Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Brings in Capitol Hill Vet in Wake of Leader’s Passing

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) has hired veteran Capitol Hill staffer Bethany Haley to be its interim executive director, establishing at least temporary leadership of the organization after the death of Becky Weichhand.

Haley was a senior policy adviser for former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who resigned in 2017 amid allegations of inappropriate conversations on the subject of surrogacy with staffers. Franks was a key voice on the Adoptee Citizenship Act, which was created to fix a loophole that left an estimated 30,000 adoptees without American citizenship when the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was not made retroactive.

Haley also worked with former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who like Franks helped chair the adoption caucus.

Bethany Haley, interim executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Photo by CCAI.

“Bethany brings deep experience and policy expertise in all of the issues that are at the core of CCAI’s mission,” said Susan Neely, CCAI Board Vice President and President and CEO of American Council of Life Insurers, in a statement issued last week by the organization. “She is the perfect leader to jump in and keep us moving forward.”

CCAI was established as a nonprofit in 2001 by several leaders of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, which in 1998 had hired Kerry Marks Hasenbalg as a full-time staffer. The nonprofit advises members of Congress on issues related to private and international adoptions, as well as adoptions from foster care.

The organization is best known for its Angels in Adoption program, which honors adoptive parents and other leaders in the adoption community, and its Foster Youth Internship Program (FYI), which places current and former foster youths in Capitol Hill internships.

The annual policy report compiled by the FYI interns has become a must-read for policy advocates in the child welfare space.

Weichhand, who succeeded Kathleen Strottman as executive director of CCAI in 2014, passed away last month after a battle with cancer. Kate McClean, who has been leading the organization since Weichhand went on medical leave, returns to her post as director of programs.

“I am so deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity to carry on the vision and mantle of CCAI that was stewarded so well by my dear friend Becky Weichhand,” Haley said, in CCAI’s statement. “CCAI’s mission is as urgent and relevant today as it ever was, and I am excited to join with the amazing staff who are equally committed to making family a reality for the many children still waiting.”


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John Kelly
About John Kelly 1007 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.