Dianna Walters (Former Staff) Senior Policy Advisor
Dianna Walters joined First Focus in 2014 as a Senior Policy Advisor and Co-Director of the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC), a national resource center for state-based advocates aimed at improving outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system by building the capacity of and connections between state child welfare advocates.
Dianna received a BA in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Southern Maine and a MS in Public Policy and Management with the Muskie School of Public Service. It is in Maine where Dianna spent over a decade engaged in child welfare reform efforts in partnership with the Youth and Community Engagement Team at the Muskie School of Public Service in Portland. She also spent six years engaged in direct service for homeless and at-risk youth with New Beginnings in Lewiston, Maine.
Dianna relocated to Missouri in 2011 to serve as a member of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s policy team where she framed and disseminated messages about adolescent brain development and implications for child welfare, contributing to a shift in the perspectives and approaches of key stakeholders across a variety of sectors. Through her work with the Jim Casey Initiative, she co-managed a multi-state policy campaign to extend foster care beyond age 18 and advance youth engagement policies and practices. Dianna has worked on a variety of national and state foster care policy issues such as older youth permanency, education, psychotropic medications, trauma-informed services, and supporting healthy adolescent development. Dianna has been published on topics such as conducting transition planning with young people in foster care, permanency for older youth, and the importance of maintaining biological family connections.
Dianna currently serves as a board member of Camp to Belong International, a program that reunites siblings separated by foster care.