Meet YOUR SPEAKERS
Birth moms, adoptees, and adoptive parents will finally have a voice together, while uniting the pro-life community with the adoption community...
Annie Celotto from Alice Paul Group: “Adoption impacts all of us in one way or another."
Annie is the Founder and Principal of Alice Paul Group, but she prefers to be called 'Aunt' by her precious nieces. Annie started Alice Paul Group because, like Alice Paul, Annie believes that while principles must never change, tactics must in order to effect change. Unlike Alice Paul, though, Annie does not consider herself a sports enthusiast... well, except for the occasional game of tennis. But like Alice Paul, Annie believes that it takes a concerted effort by a group of people in order to change the world - grassroots style. After over 10 years of campaign organizing, fundraising and developing targeted political messaging, Annie decided to take those skills and lend them to non-profits. And although she takes her work very seriously, she does not take herself very seriously. Like her life-long hero, Saint Mother Teresa, she thinks that simple acts - making someone smile or laugh - make the profoundest impact on an individual's life, which is why she believes in utilizing new media to do just that. Annie would live in her local Eucharistic Adoration chapel if she knew she could get away with it.
Annie believes that there is nothing more important than seeing the dignity in every person, and she is humbled that she gets to wake up every day and help the world see that dignity through the client work that APG does. For this, she is truly grateful. Aside from being the Founder and Principle of Alice Paul Group, Annie is a writer, speaker, designer, and has also MC'ed several pro-life events. She has been personally impacted by adoption, as she grew up with six adopted brothers. Having experienced the many blessings that adoption brings to families, Annie sees adoption as a wonderful life-affirming option.
Callie Jett from Talk About Adoption™: “How to talk about adoption, and honest support for birth mothers."
Callie Jett is a birth mom, wife, stay-at-home mom, and the CEO of Talk About Adoption™. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family and Child Development with a Master of Arts Degree in Human Services. Callie has worked extensively with various families and especially children in their homes through past career positions as a Child Protective Services Investigator, Foster care Worker, and Social Worker. She also recently worked as a Family Case Manager in assisting mothers and children through a home visiting program before pursuing Talk About Adoption™ again full time. Callie began Talk About Adoption™ because she saw a huge need for correct adoption education for men and women who were abortion-determined and facing unexpected pregnancies, which led to her traveling and educating Pregnancy Resource Centers on the topics surrounding parenting, open adoption and birth mom support.
Callie has shared her story as a birth mom and has educated others about open adoption through various Podcasts, written articles, and at events and conferences such as the 2017 March for Life Conference in D.C. She currently assists men and women who are facing unexpected pregnancies through the programs and support systems in place at Talk About Adoption™, as well as peacefully outside her local abortion centers. She is an advocate for ethical adoption practices and policies in adoption-related businesses, and spends her free time with her children and husband on their five acre farm. Follow Talk About Adoption™ at @Talkaboutadoption.
Bethany Bomberger from The Radiance Foundation: “Taking back the true meaning of adoption."
Bethany Bomberger is the Co-Founder (along with her hubby, Ryan) and Executive Director of The Radiance Foundation, a life-affirming organization that creatively illuminates that life has purpose. She is the author of the new and groundbreaking children’s book, PRO-LIFE KIDS! - an adorably illustrated children’s book that uses rhyme to teach an age-appropriate pro-life worldview. Bethany has been an educator for more than two decades. She has taught in both public and private schools, working with thousands of children, youth and adults of all ages. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Family Studies from Messiah College and a Master’s Degree in Education from Regent University, Bethany has spearheaded innovative educational programs in her classrooms and the communities where she has lived. As a public speaker, she addresses large and diverse audiences with inspiring messages of faith, hope and Christ’s love while tackling issues that are close to her heart - parenting, living a life of purpose, adoption advocacy, and other topics. Her greatest joy in life has been marrying her best friend, Ryan, and raising both biological and adopted children - Radiance, Mikai, Aliyah, and Justice.
Tori Petersen: "The Purpose of Adoption."
