Michelle Chalmers

Executive Director & Co-founder

Michelle has worked with youth in out-of-home care since 1989, her child welfare career has included front-line staff positions in residential settings, a home-based intensive supervision worker, and youth development work in a therapeutic foster care agency. Prior to co-founding Ampersand Families in October 2008, Michelle directed The Homecoming Project.

Michelle has developed and led workshops nationally and internationally for foster and adoptive parents, social workers, Guardians ad litem/CASA volunteers, and others involved in the lives of youth in care. She has authored professional articles and two books (in partnership with youth) aimed at helping youth engage in their own care. Her leadership was integral to the development a 12-unit permanent supportive housing program in St. Paul, Minnesota that is home to youth who became homeless upon leaving a residential placement.

Michelle’s first education into the world of child welfare came in high school when she was placed into foster care in Colorado. She aged out of care in 1985.  As a ‘graduate’ of foster care, Michelle is passionate about the need for system reform and the essential role that young people can take in leading child welfare to more effective, youth and family-focused strategies.

Michelle and her spouse, Jill, are incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to provide a home and parenting to six young people, now ages 20 to 35.   Together we have built a loving, quirky and wonderful family that brings much joy (and a bit of stress. occasionally.) to all of  us.

Michelle holds a master’s in social work from Augsburg College in Minneapolis (1994).

Michelle loves to travel, and has been very fortunate to have been to some amazing places.  When all is said and done, though Michelle is most happy paddling in the Boundary Waters or wandering somewhere in the mountains of Colorado.

Welcome Home Packages

Each year, Ampersand Families represents the youth and/or the family in about 25 adoptive placements.  While every one of those youth and adoptive families are different, one thing they have in common is the excitement, fear and change that comes with move-in day and the first months thereafter.  By the time move-in day comes the… [ READ MORE ]

Birthday greetings from our Executive Director

I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that Ampersand Families is 8 years old October 1st.  During these eight years we have worked with 350 individual youth and parents.  In the next couple months we expect to reach a significant milestone…we will have restored 100 youth to families through adoption or other forms… [ READ MORE ]

Improv at Ampersand Families

  Click here to learn about the Improv Classes we did with Climb Theater recently.       This project was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund… [ READ MORE ]

Listen to Michelle on Radio AM950

Thank you to host Laurie Beth Fitz for doing such a great job exploring the topic of permanency, and thanks to our friend, Ampersand Families website designer, and co-producer Cary Walski, for recommending us as a guest.   Hope you enjoy the show… [ READ MORE ]

Pre-adoption Training February 27th, March 2nd & 9th

Training is a great way to dip your toes into older youth adoption and to see if it might be a fit for your family. Our next round will be: Saturday February 27th  9:00am - 6:00pm Wednesday March 2nd 5:30pm - 9:00pm Wednesday March 9th 5:30pm - 9:00pm All training is at  our office: 2515 Wabash Avenue, Suite 150, St Paul, … [ READ MORE ]

Fun Fact About Michelle

Michelle has had the incredible experience of snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns, Australia with a group of teens from foster care!  How cool is that?@!

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