Our family's journey to the Code Red Foundation started on February 14, 2018 when we heard the news about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Along with the rest of the country, our hearts broke. In addition to the sheer horror of the tragedy, it was not just too close to home, it was home.
With backgrounds in entertainment and law enforcement, a film was born to find the solutions as to why senseless tragedies, like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, continue to happen and how we can put an end to them.
Little did we know, over two years later, we would have learned that school safety issues are just the tip of the iceberg in respect to the problems our youth are facing on a daily basis today.
The path to 'here' has been full of 'God moments' and more prayers than you could imagine and we are so excited to finally be able to unite with YOU to create an effective movement for change for the greater good of our youth.
We can do this together.
Founder and Co-Executive Director
Kaitlin Vilasuso is a South Florida native, currently living in Los Angeles, CA. She is an actress, podcast host, and founder of "That Cozy Life," but her most cherished role is that of 'momma' to her daughters, Riley and Everly. Kaitlin is very active in celebrity relations and philanthropic causes, with a particular passion for the safety of our youngest generation. She believes that, together, we have the power to take back the control of our children's safety and their futures and is eager to help facilitate Code Red creating a movement for effective change.
Cory is a former Missionary Kid spending some of his teenage years in Cameroon West Africa. Cory, along with his wife Kelly, spent a combined 40 years teaching in the Oklahoma education system before shifting his focus to student safety, child exploitation, and human trafficking issues. Between his background in education and being a father of two, Cory has firsthand experience in what it takes to reach our kids and make an impact on them. With 74% of our students greatest fear being school shootings, Cory has joined the Code Red team to make sure that number moves to zero.
Chief Operating Officer
Garett is a born and bred Okie, who has spent the majority of her career planning and producing convention, corporate, tribal and social events. Having spent over six years with two Oklahoma Tribal Casinos, Garett has created and implemented policy and procedures for entire sales teams and conference centers for two of the largest tribal gaming properties in the state of Oklahoma. Garett and her husband Justin own and operate a cattle ranch in Castle, OK with their three children, Odessa, Remick and Madison. Garett loves to coach her kids travel basketball teams, and rodeo in her spare time.
MEET THE BOARD
Former WNBA player and Championship Coach Crystal Robinson has dedicated her life to being a mentor for young adults. Crystal has joined the Code Red team to ensure that our students have a voice and the opportunity to use it.
Ryan served as the VP of Marketing at Howard Books, a well-established book publishing company owned and operated by the Howard family, until their sale to Simon and Schuster. The company boasted multiple New York Times bestsellers and upon its sale, Ryan founded the Here to Him Music Group where he received numerous accolades including a Dove Award. The Howard Family, along with his in-laws the Robertsons, branched into filmed entertainment with one of the most successful unscripted series about their lives, Duck Dynasty.
Bailee Madison, a South Florida native, began her acting career at six years old as May Belle Aarons in the blockbuster Disney film Bridge to Terabithia. She has since grown up on both the big and small screens and, at 21, has found a passion in fighting for kids in support of Code Red: Youth of the Nation.
RALPH MENDY G. HENDERSON, Jr.
Ralph Henderson is the former President of Ebony Entertainment, advisory board President of the Equal Justice Now Foundation and current President of Deal Metrics. Ralph has a passion for helping to create safe, stable environments for children to grow up in.
Stacy Shepherd has dedicated her life to promoting the vision that our children should be given the every opportunity to reach their full potential through help, motivation and encouragement. Stacy earned her Masters in Education, leading her to spending thirty years in the public school system as an English teacher. Stacy would be honored twice as a finalist for Oklohoma’s Teacher of the Year. Currently, Stacy serves as the Executive Officer of Member Services for the Choctaw Nation and serves on the Board of the Chahta Foundation.
Before I jump into the story of my path to the Code Red Foundation and one particular 'aha' moment that changed it all for me, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here. Your presence means that, you too, care deeply about our kids and believe that there is a way that we can better protect them. Without you, and people like you, our movement for change won't work- but here you are. Thank you.
Now that we've got that covered! While my brother, Conor, was on set in Florida directing the very first parts of the Code Red documentary, he would often call me to chat through concerns, vent, or just grab some big sister encouragement. One day when he called, he seemed particularly stressed about something going on with the production (director life!) and I specifically remember worrying that perhaps the task at hand was just too big. It was at that moment that he said to me “Kait.. if we can save just one life with this documentary, it will have been worth it.” And that was it. That was the defining moment for me, one that eventually led to creating this foundation for change, and a moment that I have looked back at time and time again over the past year as we've developed solutions and programs for problems facing our youth that often feel so very big. I think back to the truth behind his statement - that if we save just one life, it will have all been worth it - and am reminded that we have the opportunity and power to do just that. Over and over again. Let's do it.
With gratitude and determination,