Speakers & Presentations


2017 conference information is currently being updated. We appreciate your patience.

We have a amazing line up speakers this year. Scroll below for the list of presenters. Previous year's conference information can be found on the About Us/History page.

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW:

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Austin, TX specializing in complex trauma, attachment, and adoption.  Robyn’s diverse clinical training includes EMDR (including EMDR adapted for children with attachment trauma), Somatic Experiencing, and Theraplay.  She is a Trust Based Relational Intervention® Educator and a Circle of Security Parent Educator.  Robyn is a dedicated student of attachment theory and Interpersonal Neurobiology, studying extensively with Bonnie Badenoch, PhD.  She is trained in The Alert Program® and has completed Yogapeutics Aerial Yoga Level 1 Teacher Training.  In her work with children and their families, Robyn integrates these theories and modalities into an attachment-rich, neuroscience-supported, and sensory-sensitive healing environment.  Robyn supervises new therapists and regularly presents workshops, webinars, and trainings for parents and professionals.  Robyn blogs about parenting children impacted by trauma at www.GobbelCounseling.Wordpress.Com

Angela Tucker:

Angela Tucker is a nationally-recognized thought leader on transracial adoption and is an advocate for adoptee rights. She was recently named "Seattle's Smartest Global Women." In 2013, at the age of 26, Angela’s own story of adoption and search for her birth parents was featured in the groundbreaking documentary, CLOSURE, which is available on Netflix, iTunes & Kweli TV.

The Adopted Life (www.theadoptedlife.com) began as a personal blog that allowed Angela to process publicly her emotions and experience as a transracial adoptee; a means by which she hoped to build a community of other adoptees growing up in closed adoptions. Since its launch in 2009, The Adopted Life has grown in readership and purview, and is now the name and platform for The Adopted Life miniseries.

Angela’s work has catapulted her into her becoming a sought-after keynote speaker for adoption and child welfare-based organizations. Elements of her story have also been featured on Slate, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, HuffPost Live, Huffington Post, New York Times, and Washington Post. Angela currently works as the Post-Adoption Program Manager at Amara, where she is building an adoptee mentorship program, complete with an adoptee-only social network.

FosterClub All-Stars:

The FosterClub All-Stars is an Internship Program providing leadership and service opportunities to young people ages 18-24 who have spent their formative years in foster care. For these young adults, who have beaten the odds and thrived in spite of difficult circumstances, the All-Star internship is an opportunity to communicate their unique perspectives and share their resilient spirits with their younger peers still struggling through foster care. In addition to participating in dozens of youth events across the country over the summer, the FosterClub All-Star Interns advocate for system improvement and promote public awareness nationally throughout the year.


Honorable Judge Pamela Abernethy:

Senior Judge Pamela Abernethy works as a mediator, consultant and judicial trainer. Most recently she was employed by the Oregon Judicial Department as the Judge in Residence for Oregon's Juvenile Court Improvement Program. She trained judges and model court teams around the state on improving practice in child abuse and neglect cases. As a sitting judge, she served as a Marion County Circuit Court Judge for 18 years, including 8 years on as the juvenile court judge, hearing dependency and delinquency cases exclusively. In partnership with non-profits, government partners and the business community, she helped create a variety of programs in her judicial district to improve outcomes for children in care, with a special focus on infants and toddlers. She is a Zero to Three, Leaders for the 21st Century Fellow, Class of 2008. She also worked in private practice with Harrang, Long, Gary Rudnick P.C and in a variety of positions for the Oregon Department of Justice, including Special Counsel to the Attorney General, Chief Counsel and Administrator, Civil Enforcement Division and as the founding Attorney-in-Charge of the Special Litigation Unit.

Mental Health Panel:

Nicole Bishop-Perdue, MD, works at Providence St. Vincent Hospital as a Med/Peds hospitalist since 2006. She is a physician staff at CARES NW as Providence’s child abuse pediatrician since 2009. She is on the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force Medical Forensics committee since 2014 and on Washington County’s Child Abuse Multidisciplinary Task Force.

