Prior to founding FEAT, Jessica Reid earned a Psychology degree from Trent University and worked with children and adolescents in several educational and mental health capacities while Derek Reid, a graduate of Western University, worked in the financial industry. During the summer of 2011, Jessica witnessed the devastating impact of parental incarceration on children in her role as an early educator. It was through this experience that she developed a passion for supporting these innocent victims and improving the lives of those affected by parental imprisonment.
In her personal life, Jessica experienced prolonged parental separation as she was separated from her father, Derek prior to birth. As an adult, Jessica began the journey of locating her father. In June 2011, after being separated for over two decades, Jessica united with Derek for the first time. Although Derek and Jessica were not apart due to incarceration, the impact of being separated from each other coupled with the lack of resources available for children of incarcerated parents propelled their passion to develop a non-profit organization. As a result, Derek and Jessica founded Fostering, Empowering, Advocating, Together (FEAT) in August 2011.
Since the inception of FEAT, Derek and Jessica have dedicated their lives to supporting children and families affected by parental incarceration. Derek and Jessica are committed to educating the public on the needs of children of incarcerated parents and advocate for programming to support these innocent children left behind and break the cycle of crime as a professional speakers at universities, conferences and in the community. In conjunction with developing and facilitating supportive programming at FEAT, Jessica is also empirically exploring the effects of being separated from a parent in prison which has earned her the prestigious Nelson Mandela award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.