Thursday – Friday, Oct. 15 – 16

This virtual conference is designed for collaborators determined to finding solutions to the complex issues that challenge children and families in their communities. This diverse group represents urban and rural areas of Georgia and other states, as well as multiple sectors of community life, including social services, education, government, healthcare, and business. Participants will share their work, their pandemic response, and how to address systemic racism and inequities.

As Georgia Family Connection approaches its 30-year milestone in 2021, let’s continue to stretch ourselves to find creative ways to stay connected and work shoulder to shoulder to rise to the moment—and emerge all the stronger for it.

Please join us for this reimagined event and celebrate our collective resilience and dedication to our most vulnerable neighbors.


Meet Our Opening Keynote Speaker

Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, Ph.D., a family physician and epidemiologist whose work focuses on naming, measuring, and addressing the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation—and the world—says everyone should have the opportunity to achieve good health, but that’s often not the case.

She will discuss systemic, historical inequities and ways cross-sector collaboration can help improve health outcomes, educational attainment, and housing stability for all Georgians.

A senior fellow and an adjunct associate professor at Morehouse School of Medicine, Camara Jones is past president of the American Public Health Association, and was recruited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Medical Officer in 2000.

Meet Our Closing Keynote Speaker

Nicco Mele is one of America’s leading forecasters of business, politics, and culture in our fast-moving digital age. He is acting CEO of the National Conference on Citizenship, managing director at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School.

From 2016 to 2019, Mele was the director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he started new programs focused on understanding misinformation on social networks; sustainable models for local journalism; institutional anti-racism in media and algorithms; and platform accountability. He continues to teach classes on technology’s impact on media, politics, and public policy.

Start the Conversation

Connect on social media during, before, and after the conference as we continue to learn and collaborate together. We’re using the #LetsTalkGA hashtag to focus our conversations on Facebook and Twitter.

After you register, you will receive an email with a link to the virtual conference two weeks prior to the conference so you may log in and explore the conference platform. You will also receive additional tips and information at that time to ensure that you have the best experience possible.

A welcome kit will be mailed to everyone who registers by Monday, Sept. 14.

This schedule is subject to change.

     Thursday, Oct. 15

8 – 8:15 a.m.

        Optional Morning Yoga

8:45 – 9 a.m.

        Welcome

9 – 9:15 a.m.

        Opening Remarks

9:15 – 10:10 a.m.

        Breakouts—Session 1

  • Building Protective Factors Within Families and Communities
  • Moving Toward A Shared Understanding of Race, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Tuning in to Our Children to Prime Them for School
10:10 – 10:15 a.m.

        Announcements

10:15 – 10:25 a.m.

        Wellness Break

10:25 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

        Opening Keynote

12:05 – 12:25 p.m.

        Break to Get Lunch

12:25 – 1:05 p.m.

        Optional Dine-In Conversations

1:05 – 1:20 p.m.

        Family Connection Feud

1:20 – 1:25 p.m.

        Announcements

1:25 – 2:25 p.m.

        Breakouts—Session 2

  • Crafting A Community Response to Child Care Needs
  • The Heart of the Matter—Bearing the Weight of Toxic Stress
  • Seizing the Moment to Improve Georgia’s Civic Health
2:25 – 2:35 p.m.

        Moment of Inspiration

     Friday, Oct. 16

8 – 8:15 a.m.

        Optional Morning Yoga

8:45 – 9 a.m.

        BYOCoffee and Conversations

9 – 9:15 a.m.

        Opening Remarks

9:15 – 10:15 a.m.

        Breakouts—Session 3

  • Healthier Moms and Babies—A Pathway to Stronger Communities
  • The Impact of Trauma and School Climate on Student Outcomes
  • Mental Health: Ending the Silence and Stigma
10:15 – 10:25 a.m.

        Wellness Break

10:25 – 10:30 a.m.

        Announcements

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

        Breakouts—Session 4

  • Connect Now: Improving Resiliency and Preventing Childhood Trauma
  • Charting A Path to Employment Stability During Unstable Times
  • Rising to the Occasion: How Educators Are Navigating A Shifting Landscape to Help Students Succeed
11:30 a.m. – 12:35 p.m.

        Closing Keynote

12:35 – 12:50 p.m.