Leigh Hedrick, MD, MSW is a trained social worker and a board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist who works as the child psychiatrist for Multnomah County Direct Clinical Services. She consults with school based mental health, CARES NW, and early childhood teams. She provides clinical training for the youth care coordination team, and is the child psychiatrist for EASA.

Angie Hurley has 2 young adults - one by birth and the other joined the family at age 15. The foster care system became her passion, with a crash course in trauma informed parenting, system navigation & advocacy, and drywall repair. She loves her family, ocean, bridges, and shiny objects. She develops & interprets health care policy. She volunteers advocating for families & youth in the mental health system and foster care.

Maureen Seferovich, MSW is the Children’s Mental Health Program Supervisor in Washington County since 2015. She was a Wraparound Care Coordinator for 5 years. Since 2003, she has worked in the Portland Metro area in positive youth development, non-profit volunteer management & community mental health.

Brian Whitmer is the Wraparound Coach at FamilyCare, Inc. He's worked in the mental health system with youth connected to child welfare since 2003. He has worked as a care coordinator, trainer, coach, and system of care change agent. He wants to ensure youth have supportive forever people & access to high quality, strengths-based, trauma-informed care.

Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Panel:

Silvia Caballero-Fay, MSW has worked in the field of I/DD for 16 years. She has worked directly with individuals with I/DD in their home, school, and work environments. The majority of her experience has been working with the Latino community and children and young adults who are connected to the child welfare and I/DD foster care systems. Currently, She is a program supervisor at Multnomah County I/DDS.

Beth McHugh Peccia, LCSW, is the supervisor overseeing the plan of care and comprehensive team at Multnomah County I/DDS. She started in 1993, when she was placed as an MSW Intern. She worked as a high school transition case manager, a crisis lead for children. Previously, she was part of the transition when children with I/DD living in foster care transferred from Child Welfare to DD services. She actively partners with child welfare & mental health. She continues to problem solve, working to best serve the children in our care.

Stacie Mullins is the lead Eligibility Specialist in Clackamas County with the I/DD Program. With over 16 years of experience, she assists families and individuals through the intake & eligibility determination process. Stacie has been involved with core competency training for new eligibility specialists across the state, and has participated on numerous statewide committees and workgroups related to I/DD eligibility.

Geoff Frasier is a supervisor at the Washington County DDS Program and has worked in the field since 1994. His experience includes direct care, management of residential programs, service coordination, abuse investigations. He represents the Washington County DD Program on several Wraparound committees and the Foster Kids Forward collaborative. Geoff’s inspiration is his older sister Wendy who experienced Down Syndrome.

Don Darland:

Don Darland and his wife Vicki have been fostering in Linn County since 1991. Don helped form the Oregon Foster Parent Association in 1996, and has served on the board in several capacities since its inception. Don spends most of his time advocating for families & children.

Dr. Julian Davies, MD:

Julian Davies, MD, is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, where he co-directs the Center for Adoption Medicine and works at the longest-running FAS clinic in the country. His interest in adoption, foster care, and FASD began in Russia, where he started a summer arts and clown camp for Russian orphans. He now has a pediatric practice where 2/3 of his patients were fostered or adopted. Dr. Davies created an online resource for pediatrics and adoption (www.adoptmed.org) and presents on a variety of topics at regional and national conferences.

Francine Florendo, MSW:

Francine Florendo is the Adoption Placement Specialist in the Department of Human Services central office Child Permanency Program. Francine started in child welfare in 1993, and has worked in child protective services, permanency, adoption and foster care services with urban, suburban, and rural families. She has a passion for consultation work to benefit children and families in their adoption journeys. Francine is an adoptive parent. Francine also worked in the mental health field prior to her time with child welfare. When not thinking about improving positive adoption practice, Francine likes to hike, garden, cook, read, be in awe of nature and art, hang out with family and friends, eat chocolate, and travel. She has a B.S. in psychology and sociology from the University to Oregon and a MSW from Portland State University.

Nadja Jones and David Simmons:

Nadja Jones provides the direction and oversight, focusing on the government-to-government relationship between the DHS and Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes and tribes outside Oregon. As Director of Tribal Affairs, she has special responsibility with respect to the state’s ICWA compliance, but her work broadly includes all services provided by the DHS. She is charged to especially consider opportunities to eliminate disparities and enhance department and tribal efforts to promote the health, safety, and independence of Native Americans living in Oregon.

