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.
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.
Amy Ford from Embrace Grace, Inc.: "How can People, Pregnancy Resource Centers, other Organizations and the Church Get Involved in Helping Women choose life?"
Amy Ford is the President of Embrace Grace, Inc., a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of providing curriculum and leadership support for churches nationwide to open their arms to young women with unplanned pregnancies. Embrace Grace is utilized by over 700 churches across the nation and world. She is also the author of A Bump in Life: True Stories of Hope & Courage during an Unplanned Pregnancy as well as Help Her Be Brave: Discover Your Place in the Pro-Life Movement set to release in 2021. Amy resides in Arlington, Texas and has been married for 22 years and has 4 beautiful children.
Jerusha Kingery: "Mentoring and assisting expectant women in situations of sexual assault."
Jerusha Kingery has worked in the area of adoption since 2009. She is a birth mother of eleven years in an open adoption; as well as a mother, recent adoptive mother, and a Pro-life Speaker for Save the 1 and Talk About Adoption™. Jerusha is also an Outreach Representative and a Birth Mom Mentor for an adoption agency in Ohio, advocating and educating prospective and current birth moms surrounding ethics in adoption policies and birth parent support. Furthermore, Jerusha leads an online support group of almost four hundred birth mothers from around the world, while also leading a monthly in-person support group made up of some amazing women in her hometown. She is passionate about loving and supporting women through unexpected pregnancies, and educating and empowering birth mothers in their decision of adoption. Jerusha has been happily married for six years, and enjoys spending her free time with her daughters and her son gifted through adoption.
Amy Stewart from Hope in Parenting: "How adoption has changed over the years, and hope in parenting."
Amy has a Masters of Science degree in Nursing and is a Certified Pediatric Nurse. In addition to hospital nursing, Amy works as a University nursing professor. Amy combined her passion for nursing, education, and motherhood in 2010 when she began teaching parenting courses. She is the Founder of Hope in Parenting, an online parenting education and supportive community providing parenting tools and resources from birth through school-age. Amy's teaching includes adoption specific topics such as infant drug exposure, exploring adoption preferences, preparing for your adopted baby, newborn care for your adopted baby, teaching your child about adoption, and educating your family / friend community about adoption. She loves empowering others through education and promoting supportive parenting communities. Her scientific and research based nursing background, paired with her love for being a mother to her five adopted children provide unique and relatable teaching opportunities. Amy feels her greatest accomplishments are found in her home. She loves being the wife to her husband Drew and mother to her five adopted children. Follow her on Instagram at @hopeinparenting.
Sarah Zagorski from Louisiana Right to Life: "Adoption through the eyes of an Abortion Survivor."
Sarah Zagorski is an adoptee, as well as a life, foster care and adoption advocate with years of experience in the pro-life movement. She was rescued from abortion after her Hispanic birth mother was referred to a New Orleans abortionist because his costs were low. He intended to leave Sarah for dead following a breech delivery at 26-weeks, but in a miraculous pro-life decision, her birth mother, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, fought for her life. Sarah was sent to a Children’s Hospital and survived. At 16-months, Sarah was placed in the Foster Care system for the first time after the state of Louisiana discovered parental neglect. However, Sarah was in and out of care for almost eight years until her birth mother’s parental rights were terminated. She describes the events that took place in her childhood home as a “cocktail of depravity,” where abusive members maintained control, sickly parents were unable to protect the innocence of young children and a place where inadequate food led to malnourishment.
In Sarah’s biological family, she is one of the youngest four of her mother’s eleven children. As a young child, she was exposed to active Tuberculosis, a life-threatening lung disease, by her stepfather but received treatment in foster care and recovered. Foster care became Sarah’s safe haven in childhood where she discovered firsthand the scope of pro-life conviction through the loving sacrifice of a family committed to her continued care. At nine years old, the same couple that took Sarah at 16 months adopted her into their family. Today, Sarah’s adoptive parents are actively in her life. In 2012, Sarah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. She now resides in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband, David, and young son, Jesse. Sarah is currently a staff member at Louisiana Right to Life and previously contributed to pro-life work in Colorado with LifeNews.com, Colorado Citizens for Life, the affiliate of National Right to Life, and Colorado Family Action, a policy partner of Focus on the Family. Learn more about Sarah, here: Sarahzagorski.com.
Holly Gatling from South Carolina Citizens for Life: "Choose Life so that you and your descendants may live."
