Mary Jo Barrett is the Executive Director and co-founder of The Center for Contextual Change, Ltd. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois Jane Addams School of Social Work and is currently on the faculties of University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, The Chicago Center For Family Health, and the Family Institute of Northwestern University. Previously, Mary Jo was the Director of Midwest Family Resource and has been working in the field of family violence since 1974.
Mary Jo has coauthored two books with Dr. Terry Trepper: Incest: A Multiple Systems Perspective and The Systemic Treatment of Incest: A Therapeutic Handbook. She co-created the Collaborative Stage Model (CSM), a highly successful contextual model of therapy used to transform the lives of those impacted by abuse and/or traumatic events.
Her trainings and published works focus on the teaching of the Collaborative Stage Model, systemic and feminist treatment of women, adult survivors of sexual abuse and trauma, eating disorders, couple therapy, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Compassion Fatigue.
Mary Jo also founded the Family Dialogue Project, which strives to redefine relationships with families impacted by allegations of abuse and trauma.
Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., is one of the nation's leading researchers in the field of child development and the effects of maternal alcohol and drug use on the newborn infant and child. He is an award-winning author, researcher and lecturer, is President of the Children's Research Triangle and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. Since 2002, Children's Research Triangle under Dr. Chasnoff's leadership has been working with the Centers for Disease Control as one of four national centers for research into innovative treatment for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Dr. Chasnoff has served as the Chair of the National Medical Task Force on Methamphetamine, Children, and Families for the Congressionally authorized National Alliance on Model State Drug Laws and served as the Chair of the State Task Force on FASD for the State of Illinois. In November 2008, Dr. Chasnoff was appointed to the US Department of Health and Human Services' Interagency Coordinating Council on FASD.
Dr. Chasnoff has authored seven books including: Drugs, Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Parenting, Power Beyond Measure, Risk and Promise, and The Mystery of Risk. His most recent work focuses on community approaches to the integration of behavioral health services into primary health care for women and children and the occurrence of co-occurring mental health disorders in children who have been exposed to alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs.
Amber Clingman was a standout high school student. She was a varsity cheerleader, class president, and member of the Key Club. Her 4.0 grade point average placed her in the National Honor Society, and she graduated at the top of her class. But her experience at home was a world away.
After years of moving around and family instability, Amber and her younger brother entered foster care when she was in 9th grade. She was granted independent living status at age 17 before aging out of the foster care system. Because she had completed the majority of her high school and Advanced Placement credits in three years, she spent most of her senior year working, maintaining her own apartment, and attending parent/teacher conferences on her brother’s behalf.
Today, Amber is a Family Recruiter for Operation Forever Family, a Bethany Christian Services initiative to find loving foster and adoptive families for teens. She works closely with five teen girls in foster care—working to connect them with families and helping them navigate this uncertain time in their lives.
“Others have learned it, but I have lived it,” she says, finding that her difficult past creates a natural rapport with the girls, facilitating trust and open conversations. She shares her story with the girls as someone who has walked in their shoes and can help them envision a promising future.
Amber is currently pursuing a degree in social work from Grand Valley State University, and she hopes to one day design new options for teens living in residential programs.
Dr. Julian Davies is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington where he co-directs the Center for Adoption Medicine and works at the longest running FAS clinic in the courntry. His interest in foster care and adoption began in Russia, where he started a summer arts and clown camp for Russian orphans. He now has a pediatric practice where 2/3 of his patients were fostered or adopted. Dr. Davies also created an award-winning online resource for pediatrics and adoption adoptmed.org.
Patricia is a nationally recognized speaker and author who inspires audiences with her creative ideas and presentations. Her personal story of placing her son in a ground breaking open adoption in 1985 and the lessons learned apply to all adoptions. Her book, Because I Loved You, has been hailed as a "roadmap to open adoption".
Patricia identifies key concepts that every adoptive parent can benefit from and helps parents, birth families and counselors find their own path to success by focusing on what is best for the child.
Heather Forbes is the founder of the Beyond Consequences Institute. She is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors, understanding the parent’s reactivity when challenged in the home, and self-development.
Forbes lectures, consults, and coaches parents throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia, with families in crisis working to create peaceful, loving families. She is passionate about supporting families by bridging the gap between academic research and "when the rubber hits the road" parenting. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, developmental delays, and adoption-related issues comes from her direct mothering experience of her two internationally adopted children.
