Professors recognized for fostering Colorado children

Kristy Pabilonia and Brendan Podell have cared for eight foster children over the last six years.

Colorado State University’s Kristy Pabilonia and Brendan Podell were recognized on May 14 at a celebration of National Foster Care Month. The married couple — both of whom work in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology — were among five families honored by Colorado’s First Lady Robin Hickenlooper and Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Pabilonia, an associate professor, and Podell, an assistant professor, became foster parents nearly six years ago. Since that time, they have cared for eight children. Despite their busy full-time careers, supporting families in need by fostering had been a longtime goal.

“It was something that I had an interest in when I was younger,” Pabilonia said in a video produced for the event. “And when I met Brendan, I talked to him about that and it seemed to be a really good fit for us. It’s how we decided to grow our family.”

The couple builds strong relationships with the biological families of the children in their care and tries to stay connected long after the children return home. Learn more about their experience as foster parents through the state’s website.

Nearly 100 people attended the luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion. Families from several Colorado counties and the Southern Ute Tribe were honored for their dedication to Colorado’s foster kids.

Pabilonia serves as the head of two sections, Avian Diagnostics and Molecular Diagnostics, in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. She also serves as the coordinator of the Colorado Avian Health Program and works closely with a number of state and federal agencies on foreign animal and zoonotic disease issues. In addition, she teaches veterinary students and other courses through the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology.

Podell’s laboratory focuses on autoimmunity and infectious disease, with an emphasis on diabetes and tuberculosis. His research aims to discover new ways to prevent and treat diabetes and tuberculosis, especially when the two diseases occur together, a comorbidity of emerging importance in countries where tuberculosis is endemic.

Interested in learning more about being a foster parent? The state’s website has details on the process and links to other organizations.