Deb is the founder of Annie C. Annie was Deb’s grandmother and hero. One of Deb’s projects is managing a regional community coalition of foster care agencies which she has done for over 9 years. Prior to that, she was a case manager for families involved with the Department of Children and Families preparing to reunite with their children. She has also worked as an advocate for foster, adoptive and kinship families and taught pre-licensing classes to prospective foster and adoptive parents for 10 years and is, herself, an adoptive mother of 3 boys adopted through the CT foster care system. Deb’s passion is helping older youth find and maintain permanent connections. Currently, Deb serves on the board for Sun Scholars, a 501(c)3 serving former foster youth attending post-secondary schools in CT; QUEST, the Queer Unity Empowerment Support Team, a grassroots group in Waterbury serving the queer community; and Naugatuck Valley Project, a community organizing non-profit serving the Naugatuck Valley. She is also a voting member of the Statewide Advisory Council for DCF and co-chairs the Regional Advisory Council for northwestern CT. In the past, Deb has served as a board member for other CT community organizations and commissions and enjoys giving back to her local community.
Celeste BurnettRegional Recruiter for Greater Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford
Celeste Burnett, a licensed therapeutic foster mom, joined our team in September of 2018. Retired from the US Postal Service in 2015, Celeste found herself ready for new challenges. Celeste is a very versatile person. She has worked as direct care staff with individuals with disabilities and very young children with complex medical needs. She has volunteered for a variety of organizations and community groups. Celeste acts as a member of her neighborhood watch. Church and family are very important in Celeste’s life. She prioritizes her relationship with God over everything and believes that her faith informs everything she does. One of her favorite quotes is from Dr. Bruce Perry: “The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.
Charneil BushPresident of the Board
Charneil entered state care at age 10 and remained a ward of the state of Connecticut until his aunt became his legal guardian at age 16. Charneil went on to Central Connecticut State University where he graduated with a major in criminology and a minor in psychology. He’s an active volunteer with several youth organizations as well as a mentor for True Colors, Inc. Aside from his legal and corporate background, Charneil has begun to pursue his passion of social justice and human services, even beginning a peer support group for young adults dealing with intersectionality issues. Charneil also hosts a popular podcast called “What About Your Friends.”
Roger AmesTreasurer of the Board
Roger is the Vice President, Branch Manager for People’s United Bank. He has nearly forty years experience in financial services, providing business clients with banking and borrowing solutions to better operate and grow their businesses, as well as finding the right banking, borrowing, and insurance solutions for consumers.
Roger is an active board member for Mattatuck Museum. He is passionate in his interest in drum and bugle corps. Roger loves to teach and offers financial literacy classes to youth through Peoples Bank. His passion for social justice drives him to work for a better world for young people.
Michelle SmithBoard Member
Michelle is the Branch Manager for Ion Bank in Naugatuck. Michelle has been an active donor for Annie C for over four years. Every summer Michelle collects backpacks for kids in care. Every holiday season Michelle collects items for our teens. Michelle has a big heart and wants every child to feel loved and secure.
B. Selina Daniels Board Member
After 20+ years working in corporate, Selina decided to follow her true passion to work with children that are at risk, improving their lives and strengthening their families. Over the last 10 years, her mission has been to advocate, engage the community, create collaborations, partnerships, developing new initiatives and programs that will educate, strengthen families and focus on the needs of our youth. She has coordinated support groups, organized community service projects and hosted community events that educate and support families. Selina is a long-term licensed therapeutic foster mom, currently for Boys and Girls Village.
Patricia Courtney McGovernBoard Member Emeritus
Pat is Annie’s oldest daughter and an identical twin. Pat represents the family’s interests on the Board of Directors. Deb Kelleher is Pat’s oldest daughter. Pat has worked a variety of jobs during her life, finding her calling to teach piano after her children were grown. She currently teaches piano to students in Fairfield County where she has done so for over 20 years. She is most proud of being a mom to five children. Her passions include crocheting, crossword puzzles and, most importantly she is a well-known New York Mets fan. Pat and her twin sister, Mim have attended every baseball opening day in New York for the Mets with the exception of 1965 when she was expecting her youngest son. They are regularly interviewed by the media on Opening Day.
Photo Pat and her twin sister. Annie C’s oldest girls.
Philip CowitBoard Member
As a single foster parent for over seven years, the adoptive parent of his own son, an individual who over the years has taken several homeless families into my own home, and a teacher working with students with many different special needs for over 17 years, Philip is very understanding of needs of the children placed into the system, the foster parents, as well as other professionals involved in the care of these children. He remains very deeply committed to searching for every opportunity to help children who have experienced foster care to succeed in their journey through life.
In his words: “I believe that as a foster parent, that I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to care for the children who were placed in my care, and that as foster parents we inspire their dreams, provide them with a sense of security, safety, and self-confidence; we encourage within them a love for life, and help them to find within themselves and others the strength necessary to reach their aspirations.
Being a foster parent isn’t easy, and it’s often accompanied by many unexpected challenges. As a result of entering the system, there are often many social, emotional, academic, physical, and behavioral differences that children have developed to adapt to their lives both before and after entering the system. When children have been placed into the system, it’s essential that a strong network of supports be put in place both for the children and their families, and that all professionals work cooperatively together in order to assure that placement is successful. This can be a difficult undertaking, but one that offers much joy if done correctly, and which remains much less costly than losing a child into the criminal justice system along with the opportunities lost to help a child better their lives.”