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Address

Office Location:

DSS Main Office
​Wallace H. Kuralt Centre
301 Billingsley Road
Charlotte, NC 28211

West Charlotte Location
Community Resource Center
3205 Freedom Drive
Charlotte, NC 28208
Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Contact

Customer Connection
704-336-3000

​​​​Adoption Conference Speaker Bios

Keynote Speakers

 

Morning Keynote Speaker

Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky

Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky, founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute and author of Trauma Stewardship:  An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others, has worked directly with trauma survivors for more than three decades.

She has worked with groups as diverse as zookeepers and reconstruction workers in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, community organizers and health care providers in Japan, U.S. Air Force pilots, Canadian firefighters, public school teachers, private practice doctors, tiny non-profits, massive state agencies, libraries, the Pentagon, alternative colleges, and Ivy League universities. Much of her work is being invited to assist in the aftermath of community catastrophes–whether they are fatal storms or mass shootings. She has worked locally, nationally, and internationally.  Laura is known as a pioneer in the field of trauma exposure.

Laura is on the advisory board of ZGiRLS, an organization that supports young girls in sports.  She is a founding member of the International Transformational Resilience Network, which supports the development of capacity to address climate change.  Laura also served as an associate producer of the award-winning film A Lot Like You, and was given a Yo! Mama award in recognition of her work as a community-activist mother.

Luncheon Keynote Speaker

Derek Clark

Derek Clark's life is one of resilience and redemption.  As a child he suffered unthinkable child abuse, abandonment and emotional distress before being turned over to the psychiatric hospital at age five.  His 13 years in the San Francisco bay area foster care system reflected an early life of humiliation, aggression, emotional distress, overwhelming anxiety and being wrongfully labeled.

Eventually, with the help of loving foster parents and a fantastic social worker, he defied the artificial limitations imposed upon him.  Derek knows first-hand how to cope with adversity and overcoming hardship.  His past has never held him back from accomplishing what he set his heart and mind to.

Derek is an inspiring speaker, author and has recently become a viral video sensation for his "Rapping Dad" videos which have had over 200 million views.  He's also been featured on CNN Headline News, The Steve Harvey TV Show and many other TV shows around the world.

He is the author of seven books including "Disable the Label", "Never Limit Your Life" and the "I Will Never Give Up" book series.

His true-life trials and personal triumphs have inspired organizations with his message of hope and unwavering perseverance.  He has turned his situation from a victim to a victor, equipping him with the wisdom and the will to never give up

Afternoon Keynote Speaker

Kym Whitley

Kym Whitley   is a comedienne, actor, andradio personality.  The young girl that Kym had been mentoring gave birth and left the baby with the hospital maternity ward—along with Ms. Whitley's phone number.  Suddenly, Whitley had one hour to decide: Would she adopt this newborn boy?  The actress said yes, named the baby Joshua and asked her friends (aka "The Village") for help—including her on-again, off-again love Rodney, who is Joshua's adoptive father.

Kym chronicled her parenting adventures on her show "Raising Whitley", which aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) for four seasons.  Kym shares the funny truths about becoming an instant mother and the best decision she's ever made!

Kym Whitley was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Khartoum, Sudan (Africa).  Kym knew she was blessed with the gift to make people laugh, after a chance encounter with Redd Foxx, who told her "she had the Comedic Goods". Kym began living her dream as a standup comedian in Hollywood. Kym Whitley became Hollywood's go-to-girl with her smooth transition as a talented, comedic actress in numerous TV shows, namely, ABC's "My Wife and Kids", CBS's "Two Broke Girls", Disney's "That's So Raven", TV Land's "Soul Man" and HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Kym completed production of her docu-series, "Raising Whitley" on the OWN network.  You have seen Kym in the following films: "Haunted House 2", "We Bought A Zoo", "Fun with Dick and Jane", "College Road Trip", "The Nutty Professor" and "Next Friday" to name a few, and most recently in "Fist Fight." Read More

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 Presenters​

 

Charlie Appelstein

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."

   Sabrina Clark              

Sabrina Clark, LAPSW is a Policy & Practice Model Supervisor with Mecklenburg County DSS, where her primary responsibilities include providing direct supervision to a team of social workers responsible for bringing county-level child welfare policy and practice into alignment, as well as providing training to agency staff and stakeholders around this endeavor.  Sabrina is certified to teach several curricula designed to meet the needs of foster and adoptive parents including Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence - Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP), and Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma.  Since 2001, Sabrina has worked with children and families in a variety of programs at county and state-level government agencies and non-profit mental health organizations. 

Since obtaining her MSW in 2010, 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, but not limited to, the following: child welfare workers and supervisors, school social workers, law enforcement, juvenile probation officers, attorneys, mental health professionals, early childhood professionals, emergency shelter staff, Bachelor and Masters-level students from programs leading to child-serving professions, and both staff and volunteers representing the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) programs.

  Dr John DeGarmo       

Dr. John DeGarmo  is one of America's leading experts in foster care.  Dr. DeGarmo 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.

John  has been a foster parent for 15 years, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home.  He is a international consultant to legal firms and foster care agencies, as well as an empowerment and transformational speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system.  He is the author of several foster care books, including Love and Mayhem: One Big Family's Uplifting Story of Fostering and Adoption, and writes for several publications.  He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.

