Fostering Strength Luncheon May 2nd!

Join us for Fostering Strength 2023

Purchase Tickets!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023
JLCR Meet & Greet 11-Noon (Doors open at 11 a.m.)
Luncheon and program from 12 noon-1 p.m.
The HarMac (411 6th Ave SE Cedar Rapids, IA)

Fostering Strength is the premier fundraising event for the Junior League of Cedar Rapids. This year, we are excited to offer attendees a more “up close and personal” look into the foster care system by hosting a panel of key stakeholders from right here in Eastern Iowa! This four-person panel will provide a variety of firsthand perspectives and experiences and aims to inform attendees of some of the challenges facing foster youth and families here in Linn County. The event will be Emceed by Eric Hanson, an Eastern Iowa On-Air personality.

Meet our Emcee

Eric Hanson

Eric is the Dancin’ Eric Hanson half of The Morning Scramble on Z102.9.  He’s the logical local. DINK and dog owner. Boy, this guy doesn’t know when to quit. He volunteers for arts and human services groups throughout the region. Travel back in time and you’ll discover he was part of the team that launched Z102.9. Named Radio Ink’s “Program Director of the Year” twice. Named the “Iowa Broadcaster of the Year” in 2022 by the IBA. He’ll always root for his beloved Washington (Iowa) Demons, and the University of Iowa holds a special place in his heart. Eric loves that he met his uber hip wife of 25+ years, Shannon, in the Hawkeye Marching Band. Loves life’s experiences, Disney, Marvel movies, travel and musical theater. Throw him a line and ask him to improv.

Meet our Panelists

Laticia Aossey

  Laticia has dedicated her life to overcoming the statistics and stereotypes placed on foster kids. She spent a total of ten years in Iowa’s foster care system which included 18 different placements and switching schools fourteen times. She faced many adversities while growing up including sibling separation, parental incarceration and drug use, abuse and neglect. Laticia defeated the odds by graduating high school early and going on independent living at age seventeen. She graduated from Capella University with a Masters degree in Social Work in December of 2022. She is currently working as the Statewide Coordinator for Iowa’s foster care youth council, known as AMP, and as the Cedar Rapids AMP Facilitator. Her future goals include securing a career in child welfare policy and program development on a federal level, opening her own transition house for youth aging out of care, and becoming a foster parent herself.

Liz Mathis

  Liz Mathis is a former broadcast journalist, retired Iowa State Senator and past Chief Community Officer for Four Oaks and its affiliate agencies. Liz also ran for Congress in Iowa’s Second Congressional District in 2022. During her time as a state senator, Liz held leadership roles in Health and Human Services, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Veterans, Commerce and Appropriations committees. Liz helped form a children’s state mental health system and was selected as a legislative member on the Children’s Behavioral Health System State Board and the Iowa Economic Development Authority board. In her role with Four Oaks, Liz worked on the leadership team for one of the state’s largest children’s mental and behavioral health agencies. Four Oaks and its affiliates have 16 Iowa program sites and more than 600 employees. In addition, she has years of experience as a broadcast journalist and has been the recipient of many prestigious awards throughout her career.

Shelby Holsapple

  Shelby Holsapple works for Foundation 2 Crisis Services as the Program Manager for the Emergency Youth Shelter. She has been with the agency for nearly 9 years in a multitude of different roles. Shelby graduated with her bachelor’s degree in human services from Montana State University Billings in 2014 and soon after moved to Iowa to be near family. Her passion for being an advocate for youth involved in the Child Welfare System stems strongly from her own personal lived experiences in the foster care system. Shelby rarely shares her personal experiences with youth she serves because she wholeheartedly believes that she is in a role to help them navigate their own stories and help them find their footing in life.

Tonya Watters

Tonya Watters has been a caseworker with Four Oaks for over 6 years. During her 6+ years in the position, she has provided foster and adoptive families with a high level of support by being an empathetic listener, strong advocate, and demonstrating trauma informed skills so families are able to maintain foster children in their homes. In addition to her wealth of knowledge and professional experience, she also has a very up close and personal experience, as she has fostered and adopted children herself. Tonya and her wife live in Marion with their 8 children.

Thank you to our 2023 Sponsors!











Other Sponsors





About Fostering Strength

The annual Fostering Strength luncheon brings together hundreds of Cedar Rapids-area community partners, foster care and adoption professionals, JLCR donors, and more for an afternoon of impactful stories of hope and perseverance through difficult times.

Proceeds from this event support on-going programs for young people aging out of foster care in Linn and nearby counties. Learn more about our work through our Bridging the G.A.P. project.

Can’t attend? Please consider making a donation by visiting our donation page.

Previous Fostering Strength guest speakers:

2022: Janiva Magness, author of Weeds Like Us

2019: Steve Pemberton, author of A Chance in the World

2018: Charell Star, Foster Care Alum, Journalist and Media Personality

2017: Gigi Edwards Bryant, Texas Foster Care Alum and Speaker

2016: Travis Lloyd, author of Overcoming Emotional Trauma

2015: Dr. Jennifer Arnold from TLC’s docu-drama The Little Couple