        Standing Shoulder to Shoulder

Building Protective Factors Within Families and Communities

Georgia Family Connection’s Family Support Cohort, which has been in place in three counties in North Georgia since 2017, is focused on child abuse and neglect prevention through a comprehensive theory of change that includes attention to family economic stability, social norms to support parents, quality care and education in early life, parenting skills, and interventions to lessen harm and prevent future risk. The cohort’s approach includes direct attention to equity, evaluation, and innovation that can alter outcomes for children, families, and communities. Dive into the cohort’s structure, Outcome Map, and alignment with state plans to address child abuse and neglect.

Presenters

Martha Baker
Coordinator
Dade County Family Connection

Brigette Barker
Executive Director
Lumpkin County Family Connection

LaDonna Collins
Executive Director
Rome Floyd County Commission in Children and Youth

Charting A Path to Employment Stability During Unstable Times

Learn about additional cash resources available to support low income families receiving SNAP to take strides toward self-sufficiency. Goodwill of North Georgia will highlight how to expand and diversify your organization’s external revenue for your mission through the new Georgia SNAP Works program, while helping food stamp recipients receive the job skills, training, or experience needed to find gainful employment.

Presenter

Jenny Taylor
Vice President of Career Services
Goodwill of North Georgia

Connect Now: Improving Resiliency and Preventing Childhood Trauma

Everyday connections are more important than we ever believed. Science tells us that relationships have the power to shape our brains. Relationships help us learn better, work better, parent better. When we experience tough times, they help us heal. With each connection, we develop a healthier, stronger community. This training will provide an overview of the Connections Matter Georgia initiative and introduce participants to methods to improve resiliency, prevent childhood trauma, and understand how our interactions with others can support those who have experienced trauma.

Presenters

Julia Neighbors
Director
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia

Tiffany Sawyer
Director of Prevention Services
Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

Crafting A Community Response to Child Care Needs

Child care is crucial to our state’s economy and recovery—and communities across Georgia are responding to challenges faced by child care providers and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dig into the current state of child care in Georgia, including its economic impact, with Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). Learn about how to build a child care landscape for your community, ways to invite more voices into the conversation about rebuilding and recovery for child care, and resources to support critical conversations around early learning.

Presenters

Kati Cosby
Community Partnership Coordinator
Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)

Jill O’Meara
Community Partnerships and Projects Manager
Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)

Healthier Moms and Babies—A Pathway to Stronger Communities

Georgia has some of the highest low birthweight and infant mortality rates in the nation, and maternal mortality has been on the rise across the country since the 1980s. Dig into data and evidence regarding maternal and infant health indicators in Georgia, and find out more about the supports provided by the four care management organizations (CMO) across the state. Learn how to describe the state of maternal and infant health, identify areas for the improvement of the health of mothers and babies, and describe the current realm of access to care in Georgia.

Presenters

Cassandra Cladd
Manager, Member Outreach
Wellcare

Seema Csukas
Medical Doctor, Georgia Market
Care Source

Georgia Hill
OB Specialist Practice Consultant
Clinical Speciality Services, Amerigroup Community Care
Amerigroup Real Solutions

Amber Mack
Research and Policy Analyst
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia

Jamie Pope
Manager, Case Management
Peach State Work Plan

The Heart of the Matter—Bearing the Weight of Toxic Stress

Early adversity and the confluence of implicit bias can have lasting effects. But we know that supportive, responsive relationships can ameliorate the negative effects of toxic stress. Learn how infant and child bonding, attachment, and Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs) influence and impact health and development—and receive tools to use in your everyday work as you seek to build meaningful relationships with children and families.

Presenters

Debbie Hillman
Public Policy Chair
Black Child Development Institute-Atlanta

Dina Walker-Devose
Associate Professor of Child and Family Development and Interim Assistant Dean of Recruitment, Retention, and Inclusion
Georgia Southern University

The Impact of Trauma and School Climate on Student Outcomes

Positive school climate is a critical component of school safety and student achievement, discipline, and attendance. It also helps mitigate the negative impacts of trauma, helplessness, and other challenges to students’ mental and physical health. Understanding the importance of school climate and how it nurtures student engagement requires a shift in thinking that challenges traditional perspectives and opinions about the determinants of student behavior. Gain insight about how the elements of a positive school climate form supports that benefit students and teachers.

