations at

Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer is a social entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Alia: innovations for people and systems impacted by childhood trauma. Alia works with leaders across the country and internationally to provide deep-dive systemic interventions designed to promote innovative ideas and radically reimagine child welfare. Amelia and her team at Alia believe that “Families as the solution” (not the problem). Alia calls this new way of work an “UnSystem”. Amelia has worked across the country and internationally leading a movement to create a child welfare system across the country where all people – youth and their caregivers – can thrive and families can have the support they need to raise their own children. In recognition of her foster care reform efforts, Amelia was named one of “25 Women Changing the World in 2018” by People Magazine.

At Alia, Amelia also works to convene change makers and advance the tools and knowledge base in the field of child welfare. This is why, when no other tools existed, she led the initiative to bring together academic, research and professional partners at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare to develop the Youth Connections Scale (YCS) and the Wellbeing Indicator Tool for Youth (WIT-Y), both nationally recognized, evidence-informed and widely applied tools. Amelia is also an author of many professional articles and a co-author of the book Present Moment Parenting. Amelia is a passionate presenter and has a widely-viewed TEDx Talk on the Human Need for Belonging. Amelia’s work has not gone unnoticed and in 2015, Amelia was named as a recipient of two prestigious fellowships: as a Bush Fellowship by the Bush Foundation and as an Ashoka Fellow by Ashoka Innovators for the Public. Amelia received numerous awards from her alma maters including: 2018 Alumni Achievement Award at Illinois State University; 2015 College of Education and Human Development (CHED) Alumni Society Award of Excellence from the University of Minnesota; 2010 Alumna of the Year Award from the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota; 2010 Emerging Leader by the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota for achieving “early distinction” in her career; and 2010 Alumni of the Year, Department of Sociology, Illinois State University.

Before Alia, Amelia was the CEO a treatment foster care agency located in 90 counties in Wisconsin and Minnesota. During her 16-year tenure, Amelia and her team produced nationally recognized child permanence and placement stability outcomes for children in out-of-home care and was on the leading edge of promoting and measuring well-being for youth and the child welfare workforce and were the winners of local, regional, and national innovation awards.

Amelia has spent her 30-year career dedicated to serving children and families in the areas of out-of-home care, family-based services and disability services. In addition, Amelia holds a doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership (University of Southern California), a Masters’ Degree in Sociology/Marriage and Family (Illinois State University), a Masters’ Degree in Social Work/Human Service Management, (University of Minnesota) and graduate certificates in Disability Policy and Services (University of Minnesota) and Permanence and Adoption Competency (University of Minnesota). Her dissertation topic was “What public child welfare leaders need to know and do to prevent undesired turnover and promote a culture of well-being.”

Amelia is also a certified facilitator of Dr. Brene Brown’s work in shame-resilience and vulnerability. Amelia has served on national and statewide boards and strategic committees in both private and public agencies that address her passion of improving the lives of children and families so that all can thrive.

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