Tori Petersen is a former foster youth hoping to let her Abba Father be known and loved by His children through her stories. She is a national speaker, writer, and advocate for the preservation of family and The Gospel. She is also a wife to Jacob, a mom to two littles, and currently a foster mom to one. After growing up in the foster care system, having lived in twelve different homes, discovering she was conceived out of rape, and being adopted as an adult, Tori knew her calling was to communicate The Gospel through the light of adoption and the stories God has granted her.
Tori has presented policy to White House staff, congressmen and to families on how to reduce abuse and neglect in foster care and eliminate statistics among foster youth. She trains county agencies and foster parents on the affects of trauma in foster youth and has worked with various nonprofits to support vulnerable families. She has educated and shared her powerful story with various organizations such as Brave Global Inc., The Forgotten Initiative, America's Kids Belong, Students for Life of America, and in detention centers - including the one she once attended. She has been featured as a resource for vulnerable young women in human trafficking, those coming out of the foster care system, and she helped form the Brave Leadership Academy to help young women grow in leadership. Tori has also shared her story in various Podcasts and written articles featured on platforms such as the Global Leadership Summit and Proverbs 31 Ministries. Follow Tori and her mission on Instagram at @torihopepetersen.
Glenn Stanton from Focus on the Family: "Defining a healthy family unit - Every child is deserving of life and a loving family."
Glenn Stanton is the director of the Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family. He debates and lectures extensively on the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the world. Stanton also served on the George W. Bush administration for many years as a consultant on increasing fatherhood involvement in the Head Start program.
Stanton is the author of nine books and is Senior Contributor to the Federalist blog. His latest book is “The Myth of the Dying Church: How Christianity is Actually Thriving in America and the World.” His previous book, “Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth,” explores how Christians should interact with gay or lesbian neighbors in a Christ-honoring way. He is also the co-writer of “Irreplaceable,” a film seen in theatres nationwide, and the co-author and creator of “The Family Project,” a 12-session small group DVD curriculum produced by Focus on the Family. Stanton
earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Communication Arts and Religion, and a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, History and Religion from the University of West Florida.
Kristan Hawkins from Students for Life of America: "Encouraging our next generation with accurate life-affirming choices for men, women and their preborn babies - including open adoption."
Kristan Hawkins is a Christian, wife, mother, grassroots activist, author, speaker, Podcast host and a human rights advocate. President of Students for Life of America, she was recruited in 2006 to launch Students for Life of America’s full-time operation. Since then, she has built up a small organization made up of a few dozen student groups scattered around the country to a coordinated national team serving more than 1,200 Students for Life chapters in all fifty states. She hosts a weekly podcast, “Explicitly Pro-Life,” found on iTunes or YouTube. A frequent speaker at college campuses like Harvard, Dartmouth, UC-Berkley and media analyst, Kristan’s expertise includes topics of abortion, feminism, disability advocacy, and healthcare, as she navigates the social conditions and public policies that impact the human rights issues of our day. She does all this while multitasking as a mother of four children, two of whom have cystic fibrosis. Kristan knows firsthand that all children have value, no matter the perception of their abilities, and works daily to be a voice for Millennials and the Generation Z who recognize the horrors of abortion for women and their preborn infants. You can follow her on social media at @KristanHawkins, and Students for Life of America at @Studentsforlife.
Kristen Hamilton from National Council for Adoption: "The History of Adoption."
Kristen joined the NCFA team in October 2019 and is responsible for leading marketing and communications, identifying and implementing strategic initiatives, growing external constituency partners, and working closely with senior leadership to support NCFA’s constituent services, education, research, public policy and development programs in alignment with short and long-term organizational strategic goals.
Kristen comes to NCFA with a background in nonprofit leadership encompassing advocacy, marketing, and communication. She earned a B.A. in Public Communication from Cedarville University and a M.A. in Rhetoric with a concentration in Political Communication from Kansas State University. Kristen is an experienced adoptive and special needs parent. She and her husband, and four children reside in New Jersey where she also volunteers on the leadership team of Miriam’s Heart, a local nonprofit serving foster and adoptive children families throughout Central NJ.
Justin Reeder from Love Life: "Encouraging our churches to get involved in ending abortion while also opening our homes to foster care and adoption."