  April Dinwoodie      

 As a transracially adopted person, April Dinwoodie effectively and gracefully navigates complex circumstances, situations and conversations.  From creating a mentoring program for youth in foster care, to becoming the CEO of the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), April has succeeded in creating a more transparent conversation about diversity and identity for today's families. With over fifteen years experience founding her specialized mentoring program "Adoptment",  April has created lifelong bonds with adopted adults and teens in foster care.  During her tenure at DAI, April launched "Let's Adopt Reform", a major initiative to spark a national dialog about adoption that included a countrywide Town Hall Tour, a large-scale public opinion survey and a comprehensive professional qualitative report.  Part of her personal mission is to address how differences in race, class, and culture impact adoption and foster care and how adoption and foster care can bring us to a deeper understanding of identity and family today.  With her unique ability to interweave her personal transracial adoption journey into the broader mainstream, her hit podcast Born in June, Raised in April: What Adoption Can Teach the World, and her extensive work on HuffPo and Medium,  April authentically communicates and connects to poised, passionate and rooted in the diverse experiences her life has brought to her, no one is better suited to help navigate today's unique challenges and opportunities.  Read More

David Drum

David Drum,  is a masters level, social worker.  He received his MSW from East Carolina University in1996 specializing in services for children and families.    David has worked at Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services in a variety of Child Protective Services positions since 1996.  He currently facilitates Child and Family Team meetings.  Additionally, David uses recreational, drum circle facilitation skills in his social work practice.  David is trained by Remo Health Rhythms in their general, evidence based protocol.  The protocol addresses symptoms of anxiety and depression through the use of recreational drumming.  David uses an experiential education model that allows participants with no musical experience to come together and create music as a group.  David has collected rhythm instruments from around the world to use with groups.   David uses rhythm events for community and team building, promoting health and emotional wellbeing, and to help groups to express their spirit through the joy of communal music making.  

 

 Dr. Denise Goodman has been a child welfare professional for over 40 years.  She began her career working with emotionally disturbed teens in a residential treatment facility and has held numerous positions including a foster parent in Ohio.  Denise has been a senior consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation since 1992 and has worked in many state and local sites on system reform and to support them in increasing their pool of foster homes

Biship W.C. Martin

 Bishop W. C. Martin has been the Pastor of Bennett Chapel in Possum Trott, TX, for over 20 years.  In 1997, he and his wife Donna, adopted two children and began a miraculous adventure that became one of the premier adoption stories in America. Bishop W.C. Martin is the Founder of the nonprofit organization Saving a Generation Ministry, Inc.  Saving a Generation Ministry's mission consists of helping rescue children who have suffered abuse and abandonment inside the foster care system. Bishop W. C. Martin shares a road map to social transformation by demonstrating how his tiny church adopted and forever changed the destiny of 76 at risk children. Bishop W.C. Martin has appeared on Oprah & Good Morning America. He has advised a number of non-profits, religious organizations, and agencies. Bishop W.C. Martin, and his wife Donna, are parents to two biological children & four adoptive children. Bishop W.C. Martin's amazing story of love, miracles, & redemption Small Town, Big Miracle is slated to become a major motion picture.

Jamie Newcomb

 Jamie Newcomb is the owner of Bills Tax Service.  She is an Enrolled Agent with many years of experience.  She specializes in the Adoption Tax Credit, Ministers, and Earned Income Credit & Dependency Issues.  She is a foster & adoptive mom,  a former Board of Directors member of the Sourther Baptist Children's Home and a member of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

Benjamin Raymond

At thirteen years old,  Benjamin Raymond made a life-changing decision. The son of a white mother, who often broke down under the strains of her mental illness and drug addiction, and a black father, who had long since disappeared, Ben took control of his destiny and put himself in foster care.  He was placed with a family that encouraged his natural athletic ability.  He attended the University of Minnesota as an athlete, became a corporate executive turned entrepreneur, philanthropist, a motivational speaker, a development coach, and mentor.  A raw portrait of growing up in a family burdened with mental illness and domestic violence, building relationships through prison walls, and discovering what living a rich life really means.   Ben's book, Playing the Game Without a Coach, is a story of courage, resilience, and ultimately, forgiveness.

In the last 14 years Benjamin has successfully parlayed his skills and tenacity on the court into the business world, propelling his company to the status of Million Dollar Round Table Success (MDRT).

When opening the Benjamin Raymond State Farm Agency in 2008 he broke all the previous records held for the amount of sales applications & life policy sold in one month.  Raymond has earned numerous awards including, Multiyear Ambassador Traveler for State Farm, Chairman's Circle Agent, President's Club Life Insurance, SVP Club and Exotic Traveler, to name a few.  Benjamin has also mentored seven former staff members in opening their own agencies.  Read More

Michael Saunders

Michael Sanders, has been referred to as an Edutainer…successfully blending education and entertainment for maximum learning and fun.  He has spent over 25 years working with teens and their families and brings his enthusiasm for these groups in a humorous and exciting presentation.  As a national speaker, consultant, and trainer, Michael travels extensively motivating teens, inspiring families and educating professionals to be and do their best.  Michael's mission is simple, "to help every adult to become a FAN of teens!"

 

  

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 Jamie Newcomb; who are foster and adoptive parents.

 

Address

Office Location:

DSS Main Office
​Wallace H. Kuralt Centre
301 Billingsley Road
Charlotte, NC 28211

West Charlotte Location
Community Resource Center
3205 Freedom Drive
Charlotte, NC 28208
Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Contact

Customer Connection
704-336-3000