WASHINGTON — An Oakland man is among 12 former foster youths who will be honored as “Champions of Change” next week at a ceremony at the White House.
As part of National Foster Care month, the event will honor Sokhom Mao and 11 other individuals from around the country for making a difference in their communities and also for furthering their education.
The event will take place on May 19 in the nation’s capital and will feature remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity Roy Austin Jr.
Mao serves as a juvenile justice commissioner for Alameda County and is a public education specialist for the California Social Work Education Center at the University of California at Berkeley.
For the past 13 years, Mao has led policy campaigns in higher education and foster care reform across the state and the nation.
As a result of his efforts, in 2010 California passed its first landmark foster care legislation, Assembly Bill 12, giving foster youth opportunities and access to higher education, employment opportunities and stable housing until the age of 21, according to White House officials.
In 2010, Mao was appointed to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Alameda County LGBTQ Task Force.
Mao attended San Francisco State University and majored in criminal justice and was a founding member of the Guardian Scholars Program, supporting current and former foster youth in higher education, White House officials said.
The Champions of Change program was first created by the White House as an opportunity to feature individuals who have done extraordinary things to empower and inspire their communities, according to White House officials.