Amplifying Advocacy Conference

Amplifying Advocacy Conference 2019

Building a Better Tomorrow

Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Join CASA of Walker, San Jacinto, and Trinity Counties as we host Amplifying Advocacy: Building a Better Tomorrow – a one-day training conference held April 27, 2019. The keynote speakers will inspire you to be life-long learners who fight for the best interest of our children.  Through varying breakout sessions, learn about the science behind brain trauma and how to connect with children who have been abused and neglected. Also, walk away with methods to prevent burnout as you fight for the children of our community. Come refresh, renew, and reignite your call to serve abused children and hurting families. Conference is open to all CASA advocates, social workers, teachers, peace officers, and any number of other occupations which work to encourage children and to steer them towards a path of purpose. Registration cost is $25.00 through April 11, 2019. Late registration will cost $30 and will be open April 12-22, 2019. Registration includes lunch, snacks, and all conference materials.


8:30am                 Check-In

9:00am                 Opening Remarks

9:15am                 Opening Keynote

10:05am               BREAK-OUTS #1 and #2

12:15pm               Lunch

1:00pm                 Lunch Keynote

2:00pm                 BREAK-OUT #3

3:00pm                 Remarks

3:15pm                 Closing Keynote




Opening Keynote: Dr. James and Mrs. Nancy Gaertner – Reflections on Civic Engagement & Lifelong Learning

Jim and Nancy Gaertner have devoted much of their lives to education and community service. In their joint talk, they will share numerous reflections on their experiences and lessons learned. Their journeys into community service began with each one of them, independently, making an important decision — that is, to be true to yourself in your life’s work. They will share the details of those independent decisions, and the results that followed. Following their talk will be an opportunity for questions and discussion.

Lunch Keynote: Dr. Dale Underwood – Refresh, Renew, Reignite: Real Talk 

Real talk: what a kid says to you when they want you to know they mean it. What we do is vital to a youth feeling connected to sanity and caring in their lives. Long term – and sometimes long distance – helping hurt children can be draining and frustrating. Dr. Underwood knows that. Refresh your passion as he and his special guests share the impact of people just like you. Renew your perspective on how to better help your youth through hard-learned insights from an education and residential treatment leader. Reignite your purpose as we enjoy moments that lift your spirit and anchor your heart. Experience some ‘real-talk’ together that will make a difference in the lives of those we choose not to forget.

Closing Keynote: Jon Sheptock – Living a Life of Challenges…Victoriously

Jon Sheptock was born in New Jersey in 1976 with a very unusual affliction; He had no arms and a short right leg. Six months after being placed in foster care, Joanne and Rudy Sheptock adopted Jon. Feeling led by God, they created a home where unwanted and disabled children could feel loved, safe, and secure. Jon will share his story of overcoming life’s challenges through the love and support he received with his family, and now with his wife. He also will share how he wants to extend this love with his CASA kids as they battle to overcome their own life’s challenges.

Break out #1

Option A: Games & Activities for Kids Who Hurt – Beth Powell, LCSW

Lucy (Beth) Powell, LCSW, is a Conroe, Texas-based psychotherapist, neuro-behavioral educator, college professor and author who specializes in helping traumatized children and their families heal.  Her entertaining and interactive workshops have educated appreciative audiences for almost 30 years. Based on her latest book, Fun Games and Physical Activities to Help Heal Children Who Hurt:  On Your Feet!, Beth’s workshop will give opportunities to explore real-world interactive play with ideas for practice supported by sound explanations of the why behind it all. Participants will be introduced to trauma-focused and trauma-sensitive activities that help children find workable solutions to their own problems, develop focus, improve impulse/self-control and practice better cause-effect thinking.

Option B: Teens Who Hurt – Christine Hoover, LPC

Christine received her Master of Arts Degree in Community Counseling from Sam Houston State University in 2013. She is licensed in the state of Texas as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Christine was on the clinical staff at A&M Christian Counseling Center in Bryan for 2-1/2 years, but in 2016 she began to work full time in Huntsville after opening her own private practice. Her presentation “Teens Who Hurt” will help child advocates know how to best understand, respond to, and care for teens who have come from difficult and troubled backgrounds.

Break out #2

Option A: Connecting to the Heart of Child – Beth Primm

TBRI, Trust Based Relational Intervention, was developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. Davis Cross at Texas Christian University. It is an attachment based, trauma informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI uses Connecting Principles to address attachment needs, Empowering Principles to address physical needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear based behaviors. While this intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI is connection. In this session, Beth Primm will give an overview of these TBRI principles and share about how TBRI methods can amplify our connections with children.

Option B: Practicing Healthy Self Care – Christine Hoover, LPC

Caring for traumatized children can be filled with paradox: it is both beautiful and exhausting, life-giving and soul draining. It is not either/or, but both/and. This practical breakout will focus on the causes of burn-out and practical ways to implement self-care. We will address what causes burn-out when working with children and/or victims of abuse and trauma, why stress is problematic when caring for others kids from hard places, and how to identify burnout in yourself and others. We will also look at the importance of self care, discuss practical self-care tips, and learn how to care for yourself over the long-haul so you can better manage the confusing and enriching paradox of caring for hurting kids.

Break out #3:

Option A: The Traumatized Brain & How It Behaves – Dr. Amanda Venta

Dr. Amanda Venta is a Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Sam Houston State University. Her research and clinical work focusses on children and adolescents and has been widely published, cited, and funded (e.g., National Institute of Mental Health). Her presentation, entitled “The Traumatized Brain and How it Behaves” will focus on the effects of trauma on the brains of children and adolescents and the common emotional and behavioral manifestations of those brain changes. Implications for how advocates interact with youth will be discussed.”

Option B: The Effects of Exposure to Abuse & Neglect – Richard Henriksen Jr., Ph.D., LPCS, NCC

Currently a Professor of Counselor Education at SHSU, Dr. Henriksen holds the Doctorate degree in Counseling from Texas A&M University Commerce and has been counseling survivors of child abuse, substance users, and individuals and families who experience a wide variety of life issues for more than 25 years. He has presented workshops to volunteers for CASA and many other organizations around the country and provides an understanding of how psychological problems affect children and families. Through the use of personal stories, Dr. Henriksen, in his presentation on “Effects of Exposure to Abuse and Neglect,” will describe the effects of child abuse and neglect on the child through developmental stages and ways that child advocates can assist children and their families.


Questions? Contact Janet Davidson at