2016 Conference Keynote Speakers

2016 Conference Logo - Large

Wednesday August 10th, 2016


Tara Brown, The Connection CoachTara Brown

The opening keynote will start the conference with love, laughs, and connection! Tara Brown, also known as ‘The Connection Coach’, will share parts of her journey working with youth in gangs and other tough situations and how she successfully engaged and motivated them to dream bigger and work toward their goals. She will provide research-based insights into the roles that emotions and stress play in learning, as well as strategies based on adolescent brain development to unleash the potential in vulnerable youth. Be ready to be motivated and inspired to make valuable connections with the young people who need them most!


Tara Brown is president of Learner’s Edge Consulting and an award ­winning educator, author and international speaker. Tara’s 30­ year professional journey as a teacher and coach has taken her across the country and globe. Among her many achievements, Tara played a key role in piloting a Leadership Development program at Antioch High School targeting non­traditional leaders; the program was later expanded to all high schools in Davidson County in Nashville, Tennessee. Since leaving the classroom, Tara’s passion and humor continue to drive her work. Her goals are to motivate, inspire and better equip adults to connect and have meaningful relationships with young people of all ages, so their potential can truly be unleashed.


Thursday August 11th, 2016


Stephany BryanStephany Bryan, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Thursday’s keynote presentation will invite all audiences to listen to Stephany Bryan. Stephany’s powerful story as a parent involved in the system who taught herself to be a powerful force for systems change will inspire providers, youth and family members alike to strengthen collaboration and recognize the critical importance of youth and family engagement. As many of us do, Stephany has a range of experience and wears many hats. Her captivating story and insights will demonstrate that we are all “Stronger Together.”


Stephany Bryan, Program Officer and Consumer and Family Liaison at the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is a Certified Peer Specialists and Wellness Recovery Action Plan Facilitator from Austin who has spent more than fifty years on her journey towards recovery and wellness. She has also spent twenty-two years advocating and advising for improvements to federal, state and local mental health policies and services. Stephany lives “The Four Agreements”—an inspirational code for life, personal development, behavior, communications and relationships. She lives life passionately, avoiding judgement, abuse, suffering and regret. Stephany joined the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in 2008.


Friday August 12th, 2016


Patrick “Pac Man” Perez and Raphael Travis Jr. DrPH, LCSW

Our closing keynote will feature Patrick “Pac Man” Perez, a nationally recognized break dancer and student success speaker, as well as Dr. Raphael Travis Jr., also known as “Doc,” to illustrate how to reach youth through the creative methods of art and music, especially hip hop. Hip hop breaks through the walls of gender, ethnicity, religion and social class. This interactive and high energy keynote will explore hip hop’s positive effects on youth leadership, self-image, self-expression and empowered living. It will help you envision ways to break through your own challenges and help youth do the same to achieve success! Be prepared for real stories, funky rhythms, and lots of laughs from the dynamic duo!


Pac Man PerezPatrick “Pac Man” Perez is a mix of Red Bull energy with a dash of hipster love, and a sprinkle of hip hop. His student success programs and 18+ years as a youth mentor have allowed him to speak in schools, at conferences and at Army National Guard events across 4 countries over the last 9 years. Patrick’s mission is to help youth and young adults break through challenges, set goals and break free from their excuses. He is the author of Mad Skills for Student Success, Bully Breakthrough and co-author of Break Free: Be True. Be You. From speaking engagements to hip hop competitions, Patrick is globally recognized as a force to be reckoned with!


DocDr. Raphael Travis is an Associate Professor at Texas State University in the School of Social Work. He is Executive Director of FlowStory, PLLC, providing resources and consultation with youth-serving professionals on how to promote positive youth development and health. Doc’s research, practice and consultancy work have emphases on positive youth development over the life-course, adolescent resilience and youth civic engagement. Dr. Travis also investigates the role of music in people’s lives, especially Hip-Hop culture as a source of growth and risk!