Morning Keynote Speaker
Charlie Appelstein, MSW, is a nationally prominent Youth Care Specialist and Author whose primary focus is on training parents and professionals to use positive, strength-based theories and techniques with at-risk children, youth, and families. Charlie trains and consults throughout the United States as well as internationally. He has authored three youth care books that are widely used within the field, including No Such Thing as a Bad Kid: Understanding and Responding to Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges Using a Positive, Strength-Based Approach. Robert Lieberman, the former President of the American Association of Children's Residential Centers, calls Charlie "The best youth care trainer in America."
Afternoon Keynote Speaker
Willie Moore Jr.
Inspirational media sensation Willie Moore Jr. ignites the hearts and minds of listeners and viewers worldwide. As the nationally Syndicated Host of The Willie Moore Jr. Show on radio, Flatout TV on cable networks, and the Young, Fly, & Saved movement via social media outlets like YouTube, Willie uses his special brand of humor and practical solutions coupled with biblical wisdom to unite families and communities everywhere. Most recently he has authored his first book entitled Happily After All.
Sabrina Clark, LMSW, is a North Carolina certified Training Specialist with Mecklenburg County DSS. She is certified to teach Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence - Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP), and Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma. Her primary responsibilities include developing, conducting, and evaluating training programs for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents. Since 2001, Sabrina has worked with children and families in a variety of programs at Department of Social Service agencies and non-profit mental health agencies. Since obtaining her MSW in 2010 from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, she has been employed in roles that have allowed her to develop and present training tools and curricula for various members of the child-serving community including: child welfare workers and supervisors, school social workers, law enforcement, juvenile probation officers, attorneys, mental health professionals, and both staff and volunteers representing the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.
Dr. John DeGarmo is one of America's leading experts in foster care. Dr. John is a consultant to several foster care agencies and to law firms across the nation. He is a popular speaker and trainer on all things foster care. He is the Founder of The Foster Care Institute, as well as the residential group home Never Too Late; a home for boys in foster care in Georgia. He and his family have been featured on Good Morning America, The 700 Club, and in other media. He has also been a foster parent for 14 years, has cared for over 50 children, and adopted three children from foster care. Dr. John is also Author of several books, including the highly inspirational book Love and Mayhem: One Big Family's Uplifting Story of Fostering and Adoption, and the foster care children's book A Different Home: A New Foster Child's Story.
Jennifer Freeman is employed with the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services/Youth & Family Services Division. She has a BSW from Western Carolina University and a MSW from Winthrop University. She has been employed with DSS for over twenty years working in the areas of Permanency Planning, Licensing & Placement, and Recruitment & Adoption. Currently, she works as a Post Adoption Social Worker. Ms. Freeman works with families and children involved in adoption by providing pre and post adoption education, short term crisis intervention and support to assist with maintaining adoption connections, and aides in setting up resources as needed. Ms. Freeman also works with adult adoptees and birth parents doing research on their history and assisting with reconnecting adoptees with their birth families.
Mark Anthony Garrett grew up in the tough inner city of Dayton, Ohio as a foster child and was then later adopted. Throughout his childhood, he faced many hardships such as poverty, neglect, homelessness, abandonment, and abuse; both physical and sexual. At 14, he lost his adopted mother to cancer, dropped out of school, joined a gang, and was in and out of juvenile jail.
Although his surroundings were negative, Mark was encouraged by his third grade special education teacher to never give up on life and to always strive for excellence. He knew he had to take destiny into his own hands. After receiving guidance from influential mentors, Mark enrolled in college and majored in Wildlife Biology and went on to become a two-time U.S. Achievement Academy Award Winner, recipient of the National Collegiate Minority Leadership award and received the highest honors given by his college, which were the President and Trustee award.