Presenters

April Hartman
Division Chief
Children’s Hospital of Georgia
Director of General Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and Medical, Ambulatory Pediatrics Associate Professor of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Augusta University

Garry McGiboney
Deputy Superintendent for the Office of School Safety
Georgia Department of Education

Mental Health: Ending the Silence and Stigma

Through dialogue, we can help grow the movement to end stigma related to mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will share the warning signs of mental health conditions and what steps to take if you or a loved one are showing symptoms of a mental health condition. Audience members will hear directly from a young adult with a mental health condition about their journey of recovery—and gain a better understanding of an often-misunderstood topic.

Presenters

Brittany Barrett
Program Leader
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Georgia

Faye Taylor
Advisor and Past President
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Georgia

Moving Toward A Shared Understanding of Race, Equity, and Inclusion

This interactive session will feature insight from Georgia Family Connection’s race, equity, and inclusion committee members. The speakers will discuss understanding equity through GaFCP’s story of becoming an equity-focused organization, including building a shared language and understanding of concepts and an exploration of data disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

Presenter

Folami Prescott-Adams
Chief Catalyst
HTI Catalysts

Rising to the Occasion: How Educators Are Navigating A Shifting Landscape to Help Students Succeed

All eyes have been on schools as tough decisions are being made regarding how to safely send children back to the classroom and provide education alternatives for students learning from home. This panel discussion will feature insight from a middle school teacher, an elementary school principal, a digital learning specialist, and a superintendent on the challenges they are facing and what they have learned during this unprecedented time.

Presenters

Sue Cottingham
Seventh Grade Teacher
Grovetown Middle School

Leah Clark
Principal
Ridge Road Primary School

Erin Rehberg
Digital Learning and Media Services Coordinator
Thomas County Schools

Grant Rivera
Superintendent
Marietta City Schools

Seizing the Moment to Improve Georgia’s Civic Health

“Civic Health” encompasses traditional community engagement, social capital, community connectedness, and civic education and knowledge. Research tells us that high levels of civic health generally lead to better community outcomes—but civic health is even more crucial during times of crisis like we’re facing now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic combined with ongoing systemic racism. Find out from state and national experts why civic health is critically important to our communities’ overall well-being—and learn about how local leaders and Collaborative partners can expand access to civic engagement and change systems to boost civic health.

Presenters

Jeff Coates
Research and Evaluation Director
National Conference on Citizenship

Holger Loewendorf
Research Manager
Georgia Municipal Association

Gigi Pedraza
Executive Director
Latino Community Fund

Tuning in to Our Children to Prime Them for School

Promoting early literacy helps your community and families thrive. Responsive interactions between caregivers and children set a strong foundation for later learning. Learn how caregivers can make the most of everyday activities and interactions to build their children’s brains and discover a variety of ways to help prepare their children to succeed in school and in life. Community leaders and partners can present the curriculum in parent literacy workshops.

Presenter

Michelle Maddox
Coordinator and Content Manager
Ferst Readers Regional Program

Meet Our Opening Keynote Speaker

Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, Ph.D., a family physician and epidemiologist whose work focuses on naming, measuring, and addressing the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation—and the world—says everyone should have the opportunity to achieve good health, but that’s often not the case.

She will discuss systemic, historical inequities and ways cross-sector collaboration can help improve health outcomes, educational attainment, and housing stability for all Georgians.

A senior fellow and an adjunct associate professor at Morehouse School of Medicine, Camara Jones is past president of the American Public Health Association, and was recruited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Medical Officer in 2000.

Meet Our Closing Keynote Speaker

Nicco Mele is one of America’s leading forecasters of business, politics, and culture in our fast-moving digital age. He is acting CEO of the National Conference on Citizenship, managing director at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School.

From 2016 to 2019, Mele was the director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he started new programs focused on understanding misinformation on social networks; sustainable models for local journalism; institutional anti-racism in media and algorithms; and platform accountability. He continues to teach classes on technology’s impact on media, politics, and public policy.

Martha Baker

Coordinator
Dade County Family Connection
Martha Baker works to strengthen partnerships and strategies to provide support for all families in Dade County. Before joining Georgia Family Connection three years ago, she worked as teacher and quality monitor for Head Start Family Resource Agency of North Georgia.

