About Tennessee Kids Belong

Tennessee Kids Belong works to improve the experiences and outcomes for kids in foster care in Tennessee.

Our Programs

Family Recruitment


Our flagship video storytelling project, I Belong ProjectTM, elevates the faces, voices and stories of kids in foster care who are legally free to be adopted to connect them with forever families.

Community Engagement


Our innovative Foster Friendly program and app engage area businesses, faith communities and nonprofits to support kinship and foster parents with discounts, resources and support.

Coalitions for Change

Coalitions for

TKB has collaborated with the past two governors’ administrations to launch successful foster care initiatives that have helped the state exceed its recruitment and permanency goals five years in a row!

Our Team

Kristin Allender

Kristin Allender

Executive Director

A social worker, entrepreneur and TBRI practitioner, Kristin has worked in foster care and adoption for nearly 20 years.
Her visionary leadership has resulted in innovative solutions that bring together faith communities, businesses, partners and creative individuals to help children and families thrive.

Jake Burton

Jake Burton

Chief of Staff

As a foster dad, Jake combines his nonprofit and business experience to bring focused structure to an ever growing mission.
You will find his time being spent using the Traction EOS model to support each staff member in making critical progress in each of their unique roles.

TKB Program Director Liz Zinke

Liz Zinke

Marketing Director

With an array of professional experience, Liz brings skills from her roles in music, marketing and nonprofits to every project she undertakes. Whether working with a small, grassroots organization or a national brand, her emphasis on storytelling engages followers to get involved. She has a passion for partnership and strives to make the right connections to create change.

Hilari Williams

Hilari Williams

I Belong Project & Events Manager

Hilari brings a unique perspective to our team as an adoptive mom with over a decade of professional experience working alongside some of the largest influencers and brands in the world. She holds two degrees from Vanderbilt University, is a two-time bone marrow donor, and put simply, wants to continue doing her part to make the world a kinder, more joyful place.

Melissa Whitlock

Melissa Whitlock

Social Media Coordinator

Melissa is a creative entrepreneur with a heart for wrapping around foster and adoptive families. She launched and led Bloom Family Designs where she gifted beautiful bedrooms to children in foster care and those being adopted. She’ll use her passion for storytelling and child advocacy to create spaces of belonging across our online platforms.

Bekah Rogers

Bekah Rogers

Team Administrator

Bekah brings incredible experience from previous roles in higher education, retail, ministry, and nonprofit organizations. She strives to help organizations go further, faster! Bekah is passionate about serving Tennessee Kids Belong as the team admin to polish processes to best serve our people, partners and foster families throughout the state.

Community Engagement Team

Tiffany Kelley

Tiffany Kelley

Director, Middle Tennessee

As a professional in the Child Welfare System for 15+ years, Tiffany has worked within the public and private sectors, including for-profit and non-profit organizations.

She has a heart for supporting and stabilizing children and families “This is my calling as well as my passion.”

Kristin Miller

Kristin Miller

Director, East Tennessee

Kristin has served on the leadership team for Knoxville Area Foster Care and Adoption Ministries (KAFCAM) since 2014. She and her husband, Jeremy adopted two daughters from Ghana in 2013 and have two biological sons. As a family nurse practitioner Kristin loves to combine medicine and child advocacy to bring healing to vulnerable kids and their families.

Katie Dunlap

Katie Dunlap

Director, West Tennessee

As a social worker, pastor’s wife and adoptive mom, Katie works to equip faith communities and other local groups to actively engage in foster care and adoption throughout Memphis. She works seamlessly with partners to implement WRAP and other support programs.

Aisha Ward

Aisha Ward

Northeast and Smoky Mountain Regions

Aisha brings a decade of experience raising awareness about the need for more foster parents and being a voice for vulnerable children in child welfare to her work with TKB. As long as there is a kid in need of a home, Aisha will be in the community, looking for solutions.

Amanda Griffin

Amanda Griffin

South Central Region

A former foster parent and children’s pastor, Amanda has a passion for advocating for children. She began partnering with TKB and leading a WRAP team while in ministry. At her core, she is a teacher, longing to help others grow and learn.

Jo Wafler

Joanna Wafler

Northwest & Southwest Tennessee

Building collaboration between faith-based organizations and community partners is one of Joanna’s core passions. As a social worker, she desires to equip others with the skills, tools, and resources they need to serve their communities well. 

Charlotte Richardson

Charlotte Richardson

Tennessee Valley Region

Charlotte brings frontline experience serving foster families from her time as a foster care case manager with DCS. She is excited to use her passion for child welfare and love of advocacy to encourage her community to support foster care.

Our Board

Steve Martinez

Steve Martinez


Steve has served the music industry as an agent, promoter, and artist manager for almost 25 years. In 2015, he relocated to Franklin, TN to start Stonewood Entertainment. After learning of national organization America’s Kids Belong’s mission, Steve and his wife, Jen, registered for PATH training and got involved with Tennessee Kids Belong.

TKB Board Member Crissy Haslam

Crissy Haslam

As First Lady of Tennessee from 2011-2019 Crissy advocated for many important children’s issues including foster care and adoption, parent engagement in education and reading proficiency across the state. She supported Imagination Library, third-grade literacy attainment and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). She and Bill have three children and eight grandchildren.

TKB Board Member Mark Cate

Mark Cate

Mark is founder and president of a public affairs firm in Nashville. He formerly served as a gubernatorial chief of staff, where he focused on education, child welfare, and other public policy issues affecting families and kids. Mark has served on many non-profit boards and provided consulting services focused on strategic planning and governance. Mark has supported TKB since its inception.

