Plenary Speaker

Tina Ryker-Bevans, LCSW-S

Foundations of Change, LLC, Therapist/Behavioral Health Consultant

Tina Ryker-Bevans, LCSW: Tina Ryker-Bevans is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board Approved Supervisor in Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with her BA in Political Science in 1998 and with her Master of Social Work in 2001. She worked with adult and child domestic violence and sexual assault survivors for over 15 years, including a practicum in Washington, DC with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Public Policy office. In 2009, Tina moved to the VA. At the VA, Tina worked as the Tulsa Suicide Prevention Coordinator with high-risk Veterans then at the Tulsa Vet Center where she worked with combat Veterans and military sexual trauma survivors. In November 2017, she started Foundations of Change, LLC, and she co-founded the Oklahoma Social Work Summit in 2018 and the Children’s Mental Health Symposium in 2019. In addition, she has provided workshops for mental health professionals, healthcare providers, first responders, and community members on various topics. She served on the NASW-OK Board of Directors 2012-2014 and 2015-2017 as well as Chairperson of NASW-OK Conference Committee 2014-2018. She currently serves on the Knee-Wittman Award Committee with NASW, is an adjunct faculty member with Tulsa Community College, and provides groups for sex offenders and batterers on probation and parole. She is a certified mediator and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) administrator. She advocates for her special needs daughter and has become an advocate for services for special needs children. She also served 11 years in the US Navy Reserve. When not working, Tina enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, playing with their dogs, serving in her church, and cheering on the OU Sooners.

Chuckles & Guffaws: Looking at Humor as Self-Care

This presentation will explore using humor and professional relationships as self-care. We will identify healthy versus toxic dynamics with our colleagues, discuss the physical and psychological benefits of laughter, and rediscover the humorous side of helping professions. Be prepared to laugh!

Slippery Slopes: Common Ethical Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Ethics Credit)

This workshop will examine the most common ethical complaints and violations facing state licensing boards. Codes of Ethics will be reviewed for national professional organizations. The workshop will also include ways to prevent ethical violations using discussion on case scenarios provided by the presenter and attendees.

Keynote Speaker: Kevin Tutt

Kevin Tutt: A master of generating enthusiasm and excitement. He is an amazing speaker and connects quickly with his audience. As co-founder of Tutt & Daggs, Corporate Speakers, he has chosen to inspire and challenge audiences of all types to reevaluate their personal commitment toward work and life. Kevin emphasizes leaders’ contribution to the success of people around them. It is Kevin’s vision to maximize individual potential and, with focusing on the details, begin the big journey of making a difference. Organizations, associations and families can be transformed but only after the individuals of those entities recognize that they posses the power to make an impact and give more than they ever thought possible. Since 2006, Kevin has inspired, entertained and helped advance over 1,000 organizations in the area of commitment, positivity, attitude, change and engagement. His past experience in healthcare and serving as an adjunct instructor at Abilene Christian University has made the move to corporate America seamless. Kevin’s desire to shake up corporate complacency was born out of his previous experience of working to improve client service for patients and understanding the necessity of uncompromising student engagement in education.

Speaker Names: Lauren Cantrell, LMSW and Noreen White, LBSW

Lauren Cantrell: The Director of Field Education and full-time Assistant Professor of Social Work at Hardin-Simmons University Born and raised in Abilene, Texas, she is a Christian wife and mother to a seven-year-old son. Lauren is a Licensed Master’s Social Work (LMSW ) and she is currently completing a doctoral program in Leadership in Higher Education and will graduate in May 2023.  She has worked in administrative social work capacities in the medical field, as a case manager, and director of social services for the geriatric population for most of her career prior to higher education.  She specializes in trauma and grief care, and dementia and behavioral health. Lauren is currently completing her dissertation on the Incorporation of Servant Leadership in the Field Pedagogy in Social Work Education.

