On Thursday, June 11, Karabelle Pizzigati passed away. Karabelle was the CWLA public policy director from 1993 to 2000. During her time as director she led efforts to pass major legislation including the Multiethnic Placement act (1994) which prevents discrimination in Title IV-E services, and the Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997), which creates timelines for moving children to permanency and provides adoption bonuses for states. She also played a leading role in 1997 when Title IV-B was expanded to allow the use of funds for two additional categories of service: time-limited reunification services and adoption promotion and support services, and in 1999 when the independent living program was expanded. This initiative, now known as the Chaffee Independent Living Program, provides more support and services to youths transitioning out of foster care. In addition, Karabelle was a leading advocate to successfully stop a block grant of federal child welfare programs during the creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in 1996.

Prior to coming to CWLA, from 1983 to 1993, she worked with the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, serving as staff director for the last three years.

Her experience included teaching in an adjunct role at George Mason University, research and policy consulting with the University of South Florida on financing systems of care, and policy development with the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C. She served on the Maryland State Board of Education from 2001-2009 and was elected the President of the National Association of State Boards of Education for 2008.

She was a wonderful person who made the world a better place for untold thousands of children who face major challenges every day. She was a tenacious and eloquent advocate, who will be missed within the CWLA family.