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Adoption Awareness Month


Keynote Speakers:

Charryse Cooper is a Trauma Social Worker, finishing her Master's in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Charryse is also an advocate helping people reach their full potential by providing trauma informed services. Charryse lives by Frederick Douglass' quote, "It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men." She is dedicated to building strong children and helping repair broken adults. Charryse is SOAR (Social Security/SSDI Outreach Access & Recovery) trained and a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) Facilitator. Charryse is partnered with SAMHSA and Mayatech Corporation as a national consultant planting seeds of healing, hope, resilience and love. She is founder of Wright Direction, Inc., a non-profit created to provide at risk youth and adults with services to guide them in the right direction towards healing, success, and love.

Adam Pertman is Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a national non-profit that is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. A former Pulitzer nominated journalist- is also Associated Editor of Adoption Quarterly, the premier research journal dealing with adoption and foster care. He is the author/editor of Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families and America ("which has been reviewed as "the most important book ever written on the subject") Read more

Kevin Brown is a 17 year veteran of the California foster care system turned international motivational speaker and author of the book "10 Ways Anyone Can Graduate College Debt Free." Kevin is President of Legacy Thinking Labs and recently featured in Ebony magazine. Read more


Dr. Kalyani Gopal is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 25 years of clinical experience in assessment and treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities, trauma, and severe mental illness. Read more

Heather Forbes is the owner of the Beyond Consequences Institute. She is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and adoption -related issues comes from her direct mothering experience of her two internationally adopted children. Read more

For more than twenty years Bishop W. C. Martin has served the community of Possum Trot, Texas as pastor of Bennett Chapel. In 1997, he and his wife, Donna, adopted two children and began a miraculous adventure that has become one of the premier adoption stories in America. Read more

April Dinwoodie is Chief Executive of the The Donaldson Adoption (DAI). As an adopted person, April is a fierce advocate for children and families that are part of the adoption and foster care constellation. Dinwoodie was trans-racially adopted and shares first hand experience regarding challenges within adoption and foster care. She created the specialized mentoring program "Adoptment." She is also a co-founder and vice president of the board of Fostering Change for Children, a progressive non-profit that helps drive innovation within the child welfare system.

Wendy Kiser received her Bachelor of Social Work from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She works for Foster Care to Success (FC2S), as a NC Program Specialist to promote academic achievement and career planning. Prior to joining FC2S she worked at Iredell County Department of Social Services as a LINKS Coordinator providing independent living skills to young adults in foster care. She also worked with a private foster care licensing agency and in a group home setting.

Howard Glasser is the founder of Children's Success Foundation and creator of The Nurtured Heart Approach™, which is being used in hundreds of thousands of homes and classrooms around the world. Read more

Leslie Pate-MacKinnon is both nationally and internationally known on issues that impact families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. Drawn to the field by placing her two first born sons for adoption as a teenager her passion is to educate as many therapist as possible. Read more

Bob Lewis is a consultant and author providing programmatic and case coaching as well as training and public speaking for child welfare organizations. His expertise is life-long family connections for adolescents in the child welfare system. He focuses on the development of social work practices in permanency planning as well as policy and organizational development in support of permanency. In his work he tells stories and shares examples that educate, inform and inspire.


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