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Alumni Spotlight: Simpson-Gotham Fostering a Passion for Volunteering and Helping Others

Jun 28, 2023
by Elisabeth Shirley, '22

When Flagler alumna Aubrie Simpson-Gotham, ‘12, graduated, she knew she was going to go into the field of education, just like her mother and other family members.

What she didn’t know is that just a few years later, she would leave her teaching job and start her own nonprofit organization.

Years of volunteering and helping her community made her realize there were gaps in the system she could not fill as a teacher alone. With that, Simpson-Gotham founded Fostering Connections, which uplifts local children and youth impacted by foster care or trauma by providing needed essentials, educational programs, and community connections.

“Families I was working with were expressing to me the how they had trouble finding services. They didn't know where to go for help,” she said. “I enjoyed teaching, but the way the education system was set up, it wasn’t a fit for me.”

A notable attribute of Fostering Connections is that several board members are or have been foster parents. As Simpson- Gotham's own father was once in foster care, she notes that having such board members is an asset “as they have experienced firsthand the positives and challenges of being foster parents” and understand how they can better support families impacted by foster care or trauma.

While she was a student at Flagler, she did a lot of volunteer projects as president of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honors society. At the time, she did not think she could make a career of it, but Fostering Connections has given her the opportunity to combine her passion for volunteering and teaching.

With a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Flagler and a Master’s in Pre-K/Primary Education from Nova Southeastern University, her credentials allow her to continue teaching through their career and college readiness academies.

“We help support local foster families or any families impacted by foster care or trauma. We do that by providing educational programs and enrichment opportunities for the youth. We provide services that foster care agencies just don’t have the funding for,” she said. Fostering Connections also helps youth who age out of foster care, as many don’t know how to apply for college or get a job to support themselves.

In 2021, she was awarded the St. Johns County's 25 Under Forty's Nonprofit Professional Award, only two years after starting Fostering Connections. Excited to be even nominated for such an award, it gave her the opportunity to build more connections through the exposure it gave. In 2022, she was recognized by the First Coast Business Alliance as the Advocacy Firm of the Year.

Simpson-Gotham's favorite part of working in this field is she can “connect business leaders and community members to opportunities to support a mission dear to their hearts – providing resources and opportunities to youth impacted by foster care or trauma – and make a positive impact on our community.”

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