Brigette Barker

Executive Director
Lumpkin County Family Connection
Brigette Barker has worked with Georgia Family Connection for nearly seven years and also serves as a Stewards of Children facilitator, Connections Matter trainer, and certified Dr. Beegle poverty coach. Prior to that she worked as a therapist for residential therapeutic programs, therapist for the Enotah Felony Drug Court, expert witness in child abuse for the Enotah Judicial Circuit, adjunct professor of psychology, and victims’ services coordinator for the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Brittany Barrett

Program Leader
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Georgia
Brittany Barrett, a strong advocate for mental health programs and services, is a program leader in several NAMI signature programs. Barrett is active in all of NAMI’s advocacy efforts and is an effective agent of change. She shares her personal story with humor, honesty, and authenticity.

Cassandra Cladd

Senior Manager, Field Outreach
WellCare of Georgia
Cassandra Cladd has been with WellCare of Georgia for 14 years and held several supervisory positions. She currently oversees the administration of the Planning for Healthy Babies program as well as other health plan initiatives. Cladd has more than 20 years of experience working with Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids, and populations who are underinsured or without insurance. She has extensive knowledge and work experience in the field of program development, implementation, management, and evaluation.

Leah Clark

Principal
Ridge Road Primary School
Leah Clark is in her tenth year of serving as principal for this small Sandersville school where students returned to the classroom on Aug. 7. The local board of education allowed parents to choose one of three options for beginning school, as Washington County was not determined to be in a crisis level outbreak of the virus. Clark will share her experiences during these past few weeks, including navigating unprecedented circumstances—and receiving great support from her peers.

Jeff Coates

Research Director
National Conference on Citizenship
Jeff Coates leads the Civic Health Index initiative and program evaluation. He previously worked at the Knight Foundation as strategic initiative associate, where he managed grants totaling over $20 million, including supporting Knight’s Soul of the Community project. He worked at the Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership, where he collaborated with more than 50 nonprofits to develop strategic plans for long-term recovery. Coates served with the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Recovery Program in New Orleans and also co-founded the Recovery Action Learning Laboratory (RALLY) Foundation, where he developed assessment tools, formulated data collection methods, and directed the collection of primary data for the assessment and evaluation of programs implemented in the Gulf region by organizations such as Mercy Corps, World Vision, Save the Children, and the Department of Justice.

LaDonna Collins

Executive Director
Rome Floyd County Commission in Children and Youth
LaDonna Collins has a passion for pulling together community partners and families in order to bring about change in Rome Floyd County. Prior to her work with Georgia Family Connection, she served her community as a public health educator for the Floyd County Health Department Teen Center, a middle and high school teacher, a GED instructor, and a public health emergency preparedness training coordinator.

Kati Cosby

Community Partnership Coordinator
Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)
Kati Cosby helps child care providers, community partners, and stakeholders connect with DECAL to enhance their knowledge of early education and connect them with resources. She has worked with 40 counties in southeast Georgia to develop relationships with these communities. Cosby previously served as a licensing consultant in Child Care Services for DECAL. She has eight years of experience as a preschool teacher and worked as the program coordinator with YMCA.

Sue Cottingham

Seventh Grade Teacher
Grovetown Middle School
Sue Cottingham is a 30-year veteran teacher of Columbia County, covering math, language arts, science, and social studies. She also manages the 21st Century after-school program for four Columbia County schools, teaches for Brenau University, and is an EdTPA supervisor.

April Hartman

Division Chief
Children’s Hospital of Georgia
Director of General Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and Medical, Ambulatory Pediatrics Associate Professor of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Augusta University 
April Hartman thinks of her patients as “her kids” and takes care of them the way she would want her own children to be cared for. She believes in a patient centered medical home to treat serious illnesses, provide preventive care, answer questions, or just offer reassurance. Through her role as a pediatrician, she aims to celebrate children’s successes and serve as a resource and support for parents.

Seema Csukas

Medical Director, Georgia Market
Care Source
Seema Csukas is a pediatrician and the medical director for the Georgia market at CareSource, a nonprofit, multi-product health plan. With more than 20 years of experience in health care leadership, she serves as a liaison to the state, healthcare providers, and community organizations regarding clinical initiatives that impact improved quality care outcomes for members.

