Speakers & Agenda

We’re excited to introduce a dynamic lineup of speakers at this year’s event:

Gabe Salazar, Motivational Youth Speaker

Motivational Youth Speaker Gabe Salazar overcame poverty, gang influence, and homelessness to become a successful entrepreneur. He’s a highly, sought-after keynote speaker who has been inspiring teens, families, teachers and school administrators with a message of hope and dreaming big for more than 15 years.

After being mentored by his high school principal in South Texas, Gabe was rescued from gang influence and became the first in his family to go to college. He graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, TX with a Bachelor of Science. He began his career as inclusion specialist for special education and behavioral students at an intermediate school in San Antonio, TX. He soon discovered his unique talent to speak to teens and families after performing
a motivational assembly at his school. Today, he’s a professional speaker who travels all over the world to schools, teen conferences, churches and camps.

Gabe has spoken to millions of teens throughout his career including national tours for Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, U.S. Air Force Family Services, and Ford Salute to Education. Popular Hispanics Magazine recognizes him as America’s #1 Latino Youth Speaker.

Gabe lives in Dallas, TX with his wife, Nancy and four children.

Renée Wilson-Simmons, Accomplished Leader in Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences

Renée Wilson-Simmons, DrPH, is the founder of Healing Trauma, Reclaiming Joy, a firm that helps clients understand the life-long impact of childhood adversity and trauma on the health, safety, and well-being of children, their families, and their communities. Renée is a sought-after and engaging speaker on such issues as resilience and healing, ambiguous loss, and supporting youth through trauma-informed care.

Renée is the former executive director of the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Awareness Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee, an organization that supports and develops innovative strategies to prevent trauma and toxic stress, decreases mental health stigmas, and promotes systems-change to advance prevention efforts and racial justice. She also implemented Parenting in the Pandemic: Tools for Surviving and Thriving, a series of interactive online sessions that promoted good mental health and family bonding that garnered 5,000+ views. ”

Previously, Renée served for six years as director of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), a nonpartisan public policy research center at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She has also led initiatives to improve child and adolescent outcomes at Evidence2Success and with Plain Talk/ Hablando Claro, an initiative that works to increase access to age-appropriate reproductive health services and resources.

Renée earned a doctorate in public health, with a concentration in maternal and child health, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.