November 10, 2022

“I Yell Because I Care!” Celebrating 90 Years of John Burton on December 15th

“I Yell Because I Care!” Celebrating 90 Years of John Burton on December 15th

What do most people want to do in retirement? Golf? Grandchildren? Travel? 

Not John Burton. When he retired from the California State Senate in 2004, he set his sights on something far less relaxing: reforming California’s foster care system. 

He founded the John Burton Foundation, which became John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) in 2016. Since then, JBAY has achieved 54 major legislative reforms, including extending foster care to age 21, increasing financial aid for foster youth attending college and expanding housing for current and former foster youth. 

Those who know John aren’t surprised that he used his retirement to serve those most in need. He took the same tact during his 34 years in office to advance an ambitious, varied and progressive agenda, which included protecting senior and disabled tenants, saving old-growth redwoods, successfully negotiating landmark greenhouse gas legislation, expanding the CalGrant program, fighting for labor protections and much, much more. 

On Thursday, December 15th, friends from around the state and nation will gather at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel to celebrate John Burton as he turns 90.

JBAY Executive Director Amy Lemley is grateful that John turned his attention to foster care, a system that disproportionately impacts low-income children of color. “When John left the State Senate he was at the height of his political power. He could have moved onto a very lucrative consulting career or just bowed out of political life,” said Lemley. “Instead, he poured everything he had into improving foster care in California and teaching the next generation how to be effective, strong advocates.” 

The evening at the Fairmont will also feature three recipients of the first-ever Burton Champion Award, Assemblymember Phil Ting, Senator John Laird and California State Controller Betty Yee. 

According to Lemley, “Each of the award recipients shares John’s relentless commitment to service and deep belief that the purpose of government is to ensure equal opportunity for all Californians. Like John, they have used their considerable influence and talent to make a true difference in the lives of young people.” 

Each award winner has been a close ally of JBAY and partnered with the organization to achieve significant improvements for youth. Assemblymember Phil Ting has a long, accomplished track record of expanding access to housing for current and former foster youth. Senator John Laird established a statewide network of campus support programs for foster youth, opening the door to higher education for over 9,000 foster youth annually.  State Controller Betty Yee worked with JBAY to create the nation’s first-ever tax credit specifically for foster youth, which will lift thousands out of poverty annually. 

In addition to being a night of political heavy-weights, the evening will be chocked full of good food and entertainment, including a dinner reception that includes a “taste of San Francisco” drawing inspiration from the Mission, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, live music from the San Francisco Jazz High School All Stars and over 50 young people from across the Bay Area who have participated in JBAY programs.  For more information, to buy tickets or to make a donation in honor of John’s 90th birthday, follow this link