Debbie Hillman

Public Policy Chair
Black Child Development Institute-Atlanta
Debbie Hillman has been working for more than 40 years with programs serving children and families throughout Georgia and beyond. She promotes the implementation of developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive programming by influencing policy, promoting advocacy, and working closely with program management and direct service staff. She coordinates Black Child Development Institute-Atlanta’s Health and Wellness program and serves as the chair of Strengthening Families Georgia. Hillman, a child and family development consultant, is also the owner of Developing Human Resources Consultants.

Holger Loewendorf

Research Manager
Georgia Municipal Association
Holger Loewendorf is a research manager with a background in public policy, nonprofit management, and history. He trained and worked as a historian in Berlin and Philadelphia before joining the Georgia Municipal Association. In addition to legislative research, his current role includes survey design, communications, and outreach to members and external stakeholders, and special projects with partners such as the Civic Health Index and the 2020 Census.

Amber Mack

Research and Policy Analyst
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia
Amber Mack coordinates Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) multi-sector working groups to address a range of maternal and infant health needs including oral health, doula services, prenatal education, and access to care. She also manages research projects, including the “State of the State” report, and evaluates the impact of HMHBGA programs. Engaging with policymakers and advocates, she provides technical data support for policies that will improve maternal and infant health across the state.

Michelle Maddox

Regional Program Coordinator and Content Manager
Ferst Readers
Michelle Maddox joined Ferst Readers in 2018 and works to expand the program into South Georgia and Florida counties. Maddox, who has worked in education for over 20 years, helped start Florida’s first Ferst Readers Community Action Team (CAT) in 2016, while she was an elementary school librarian in Nassau County. Today, she oversees the CAT toolkit to help support dedicated volunteers who oversee and administer the program.

Garry McGiboney

Deputy Superintendent for the Office of School Safety
Georgia Department of Education
A champion for children, Garry McGiboney serves on the Georgia Supreme Court’s Justice for Children Committee, Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Steering Committee, Children in Need of Services (CHINS) Juvenile Justice Initiative, 2020 Census Commission, Juvenile Court Improvement Initiative, Mental Health America Advisory Committee, and Get Georgia Reading Campaign Cabinet. He also has served on numerous committees focused on children’s mental health, dyslexia, leadership, and safety.

Julia Neighbors

Director
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia
Prior to her work with Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, which is housed in the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, Julia Neighbors advocated for children and families through work in the nonprofit, private, and public sectors for almost two decades. Her past experience includes work with court appointed special advocates around Georgia, community revitalization efforts, and as a senior attorney with the Fulton County Office of the Child Advocate. Most recently, Julia served as the project manager for JUST Georgia, a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals who successfully advocated for the passage of Juvenile Justice Reform in the Georgia General Assembly. She was appointed by former Gov. Nathan Deal to the Board of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice to represent congressional district 5.

Jill O’Meara

Community Partnerships and Projects Manager
Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)
Jill O’Meara leads DECAL’s team of Early Education Community Partnership Coordinators who work across Georgia to connect and convene community partners that are focused on early childhood education. Her work also includes the implementation of DECAL’s Two-Generation Innovation Grant. She previously taught pre-K in Coffee County and served as program coordinator of the Early Childhood Care and Education program at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, where she was instrumental in developing the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy program.

Gigi Pedraza

Executive Director
Latino Community Fund
Gigi Pedraza is a social entrepreneur and experienced professional in the areas of general management, strategy, operations, marketing, and development. She is the founding executive director of the Latino Community Fund in Georgia, a grant making public charity dedicated to catalyze investment and promote collaborative work in the Latinx/Hispanic community. Pedraza is a Hispanics in Philanthropy 2017 Fellow, member of the ARC Global Voices Panel, and past chair of the board of the Feminist Women’s Health Center.

Jamie Pope

Manager, Case Management
Peach State Health Plan
Jamie Pope oversees social services and the Planning for Healthy Babies program. She has been a licensed social worker for 11 years. She spent the first seven years of her career as a hospice social worker and dementia educator. When Pope joined Peach State Health Plan in 2015, she found a passion for family planning, postpartum care, and social determinants of health. She served as a “Resource Mother” and program specialist before leading these teams. She is dedicated to helping Georgia mothers gain the tools they need to overcome barriers so they can build healthy, happy families.