Nichole Gause, LCSW, has served families for over 15 years. She earned her Bachelors of Science degree from Winthrop University and her MSW from The University of South Carolina. Her professional experience includes providing counseling and case management services for individuals that are either: at-risk youth, chronically ill, dealing with depression, and/or experiencing relationship issues. Nichole is a North Carolina Certified Trainer and has provided workshops for professionals, parents, and caregivers across the state. She is certified to teach Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence - Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP), and Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma.
Dr. Toni Heineman is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice treating children, adults, and families in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 35 years. She is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. She has been awarded a Zero to Three Fellowship, a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, the Social Entrepreneur Award from the Manhattan Institute, and the Purpose Prize. Toni has taught and supervised interns, graduate students, and psychiatric residents and presented at numerous local and national professional meetings. She has authored a wide range of journal articles, and two books: The Abused Child: Psychodynamic Understanding and Treatment and Relational Treatment of Trauma: Stories of Loss and Hope. She is Co-editor of Building A Home Within: Meeting the Emotional Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care and Treating Trauma: Relationship-Based Psychotherapy with Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults.
Meghan Nagle is a passionate and skillful Social Worker who has established herself in her work with families and children from hard places. She completed her field placement with Three Rivers Adoption Council (TRAC) and was subsequently employed as a Family Therapist in 2012. She holds a BSW from Gannon University and her MSW from The University of Pittsburgh. Ms. Nagle has conducted and presented research regarding youth with disabilities in the child welfare system at both the state and local level. During her time at TRAC, she has presented at local, state, national, and international forums on a variety of topics including: trauma, attachment, child development, neurobiology, international adoption, and matters regarding youth in care and child permanency.
Rhonda M. Roorda was adopted into a white family and raised with two non-adopted siblings. She is a National Speaker on transracial adoption and a Recipient of the Judge John P. Steketee Adoption Hero Award from the Adoptive Family Support Network (MI). Rhonda is also the Author of the Award Winning book, In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption. With the late Dr. Rita J. Simon, she co-authored a landmark trilogy of books on transracial adoption: In Their Own Voices, In Their Parents' Voices, and In Their Siblings' Voices. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Telecommunications from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and a Master of Arts Degree in Communication-Urban Studies at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. Rhonda works as a Fund Administrator at an educational advocacy organization in Lansing, Michigan.
Kelly Ryan-Schmidt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is currently employed as the Director of In-Home Therapeutic Services by Three Rivers Adoption Council in Pittsburgh, PA. Kelly specializes in post-permanency therapy for children and families. She also sees outpatient and child preparation clients. She has been working in the fields of adoption, foster care, and mental health since 2001. Kelly has participated in extensive Trauma Informed Care Training and is a Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner and Educator. Kelly has presented at numerous local, statewide, and national conferences. She has also worked as an Adjunct Faculty at The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. Kelly and her husband are adoptive parents to four children from the foster care system.
Lorraine has volunteered with ATN in a variety of roles, including managing the finances, serving as Administrative Director and now as President of the Board. A highlight of her work with ATN was receiving the 2016 Angels in Adoption Award presented by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption and Lorraine's own US Representative, Chris Van Hollen. Presenting to individuals who are interested in adoption and other adoptive parents is especially meaningful to Lorraine because she truly understands how challenging the impacts of trauma can be and how deeply committed adoptive families are to being the best healing agents possible for their children.
Becky Wilmoth is an Enrolled Agent and Adoption Tax Credit Specialist® at Bills Tax Service in O’Fallon and Centralia, IL. She is a member of the National Foster Parent Association, National Council for Adoption/Adoption League, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Kaskaskia College Business/Accounting Advisory Board, National Association of Enrolled Agents, National Association of Tax Professionals, and Illinois Society of Enrolled Agents. She is a Guest Writer and Guest Speaker at national adoption conferences, webinars, internet radio, blogs, and podcasts. Bills Tax Service is a member of Christian Alliance for Orphans. Many at Bills Tax Service have been blessed by adoption! Bills Tax Service is a professional tax accounting business owned by Alan and Jaime Newcomb; who are foster and adoptive parents.