Justin Reeder currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his beautiful bride, Jennifer Reeder, and their three children, Jack, Josie and Esther. He gave his life to Jesus at 11 years old and felt the call of full-time ministry on his life. He didn't know what that meant for him until later in life. At 20 years old, Justin left college to start a business, Superior Wash Southeast. Thirteen years later, Superior Wash Southeast has grown to six states with eleven offices across the southeast, washing 8,000+ commercial trucks every week. He began his business thinking it would be a stepping stone to a "higher calling," but God quickly showed him that the marketplace was his ministry. He witnessed and continues to believe that there is no separation between the ministry and the marketplace. “When Jesus is in our hearts, we are always in full-time ministry,” he says.
On August 20th, he felt God speak to him during prayer, saying: “I have called you to the least of these and to be a voice for the voiceless right here in your city.” Over the course of that week, God continued downloading a strategy and plan into his heart to begin Love Life. In March 2016, Love Life was born. Love Life is a 40-week Journey of Hope, uniting and mobilizing the church to create a culture of love and life that will bring an end to abortion and the orphan crisis in North Carolina. So far, over 300+ churches have partnered and participated with Love Life. Over 65,000+ people have mobilized in prayer and fasting outside of Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and New York City’s busiest abortion businesses. They have seen 1,800+ families choose life and have witnessed a significant drop in people showing up for abortions. Through Love Life, 500+ Christians have responded to the call to mentor, foster or adopt, become a sidewalk champion, or become involved in one of their other connection opportunities to rebuild their city! Follow Love Life at @Lovelifeclt.
Ashley Lawton from Save the 1: "Adoption as an option in circumstances of rape or sexual assault."
Ashley is a pastor’s wife and mother of two beautiful children. She is an advocate for the unborn, and a strong believer in the saving power of Jesus Christ. Conceived in a reported rape, adopted in Tennessee, and finally settling in South Carolina, she considers herself blessed to live in such a great state.
Ashley is a board member at Personhood South Carolina, and actively shares her adoption story before legislators and the public linking the Pro-Adoption and Pro-Life movement. Ashley is also a speaker with the international organization, Save the 1, which encourages pro-life legislation and shares the "hard case" stories to promote life as an alternative to abortion with no exceptions. This past January, Ashley attended the March for Life in Washington DC and participated in the Conference allowing her to share her story in hopes of changing hearts and minds to chose life and consider adoption versus abortion. Ashley's story has been featured on many websites and in numerous articles in both English and Spanish, as well as podcasts.
Actively involved in the political world, she feels an obligation to speak out in favor of the pro-life and pro-adoption movements, and does so every time the Lord opens a door for her to share her powerful testimony. Women’s ministry has also always been a passion for Ashley. She considers it a privilege to share what the Lord speaks to her heart through His Word in hopes of encouraging and uplifting women of all ages.
Aimee Cook from I Am His: "Post adoption support and healing, as well as navigating interracial adoption."
Aimee was adopted from Korea by a loving Christian family at the age of three. Although she had a wonderful childhood that was filled with love and acceptance, now looking back on her early years she realizes how growing up as the "token Asian girl" in a family and world of Caucasians impacted her identity and choices for decades to come. As a child, other children would ask her why she didn’t look like the rest of her family, or why her “real mom gave her away." These questions were innocent in intention, but they were painful and they impacted Aimee far greater than she ever realized, cultivating deep roots of abandonment and rejection within her.
Because of Aimee's own personal experiences with interracial adoption, her passion lies in educating families on how to properly address matters related to bi-racial adoption as they arise, while bringing her own experiences of healing and hope to others who have experienced similar life circumstances and, most importantly, emphasizing that our greatest need as adoptees is to understand that our identities and worth come solely from Christ. Aimee is happily married to the man of her dreams, as she and her husband currently live in Simi Valley, California. She is a successful business woman, a Survivor-Mentor, and certified to work with women and children who have been rescued from sex trafficking. Aimee has also led a Restoration Study for women all over the country, and is a Conference Speaker and Co-Founder of the I Am His Women’s Conference.
Lynea Krukiewicz from Life After Placement: "Cultivating healthy boundaries while making an adoption plan, as well as advocating positive change for birth moms."