Nina is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Post Adoption Counselor at The Cradle. She conducts adoption searches, facilitates reunions and provides counseling support.
Kenard Gibbs currently serves as Vice President of Midwest Advertising Sales for BET Networks (A Viacom Company). Prior to BET, he served as CEO/Partner of Soul Train Holdings and Group Publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines where he formed the Ebony/Jet Entertainment Group. He was a co-founder of Madvision Entertainment, a company specializing in the development of urban themed content for distribution across traditional broadcast and new media platforms and President of VIBE magazine.
Kenard is a graduate of Williams College and received a Masters of Management at the Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University. He is a father.
Deborah Gray specializes in the attachment, grief, and trauma issues of children in her practice, Nurturing Attachments. Her methods of working with children and families reflect her strong developmental and infant mental health perspective.
Her passion is to help families develop close, satisfying relationships. She has worked 20 years in children’s therapies. Deborah was the 2008 Henry W. Maier Practitioner in Residence at the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.
Deborah Gray is the author of two books, Nurturing Adoptions: Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma, 2007, and Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents, 2002, both published by Perspectives Press. Nurturing Adoptions was a 2008 award finalist for the Benjamin Franklin best professional book of the year. Deborah is on faculty for two post-graduate certificate programs in foster and adoption therapy.
Dan Griffith is a licensed clinical psychologist and has years of experience in research and clinical practice with high risk infants/children and their families. Dr. Griffith has expertise in psychological/developmental/educational assessment and intervention with children, parent child relations and parental effectiveness training, research design and implementation, and program evaluation. He has worked with a number of high risk populations including: premature and/or low birth weight infants, infants/children prenatally exposed to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD), children with sensory/regulatory problems including ADHD and autism, and children with learning disabilities.
Kevin Hofmann is the author of Growing Up Black in White, a memoir that shares, from the adoptee point of view, what it was like to grow up as a transracial adoptee.
He is also an accomplished writer and public speaker who has a passion for adoption, especially transracial adoption, and enjoys sharing from his experiences to help other adoptive families.
Kevin works in the field of child welfare as a recruiter for the Dave Thomas Foundation and Wendy's Wonderful Kids, finding permanent homes for foster children. Kevin has been interviewed on NPR and Nightline ABC and is quickly becoming a trusted voice in the adoption arena.
Dan Hughes, Ph.D. is a practicing clinical psychologist who specializes in the in the treatment of children and youth who have experienced abuse and neglect, childhood trauma and attachment disorganization.
Dr. Hughes received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Ohio University, with a clinical internship at the University of Rochester Medical School. He is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children (ATTACh).
He has provided training and consultations to therapists, social workers and parents in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Hughes is the author of Facilitating Developmental Attachment (1997), Building the Bonds of Attachment, (2006) and Attachment-Focused Family Therapy (2007).
Arleta James has been an adoption professional for fifteen years. She spent several years as a caseworker for the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption Network placing foster children with adoptive families and she now works as a therapist providing services for attachment difficulties, childhood trauma and issues related to adoption. She was the 1999 Pennsylvania Adoption Professional of the Year. She is currently on staff at the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio.
She is the author of the 2012 Jessica-Kingsley Publishers’ release Brothers and Sisters in Adoption: Helping Children Navigate Relationships When New Kids Join the Family.
Dr. Johnson earned his M.D., and a Ph.D. in Anatomy, served his internship and residency, and completed his neonatology fellowship at the University of Minnesota where he currently is Professor of Pediatrics, member of the Division of Neonatology and a faculty member in the Global Pediatrics Program.
Dr. Johnson co-founded the International Adoption Clinic in 1986. His research interests include the effects of early institutionalization on growth and development and the outcomes of internationally adopted children.
Dr. Johnson is an invited speaker worldwide, a Senior Research Fellow in the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and has authored over 200 scholarly works. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Joint Council for International Children's Services, Friend of Children Award from the North American council on Adoptable Children and the Harry Holt Award from Holt International.
He is also the father of a son adopted from India.
Gregory Keck is the founder and director of the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, where he specializes in working with children who have developmental trauma disorder, reactive attachment disorder and numerous other mental health difficulties.