Holly Gatling has been the Executive Director of South Carolina Citizens for Life since 1993. She is a 2019 graduate of Divine Mercy University with a Masters of Science in Psychology. She is also a graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Journalism and worked for 20 years as a daily news reporter specializing in investigative journalism. She has won awards for investigative work and featured writing, and in January 2019, Ms. Gatling received the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest civilian honor awarded to citizens of South Carolina for extraordinary lifetime service and achievements of national or statewide significance, from Governor Henry McMaster. After joining South Carolina Citizens for Life (SCCL), she has successfully lobbied the South Carolina General Assembly for passage of the Woman’s Right to Know Act, the Abortion Clinic Regulation Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the PhysicianAssisted Suicide Ban Act, the Safe Haven for Abandoned Newborns Act, and the Choose Life License Plate Act among other pro-life laws. In 2016, former Governor Nikki Haley signed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which stops abortion on demand in South Carolina when an unborn baby has reached the age of 20 weeks post-fertilization. Since 1988, abortions occurring in South Carolina have declined by 63.8 percent. When Ms. Gatling is not working to help end abortion, she is reading, traveling, and cooking. Holly is the sister of an adopted brother, an aunt to eleven nieces and nephews, and a great aunt to twelve great nieces and nephews, so far.
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.”
Lindsay 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 is the Founder of On Loan From Heaven and 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).
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. Learn more about Michelle, here: Michelleleegraham.com.
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.
Nicole "Coley" Strickland from BirthMom Buds: "Birth mother Support and Correct Birth Parent Resources."
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.
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.
Liesl Einerson: "Birth parent support and correct birth parent resources."
Liesl Einerson (LCSW) has her Masters of Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Utah. She has worked extensively with birthparents, adoptees, and adoptive parents. She worked as the Adoption Program Administrator for Children’s Service Society of Utah and has served as a post adoption therapist, adoptive parent counselor, as well as expectant parent counselor. She has facilitated adoption education and support groups. Liesl has a certificate in advanced therapy with foster and adoptive families, is EMDR trained, and is certified in Trust Based Relational Therapy by Dr. Karyn Purvis of The Connected Child. She is a transracial adoptive sister and has experience with foster care, open adoption, special needs, international, transracial, and kinship adoption. She is a fierce advocate for ethical adoption practices. Liesl was the Utah state representative for the American Adoption Congress, and has spoken locally and nationally on adoption related topics. She has a passion for working with all who are touched by adoption. She enjoys camping and spending time with her family.
Dr. Laurel Shaler: "Accurate adoption education for our modern society."
Dr. Laurel Shaler is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Professor, Licensed Social Worker, Speaker, Writer. and an Adoptive Mother. She has earned her Masters in Social Work from Florida State University, and also her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University. She also holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Liberty University. Laurel has provided psychotherapy services to hundreds in need, many of whom were veterans of the United States Armed Forces. She is currently an Associate Professor at Liberty University.
Laurel has been featured on many local, national, and international podcasts and radio programs, including Boundless by Focus on the Family and Building Relationships with Gary Chapman. Laurel customizes talks for groups related to emotional and spiritual health; she has been published professionally and in the well-known Extraordinary Women, P31 Woman, and Lifeway’s Journey Magazines. In addition to her own blog, she has written for Patheos, the American Association of Christian Counselors, Believe.com, the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, To Save a Life, Bound4Life, For Every Mom, and many others. Laurel’s first book “Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events” was released by David C. Cook on June 1st, 2017, and her second book “Relational Reset: Unlearning the Habits that Hold You Back” was released by Moody Publishers on Feb 5, 2019. Laurel, her beloved sailor husband Nick, and their precious daughter live in the deep south. Laurel enjoys spending time with family and friends, being involved in church activities and ministries, keeping up with political and world news, and volunteering with local organizations.
Sara Littlefield from Heartbeat International: "'The L.O.V.E Approach' towards the option of parenting or open adoption."
Sara Littlefield became a member of Heartbeat International's Ministry Services’ team in June 2018. Prior to her work with Heartbeat, Sara served as the Director of the Abortion Pill Reversal program (now known as the Abortion Pill Rescue Network) and was overjoyed to be able to witness its transition into the capable hands of Heartbeat. She has first-hand experience working in pregnancy help organizations as a client services manager, event and volunteer coordinator, and sexual integrity educator. Sara graduated from Franciscan University (‘12) with a Bachelor degree in Social Work. She has lived in five cities in six years, but has since returned to her San Diego hometown where she continues in pregnancy help efforts.
