Meet the Team
During his 10-year tenure at the Department of Child Safety (DCS), Matthew Stewart recognized the disproportionate removal of Black children from their families and became a vocal advocate for family justice. He launched the African-American Disparity Committee and collaborated with community leaders and organizations to address this issue.
To further his efforts, Stewart founded Our Sister Our Brother, a nonprofit dedicated to reuniting families and preventing unnecessary removals. His focus on advocacy, action, and family preservation aims to address the extreme overrepresentation of Black children in Arizona's foster care system.
Stewart's mission through Our Sister Our Brother extends beyond transforming the response to community needs and supporting families. He is also committed to standing with families facing traumatic child removals, educating the community, promoting respectful treatment of families within the system, and inspiring leaders to prioritize the love and well-being of our sisters and brothers.
Matthew Stewart (He/Him)
Akilah Stewart began her career with the Arizona Department of Child Safety in 2006, starting as a direct case manager and eventually rising to In-Home Program Manager. In her role as Program Supervisor, she expertly evaluated the performance of specialists and ensured the safety of families and children during investigations. As In-Home Program Manager, she provided direct oversight to 7 program supervisors and their staff of 76 employees. Mrs. Stewart also co-chaired the African American Kids in Care Disparity group.
She has a Certified Public Manager Program certification from Arizona State University and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion certificate from Cornell University. Mrs. Stewart served as Program Director for Our Sister Our Brother since March 2021 and has been instrumental in program development and establishing the Lived Experience Experts group, providing professional development and coaching to its members. In April 2023, Mrs. Stewart assumed a new role as Director of Program Development at OSB after serving as its Executive Director. In her new position, she is responsible for leading the creation and implementation of new programs that align with OSB's mission of empowering and supporting families. One of her key responsibilities is overseeing the Lived Experience Program, which leverages insights and perspectives from individuals with first-hand experience to identify areas of need.
Akilah Stewart (She/Her)
Director of Program Deveopment
With a dual Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish Literature and Culture from Arizona State University, Julia Erasun brings over 9 years of child welfare expertise to OSB. Starting her career with the Arizona Department of Child Safety in 2013 as an In-Home and Ongoing Specialist, she provided direct case management to families and children. As a mentor for an In-Home unit, she demonstrated her dedication and leadership qualities, eventually becoming a Program Supervisor, overseeing and evaluating the performance of specialists who focused on preventative services for families and children. Ms. Erasun continued her career in child welfare, serving as an Ongoing Manager for a tribe in Arizona for almost 2 years.
Her expertise includes advocating for marginalized families, and creating positive change by securing funding to support community-based initiatives aimed at improving the lives of families and children. Ms. Erasun’s goal is to raise awareness, promote positive outcomes for children and families, and secure resources to address racial disparities creating a more equitable future for all.