The Youth Transition Funders Group (YTFG) is a national network of funders that work together to support the well-being and economic success of vulnerable young people age 14 to 25. We seek to ensure that all young people have lifelong family, personal, and community connections and the opportunities and tools to succeed throughout adulthood.

YTFG provides a vibrant and active community for approximately 100 national, regional, and community funders to learn from each other and other experts in the field, stay abreast of new research and key policy developments, inform and influence policy and practice, and foster collaborative approaches to grantmaking. We support peer networking and sharing, create key partnerships with leaders in the field, and provide strategic opportunities to leverage and extend the efforts of individual members.

YTFG members meet biannually and communicate regularly regarding how they can leverage investments that help to build the capacity of communities to effectively support young people transitioning to adulthood; strengthen federal and state policies for older youth and young adults; and raise public awareness of the needs of transitioning youth.

Our Work

Our network provides a unique space for diverse funders to come together to explore cross-cutting issues affecting all vulnerable youth. Our members’ interests and expertise spans a wide range of content areas including education, workforce development, child welfare, youth justice, housing, health and mental health. We seek to expand beyond narrow and often siloed dialogue to build a collective understanding of how a multi-systems approach can produce improved youth outcomes. YTFG works to highlight critical overlaps and intersections of youth-serving systems and identify creative approaches to design cross-system strategies and solutions.

In addition to our cross-systems efforts, YTFG operates three dedicated workgroups for members desiring to connect with colleagues to address the unique needs of particularly vulnerable youth populations: those disconnected from work or school and those currently experiencing the child welfare or youth justice systems.

Steering Committee

YTFG is advised by an active Steering Committee who provides overall direction for the network. Our Steering Committee members include:

Jeannine Balfour

Steering Committee Chair
Senior Program Officer, Domestic Programs
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Teresa Markowitz

Vice President for the Center for Effective Family Services and Systems
Annie E. Casey Foundation

Jerry Bexten

Multiple Pathways to Graduation Work Group Co-Chair
Director of Education Initiatives
The Sherwood Foundation

Kristin Schubert

Senior Program Officer
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Matt Cervantes

Steering Committee Vice Chair
Senior Program Officer
Sierra Health Foundation

Diane Sierpina

Youth Justice Work Group Co-Chair
Program Director for Justice Programs
Tow Foundation

Sarah Kroon Chiles

Foster Care Work Group Co-Chair
Executive Director
Redlich Horwitz Foundation

Gary Stangler

Executive Director
Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative

Patrice Cromwell

Multiple Pathways to Graduation Work Group Co-Chair
Director, Strategic Initiatives
Annie E. Casey Foundation

Diana Aubourg Millner

Youth Justice Work Group Co-Chair
Senior Program Officer
Stoneleigh Foundation

Carmen James Lane

Senior Program Officer
Greater New Orleans Foundation

Aisha van Ter Sluis

Young Adult Member
Trauma Grant Specialist
DC Child and Family Services Agency

Lyman Legters

Senior Director
Casey Family Programs

Kristin Williams

Foster Care Work Group Co-Chair
Director of Community Initiatives
The Sherwood Foundation

Mary Lee

Young Adult Member
National Transition Living Coordinator
Youth Villages


Barbara Langford

YTFG Director

Langford is a founder of Mainspring Consulting, a firm that works with foundation and public sector leaders to design initiatives for children, youth and families, leverage resources in support of their goals, and develop effective plans to move from good thinking to action. Barbara regularly works with funder affinity groups, technical assistance collaboratives, state networks and local coalitions to help leaders identify shared goals, strategically develop plans to leverage resources and act collectively. Barbara is a seasoned facilitator with experience designing and supporting effective planning processes focused on organizational development, strategic financing, and sustainability. Barbara is the former Vice President for Tools, Technical Assistance and Training at The Finance Project, and has held positions at Families USA, the Massachusetts State Women’s Commission, and the US Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

Michelle Ganow-Jones

YTFG Communications Manager
Michelle Ganow-Jones serves as the Communications Manager for YTFG, overseeing all of the communication strategies for the network. Michelle is dedicated to strengthening the policies and systems that impact vulnerable populations and improving outcomes for children, and their families. Her work has focused on expanding funding opportunities, improving policies at all levels of government, and increasing the capacity of organizations to effect change across a range of programs including afterschool, early childhood, child welfare, and TANF. Michelle also serves at the Executive Director of Oregon NOW, a state chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Mary Bissell

Foster Care Work Group Lead Consultant
Mary Bissell is an attorney, child and family policy expert and founding partner of ChildFocus. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center where she teaches a class on advocacy for public interest lawyers. Mary was formerly a Fellow at the New America Foundation, a non-partisan public policy institute that brings new voices and ideas to America’s public discourse. She also served as a senior staff attorney and lobbyist at the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) where she focused on poverty, child welfare, substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health policy issues.

Jennifer Miller

Foster Care Work Group Lead Consultant
Jennifer Miller is a social worker, child advocate and founding partner of ChildFocus. Previously, Jennifer was a strategic consultant with Cornerstone Consulting Group where she led its child welfare policy and practice work in the areas of kinship care, workforce development and permanency planning. Jennifer has also worked on a broad range of issues at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, including developing their federal human services policy agenda. Jennifer began her human services career at the American Public Welfare Association (APWA), now the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), where she developed and analyzed federal legislation and regulations on child welfare issues and served as project manager for the National Association of Child Welfare Administrators (NAPCWA).

Nancy Martin

Multiple Pathways to Graduation Work Group Lead Consultant
Nancy Martin serves as the Lead Consultant for the Multiple Pathways to Graduation Work Group. Martin specializes in identifying solutions for youth in high-poverty communities and documenting alternative pathways to high school graduation and postsecondary success, and she has authored numerous publications on program and policy solutions for vulnerable youth. Previously, Nancy was Director of Capacity Building Initiatives at the National Youth Employment Coalition, where she oversaw NYEC’s education and quality standards initiatives to expand high-quality education and employment options for youth. She has also worked with the American Youth Policy Forum, taught high school in the Boston Public Schools, and worked with the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO.

Michelle Weemhoff

Youth Justice Work Group Lead Consultant
Michelle Weemhoff serves as the Lead Consultant for the Youth Justice Work Group. Specializing in advocacy, community organizing and public policy development, Michelle aims to expand opportunities for youth involved in the justice system. She has advanced reform in multiple states to improve court proceedings, quality legal representation, alternatives to detention and incarceration and sentencing youth as adults. She has presented at state and national conferences, as well as co-authored numerous publications, to promote strategies that incorporate youth development principles into policy and practice. Michelle also works as the Associate Director for the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, a non-profit advocacy organization. She previously coordinated the Public Defense Taskforce at the Campaign for Justice and led the Health and Justice for Youth Campaign at Physicians for Human Rights.