Noreen White: The Program Director at Betty Hardwick ECI. A native of Evanston, Illinois, this enthusiastic Christian wife, and mother of three sons moved to Texas in the late 1980’s. She began her professional career in the Abilene area as a social worker in 1990. She has worked with young children and families as a service coordinator, case manager, child development center director, Early Intervention Specialist, and an administrator. This year she celebrates 24 collective years of service with Early Childhood Intervention. Noreen is a licensed social worker (LBSW) and holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Abilene Christian University. Hobbies include collecting rabbit art, cooking soul food, gospel singing, and cuddling with her new baby granddaughter.

The Social Worker’s Self- Care Toolbox (Ethics Credit)

This presentation will discuss Self- Care is a fundamental tool in our service and continuity of practice.  The need to engage in self-care is so great and this session will offer a hands-on approach to building your own self-care toolbox. This session will utilize interactive tools and resources, and group discussions following a presentation on self-care incorporation. 

Speaker Name: Darrin Cox & Colleen Rud

Darrin Cox: Graduated with a BSW in 1989 from Abilene Christian University. In 1988 he began his work career as a Juvenile Probation Officer at the Juvenile Probation Department of Taylor County. During his internship he was hired to begin the Intensive Supervision Probation Program and worked for Taylor County until 1993 where he first became employed by Abilene Independent School District as a Truant Officer for over 20 years. He worked several years developing their attendance program to help bring up AISD’S attendance overall. He also coached softball at the varsity level at Abilene high for 14 years during his tenure at Abilene Independent School District. Feeling almost to the point of burn out he was able to take a new job as the Homeless /Foster Care Liaison for AISD where he is presently employed. In his second year as the homeless liaison Darrin has started helping students with all their needs from socks, underwear, shoes and clothes. One of his main goals this year was to bring awareness of the high number of homeless students identified in the Abilene Independent School District. Another goal is to make Abilene Independent School District a very welcoming school district to those in need. Darrin has been successful with putting together a clothing closet, school supplies closet and meeting his goal of getting the word out across the community of Abilene. He has helped to buy a washer and dryer for all schools to help our students. He has almost helped to bring Care 4 Kids a weekend food program for the food insecure in AISD.

Building Bridges from the Fringes to the Heart

This presentation will walk through McKinney -Vento and how it affects youth. We will also look at how homeless youth are the most vulnerable to be trafficked. The effects of homelessness and human Trafficking on our youth and what we can do in our community to help those youth.

Colleen Rud: Raised in a small town in West Central Wisconsin and graduated from Eleva-Strum High School. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Ashford University and she currently has a Master of Social Work degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Colleen is a nationally certified victim advocate, who has spent the last roughly 20 plus years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector. Colleen currently works as a Human Trafficking Case Management Advocate with Regional Victim Crisis Center. She is also the co-coordinator for the Big Country Human Trafficking Coalition. Colleen has a passion for serving those who often don’t feel they have a voice and has spent many years serving the homeless and victims of crimes. If you ask Colleen about her philosophy in working with those who seek victim services, Colleen shared a quote from Mother Teresa “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Colleen and her husband, Richard have been married for 31 years and currently reside in Hawley. They have 6 children and 7 grandchildren. Colleen enjoys spending time with her family in her free time. I have a ton of presentations that I have done over the course of the past two years. It would be a lot to list for all the schools, churches, Region 14, 2 Ingage, Lions Club, Kiwana’s Club. I have also co-presented with Darrin Cox in San Marcos on August 30, 2022, for TEHCY Program Summit

Keeping Students Safe

Human trafficking happens in our community, and our students are at-risk. “Keeping Students Safe” is a research and experience-based, prevention presentation that can be presented to school staff for school staff, caregivers, and students in 6th through 12th grades. “Keeping Students Safe” presentations include the latest statistics on human trafficking in Texas, expose the recruitment tactics of traffickers, explain how to recognize vulnerable and exploited youth, and provide ways to connect students to appropriate resources. These programs are flexible and suitable for a classroom or assembly setting.

Speaker Name: Chris Daughtery

Chris Daughtery: The founder of From Boys to Gentlemen Mentoring Program with over ten years of experience in coaching and mentoring young men and ladies. He is the author of the book “From Boys to Gentlemen” which was published in 2014 and has since helped hundreds of people to understand the importance of having a strong family unit. The book is the tool he uses to help young men grow into being strong husbands and fathers and to help young ladies with their self-esteem. It also serves as a conversation starter for improving communication and relationships between parents and children in the home. As a father and military veteran himself, Chris understands the importance of being a role model for young people.

