In this special Nonprofit Power Week episode, Rita Soronen, the President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, shared insights into the organization’s origin story, founder syndrome, and the vital work they do in the field of adoption.
Rita begins by emphasizing the significance of National Adoption Awareness Month and highlights the importance of focusing on foster care adoption, understanding its complexities, and encouraging communities to support children and families involved in the foster care system.
One of the key takeaways from Rita’s insights is the deep connection between the foundation’s namesake, Dave Thomas, and the cause of adoption. Dave Thomas, known for founding Wendy’s, was himself adopted as an infant and experienced the challenges of growing up without a stable family environment. His commitment to giving back to the community and his personal connection to adoption led to the creation of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
In Rita’s words, “Dave Thomas . . . . it’s our namesake Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, but underneath that is the legacy of this incredible person who started the incredible Wendy’s brand.”
Rita also discusses the evolution of the foundation’s mission and its shift from raising awareness to implementing evidence-based programs. She highlights the ongoing complexities in the field of child welfare, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the need for adaptable strategies and continuous growth.
Rita continues, touching upon the topic of succession planning, stressing the importance of preparing for leadership transitions both internally and externally. She describes how the foundation is actively developing its leadership team to ensure a seamless transition when the time comes.
In Rita’s words, “It is my job to assure sustainability of the organization because typically all of us are working in causes that aren’t going to be solved in our lifetimes.”
Rita Soronen’s thoughtful insights and dedication to the cause of adoption, foster care and child welfare are inspiring and provide valuable perspectives on the challenges and opportunities faced by nonprofits in these fields.