Yadira Duran Ijeh, PLF Co-Chair

"Helping young people achieve success, whatever that is for them, is important to me."

Yadira Duran Ijeh, PLF Co-Chair

Connecticut Dept. of Children and Families, Director of Implementation

Yadira, familiarly known as Yari (pronounced “Jottie”), has served on PLF since 2013. Professionally, she is a program director at the Department of Children and Families, where she has overseen policy and practice changes that focus on improving outcomes for children and families involved with DCF.

More recently, Yari was tasked with overseeing COVID-19 protocols at DCF for contact tracing and the vaccine roll out. Learn more about that work here.

Yari’s passion for improving the lives of children in foster care comes from her own experience as a sibling. Her parents fostered upwards of 50 children and teenagers.

"My mother did it out of love. She had love to give and this made it easy for her to share it. Before becoming a foster parent, she studied to become a certified nursing assistant and worked in a nursing home. She eventually left that field of work to dedicate herself full time to us -- my sister, me and the children in foster care placed with us."

Many of the children placed in her home lived with them as temporary placements, but several stayed for five to six years. The home became a magnet for other teenage friends in the neighborhood.

"My sister and I always talk about having grown up with a bunch of kids. I was always the oldest. When I was in high school there were seven of us at home and we were all high school students. It was a lot of fun. And we're still in touch with them."

Growing up, Yari remembers her family would reach out to families in crisis with meals. As an adult, her efforts have centered on volunteering and serving on nonprofit boards.

"For a few years I volunteered at the Shubert Theater. I ushered folks to their seats. I'd see people I knew and they'd look at me and say, 'What are you doing here?' and I'd say, 'I'm giving back.'"

Yari volunteered and served on the board with the New Haven Juvenile Review Board, which gives students who have been arrested for the first time an alternative to the criminal justice system. Currently, she is an active member of the advisory council for the New Haven ChILD, a cross-sector community initiative working to ensure that all New Haven children birth to 8 have access to Ideal Learning opportunities.

"Helping young people achieve success, whatever that is for them, is important to me."

Yari and her husband, Chike Ijeh, have a son, Nnaji, and daughter, Nnenna, who are being raised bilingual.