Katy Valesky

Katy Valesky


Katy has advocated in the child welfare system in Tennessee for 15+ years with a focus on influencing policy for at-risk youth, especially those aging out without a supportive adult. Katy holds an MSSW from The University of Tennessee.

TKB Board Member Velvet Kelm

Velvet Kelm


Velvet has been an active supporter of TKB since its inception, She uses her gifts in P.R. and artist management and development, and as a connector to help bring awareness to vulnerable children in foster care. Professionally her company The Media Collective serves many big names in Nashville and beyond.

Ryan McBride

Ryan McBride

Ryan was introduced to the world of foster care just a few years ago at a TKB event in Chattanooga. Upon learning of the need for the church to step up, he said “Yes” to partnering with TKB to serve vulnerable children in the Chattanooga area. Ryan is married to Emily. They have 3 kids, and he is a pastor at Ridgedale Church.

Download Tennessee Kids Belong’s 2023 Annual Report


Here are answers to some common questions we receive about Tennessee Kids Belong.

About TKB

Where are you located?

The Tennessee Kids Belong team covers all of Tennessee. Our central office is located in The Lodge, located at 1229 Lakeview Dr., Franklin, TN 37067. We have employees remotely located in Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Kingsport.​

How long have you been a 501(c)3?

Tennessee Kids Belong officially launched in January 2016. Since February 2018 TKB has been an affiliate of America’s Kids Belong, with our own 501c(3) and board of directors. Our Tax ID# 82-4703564.

Are you a faith-based entity?

We are not a faith-based non-profit as we work with government, business, creatives, and faith communities. We do a lot of work with churches as Foster Friendly partners to recruit and provide support to help retain foster families.

Do you work in all church denominations? 

Yes, we do.

How are you connected to America’s Kids Belong?

Tennessee Kids Belong is an affiliate of America’s Kids Belong, which means we work in support of our shared mission and leverages AKB’s shared-services structure to help our affiliate operate efficiently and keep our state-based resources focused on achieving the mission.

About Our Work

Are you a child-placing agency?

No. All inquiries submitted are immediately directed to the Department of Children’s Services which assesses the potential match with the child. Please note – the first families who are considered are those with current home studies.  If you have not heard back after submitting an inquiry, please email: Karen Chamberlain.

Can you tell me more about this child I saw on your website?

The only information we have available to share is in the child’s bio. The Department of Children’s Services works hard to protect the dignity and confidentiality of each child. Please submit an inquiry online if you would like to be considered as a potential family and learn more about a child. 

Am I allowed to share a child’s video on social media?

Yes! Please do. This is the best way for each child to get the exposure they need to find just the right family. It may be one of your friend’s friends who sees the video and makes the decision to inquire about this specific child OR start them on a foster care journey. 

Do you only focus on adoption? 

Our goal is to educate the community to recognize the deepest need for children in foster care isn’t adoption;  it’s belonging. Whether they find that with a foster, birth, adoptive, respite or support family, children deserve to experience unconditional belonging. Sixty percent of children in the state’s foster care system are eventually reunified with their birth families. We continually advocate for the beauty of reunification when it is safe for the child. 

There are so many great nonprofits in this state doing incredible work. Many are meeting specific local needs. TKB works on a statewide macro level, equipping leaders in various sectors to make a difference for kids in foster care. We often refer groups to opportunities and needs that other non profits are meeting. We cheer on others in this space and believe collaboration is key.

I am considering fostering. Where do I go for more information? 

Every day we meet individuals and families who are considering taking the leap to become foster parents. We know you probably have a lot of questions and would need more answers before committing. That’s normal. We host frequent panels, in-person and virtually, where you can hear from current foster families, child welfare professionals, and former foster youth.

What does “available for adoption” mean? Where do the kids live now?

Tennessee Kids Belong has a partnership with the Department of Children’s Services to complete videos of children who are available for adoption in TN. What this means- parental rights have been terminated, and at this point, there is not a permanent plan or family identified for the child. Children are often living in group homes or in foster family homes that are unable to keep them long term. 

Work and Volunteer with TKB

How can I volunteer?

Occasionally we have opportunities come up where we could use some help. This is often around the times of our monthly I Belong Project™ video shoots. Volunteers could be helpful with organizing new clothing donations, props for the shoot, set up, clean up, etc. Please note that in order to attend a video shoot and work with the children there will be a background check completed, phone interview with one of our staff, and training the day of the event. We have a very limited number of spaces available for these opportunities.

Fill out our volunteer form, so we can know how to best utilize your help. We are working throughout the state of TN and will contact you when needs arise in your area! 

Do you have internship or employment opportunities?

​If you are interested in internship opportunities, email your resume to: info@tnkidsbelong.org and include “Internship Position” in your subject line.

Other employment opportunities will be posted on our social media or on Idealist  

We are growing, so check back often!

About Funding

Where do my donations go? 

Your continued support will be used to:

  • Apply cross-sector expertise to unite and engage government, faith, business & creative communities
  • Form sustainable support systems for foster, adoptive, birth and at-risk families
  • Host high-quality video shoots for waiting kids proven to increase their chances of adoption
  • Provide trauma training and resources to churches and businesses to turn TN into the most “Foster Friendly” state in the country!
  • Lead advocacy and awareness campaigns to turn an invisible issue into a growing initiative

How are you funded?

Tennessee Kids Belong is funded through generous individual donors, grants and foundations who believe in our mission and vision of improving the experiences and outcomes for Tennessee kids in foster care.