Folami Prescott-Adams

Chief Catalyst
HTI Catalysts
Folami Prescott-Adams is a community psychologist who has made contributions to the advancement of equity in education and youth development in partnership with foundations, schools, and youth-serving organizations. She is chief catalyst for HTI Catalysts, a collaborative network of consultants whose mission is to facilitative experiences that shift communities towards shared visioning that impacts change.

Erin Rehberg

Digital Learning and Media Services Coordinator
Thomas County Schools
Erin Rehberg hasa served in her current role since 2015. Prior to that, she worked as an English teacher at Thomas County Central High School for seven years and the media specialist at Thomas County Middle School for five years. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Valdosta State University.

Grant Rivera

Superintendent
Marietta City Schools
Grant Rivera is a career educator who believes great schools and communities are built on the combined talents of talented educators and an engaged community. He leads the district’s 11 schools with approximately 8,900 students and 1,200 employees. He previously served as the chief of staff for the Cobb County School District and was a principal for nine years at three high schools: South Cobb High School in Austell, Campbell High School in Smyrna, and Westlake High School in South Fulton County. He also held positions as a high school assistant principal, special education teacher, and coach in the Cobb County School District.

Tiffany Sawyer

Director of Prevention Services
Georgia Center for Child Advocacy
Tiffany Sawyer joined the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy in 2006. She oversees the Center’s statewide abuse prevention initiative which has trained over 100,000 adults since 2006. She previously worked as the associate director of programs at Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit for the prevention of child sexual abuse. Sawyer served as president on the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in 2019 and was appointed by former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2014 to serve on the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel as the prevention specialist. She has twice served as a Committee Chair for the Georgia Human Trafficking Taskforce led by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and previously by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families.

Faye Taylor

Advisor and Past President
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Georgia
Faye Taylor has been involved with NAMI for more than 20 years. She enjoys teaching NAMI Basics, NAMI Homefront, and NAMI Family to Family; presenting “Ending the Silence” for school staff, students, and families; and facilitating family support groups. She served on the NAMI Georgia board from 2013 to 2016, served as president for three years, and served as secretary for two years. In 2019, she trained with Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to become a Parent Certified Peer Specialist. She previously worked for DeKalb County Schools.

Jenny Taylor

Vice President of Career Services
Goodwill of North Georgia
Jenny Taylor’s agency has a $165 million budget and operates programs that placed 25,019 people in competitive employment last year. Goodwill of North Georgia is the largest Goodwill in the nation for mission outcomes, leading evidence-based programs with outcomes in the top 10% of the industry, as measured by the National Benchmarking Project. Taylor specializes in successful large-scale public/private partnerships, employer engagement, and employment outcomes for people with significant barriers.

Dina Walker-Devose

Associate Professor of Child and Family Development and Interim Assistant Dean of Recruitment, Retention, and Inclusion
Georgia Southern University
Dina Walker-Devose has over 25 years of experience working with young children from birth through age 8 as well as experience in early childhood administration, family support programs, and university teaching. She also was a member of the inaugural class of Policy Fellows at the National Black Child Development Institute.

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Reflect and connect with colleagues across the state on our conference’s virtual platform. Register now and then check out these fun ways to get engaged before the event even begins.

As members of the Georgia Family Connection statewide network we know we’re better and stronger together. Share a photo that depicts what standing “shoulder to shoulder” looks like for you—your Collaborative, partners, and organization—in this unprecedented moment.

While we cannot literally stand side by side due to the pandemic—and we ask that you follow guidelines and recommendations for safety and physical distancing—we want to share a glimpse into how you’re navigating this new normal and continuing to keep Georgia’s communities healthy and connected.

Submit your photo via email (Subject Line: Shoulder to Shoulder) or on social media using the #LetsTalkGA hashtag. Anyone registered for the conference who submits a photo by Oct. 1 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced during the conference.


Hit Pause—and Press Play

Build Georgia Family Connection’s inspirational playlist

Music brings us together and gives us a boost when we feel bogged down. That’s why when we’re having a tough day, sometimes it’s best to hit pause—and then press play.

Help us build a Spotify playlist of songs that will inspire our colleagues and partners. Submit songs that are significant to you—whether you’re grooving at your desk, belting it out in the car, or getting down with your kids for a mini dance break.