Brittany Paladino from 4 The Love of Alex: "Adoption through the Gospel, and authenticity in birth mom support."
Britt found herself in the middle of a crisis pregnancy at the age of thirty-eight. Life circumstances made it clear that the only responsible choice for her unborn daughter would be adoption. Being pregnant and alone with her three-year-old toddler in the Florida Keys made that decision all the more difficult, as there were very few resources in general in Key West for women seeking to place their child for adoption.
It was her imperfect experience with seeking placement, and then trying to recover from post-placement alone, that built the foundation of what is now 4 The Love Of Alex - a mentorship ministry for women seeking to place their unborn child for adoption. Women who work with 4 The Love Of Alex can expect to find a listening ear, experience-based advice, and confident, confidential support from a woman who has walked the road before.
Britt seeks to continue to grow in many ways what has now become a successful ministry, by partnering with pro-life groups and adoption organizations to expand support, awareness and advocacy. Adoption is a valid option that needs a makeover when it comes to women facing difficult choices for their unborn children. Learn more about Britt and her work, here: Brittpaladino.com.
Lorri Antosz Benson from Family Matters: "Ending the stigma of birth moms, and encouraging adoptive parents towards healthy relationships with their child's birth parents."
Lorri Antosz Benson is an award-winning television producer, writer, author, birth mother and former internationally syndicated columnist. Most notably, she worked for DONAHUE, the acclaimed show hosted by the legendary Phil Donahue, for fifteen years, eight of which were spent as Senior Producer. Lorri received two Emmy Awards and ten Emmy
nominations for her work with DONAHUE, and was awarded the American Women in Radio and Television Commendation several times. She went on to write a nationally-syndicated column for eleven years called Talk the Talk, a behind the scenes look at the world of talk television, and also spent two years as the executive producer of Golden Lifestyles, a regional talk show in SW Florida.
Lorri’s first book, "Distorted," was a memoir co-authored with her daughter Taryn, which delved into Taryn’s struggle with an eating disorder, and the effect on the family. They were featured on many national broadcasts, including the Today Show and the Montel Williams Show. Lorri’s work has led her to become a family advocate, and a speaker/expert on eating disorders, adoption and resources for parents. She is Founder and CEO of Family Matters, her family advocacy organization. She serves on the Parent, Family & Friends Network steering committee for the National Eating Disorder Association, and is also on the board of Harvest Home, a Los Angeles-based organization which houses and assists pregnant homeless women.
Lorri’s latest book, "Adopting Hope," is published by Familius Publishing and was released September 2018. A tremendous resource for any parent, but especially for those in the adoption world, as it is a collection of stories, lessons learned, tips and words of wisdom from birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees from all over the country. This book follows "To Have And Not To Hold," the first in a series of three books for those involved in adoption. "To Have And Not To Hold" covers the relinquishing of her first child, Aimee, for closed adoption, and the subsequent development of a flourishing relationship with her and her family, with a focus on the connection between the two mothers. Lorri also maintains a blog for empty nesters: Feathering My Empty Nest at . She and her husband Steve reside in Santa Monica, CA. They have four children and five grandchildren.
Ann Zelenka: Host of the Adoption Speaks "Birth Mom Leadership Meet-up."
Ann Zelenka is a native of Baltimore, MD and will be four years post placement this December 2020 after placing a child with special needs for adoption. Ann works full time for the federal government and part time in childcare, while attending the University of the Cumberlands for an online PHD in Leadership Program. Ann holds a Bachelor's Degree in Jurisprudence, with two Master's degrees - one in Law from Regent University and another in Negotiations and Conflict Management from the University of Baltimore.
Ann is actively involved with assisting pregnant women in her community with material assistance, both in her own efforts and as an Embrace Grace Co-Leader. Ann is also a member of Life After Placement and BraveLove. Ann loves her God, her Catholic faith, her family and her dogs. She is available for mentoring and speaking opportunities, especially to those interested in the cause for life and for helping women in need to succeed.
Ann will be Hosting the Birth Mom Leadership Support Meeting during the Conference.
Jennifer Mae from Fireweed Retreat: Host of the Adoption Speaks Prayer Room.