Dr. Keck served on the board of ATTACh for nine years, two of which he served as president. He is also the co-author with Regina Kupecky, MAT, LSW of Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow (2009), Parenting Adoptive Adolescents (2009) and Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families with Special Needs Kids (2009).
Carrie Kitze, an adoptive mother of two children from China, is the founder and publisher of EMK Press. She is active in adoption affairs and speaks at adoption events on the topics of Adoption Parenting 101, Parenting with Narratives, Lifebooks, Ceremonies and Rituals for Adoptive Families, and Discovering Differences, a workshop for Kindergarten through third graders.
She is a past regional Families with Children from China coordinator, and has written for Adoptive Families Magazine and Adoption Today. She is the author of We See the Moon, a book for connecting with not-present or unknown birthparents, and I Don't Have Your Eyes, a book that finds commonality on the inside when the outside looks different.
She was also the creator of Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections with Sheena Macrae and Jean MacLeod, an indispensable resource for adoptive families.
Carmen Knight is an international transracial adoptee from Peru. She has her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Carmen has been working in the adoption community since 2006, and is currently working as an adoptive parent counselor at The Cradle.
Some of her past experiences in the adoption field include working at culture camps and adoptee camps, leading classes and seminars on adoption topics at conferences and for various adoption agencies, speaking on adoptee panels, and helping families prepare logistically and emotionally for touring their child’s country of birth.Carmen has also provided emotional support to families and individuals doing birth searches and reunions. Her encompassing knowledge aligned with her passion has guided countless families who have come together through adoption.
Phyllis Laughlin has been an adoption counselor at The Cradle Adoption Agency for over 10 years. She and her staff work with adoptive parents as they go through the home study process and accept placement. Phyllis works with families adopting domestically, internationally and special needs infants and children. She also facilitates training sessions to prepare prospective adoptive parents for adoption, including openness.
Tara is an African Vietnamese American transethnic adoptee, and knows well the challenges and successes of claiming more than one transformative experience. She is the Co-Founder and Vice President of AmerAsians Building Bridges consulting, which provides training and resources that enrich the lives of members of the adoption constellation and their allies. Her writings and presentations include The Power of Ambiguity, published in Adoption Today, and a keynote given at the National Press Club in Washington, DC entitled “Adoption in the Media: Why Context Matters.” She has worked internationally and nationally advancing social change, including service as deputy director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, a teacher in Johannesburg, South Africa, and currently serves on the board of Holt International Children's Services, one of the nation’s oldest and largest child welfare agencies, and Holt International Foundation of China. Tara is a graduate of Cornell University and Georgetown University Law Center, and resides in the People's Republic of Brooklyn. Please feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.
Michelle Madrid-Branch is an author, speaker and global advocate for women and children. She is the Executive Producer and Host of The Greater Than Project, a documentary web series exploring the intrinsic greatness within women. Michelle enjoyed a decade-long successful career as a television news anchor and investigative journalist, including an Emmy nomination while on-air with ABC-TV. She has three books in print—The Tummy Mummy, Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart, and Mascara Moments: Embracing the Woman in the Mirror—and is currently writing a fourth. Michelle has been referred to as a “world-wide voice on adoption” by Adoption Australia. She was inducted into the New Mexico Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006 and honored with the Governor’s Award for Outstanding New Mexico Women by Governor Bill Richardson. An international adoptee herself, she is the recipient of the 2004 Congressional Angels in Adoption Award.
Janet McDonald and her husband, Steve, worked with the Gladney Center in Fort Worth, Texas, to adopt two children, from Russia in 1996. They were living in Connecticut at the time, and soon after moving to Northbrook, Illinois, in 2001 Janet became active in volunteer activities at The Cradle. In addition to many volunteer activities, Janet has been a member of the Board of Directors since December 2007.
She volunteered at her children’s schools through their high school years and currently volunteers with USO of Illinois. She also has coordinated support groups for parents of children and adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Janet is a freelance editor specializing in cookbooks and fiction, and her hobbies include reading, cooking, knitting, and hiking.
Rebecca I. Nelson Ph.D., is a licensed clinical child & adolescent psychologist. She is on the professional staff with NorthShore University Health System in the Dept. of Pediatrics at Evanston Hospital in Illinois. She provides psychodiagnostic and consult services for neurodevelopmentally at-risk infants to teens. Dr. Nelson has also specialized in adoption for two decades across psychodiagnostic, consultative, educative, and community liaison roles. She is personally touched by adoption, and was adopted from South Korea at the age of 5½ adding a unique understanding of the developmental and psychological complexities that can challenge adoptees and their families.