We’ll keep updating our playlist it throughout the conference. Add your song by submitting:

  1. a song title and artist via email (Subject Line: Playlist) or on social media using the #LetsTalkGA hashtag; or
  2. a video telling us—in 10 seconds or less—the song title and artist that inspires you and why. Anyone registered for the conference who submits a video by Oct. 1 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced during the conference.

Here are some helpful tips for recording a video:

  • Turn your device to the horizontal (landscape) position to record in 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • Beware of heavy back lighting such as having bright windows in the background or a person facing away from the sun outside.
  • If filming outside, consider environmental noises like cars, voices, etc.
  • Submit your video clip by Thursday, Oct. 1, via email, Dropbox, or WeTransfer.

Start the Conversation

Connect on social media during, before, and after the conference as we continue to learn and collaborate together. We’re using the #LetsTalkGA hashtag to focus our conversations on Facebook and Twitter. This is a great way to get that feeling of hallway discussions virtually—for registered participants as well as for those who aren’t able to attend but want to join the dialogue.

 

Optional Morning Yoga

We invite you to kick off each day of the conference by focusing on your mind and body with morning yoga from 8 – 8:15 a.m. Join yoga teacher and Toombs County Family Connection director Paige Williamson for some gentle stretching and simple breathing techniques to jumpstart your day and curb any mid-morning lethargy. No experience is required. Simply visit the conference platform to join the session, which will not feature video interaction but will include a chatroom for participants.

Paige Williamson serves as Toombs County Family Connection director in Lyons. She is also a part-time yoga teacher (RYT-500) and yoga studio owner. Paige received her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from Savannah Yoga Center in 2016. She continued her yoga education at Asheville Yoga Center and graduated with her 500-hour teacher certification in 2018. Shortly after, Paige became the owner of the county’s only yoga studio, the Zen Den. Her desire as a teacher is to ignite a passion in her students for movement and to facilitate their ability to use that movement as a tool of self discovery. She encourages students to learn to trust the inner wisdom of their bodies while she provides a framework for that discovery. Paige currently teaches online and outdoor classes through her studio in South Georgia.

 


Optional Dine-In Conversations

Join your colleagues for casual dialogue on relevant topics over lunch on Friday, Oct. 15, from 12:25 – 1:05 p.m. These conversations will be facilitated by experts in the field and feature a Q&A format.

Session 1: Breaking the Silence

Filmmaker Hal Jacobs will be featured in this talkback regarding his documentary “Lillian Smith: Breaking the Silence,” which participants will have access to view via a link provided prior to the conference.

Lillian Smith was one of the first white southern authors to speak out against white supremacy and segregation. A friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr., she used her fame after writing her bestselling novel, “Strange Fruit,” to denounce the toxic social conditions that repressed the lives and imaginations of both blacks and whites.

Hal Jacobs brings a career in writing and editing for higher education to his current work in film/video production that focuses on the arts, social justice and the environment. “Lillian Smith: Breaking the Silence,” his first full-length documentary—produced in collaboration with his photographer/musician son, Henry Jacobs—recently won “Best Documentary” at the 2020 Macon Film Festival. Their next project looks at the impact of a liberal arts education program, Common Good Atlanta, that takes place in Georgia prisons and involves over 70 volunteer faculty members from area universities.

Session 2: Ask Us Anything About How to Get Georgia Reading

Get Georgia Reading Campaign leaders invite you to share with us, question us, and challenge us as we collectively build a Campaign that’s responsive to conditions on the ground and meets the demands of the moment.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020, and we know that long-term, sustained focus on early childhood literacy has yielded encouraging results in Georgia. As we enter into a new decade and a new set of challenges stemming from the global pandemic, we recognize there is more work to be done. A primary focus will be the early years, which are heavily influenced by many factors the pandemic has disrupted and greatly impact success later in life.

Learn more about the Get Georgia Reading Campaign.

Session 3: Navigating a Changing Data Landscape

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to nearly every aspect of our lives, and the data landscape for Georgia is no exception. Find out how indicators will change, run late, or disappear altogether heading into 2021—and how we can prepare for the changes. The Georgia KIDS COUNT team, which will continue to support community data needs as we navigate the data landscape changes, will answer all of your questions about indicators and data.

Learn more about KIDS COUNT.