Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer is the founder and CEO of the national non-profit, Alia: innovations for people and systems impacted by childhood trauma. Amelia and Team Alia are leading a movement across the country and internationally to build a Proof of Concept that public child welfare agencies can serve as primary prevention agencies with a newly redesigned purpose of keeping children safely with (not from) their families. Alia works with child welfare leaders who are innovators and early adopters in jurisdictions around the country and the globe to create this transformational change in child welfare.
Amelia and Team Alia believe that “Families are the solution” (not the problem). Alia calls this new way of work an “UnSystem”. Team Alia believes that a key part of transformation is supporting families to safely raise their children. Working with innovative leaders, Amelia and Team Alia use best practices, evidence, and human centered design principles to operationalize concepts that produce rapid results and positive outcomes for youth and families.
Amelia’s work has not gone unnoticed. In recognition of her foster care reform efforts, Amelia was honored as one of People Magazine’s “25 Women Changing the World” in 2018. Amelia has a 2015 widely viewed TEDx Talk entitled The Human Need for Belonging. Also in 2015, Amelia was named as a recipient of two prestigious fellowships: as a Bush Fellow by the Bush Foundation and as an Ashoka Fellow by Ashoka Innovators for the Public.
Amelia has also received numerous awards from her alma maters including: 2018 Alumni Achievement Award at Illinois State University; 2015 College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) 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.
At Alia, Amelia also works to convene changemakers and partners to advance the tools and knowledge base in the field of child welfare. Amelia has co-authored and led the publication of a Social Return on Investment Study: The Unseen Costs of Foster Care; a Research Brief: Evidence Base for Avoiding Family Separation in Child Welfare Practice; Creating a Permanence Driven Organization: A Guidebook for Change in Child Welfare; and multiple reports on learnings and outcomes from the 14-county Alia UnSystem Innovation Cohort.
In addition, when no other tools existed, Amelia 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, reports, guidebooks, and co-authored the books Present Moment Parenting and The Healing Guidebook. Amelia is a sought-after thought leader, author, systems-reformer, and keynote presenter.
Before Alia, Amelia was the CEO a treatment foster care agency serving 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 wellbeing for youth and the child welfare workforce and were the winners of many local, regional, and national innovation awards.
Amelia has spent her more than 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), Permanence and Adoption Competency (University of Minnesota), and American Sign Language Proficiency (University of Minnesota). Her doctoral dissertation topic was “What Public Child Welfare Leaders Need to Know and Do to Prevent Undesired Turnover and Promote a Culture of Wellbeing.” Amelia is also a certified facilitator of Dr. Brené Brown’s work in shame-resilience and vulnerability.
In 2015, Amelia gave a TEDx Talk in Minneapolis about the human need to belong and to be claimed.
"Physical safety is not enough and I ask you to join me in reimagining a world where all children feel safe and claimed, especially those in child welfare. Where all children claim their birthright, which is to belong to someone." - AFM