DSS Main Office
Wallace H. Kuralt Centre
301 Billingsley Road
Charlotte, NC 28211
West Charlotte Location
Valerie C. Woodard Center
3205 Freedom Drive
Charlotte, NC 28208
Child and Family Therapist Jennifer Kolari is one of the leading parenting experts and the founder of Connected Parenting. Author of Connected Parenting: How to Raise a Great Kid (Penguin Group USA and Penguin Canada, 2009) and You're Ruining My Life! (But Not Really) Surviving the Teenage Years with Connected Parenting (Penguin Canada, 2011). Kolari is the parenting expert on CBC's Steven and Chris show, and has appeared frequently on Canada AM and Breakfast Television. Her advice can be found in many Canadian and US magazines, such as Today's Parent, Redbook, Parent Magazine and Canadian Family. Read more
Following over thirty years in and out of a diversity of jails, institutions and hospitals because of her un-addressed childhood trauma, Sharon now uses the trauma she suffered as learning and teaching tools. Sharon is a domestic violence survivor and it was her landmark case that got the law in Washington, D.C. changed regarding penalties and criminal charges that could be filed against a perpetrator. Read more
Ladies and gentlemen, get ready! Because our next speaker has a story that sounds like a script that was written in Hollywood. After being orphaned twice and living life on his own, Morris Morrison realized that being adopted was the best thing that ever happened to him. And today, he is going to show you how to use your adoption story to give you an "advantage" in life - because that's exactly what he did. He works with some of the largest companies in the world to help them find success, and his speeches are absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish. Get ready to experience the dynamic, God-given talent that Morris Morrison uses to entertain audiences everywhere.
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.
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
Ms. Fesperman has a career spanning over 30 years in the early childhood, child protective service and young child mental health field. She owns a private practice and has been a presenter at numerous trainings for clinicians in the community. Read more on the Toxic Stress Team
Ginger Caldwell is a Program Consultant with the NC Division of Social Services. Her current role includes training child welfare staff and developing curricula associated with the delivery of child welfare services in North Carolina. Her passion for the value of Life Books for foster children and adoptees began in 1981 when she began her job as an Adoption Social Worker at Gaston County Department of Social Services.
Donna H. Foster, author, trainer and consultant, contracts with agencies and associations throughout the United States. Mrs. Foster has over 32 years of experience as a trainer of trainers and training foster and adoptive parents. She enjoys conducting keynote addresses and workshops. She has authored Fostering the Sexually Abused Child; My Life's Book; Team Building: A Workbook for Foster Parents and Social Workers; and Burnout Protection Trainer's Guide. "Shelby & Me" (a life book series) will be available early 2015. Read more
Lisa Highfield is a child and youth counselor as well as founder of Healing Hearts, her own business which helps families in crisis. Christen Shepherd is an author and mother of six children, including a sibling set of four adopted from foster care. Together, they co-authored The Promise: Truth from the Trenches of Adoption, and give workshops on the challenges and beauty of adoption.