David Simmons has 29 years of professional experience in child welfare services, with five years as a direct service provider and 24 years in program and policy development. His primary focus has been on improving child welfare and children’s mental health services to American Indian and Alaska Native children. He currently is the director of government affairs and advocacy at the National Indian Child Welfare Association in Portland, Oregon, and works extensively with tribal, federal, state, and private organizations. Mr. Simmons is a nationally recognized expert on public policy issues affecting American Indian and Alaska Native children and has led successful efforts to improve tribal access to federal funding in programs such as TANF, Child Care Developmental Block Grant, Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, Title IV-B Child Welfare Services, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, and Indian Child Welfare Act grant funds. Mr. Simmons is also an accomplished trainer and technical assistance provider with experience in a variety of program development areas.

Seth Johnstone:

Seth Johnstone currently serves as the LGBTQ Education Specialist for the Bridge 13 Community Education Project. Seth holds a degree in Gender Studies from Skidmore College. In conjunction with facilitating trainings, Seth holds a staff role at SMYRC’s drop-in center, working with and being inspired by queer and trans* young people. Seth believes deeply in the role that community education can play in motivating people into action, awakening empathy, building alliances, and developing robust and accessible resources.

Barbara Knudsen and Kate O'Kelley:

Barbara Knudsen, President and Founder of Big Star Ranch, Inc., has more than 30 years’ experience working in the therapeutic horse industry. Barbara’s passion and specialty is metaphoric equine assisted learning, where a student can experience something with their horse that will relate to their everyday life. Barbara is certified by the Certified Horsemanship Association for teaching English and Western disciplines and is a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, EAGALA Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association and the Clackamas County Youth Providers Network. She leads all equine services at Big Star Ranch, where she has seen the therapeutic benefit of engaging with horses while using key principles from natural horsemanship.

Kate O’Kelley is currently Program Manager for Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc.’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program and Owner of Lionheart Speaks, LLC, where she provides coaching, consultation and training for families and systems supporting people with behavioral challenges. Kate has a Master of Arts in Psychology: Child, Couple and Family Therapy, and is a Think: Kids Certified Trainer in Collaborative Problems Solving (CPS). She has a passion for finding a way through complexity and helping others do the same. In 2011, Kate fell in love with horses. Since then, she has spent as much time as a city girl can with horses, attending trainings, workshops and personal sessions. She partners with Barbara Knudsen to co-facilitate therapeutic sessions for families and is a member of EAGALA, Equine Assisted Growth and Learning.

Dr. Zeina Makhoul, PhD, RD:

Zeina is working with SPOON as a Nutrition Scientist, designing assessment and intervention tools and implementing programs in institutions and foster care systems internationally and in the U.S. Before coming to SPOON, she worked at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, conducting several research studies investigating the role of nutrition in HIV-associated malignancies in Uganda. She is a Registered Dietitian and has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with a focus on international nutrition.

Judge Maureen McKnight:

Maureen McKnight is the Chief Family Court Judge in Multnomah County, Oregon, handling family, juvenile, and criminal matters. Her legal career, both before appointment to the bench and afterwards, has focused on systemic family law issues affecting low-income Oregonians, including operation of the state's child support program, access to justice issues such as self-representation, and the response of Oregon's communities to domestic violence. Judge McKnight is a member of the Oregon Judicial Department’s Family Law Advisory Committee, the author of numerous CLE articles, and the recipient of awards from the Oregon State Bar, Oregon Women Lawyers, and the Oregon Child Support Program.

Dr. Redmond Reams, PhD, IMH-E:

Redmond Reams, PhD, IMH-E® (IV-C) is a licensed psychologist and President of the Oregon Infant Mental Health Association. He has been endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Mentor since 2004. He has been on faculty at the Postgraduate Certificate in Infant Mental Health program at PSU and the Division of Child Psychiatry at OHSU. He has a private practice in NE Portland where he provides psychotherapy to adults and to infants, toddlers and their families and consultation to psychotherapists and social service organizations.