Building resilience in youth

This session focuses on developing the four pillars in our youth: Emotional Intelligence, Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution and Critical Thinking.

Speaker Name: Lindsay Del Valle

Lindsay Del Valle is a Licensed Professional Counselor and holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from University of the Southwest. Lindsay’s areas of expertise include working with parents and families. Lindsay currently serves as a Case Manager and Parent Educator for Methodist Children’s Home Abilene Outreach Office. Lindsay is certified in Nurturing Parenting, and Circle Of Security Parenting. Lindsay is also a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner. Lindsay provides private practice virtual therapy on a part-time basis. When Lindsay isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two sons, friends, and extended family.

Internal and External Regulation utilizing TBRI Empowering Principles

This workshop will utilize TBRI Empowering Principles to present information on internal and external needs, as well as sensory input, in order to promote mental, emotional, and behavioral regulation.

Speaker Name: Kaitlyn Eberhardt

Kaitlyn Eberhardt: The Prevention Strategist at Texas Advocacy Project, a non-profit organization providing free legal and social services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, and child abuse. Kaitlyn travels across the state to facilitate conversations on best practices and strategies in responding to the unique needs of power-based abuse victims. She provides training to a wide variety of professionals and organizations related to the criminal justice system, with a focus on dating violence prevention in teen populations. Kaitlyn has worked directly with survivors within the agency to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, and resource referrals. She serves on task forces, community planning groups, and committees that focus on ending domestic violence and sexual assault and bringing survivors to safety.

See Something, Say Something: Recognizing & Responding to Teen Trafficking Victim

This presentation will discuss why teen victims of human trafficking have many unique needs when compared to victims of other forms of power-based abuse. This workshop will take a deep dive into the dynamics of sex and labor trafficking in teen populations, as well as social and legal remedies for survivors. Social media strategies will be covered.

Speaker Name: Brandon Gurganus

Brandon Gurganus: Working as a Victim Services Specialist for the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Abilene since 2016. Prior to that, he worked as an Investigator with CPS for 2 years, and a dispatcher with Abilene PD for 3 years. Brandon was born and raised in Abilene and graduated from Hardin-Simmons in 2010 with a Bachelors of Criminal Justice. Since his time at the CAC, Brandon has conducted over 1,100 forensic interviews of child abuse victims and provided advocacy support services to approximately 700 families. He provides presentations regularly throughout the community. During his time at the CAC, Brandon has developed a passion for providing education to community members on child sexual abuse awareness and tips for prevention. He wants to bring awareness that sexual abuse happens in every type of family, and he would like to equip parents and professionals to help end child sexual abuse in Taylor County.

Saving Our Children – One Adult at a Time

This presentation is a common statement heard when parents are involved in child sexual abuse investigations; “I never thought this would happen to my child”. Through discussion and activities, participants will be made aware of facts about child sexual abuse. They will also learn tips to help parents, as well as professionals who work with parents/kids to help prevent child sexual abuse.

Speaker Names: Carl Leake & Dean Pye

Carl Leake: Program Administrator for Betty Hardwick Center. He has a Master of Arts in Family Ministry, a Pastoral Counseling specialty. Carl has been in the mental health field for 12 years spanning several populations including adult mental health, IDD, geriatric and child and adolescent in both residential and outpatient treatment. Carl currently supervises the Assertive Community Treatment team, Care Coordination and is currently in development of the Coordinated Specialty Care for First Episode Psychosis program.

Dean Pye:

BHC Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis and YES Waiver Services

This workshop is an introduction to BHC services including the developing Coordinated Specialty Care for First Episode Psychosis and YES waiver services. Both programs are aimed at serving children and/or young adults who are at risk and need intensive wrap around services.

