South Florida Foster & Adoptive Parent Association
Denise Beeman Sasiain President
Denise graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. degree in Accounting and Economics from Luther College in Iowa and her Masters in Business Administration from Florida International University, Cum Laude. She is a C.P.A., specializing in financial accounting, risk management and consulting. Her past work experience includes firms such as Price Waterhouse Coopers and American Express, Latin America.
Throughout the past 8 years, Denise and her husband, Pierre, have fostered eight of our community’s children. They have adopted four children from the dependency system, who all arrived to the Sasiain home as infants: Isabella (age 7), Xavier (age 6), Daniella (age 5) and Jacob (age 3). Although her life and family are full, she continues to foster one child at a time because she feels compelled to help foster youth: “Every child matters.” Over the past years, the Sasiains have cared for several teenage girls and children with special needs. In order to meet the medical, educational & developmental needs of her children, Denise has not returned to her professional career in financial auditing
Leadership & Advocacy
Denise has served on the board of the South Florida Foster & Adoptive Parent Association (SFFAPA) for the past 5 years. Under her leadership as president this past year, the organization has doubled its membership through outreach, support and education. With a focus on creating fundraising streams from community partners, cash inflows have quintupled in one year. She currently is guiding the board through a comprehensive strategic plan.
Denise’s greatest passion is advocating for children and their caregivers. Last fall she wrote and launched the Change.Org petition to amend the Adoption Intervention statute. The petition, which garnered over 5,000 signatures, raised awareness and contributed to a successful outcome: A change in the law. Over the past years, she has tenaciously lobbied in both legislative chambers and open forums in Miami Dade County and Tallahassee. Denise also champions foster parents as she sits on the board of the Miami Dade County CBC Alliance as well as her local Quality Parenting Initiative Taskforce. On the state level, she is the incoming Treasurer of the Florida State Foster & Adoptive Parent Association.
At system of care fundraisers and other community outreach events, Denise passionately shares with the public, both the joys and challenges of the fostering & adoption journey. She believes that society underestimates the power that a loving & committed caregiver can have on the life of a traumatized child. An adept and motivational speaker, she loves sharing inspiring stories of her 4 adopted children, and the significant obstacles that they overcome daily. She also penned a blog about fostering and adoption for the Department of Children & Families: http://blog.myflfamilies.com/category/denise-beeman-sasiain-fosteradoptive-mom-
“When a child enters foster care, the single most important aspect that will determine whether or not she is further traumatized, or if the child begins to heal, boils down to one factor only: The love & commitment of her caregiver. The system of care professionals have come a long way in understanding the importance of a Quality Parent (hence, the current initiative). But actual comprehensive support & training, as well as the financial resources that must fund this support, have yet to shift towards the recruitment, training and maintenance of engaged foster parents. No other factor is more important than a child being embraced by the safe & loving arms of a parent who is skilled in dealing with children exposed to trauma & abuse.”
“I believe that foster parents must empower themselves, and become the impetus behind real change in not only the system of care, but also the laws that govern it. We may often feel that our voices are not heard, but when we as foster parents find our collective voice (a voice fueled by the pure desire to see better outcomes for children), its power and effectiveness will surprise us all!”
Email: Denise.Sasiain@sffapa.org |
Yani Sanchez Vice President
Yani received her Bachelors in English from FIU. She is currently a Review Specialist for Florida Foster Care Review. As such, she facilitates the judicial review process with volunteer panel members to ensure that children in dependency are safe and appropriately placed and that the children and their families receive necessary services to remedy the reasons why they came into care. Yani is a trained facilitator by the Casey Foundations Permanency Roundtable program. This allows her to not only continue her advocacy and teach others how to creatively and effectively help children achieve permanency, but also to help them identify and maintain permanent connections which are an essential component to succeed in society.
Prior to working at FFCR, she was a Child Advocacy Coordinator at the Guardian ad Litem Program for almost 4 years where she supervised over 30 GAL volunteers. She was also a GAL to over 50 children in foster care. At the GAL program, she served on an in-house adoption review committee and facilitated trainings for the volunteers. Aside her experience in child welfare, she has served as the Co-Chair on the Board of Directors at Pridelines Youth Services and established the Becoming Women program that educates and empowers LGBT youth.
Yani is the proud adoptive parent of 2 boys – ages 13 and 11 – and is hoping to adopt the newest addition to their family, a baby boy.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org |
William Presswood Recording Secretary
Bill has two masters degrees in education, and also has an Educational Specialist Degree from Nova Southeastern. As Bill enters his 11th year of teaching, he is currently finishing his dissertation for his doctorate degree. He is a language arts and social studies teacher at Florida City Miami Community Charter School. Bill became involved in the system of care when he took on the role of a non-relative caregiver to one of his students. Over the past 10 years, he has been a committed caregiver to around 90 children, most of which have been teenagers. His area of expertise is in dealing with this challenging teen population. He has adopted 5 teens: Edwin, Lawrence Giovanni, John and Fabian. He was named Foster Parent of The Year in 2013.
Email: William.Presswood@sffapa.org |
Ivette Rodriguez Treasurer
Ivette received her associates degree in Accounting from Florida International University. With 15 years in the field, she specializes in both insurance and medical accounting. She currently works for FRS-NV, LLC., a large optometrist practice in South Miami. Ivette is a single mom with a teenage daughter, Juliet. In the 3 years since she became a foster parent, she has fostered over 25 children. She is adept and earnest in regards to co-parenting with biological parents to reunite foster children to their homes, as well as in placing children in adoptive homes. Ivette brings enthusiasm and fresh insight to our board.
Email: Ivette.Rodriguez@sffapa.org |
Maria Elena Rubio Corresponding Secretary
Maria Elena is currently an adoptive parent of a 4 year old little girl. She and her husband, Richard, became foster parents in 2011 and fostered their little girl for 21/2 years prior to adopting her in 2014. While fostering her daughter she became aware of the challenges faced by children and families in the dependency system. She decided she wanted to remain involved in an effort to try and offer assistance to other foster parents struggling through the emotional rollercoaster of fostering children. She has served on the board of SFFAPA since August of 2015.
Maria Elena is a hospitality professional having worked at several luxury hotel brands before deciding to dedicate herself fulltime to her daughter. Her last position was General Manager of Mondrian on South Beach, but also served as Hotel Manager of Delano, and Rooms Executive at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. She started her career with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in both New York City and Washington D.C.
She has a Bachelors in Hospitality from Florida International University and completed her Masters in International Real Estate also at FIU in 2012.
Maria Elena also served on the board of Hands on Miami from 2007-2010.
Email: MariaElena@sffapa.org |