Nate Sheets:

Nate Sheets is a behavior consultant and owner of Oregon Behavior Consultation. He has worked in the developmental disability field since 2008, and works all over the state providing consultation and trainings on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). OBC  has a Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/OregonBehavior) which provides training and suggestions on challenging behaviors to parents and professionals around the world.

Dr. Erik Sorensen, PhD:

Erik Sorensen, Ph.D. received his PHD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Florida in 1990 and has been serving children, adults, and families in various roles since then. Outpatient counseling addressing complex difficulties related to behavior disorders, trauma, family dissolution, and cognitive difficulties were the mainstay of his early work. He also managed treatment needs as a director of a day treatment program for children in Cincinnati, OH, provided psychological services in the Children's Ward of the Oregon State Hospital, consulted with Maclaren and Hillcrest State Training Schools, and worked in the treatment foster care program at Oregon Social Learning Center. Since 2000, he has been providing psychological evaluations for use by local agencies, the courts, and providers struggling to understand complex cases and develop effective intervention plans. These evaluation services are the focus of his private practice at present, where he conducts over 100 evaluations annually. Dr. Sorensen has also been involved in treatment development research with a team at the Oregon Research Institute.

Julia Tomes:

Julia Tomes has a Masters of Arts in Teaching in elementary and secondary education and is trained in Montessori Ed. for Pre-primary. She has taught grades 5-8 in public schools as well as Montessori preschool. She has been a Certified Positive Discipline Trainer since 2008, working with parents and teachers building respectful relationships in homes and classrooms. Julia has two children and experiences daily practice using the tools of Positive Discipline.

Charles Hannah and Charlotte Finley Randall:

Charles Hannah is a Midwest native. He is married to his wife of twenty one years. He has three adult children and two wonderful grandchildren. He has worked in the Child Development field for over 15 years. He enjoys the outdoors, DJ’ing, reading and spending time with his family and friends. 

Charlotte Finley Randall has a BA from PSU in Social Science and another BA in Spanish. She has worked in several Head Start programs as a bilingual advocate for children and their families and has nearly 10 years’ experience working in the DHS – Child Welfare system. Charlotte has lived in Oregon all her life and is a very proud Mom of 5 children and MiMi of 5 grandbabies! In her free time she enjoys reading several books at once, spending time in nature (the beach is a favorite!) and carrying a pocketful of treats for any dog she might meet 

Christopher Carey, PhD, JD; Lena Teplistky, MPH; Karma Rose Macias, BA:

Dr. Carey & Ms. Teplisky co-authored two studies examining the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in the Portland area in collaboration with the US Attorney's office, Child Welfare, Department of Justice and other social service agencies in 2014 & 2015. They are currently working on a grant focused on the perspectives and experiences of foster parents who cared for children, youth and young adult survivors of trafficking/commercial sexual exploitation.

Christopher Carey, PhD, JD, is a former Deputy District Attorney and currently an Assistant Professor at Portland State University. His expertise is on the application of international law with an emphasis on human trafficking in South Asia and working to improve collaboration with groups in the field of human rights. Previously, he was the Executive Director of a non-profit international human rights organization, addressing human trafficking, safe migration, and gender-based violence through culturally grounded, rights-based solutions.

Lena Teplitsky, MPH, aims to improve health & educational outcomes for children, youth and families in the Portland Area. She has worked in the health, social service, and education sectors as a direct service provider and program administrator through the SUN service system, education nonprofits, OHSU, and currently PSU. She enjoys conducting mixed-methods research to allow greater community participation while learning the nuances involved in complex social issues.

Karma Rose Macias holds a B.A. Psychology, and minor in Gender Studies from Lewis and Clark College. She is working on her M.S. in the Criminology and Criminal Justice program at PSU. She also works with Dr. Carey and Ms. Teplitsky on CSEC research. She is conducting original research on connections between tattoos of suggested traffickers and their victims as the intern for MCSO’s Human Trafficking Sargent.

