Best-selling author Vanessa Diffenbaugh joined the Youth Villages national board of directors in 2015.
Diffenbaugh’s interest in supporting Youth Villages’ work, particularly the organization’s YVLifeSet program, was piqued by her passion for helping foster youth. Her debut novel about a girl growing up in and aging out of foster care, “The Language of Flowers,” spent 69 weeks on The New York Times best-sellers list and has been translated into more than 40 languages.
Diffenbaugh and her husband, PK, a teacher by training, became intimately familiar with the needs of children growing up in foster care or with families who cannot adequately care for them while teaching art and technology to youth in low-income communities. The couple eventually became foster and adoptive parents of Tre’von, now studying at New York University. The Diffenbaughs also legally adopted Donovan, whom they met as he was aging out of foster care, and are also the parents of Graciela and Miles.
Following her literary success, Diffenbaugh co-founded Camellia Network, a nonprofit crowdfunding and social support platform to help former foster children. In 2015, Camillia merged with Youth Villages and was relaunched as the LifeSet Network, www.LifeSetNetwork.org. The site’s mission is to connect youth aging out of foster care with donors who will provide the critical resources, opportunities and support they need to thrive in adulthood.
The author’s second novel was released in August 2015. “We Never Asked for Wings” centers around motherhood and the challenges faced by immigrant families.
A California native and Stanford graduate, Diffenbaugh is a member of the Random House Speakers Bureau and has spoken about her life, her novel and the needs of foster and former foster youth at universities, literary festivals, state departments and nonprofit organizations around the country. She has been a guest lecturer at both the Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program and the Harvard Kennedy School.