Our Staff Picks for TNOYS’ 37th Annual Conference


TNOYS’ Annual Conference is right around the corner, and our team is looking forward to all the fun and learning that’s in store!

The focus of the conference aligns with TNOYS’ strategic plan, and two important topics— equity and youth voice— are central to this year’s agenda. We’re looking forward to sessions such as Mia William’s pre-conference institute on equity and inclusion, Dr. Monique W. Morris’ keynote on inequality in systems, and the many engaging workshops in this year’s “Advancing Equity” track. Research-based practices and cross-systems collaboration are also a big focus of our workshops and sessions.

The conference will once again include youth speakers and participants, putting the power of youth-adult partnership into action. We’re excited to hear from youth on topics such as overcoming adversity, policy and practice, and much more.

We’ve asked members of our team to look through the conference program and share the workshops and presentations they’re most excited about — see their picks below:

Lyric Wardlow, Program Specialist

Youth Empowerment through Voice and Choice is an important topic track to have at TNOYS’ Annual Conference. During multiple workshops, youth with lived experience will talk about the real barriers they face across systems — an important learning opportunity for any youth services provider. I’m especially excited about the workshop “The Impact of Disasters and Other Emergencies on Youth” which will provide a youth perspective on the long-term impacts of disasters and emergencies.

Alex Polk, Communications Specialist

I’m looking forward to co-presenting with Dr. Artemio Garcia during the workshop Providing Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Care. The training will review the process that LGBTQ youth go through in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity and present ideas on how to apply best practices in serving LGBTQ youth. As a trans person, I am excited to provide my own perspective and help to educate our community on this important topic.

Prince Hayward, Policy Specialist

This year, I’m helping to lead the Cross-System Policy Agenda RoundtableI am excited to discuss new policy opportunities that could have a positive impact on youth and young adults. I’m particularly interested to hear about innovative policy solutions that will lift up black, brown, and minority communities. I think that both workshops will be a great opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders across the state on policy issues that need to be addressed.

Christine Gendron, Executive Director

This year’s conference features numerous workshops focused on preventing and responding to commercial sexual exploitation of youth, which is a critical issue that needs to be addressed. In the session titled Specialized, Collaborative CSEY Services the Governor’s Office will share its strategic vision for ending CSEY in Texas and offer tools and resources to recognize and respond to exploited young people. The conference will also feature training from Kerri Taylor on implementing the CSE-IT tool, an evidence-based trafficking screening tool that has been endorsed by the Governor’s Office and adopted by our state child welfare and juvenile justice agencies.

 Sarah Prager, Program Director

I am excited for Mia Williams’ Pre-Institute Equity, Inclusion, and Cultural Humility: Together We Can Achieve It! While this topic is always critical to the work to strengthen youth services, recent events have made equity and racial justice a national conversation – one that should have already been happening. Mia Williams is an incredible trainer, challenging participants to confront their own biases while also creating a safe space for vulnerability and growth. The institute will give participants the knowledge, language, and tools to change the way their organization approaches equity, inclusion, and cultural humility.

 Lauren Rose, Director of Public Policy

I’m looking forward to the keynote address by Judge Steven Teske. Known to be a dynamic speaker, Judge Teske has been a thought leader and action taker on juvenile justice reform and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline for more than a decade. As a juvenile court judge from the South, it is always encouraging to hear him address racial inequality in the justice system head-on.

Ann-Charlotte Proffitt, Program Manager

I’m excited for Dr. Monique W. Morris’s keynote on addressing racial inequity in systems, where she will be discussing the impacts of trauma and bias, and creating safety for healing. Dr. Morris is a personal hero of mine, and her work, which continues to define the field of equity and social justice, is even more relevant now than ever.

Mary Bergeron, Director of Communications

Although this year’s conference has moved to a virtual format, we’re thrilled to welcome two dynamic performing acts. I’m excited for the Dance Break with Christopher “YungChris” Thomas of Houston’s Sonkiss’d Dance Theater. I’m also looking forward to Slam Poetry by Meta-Four Houston, a Youth Slam Team that takes the voices of youth to powerful new heights.

We hope you’ll join us for TNOYS’ 37th Annual Conference! Be sure to register by June 15 using the link below.

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