Lynea Krukiewicz is a birth mother of 29 years and has been reunited with her biological daughter for the last 16 years. She is the Birth Mother representative/Board Member for Utah Adoption Council and United for Adoption where she works to re-define Utah's adoption laws into modern acceptance. She is also the Founder and President of Life After Placement, a 501(c)3 non-profit birth mother support foundation. Through Life After Placement, she encourages women who have placed to confidently contribute their support and share their experiences within the adoption community. Lynea also leads post-placement group support meetings for birth moms across the country and connects people struggling with various mental health issues after their placement to the proper resources for help and assistance. Her experience as a birth mother has helped her understand the trauma that both the placing mother and child can experience when adoption processes do not go as expected. She is driven to create awareness of the strain that placement can impose on one's mental health, and her efforts are gaining traction as she continues to speak on the damaging effects of ignoring mental health issues related to placement and how to move forward when dealing with these issues.
Lynea has spent countless hours working with women making an adoption plan, to those who are post-placement, helping them navigate the years ahead successfully. Lynea stresses the importance of how healthy outcomes are a direct result of an honest relationship with the child, along with the importance of well-communicated boundaries with all parties in the adoption triad. Working with parents seeking to adopt has helped Lynea better understand both sides of the adoption process. Emotions run high and misinterpretations are common with the agreements made during the adoption process. She teaches the necessity of having a calm individual present who can manage and mediate all negotiations in order to facilitate understanding between all parties and produce a better outcome overall.
When Lynea is not diligently working in the adoption community, she loves camping and 4-wheeling in Utah. “Getting out and escaping the day-to-day pressures gives me a new sense of hope and allows me to ground myself by spending private time to work out things in my mind, something I seem to need constantly.”
Lyndsay Smith from On Loan from Heaven: "An adoptive parent's view of adoption, parenting, and breaking the barriers of what ethical adoption practices truly entail."
Lindsay Smith from On Loan From Heaven is the proud wife to Joey, and a Mama to Hannah, Hunter, Michael, Abram, and their Sweet One in Heaven. Lindsay writes and speaks on the story God has written for her and her family through infertility, open adoption, relative adoption, miscarriage, parenting a child with special needs, and her experience as an adoption professional.
Lindsay has taken the stage at many birth mom conferences, supporting BirthMom Buds and educating the church body on ethical adoption practices. She comes alongside attorneys and agencies as they join together for children born with special needs and the Mamas who are boldly and lovingly making placement decisions for them. Lindsay is an advocate of many things, but above all, for every Mama. Lindsay finds her joy in extending the same grace to others as God has given to her. "From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace" (John 1:16).
Nicole “Coley” Strickland has been a strong voice for expectant mothers and birth mothers for many years. At the age of 25 she became a birth mother, lovingly placing her three-day-old baby boy into an open adoption plan and the arms of his adoptive parents. She and fellow birth mother, Leilani Wood, went on to begin one of the first birth mom support organizations called BirthMom Buds in 2003, which has grown into one of the leading birth mom support organizations in America. BirthMom Buds is a nonprofit that provides information and various support resources for pregnant women and birth mothers. Coley has also been a voice for the bittersweet turmoil of birth mothers, becoming an active member of the adoption community, leading yearly birth mom retreats through BirthMom Buds, writing, speaking and sharing her story with others. In addition to her numerous blogs, she has also been featured on a number of radio programs, magazine and newspaper articles, as well as in the books: "How to Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio" by Madeleine Melcher, and "A Personal Touch on Adoption" by Peter Berlin. Aside from her many other roles, Coley has been blessed to parent her special needs son, Noah, who recently went to heaven to be with Jesus. Noah, along with the son she placed, are the loves of her life.
Michelle Lee Graham: "Relationships and forward-thinking after placement."
Michelle Lee Graham is an inspirational mother and leader. Her vulnerability, honesty and authenticity help her deliver powerful and dynamic motivational messages. Even though Michelle has faced trauma, tragedy and loss in her past, she has went on to discover great love, relationships and success. She strives to beat the odds, not letting statistics or the opinions of others define her. At the young age of sixteen, Michelle was the victim of a violent sexual assault. She explains that though the impact of rape did not define her, the pregnancy that followed most certainly did. Michelle had her first child at sixteen. Through adoption, she was able to express her unselfish love and give her daughter the life she deserved. Moving forward with her decision of adoption has meant living a life that her birth daughter, Sarah, could be proud of, too.