Speaker Name: Crystal Leake

Crystal Leake is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor currently working at New Horizons as a counselor at the New Horizon’s Family Center.  For over 10 years she has served in a professional setting helping connect children and adults to healing.  Her experience in the field has covered supporting children, adults, and families in settings of psychiatric hospital, residential treatment centers, outpatient practice, and Military Family Life Counselor.  Crystal has a Master’s in Family Ministry, Master’s in Family Psychology, is a Trust Based Relational Intervention practitioner, has specialized trainings in trauma, premarital/post marital counseling, and drug prevention.  She is currently in process of obtaining her RPT (Registered Play Therapist).  Her experience as a foster and adopt mother helps her relate to the unique challenges and successes of the foster care world.  Crystal speaks at many different events covering both psychological and theological topics.  She is a mother of three wonderful children, and wife to a supportive and loving husband. 

Self-Regulation in a High- Stress Job

The goal of this workshop is to explore the deeper meaning of self-care, ways to care for oneself when working in a high stress environment.

Speaker Names: Hilda McClure, Dr. Leticia Cavazos, LCSW, and Elizabeth Jurado, MSW

Hilda McClure: holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from the Dallas Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Dallas Baptist University. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Associate, specializing in working with children, adolescents and young adults. Hilda is also a trained EMDR therapist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in training, and a trauma-focused bilingual counselor.

Dr. Leti Cavazos: holds a Doctor of Social Work degree from the University of Tennessee with an emphasis in Clinical Practice and Leadership. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her research study was entitled, “Assessing the Characteristics of Male Victims of Domestic Violence Experiencing Homelessness.” Her work has led her to create several successful programs including building the foundation for the first male domestic violence shelter in Texas.

Elizabeth Jurado: holds a Master of Social Work from the Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas and currently is a Certified Financial Social Worker. She has experience working with children, families and individuals as an agent of support and guidance. Her professional life includes a commitment to serving the needs of low-income families as a Bilingual Financial Coach and Advocate.

Strength in Adversity: Motivational Interviewing

This presentation will discuss motivational Interviewing as a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It strengthens personal motivation and commitment to a specific goal within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.

Intergenerational Cultural Dissonance in Hispanic Families

This presentation: Many are familiar with intergenerational dissonance that exists between parents and children. However, when it comes to the conflict over culture between generations, we are a little less familiar with this unique dynamic. Acculturation is a complex and unique process, and it deeply impacts the family system especially when youth are involved and are going through that process simultaneously.

Speaker Name: Cassandra Mendoza

Cassandra Mendoza has multiple years of experience working with Black and Latinx families in urban settings, families with child welfare involvement, and children living in under-resourced communities. Cassandra has experience providing academic tutoring and socio-emotional counseling to public school students in Chicago, IL. Cassandra was a bilingual, mental health therapist to birth-to-five families that have experienced violence; and a crisis specialist providing services to youth and caregivers involved in the child welfare system in Chicago, IL and Los Angeles County. Cassandra’s professional interests include anti-racism work, supporting healthy communities, and improving social work practices. In her current position, Cassandra is developing the TXPOP Social Work Child Welfare Academy that offers trainings designed to help child welfare professionals improve permanency and wellbeing outcomes for children.

Trauma-Informed Care: I’ve Heard It All Before, But What Does It Really Mean For My Practice?

During this workshop participants will learn about the basics of trauma-informed care including the core values and principles that guide the implementation of a trauma-informed care practice. Participants will explore examples of how to implement trauma-informed care in a child welfare setting. Participants will be introduced to the concept of healing centered engagement. Participants will explore ways to implement healing centered engagement in a child welfare setting.

Speaker name: Kimberly Putnam

Kimberly Putnam is in her advanced year of a Master of Science in Social Work degree at Abilene Christian University. Currently, she is serving as the MSW Intern at Big Country CASA, assisting with volunteer recruitment, data analysis, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She is passionate about working with at-risk youth to help them internalize their worth and encourage them towards their greatest potentials. She became interested in the experiences of dual-status youth after interacting with youth that have been involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems and noticing a trend in how youth with prior child welfare involvement disproportionately enter the justice system. Her presentation is based on a study of Taylor County system-involved youth that she conducted for her masters’ thesis with the help of ACU School of Social Work and Big Country CASA faculty and staff. After graduating with her MSSW in May, Kimberly will continue her career and education by becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker and pursuing a Master of Arts from ACU’s Graduate School of Theology.

