Erin Runnion is the Founding Director of The Joyful Child Foundation – In Memory of Samantha Runnion (“TJCF”), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation dedicated to preventing crimes against children through programs that educate, empower, and unite families and communities. Her five-year-old daughter, Samantha, was an artistic, bright, joyful, little girl whose life was cut short as the youngest victim of the “summer of abductions” in July 2002.
Erin is dedicated to ensuring Samantha’s tragic death continues to be a catalyst to engage others in our collective responsibility to protect our nation’s children. She presents an inspiring message of courage, acceptance, and joy.
Prior to Samantha’s abduction, Erin was a supervising location accountant for Air BP, the jet-fuel division of BP (Beyond Petroleum), one of the ten largest companies in the world. Erin was a member of BP’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a program that includes a mentor and outreach plan to recruit and advance people of diverse backgrounds.
Erin holds a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she received a Presidential Academic Scholarship and participated in an 80-hour training course in mediation and conflict resolution. As a student, Erin co-founded Hampshire’s Conflict Transformation and Education Project (CTEP) which trained a team of mediators that included staff, faculty and students to help resolve conflicts on campus and teach mediation and communication techniques.
Erin believes that empowering today’s children with skills to recognize, avoid, and, if necessary, escape from violence is the key to stopping the cycle of violence. We can’t just tell kids what not to do, we must empower them to do what they can to create a safer world. In addition to her role as the Director of The Joyful Child Foundation, Erin also serves on the Boards of The Surviving Parents Coalition, the PROTECT Caucus, and as a member of the CA Child Abduction Task Force, under the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. By facilitating collaboration among multi-disciplinary agencies and individuals, Erin believes that is possible to unite our communities in the protection of children.
For more information on Erin Runnion and her organization, please visit her web site.