Martha created RainbowKids.com Adoption Advocacy website in 1996 with the purpose of finding homes for children labeled "special needs". Martha is herself an adoptee and the mother of 5 children through adoption. Since its conception RainbowKids has grown into a trusted on-line advocacy force for international children needing families. Networking with over 70 adoption agencies and numberous advocacy groups and humanitatian organizations that share the same vision, RainbowKids has assisted over 11,000 children in finding their way home.
Marilyn has more than 40 years of adoption and child welfare experience in administration, supervision and casework, and is the Executive Director of Adoptions Unlimited. Prior to establishing Adoptions Unlimited, Ms. Panichi was the Executive Director of the Adoption Information Center of Illinois under the auspices of the Child Care Association of Illinois.
She began her career with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as a Child Welfare Worker and Adoption Coordinator.
She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Ms Panichi is co-founder of the Adoption Exchange Association where she currently serves as board member and treasurer.
Currently Owner and Advisor of Strategic Advice Services and former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tucson Urban League, has over 25 years experience working within the community development field facilitating projects, coalitions, and alliances at the neighborhood, citywide, regional, national and international levels.
Jonathan received a BA in African-American Studies and Political Science from Earlham College. Adopted transracially from Vietnam, he is the father of two sons.
Over the last thirty years, Dr. Perry has been an active teacher, clinician and researcher in children's mental health and the neurosciences. He is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago.
Dr. Perry is the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. He is the author of over 300 journal articles, book chapters and scientific proceedings and is the recipient of numerous professional awards and honors, including the T. Berry Brazelton Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award, the Award for Leadership in Public Child Welfare and the Alberta Centennial Medal.
Dr. Perry's research includes: the effects of prenatal drug exposure on brain development, the neurobiology of human neuropsychiatric disorders, the neurophysiology of traumatic life events, and long-term cognitive, behavioral, emotional, social and physiological effects of neglect and trauma in children, adolescents and adults. His work has resulted in the development of innovative clinical practices and programs working with maltreated and traumatized children.
Dr. Karyn Purvis is the founder and director of the Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development and a passionate advocate for "children from hard places", a phrase that describes children with histories of trauma, abuse and neglect. Dr. Purvis and her mentor and colleague, Dr. David Cross, currently lead the Institute in its triple mission of research, education and outreach on behalf of at-risk children.
Dr. Purvis and Cross also co-authored The Connected Child: Bringing Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family and developed Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a step-by-step intervention designed to bring deep healing to at-risk children and their struggling families. In 1999, Dr. Purvis launched The Hope Connection, a summer camp that serves as a research and training lab for adopted children and their parents and students.
A noted author, scholar and popular speaker, Dr. Purvis holds a PhD in developmental psychology from Texas Christian University. She was appointed to chair the state committee that set licensing standards for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, has trained judicial and court personnel, caseworkers and orphanage caregivers.
Honors include: T. Berry Brazelton MD Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award; Heroes of Healthcare Award, Families Supporting Adoption Hall of Fame Award, the James Hammerstein Award, and a Distinguished Fellow in Adoption and Child Development.
Dr. Purvis is a former foster mother, a mother of three sons, and a grandmother of eight, two of whom are adopted.
Tennille is responsible for managing the production of all ORS™ educational content. A Licensed Cosmetology Teacher, with a BA in Business Administration, Tennille is an Education Project Manager who studied Integrated Marketing at The University of Chicago.
With a career that has progressed over 20 years in the beauty industry, her experience encompasses working in prestigious salon environments, cosmetology education, consumer care, new product development and independently offering professional development for cosmetologists. She now manages education projects for the ORS™ brands. Through the span of her career, she has gained a host of certifications for working with salon brands and has also contributed to ensuring adequate product performance during the development of a host of retail products.
Katja Rowell M.D. is a family doctor turned childhood feeding specialist, supporting parents with relationship-building strategies to bring peace back to the family table. Described as “academic but down to earth,” Dr. Rowell addresses concerns about underweight, overweight, picky eating, food aversions, feeding therapy ‘failures,’ and children who are hoarding or food-preoccupied. Rowell is on the advisory panel for the SPOON foundation and speaks to parents and professionals across the nation on best feeding practices. Her book Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More, is available on Amazon.com.