Special Education Panel:

Jenny Cary, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker with a background in children's mental health. For 10 years she worked with students in the education system with trauma symptoms and mental health challenges. Since 2016, she has been a Behavior Specialist with Hillsboro School District, as they are developing trauma informed climates and practices. She provides training and support to staff as they encourage and teach self-regulation & self-control. She builds positive and trauma informed behavioral response skills and protocols. She believes students can learn and thrive when feeling safe and secure and are surrounded by creative educators who value connection and believe in them.

Amy DeCoster has served various learners in all grade levels in special education since 2001. Her teaching license is in Special Education and General Education. Her Master's Degree is in Special Education with an English to Speakers of Other Languages endorsement. Her goal as an educator is to help school teams create an environment that provides an access point for all learners to create and participate in their school community. She researches ways to educate the whole child. She is currently a Support Specialist at the Hillsboro School District, helping schools and families advocate and navigate the special education system.

Peggy Van Duyne serves high needs students with Portland Public Schools since 2007. Previously, she served women and families in mental health and substance abuse settings as a clinician. Her clinical and alternative education experiences led to her current role of Special Education Placement Coordinator. She works across agency and setting to place and support students returning to school after treatment. She also collaborates with other PPS staff to deliver Trauma Sensitive Practices training for PPS special education staff. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Juvenile Justice Panel:

Sandra Santos, MSW has worked with youth and families for the last 19 years, In 2006, she began working at the Washington County Juvenile Department, as a Juvenile Counselor II providing support and supervision to adolescents. Currently, she is a Division Manager. She is passionate about providing high quality services to youth, families and the Washington County community. She works on the department providing equitable, fair services to all of their clients. She has a passion for reducing the Disproportionate Minority Contact that the youth of color experience throughout the system.

Leslie Taylor has worked in Juvenile Justice for over 25 years. Since 1990, he has provided community based probation and treatment support services to youth in Multnomah County. He worked in outpatient, residential, and community-based programs with high risk and gang involved youth. Since 2015, he is the Treatment Expediter and Project Director for Reclaiming Futures Multnomah. He continues as a trainer, coach, mentor and system of care change agent. He genuinely cares about people and desires youth and families to reach their potential. He has high integrity, uses risk-needs-responsivity, and a strengths-based approach.  He is trauma-informed and was a member of the Trauma-informed Care team at the Juvenile Court.

Jennifer Yonker, MSW has worked with at-risk youth since 1993. With experience in both residential and in-patient psychiatric settings, she has a strong background in adolescent mental health.  She is particularly interested in youth who intersect both the juvenile justice and mental health fields. Areas of special interest include domestic violence, sexual abuse, trauma, and PTSD. Jennifer has developed several journals for teens coping with sexual abuse, domestic violence and grief, published on Amazon. She is currently a Senior Juvenile Counselor at the Washington County Juvenile Department.

Alumni Panel (Corey, Regina, Royce) Facilitated by Angela Tucker:

Corey entered foster care at the age of 3. He bounced from multiple group homes until he was 17 years old. At 17, he was placed in a loving foster-home, and participated in Washington State's Extended Foster Care program. Corey's story is chronicled in the KCTS documentary The Day I Age Out. The series follows Corey as he prepares to age out of Extended Foster Care and encounters difficulty finding employment, securing housing with Section 8 vouchers, and the repercussions of the small ding on his criminal record.

Regina entered Arizona's foster care system at the age of 12. She moved between group homes, shelter care and foster homes, was separated from siblings and endured both emotional and physical abuses. In July, Regina graduated with her MSW from the University of Washington, and enjoys mentoring incoming freshman foster youth through Fostering Success. She is pursuing a social work career in order to encourage and inspire youth transitioning out of foster care, like herself. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, traveling the world, and giving back to her community.

Royce entered the foster care system when he was 2 years old. He spent over 9 years in the foster-care system before aging out at 21. Since age 16, Royce was devoted to his work as a foster-care advocate. Now 23, Royce studies psychology & creative writing at the University of Oregon. He continues to be passionate about educating from his perspective, and maintains an enlightening blog entitled; FosterFight, which details his life in care.

Angela Tucker is a nationally-recognized leader on transracial adoption and is an advocate for adoptee rights. Angela’s work has catapulted her into her becoming a sought-after speaker for adoption and child welfare-based organizations. Angela is currently the Post-Adoption Program Manager at Amara.