Crossing Over: A Description of Dual-Status Youth in Taylor County, Texas (Ethics Credit)

This presentation: This lecture-style workshop will present a recent study on the experiences of dual-status youth in Taylor County, Texas. After a brief introduction to the purpose and significance of the study, the results of the study will be presented. The presenter will apply these results by providing recommendations for future research, policy changes, and best practices for this population.

Speaker Name: Jason Shaw

Jason Shaw is currently the Director of Counseling and Disability Services at McMurry University. He has 10 years of working with youth in crisis and foster care. Jason is a TBRI Practitioner and is currently working on his Doctorate in Biblical Counseling through Bob Jones University. Jason serves as a board member of the Child Advocacy Center.

Theoretical Mental Health Model for Life Transitions

This workshop is designed to help professionals walk those who they are working with through different life transitions. Whether they are working with children in foster care, families or have a personal life transition, this workshop is designed to help the attendee learn ways of identifying their current situation, identify and process feelings, create new norms for living, and find purpose.

Speaker Name: Jay Strong

Jay T. Strong: A Police Officer for the City of Merkel Texas.  He has served as the Chief of Police for the City of Tye, Merkel ISD School Resource Officer and Criminal Investigations Detective for the Nolan County Sheriff’s Office.  Prior to his civilian law enforcement career, Jay served in the United States Air Force for 21 years.  During his Air Force Career, Jay was recognized as Outstanding Young Man of America, AF First Sergeant of the Year, 8th Air Force Lance P. Sijan Senior Enlisted Leadership Award to name a few. Jay is recognized as a local expert in human trafficking and has been lauded for his efforts in the Big Country. Noteworthy achievements include establishing a 501c3 charity, Operation Brown Bag, serving disadvantaged children and senior citizens in the Big Country. This community program afforded his team the opportunity to engage with children where they live, providing for their personal needs resulting in a decrease in CPS cases over a five-year period. During his tenure in Tye, his department garnered National Recognition as the 2021 Axon RISE Agency of the Year for making great strides in building up their community. He was named the 2018 Kiwanis First Responder of the Year, Masons Community Builder Award and KTXS Hometown Hero. Jay has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice from Arizona State University.  He shares his passion for community service with his wife, Dr. Debra Notturno-Strong.  They have two adult children, four grandchildren and 12 dogs.

The Butterfly Effect of Human Trafficking

Session Description: This session will discuss the theory of the butterfly effect where one action can change the course of one’s whole life and how that applies to the “process” of human smuggling and ultimately, human trafficking from start to finish. Discussion will include real world experiences, dispelling myths and sharing the tell-tale signs of victims and perpetrators.

Speaker Name: Bethany Walker

Bethany Walker is the Director and Clinician of Empowered Family Services, a mental health practice in Longview, TX focused on empowering families in all walks of life by providing education, mental health services, and support to children and teens, caregivers, families, and support systems. An East Texas native, Bethany attended Abilene Christian University for her Bachelors in Social Work and Boise State University for her Masters in Social Work.  She has served children, teens, and families through work in victims advocacy centers, schools, medical clinics, and community based non profits for the past decade. In addition to her mental health work, Bethany is an author. Her debut picture book “Lena & the Dragon: A Children’s Book on Trauma and Resiliency” recently received the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators SPARK Honor Award. Bethany is currently pursuing her doctorate in Traumatology.

Tame the Trauma Dragon: Creating Trauma Aware Supports for Children & Families

Tame the Trauma Dragon is a 90-minute introductory training to trauma for educators, case workers, school staff and support personnel, youth and childcare workers, and community members. Incorporating aspects from Dan Siegel, Karyn Purvis, and Bessel van der Kolk, this training utilizes a variety of learning styles and interactive approaches to help those who support families and children walk away with knowledge on how trauma affects children developmentally, behaviorally, biologically, and academically.