Jennifer Mae is a public speaker, the author of Fireweed, a Christ-following birthmother, and Founder and Director of the Christ-centered Fireweed Retreat for birthmothers. She has spoken at adoptive and foster events including Beauty For Ashes and Foster Love Project with Angela Tucker, as well as for radio shows and at adoption conferences in hopes to help empathy and ethics be common in adoption. She has a heart for all members of adoption, but especially holds her sisters-in-triad--fellow birth mothers--in the high regard.
Jennifer will be Hosting our Prayer Room, and cannot wait to meet you there!
Dawn Marie Perez from Stand Up Girl: "How Pregnancy Resource Centers and Adoption Agencies Can Better Collaborate to Effectively Support Expectant Mothers and Fathers."
After having served as a volunteer for two years, Dawn Marie is in her tenth year as the Executive Director of the StandUpGirl.com Foundation and her eighth year as a mother of two. All in God’s design, her diverse background in Education and Computer Technology were the perfect fit for the needs of this technology-based foundation. Along with being a Certified Christian Educator for K-12 grades, she holds a degree in Psychology and Human development, is a certified Google AdWords Professional, Life Affirming Specialist, and Youth Missions Leader. Dawn Marie has a love for US History and spent ten years as a Licensed Education Program Leader for America Christian Tours, leading students through our nation’s capital educating them on our Christian Foundation. She is the key internet marketing strategist for StandUpGirl.com. With the Lord as her strength and guidance, she has learned the art of sharing a pro-life philosophy with youth and young mothers in crisis and communicating God’s plan and purpose for their lives. Dawn resides in rural western Oregon with her husband of eleven years, and their two children. Her hobbies include enjoying the outdoors in the Great Northwest with her family, reading, crafting and raising animals on their homestead.
MEN & ABORTION
David & Jason 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.
Sam McLure, Esq. from The Adoption Law Firm: "Moral practices and ethical policies in adoption law, and the differences between foster care and domestic private adoption."
Sam McLure is an Adoptive Father and the Founder of The Adoption Law Firm. Sam and his wife, Mary Beth, were inspired to establish The Adoption Law Firm during the process of adopting their first son, Robi (read more about their experience on the blog, Go Get Robi). Sam and Mary Beth were exposed to the great need for loving families to adopt abandoned children at home and around the world. They began to dream of a law center that could zealously advocate for children to be placed in loving homes. Eventually, that dream became a reality. The Adoption Law Firm exists to advocate for orphaned children to be adopted into loving homes. In addition to his work with The Adoption Law Firm, nearly half of Sam's practice consists of advocating for survivor-victims of sex-trafficking through his other firm, McLure Law.
Sam is also the President and Founder of Millstones of Justice; an organization formed in 2020 in response to the rapidly growing human trafficking industry. Millstones of Justice exists to bring exposure to this epidemic, and to combat the darkness with the name above all names, Jesus Christ. Millstone's purpose is to aide survivors of human trafficking as their battle continues to rage. This support takes many forms including legal representation, prayer, and financial donations.
Jacari Harris from Families for All, Inc.: "Supporting Youth in Foster care."
Jacari Harris, a native of Tallahassee, Florida, is an author, entrepreneur, life coach, business owner, and inspirational speaker. He entered the foster care system at an early age and was blessed to be adopted soon after. Jacari’s story is proof that tragedies can position a person for a purposeful life. Jacari knows that tragedies will not define who he is or his goals. With the help of his loving adoptive mother and community, he defied the artificial limitations imposed upon him. He knows firsthand how to cope with adversity and overcoming hardship. His past has never held him back from accomplishing what he set his heart and mind to do.
After graduating high school, Jacari went on to complete an internship with national civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump, Esq. Thereafter, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Bethune-Cookman University and his MBA from Florida International University. While at Bethune- Cookman, Jacari was elected Student Body President and completed a study abroad in Senegal, West Africa. Interned with State of California Junior U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. He also is a 2020 recipient of Bethune-Cookman’s 40 under 40 award, which recognizes the university’s rising stars and influencers.
His devoted service to foster youth and adoptive individuals has led him to better serve the foster and adoptive community through his nonprofit organization, Families for All, Inc. This group offers advocacy for change, informing, connecting, and promoting the need for finding loving and committed families for fostering and/or adopting youth.
A sought-after speaker, Jacari shares a message of inspiration with the goal of helping others realize that they too can rise above the losses of life and be found anew.