Michelle leads groups pertaining to adoption and birth mom support, where she shares her story and the victories she experienced in choosing adoption. Michelle has been a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for over a decade, and has built a successful career as an empathetic leader with a high emotional intelligence. Her professionalism and integrity helped to build a successful organization, where she has navigated her team through significant restructure and growth. Michelle currently parents her five other children; and through many good and bad life lessons and choices, she has lived a life full of passion, vulnerability, and professionalism. Michelle believes that we all have the potential to experience the freedom to truly love, forgive, grow, heal and find new joy! She explains that sometimes we just need a little help to get there. It is Michelle’s desire to train, coach, pray and inspire others to discover their new joy.
Rhonda M. Roorda: "Interracial adoption."
Rhonda M. Roorda was adopted at the age of two into a white American family with Dutch heritage. She was raised with her two non-adopted siblings in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Rhonda is an Author and International Speaker on Transracial Adoption. Rhonda’s latest book, "In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption," was named by Choice Magazine as a 2016 Outstanding Academic Title. With the late Dr. Rita J. Simon, she coauthored a landmark trilogy of books on Transracial Adoption ("In Their Own Voices," "In Their Parents’ Voices," and "In Their Siblings’ Voices").
Rhonda’s work is highly regarded in academia, among adoption agencies and parent groups, in corporations, in Hollywood, and in households throughout the United States and abroad. Rhonda is the recipient of the 2010 Judge John P. Steketee Adoption Hero Award from the Adoptive Family Support Network (MI). In 2017, Rhonda was awarded the Friend of Children and Youth Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). Rhonda earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Telecommunications from Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI; and a Master of Arts Degree in Communication-Urban Studies at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. From 2013-2016, Rhonda served on the Calvin University Alumni Board. She currently serves as a Member of the Calvin University Board of Trustees, and is a fund administrator at an educational advocacy organization in Lansing, Michigan.
Courtney Lott from Faithful Adoption Consultants: "Pro-life is Pro-adoption."
Courtney Lott is both the Executive Director of Faithful Adoption Consultants and the lead adoption consultant. As the Executive Director, Courtney assumes many roles at FAC's. As an adoption consultant, she walks alongside adoptive families throughout their adoption journey, assisting with each step along the way. In addition to consulting, she maintains close working relationships with multiple licensed agencies and attorneys, while continuing to build new relationships for the future. Courtney has been married for almost 17 years. The Lord has blessed her with 8 beautiful children through the miracle of both birth and adoption. Her passion for adoption originated from her strong pro-life convictions as well as her desire to honor the biblical mandate to care for 'the least of these.' Having adopted both special needs and transracially, Courtney’s passion is clear and gives her a unique perspective to offer her clients at FAC's and people outside the adoption triad.
Christie Mac Segars from Lifeline Children's Services: "Ethics of Care in Adoption."
Christie Mac Segars (MSW & LICSW) has worked in the areas of adoption for 17 years and is currently the Vice President of Domestic Services for Lifeline Children's Services, an adoption agency that is, first, a ministry of the Gospel. She is passionate about helping women facing unexpected pregnancies. Knowing the hope found in Christ, Christie advocates and empowers women to make healthy choices including, but not limited to, knowing their options in parenting or adoption, as well as the importance of placing children in Gospel-centered homes.
MEN & ABORTION
David Benham from the Benham Brothers: "Better together: Building stronger families to change children’s lives."
Twin brothers, David and Jason Benham, are former professional baseball players, nationally acclaimed entrepreneurs, and bestselling authors. Their accomplishments have been recognized by dozens of publications, including Inc Magazine, Wall St Journal, Business Leader Media, Franchise 500, and more. Their rise to success earned them a reality show with HGTV that was set to air in the fall of 2014, yet the show was abruptly cancelled because of their commitment to Biblical values. Appearing on CNN, Fox News, ESPN, ABC's Nightline and Good Morning America, the Benham's continue to stand up for what they believe, and encourage others to do the same. Their father is the well-known Christian minister, Flip Benham, who helped lead Norma McCorvey (aka "Jane Roe" of the Roe vs. Wade case) away from the abortion industry. David and Jason currently have a combined total of nine children and live on the same street in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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