As a researcher and teacher, Dr. Samuels focuses on issues of identity development for foster youth and adopted persons. She was also transracially adopted as an infant from foster care.
Betsy Keefer Smalley, LCSW, has thirty-three years of experience in the field of child welfare, specializing in the areas of adoption, kinship, and foster care. She is a training consultant for the Institute for Human Services, Program Manager at the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program, a consultant to the Center for Child Welfare Policy, and a clinical consultant to the Family Trust Clinic.
With colleague Jayne Schooler, Ms. Keefer Smalley co-authored the award-winning book, Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past. She is lead author of the 10-module IHS Adoption Assessor training series, and the Preservice Training for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers, and has prepared over 600 foster care and adoption specialists to use these curricula.
Susan is Program and Project Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and Co-Director of the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University is a leading scholar in the field of post-adoption services. A licensed clinical social worker and Emerita Professor of Social Work at Illinois State University, she has published several books and numerous articles in scholarly journals.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized her pioneering work, along with Dr. Jeanne Howard, with its 2002 Excellence Award for applied scholarship and research. Dr. Smith is a recipient of the Angels in Adoption Award (2006).
Susan Soonkeum Cox is Vice President Policy & External Affairs, for Holt International and is an internationally recognized expert and presenter on child welfare and adoption. She testifies regularly before Congress on these issues and has attended numerous White House briefings on public policy regarding adoption and child welfare; was instrumental in passing legislation providing automatic citizenship for children adopted abroad and to ratify the Hague Convention on Intercountry adoption in the U.S.
Ms. Cox has published numerous articles and papers; is editor of the anthologies, Voices from Another Place; More Voices; and founder of the Gathering for Korean Adoptees in 1999 in Washington D.C. and the Reunion of Vietnamese Adoptees.
Ms. Cox is a member of the Hague Special Commission on Intercountry Adoption; and was appointed by President Clinton to the White House Commission on Asian and Pacific Islanders. She was invited as a special guest to attend South Korea’s 60th Anniversary Celebration; and was awarded an Honorary Citizen of Seoul in 2005 by President elect Lee Myung-bak.
In 2013, Susan was appointed as Honorary Consul for the State of Oregon in Eugene, by the Republic of Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Judy, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and adoptive mom, has been serving families and children in the field of adoption for over 30 years. Instrumental in launching The Cradle's international program, Judy was also a lead developer for Adoption Learning Partner's debut course, Conspicuous Families.
She serves on the board of Adoptive Families magazine, is the past president of Joint Council on International Children's Services, and is currently serving as the Clinical Director of Adoption Learning Partners.
Lynn Wetterberg, MS is the former Executive Director of ATTACh, a national organization of clinicians, advocates and parents of attachment disordered children. Lynn currently serves as the President of Comfort the Children, a humanitarian aid and child advocacy organization, and is a founding member of For the Children, SOS, a grass roots organization which advocates for Romania's orphaned children.
Lynn served as a co-founder and Executive Director of Uniting Families Foundation (UFF), a licensed child welfare agency, assisting in the placement of children from orphanages overseas. During her tenure she assisted in the placement of more than 50 older and special needs children.
Lynn also served on the Board of Directors of Joint Council on International Children's Services for seven years. A recipient of the Congressional Angel in Adoption Award, Lynn Wetterberg remains devoted to the right of every child to be raised in a permanent, loving family.
Lynn has four children, three adopted from Romania and one from Russia.
Tessa was born on June 2, 1995 in Nanning, China and was raised in a foster home until the age of one. On her first birthday she was adopted by Ray and Mary Hennessy. She is an only child and was raised in Whitewater, WI for most of her life. At 18 years old, she is an avid gymnast currently, I attending Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is actively involved in InterVaristy Christian Fellowship at Carroll and runs her own online business. In her free time, Tessa enjoys being active and spending time with family and friends.
As parents, we all know how important providing a sound education is to our child. Ideally, a school is a nurturing environment where our children learn from teachers, coaches and classmates and start to imagine their futures. But sometimes things can get in the way of that dream. Societal biases as well as spoken and unspoken prejudices fuel expectations, and our Black children feel the impact.