One evening in the fall of 1998, Judy Cockerton’s husband handed her a newspaper
article and said, “I thought you might be interested in reading this.” It was a story about a five-month-old boy in foster care who was kidnapped from his crib. This story was a catalyst, a moment of inspiration for Judy. The next day, she and her husband contacted the Department of Social Services to become foster parents. After Judy and her husband completed MAPP training, two young sisters were placed in their home. It was through these two beautiful little girls that Judy began learning about the realities of life forchildren who experience foster care.
Two years later, inspired to help children in foster care on a larger scale, Judy sold her businesses to work full time as a child advocate. Within a few months she established the Treehouse Foundation “to provide children in the public foster care system with enduring relationships and supportive community connections through innovative programs and practices.” Mindful of the fact that it would take a compelling array of exciting new engagement opportunities to inspire the nation to re-envision foster care in America, Judy began working on her first project: a planned, multigenerational community for children adopted from the foster care system, their adoptive families, and resident senior volunteers who act as “honorary grandparents.”
With typical enthusiasm, Cockerton approached Harry Spence, then Commissioner of Massachusetts DSS, to share her vision. Spence appreciated the support that an organization like Treehouse could offer the Department. After their initial meeting, Judy “hit the road” to muster support, funds, and like-minded collaborators. The first Treehouse Community, built by Beacon Communities LLC, opened in June 2006. Over100 people ranging from 1 to 85 years of age live on Treehouse Circle, situated under beautiful Mt. Tom in western Massachusetts. This amazing community is a national model for permanency and intergenerational living. Judy is consulting with communities across the country that have been inspired by Treehouse to create similar intergenerational neighborhoods in their regions. In 2007, she launched a consulting business, Imagine That! Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America.
In addition to establishing the Treehouse Foundation and Imagine That!, Judy has led an outstanding corps of volunteers forward to support siblings who have been separated when placed in the foster care system. This steering committee has just completed its third season of Camp To Belong Massachusetts, a year round sibling connection initiative that brings sisters and brothers together to celebrate their sibling bond.
My purpose is to inspire the nation to re-envision foster care in America.
My intent is to get the nation to turn around and embrace the 800,000 children
who experience foster care.
My vision is to create a menu of 12 replicable community-based programs that help
Americans re-think, re-envision, and re-design foster care.
My mission is to work with stellar individuals to create, launch, and sustain innovative
programs and practices that support the development of enduring relationships for children who experience foster care in America.
My goal is to help people re-envision new ways of caring for our most vulnerable children and be inspired to become a part of the solution.
My legacy is to create a new reality for children who experience foster care and to
pass that reality on to the next generation to improve upon!
1. Immerse yourself in work that you feel passionate about!
2. Surround yourself with stellar A+ people who believe in you.
3. Embrace grace and flexibility.
4. Be open to learning new lessons every day of the journey.
5. Go for the gold!