Keynote Speakers

The Adoption Initiative Conference committee is happy to announce the keynote speakers for our June, 2016 conference:

Mary Dozier, keynote speaker.

Mary Dozier, keynote speaker.

Mary Dozier is Amy E. du Pont Chair of Child Development and Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. She obtained her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1983. Over the last 20 years, she has studied the development of young children who have experienced adversity, examining challenges in attachment and regulatory capabilities. Along with her research team, she developed an intervention, Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up, that targets specific issues that have been identified as problematic for young children who have experienced adversity. This intervention has been shown to enhance children’s secure attachments, ability to regulate cortisol normatively, and inhibitory control, among other things. Dr. Dozier is currently conducting randomized clinical trials examining the effectiveness of this intervention with high-risk birth children, foster children, and internationally adopted children, work that has been continuously supported by the National Institute of Mental Health since 1989. She was on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, was an associate editor of Child Development, and serves on a number of advisory and editorial boards.


Melanie Chung-Sherman, keynote panelist.

Melanie Chung-Sherman, keynote panelist.

Melanie Chung-Sherman, LCSW-S, CTS, LCPAA, PLLC has worked in the field of child welfare since 1999. She is a Texas Board–certified clinical supervisor and licensed clinical social worker as well as a licensed child placing administrator through the State of Texas. She is the Clinical Director of Post Adoption Services at CounselingWorks in Dallas, Texas which is dedicated to serving the therapeutic needs of the adoption constellation throughout the lifespan. She is a Certified Trauma Specialist through The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children®. She trained at the Adult Attachment Interview Institute under Drs. Mary Main, Ph.D, and Erik Hesse, Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, and is currently seeking her AAI certification. She is a Theraplay® Level One Practioner working towards her full certification through the Theraplay® Institute in Evanston, Illionis. She is EMDR-trained through the EMDRIA Institute.

She is the founder and owner of a small private practice dedicated to providing adoption-competent counseling in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. She is a contributing columnist for Adoption Today as well as an Adjunct Professor of Social Work at Collin College in Plano, Texas. She was the former president of the Dallas Interagency Adoption Council. She was featured in Dan Rather’s documentary on rehoming, Forgotten in America. She worked with Dr. Karyn Purvis, Ph.D. and Dr. David Cross, Ph.D., at the Institute of Child Development at Texas Chrisitan University for the first TBRI™ Professional Training. She has spoken nationally and internationally regarding child welfare rights and mental health issues. She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with her Master of Science in Social Work. She and her younger brother were adopted from South Korea. Her greatest joys are her children and spending quality time with her husband, kids, and close friends.


Ruth McRoy, keynote panelist.

Ruth McRoy, keynote panelist.

In September 2009, Ruth G. McRoy became the first holder of the Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professorship at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. Prior to joining the Boston College faculty, McRoy was a member of the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work faculty for 25 years and held the Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professorship. She received her BA and MSW degrees from the University of Kansas and her PhD degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.

A practitioner, academician, researcher, trainer and lecturer in the field for over 30 years, her research has focused on such topics as culturally competent service delivery, diversity, youth services, family preservation, open adoptions, post adoption services, sibling placements, and older child adoptions. She has served as PI or Co-PI on over 70 federal, foundation, state and local research and evaluation projects over the years.

McRoy has published over 100 articles and ten books, including: Transracial and Inracial Adoptees: The Adolescent Years (with L. Zurcher); Emotional Disturbance in Adopted Adolescents: Origins and Development (with H. Grotevant and L. Zurcher); Special Needs Adoptions: Practice Issues; and Openness in Adoption: Family Connections (with H. Grotevant).

Her recent honors include the following: the St. John’s 2010 Outstanding Scholar in Adoption Award; the 2013 Children’s Bureau Adoption Excellence Award, the University of Texas at Austin Graduate School of Social Work’s 2014 Alumni of the Year Award, and the 2014 Child Advocate of the Year Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

 


Kathleen Nielsen, keynote panelist.

Kathleen Nielsen, keynote panelist.

Kathleen earned her bachelors in social work from Pacific Lutheran University and her masters of social work from the University of Washington, both in Tacoma. While working at an adoption agency in the Pacific Northwest, Kathleen Nielsen, MSW provided comprehensive pregnancy counseling to expectant parents. In addition to assisting her clients prepare plans for parenting or pregnancy termination Kathleen advocated for relinquishing parents during adoption planning. She has returned to school and is currently focused on adoption research while pursuing a doctorate in social work at Boston College. When not working on her dissertation or taking classes she works as a visiting professor in the greater Boston area, attends adoption conferences, and visits the child she placed in a fully open adoption 14 years ago.

 


Robert O'Connor, keynote speaker.

Robert O’Connor, keynote speaker.

Robert O’Connor is Associate Professor of Social Work and Director of the Multicultural Title IV-E Child Welfare Program at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. His research and practice interests include foster and adoptive families, as well as cultural competency and bias awareness in service provision. Robert’s thirty years of working with children and families at risk is coupled with his experience of having been a child in the foster care system. He has used his life experiences to move from state ward to state ward administrator, from special education student to college professor, and from cultural isolation to practice innovation. His is a story of perseverance, power, and promise. He operates a training consultancy at roconnorassociates.com.

 


Elizabeth Raleigh, keynote paneslist.

Elizabeth Raleigh, keynote speaker.

Elizabeth Raleigh is an assistant professor of sociology at Carleton College. Her research focuses on the racialized aspects of the adoption marketplace. Liz is particularly interested in questions investigating how transracial adoption reflects the changing American color line, and how child adoption is both a process of consumption and child welfare. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled, “Chosen Children: Race in the Adoption Marketplace.” Born in Korea, Liz was transracially adopted as an infant and raised in Massachusetts. She earned her BA from Brown University and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives with her husband, who is also a Korean adoptee, and daughter in Minnesota.