Staff Picks at TNOYS’ 38th 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!

Guided by the theme Rooted in Power, this year’s conference spotlights equity and inclusion and youth-adult partnership throughout our 50+ workshops and sessions. Our team is excited for sessions such as the pre-conference institute The Equity Chair for Leadership Teams, Toshia Shaw’s keynote on Day 2, and the numerous engaging workshops in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion topic track. 

The voices and experiences of young people are centered throughout the conference programming. TNOYS’ Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) members took the lead on developing several sessions this year, and we’re excited to welcome many of these young adults as workshop presenters.

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:

Fedora Galasso, Executive Director

Staff Pick: The Equity Chair for Leadership Teams Pre-conference Institute

TNOYS has heard time and again that DEI training and leadership development are top priorities for our members. As a leader working to embed DEI awareness, action, and accountability into our organization I know that it can be a challenge. I’m especially excited about the pre-conference institute The Equity Chair for Leadership Teams, an in-depth DEI and leadership development training that has been specifically tailored for youth-serving providers. Led by Paulina Artieda with The New Philanthropists, this training goes beyond the basics so that attendees walk away with the tools and resources to truly advance DEI at their organizations and develop as inclusive leaders. 

Over the last six months, I’ve worked closely with Paulina and the TNP team to take our DEI work to the next level and I can attest to this being an engaging and impactful training. Although this training is appropriate for individuals to attend, we encourage participants to attend in leadership teams of 3 or 4, including an executive-level staff member, a higher-level/manager-level staff person, and a board member. Learn more about the institute here, and register here.

Dana Hill, Mental Health Policy Fellow

Staff Pick: Featured Screening: BOYS Documentary

Commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth is a widely hidden crime. I am looking forward to the screening of BOYS Documentary where male survivors of commercial sexual exploitation courageously step forward about their previous experiences to help create awareness surrounding Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE). I believe discussions around how boys are affected by commercial sexual exploitation are important so that we can truly help protect those who are vulnerable.

Lyric Wardlow, Program Coordinator

Staff Pick: Centering Youth Voice with Trauma Approaches workshop

 I’m excited to present on best practices for approaching youth trauma and why this is so important for youth-serving providers. As a youth with lived experience, I’ve found that the strategies in this workshop have helped me identify trauma in my personal experiences and respond proactively. This workshop will cover important tools and resources for anyone who works with youth in systems.

Ann-Charlotte Proffitt, Director of Practice

Staff Pick: Trauma, Brain Development, and Mental Health topic track

I’m looking forward to the workshops in the Trauma, Brain Development, and Mental Health topic track. Trauma impacts physiological development, neural pathways in the brain, and behaviors, and mental health outcomes. In the youth-services field, providers must approach their work from a trauma-informed perspective and understand the experiences that youth have been through. The workshops in this topic track cover the science of brain development, how to identify and respond to trauma-induced behaviors, tools to build trusting relationships with youth, and best practices for working through trauma.

Josue Rodriguez, Engagement Manager

Staff Pick: Listening and Learning from Youth workshop

Youth-adult partnerships and authentic youth engagement are the bedrock of TNOYS’ work with young people. These two concepts will be front and center in the two workshops developed and led by our very own Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) in partnership with TNOYS. The first workshop, “Dear Providers, Youth are Slipping through the Cracks,” will be led by Zane Ocon, Kedrick Spivey, and Brenda Woolley. This group will provide insight for youth-serving providers on best practices when working with young people with lived experiences. The second workshop, “What to Expect as a Youth Transitioning into Higher Education,” will be led by Sally Amara Uzomba, Sabrina DeBreau, and Jorge Leyva. This group will highlight the experiences of young people as they pursue higher education.

Natalie Ferguson, Operations Manager

Staff Pick: Texas Disasters and Emergencies: Impact on Children, Youth, and Families workshop

TNOYS has heard countless stories from youth-serving providers and young people about the many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and winter storm Uri. This workshop highlights the impacts these disasters have had on Texas families and youth. Hear from two TNOYS staff members as they unpack a recently-released TNOYS report that includes insight from over 50 providers and youth. From this workshop, you will not only learn about the effects of these disasters but also how we can support those most impacted.

Mary Bergeron, Director of Communications

Staff Pick: Help! I Need An ID workshop

Getting a driver’s license is a big milestone for any young person, but the process can be challenging for youth aging out of foster care or experiencing homelessness. This workshop will detail how youth-serving providers can help young people access critical documents like their birth certificate, Texas ID card, and license. Attendees will also hear from TNOYS Youth Policy Specialist Prince Hayward, a young adult with lived experience and advocate for this issue. Prince will discuss his lived experience in the child welfare system and recent efforts to improve access for future generations of youth.

Alex Polk, Communications Specialist

Staff Pick: Services to LGBTQ Youth in Care workshop

The workshop Services to LGBTQ Youth in Care is near and dear to my heart. I first did this presentation alongside Dr. Artemio Garcia three years ago, and each year we refine the training with new data, best practices, and educational information. This workshop covers LGBTQ+ basics and touches on best practices when working with trans youth. Through personal storytelling, powerful statistics, and useful resources we highlight important topics to best support LGBTQ+  youth across Texas.

Prince Hayward, Youth Policy Specialist

Staff Pick: Engaging and Promoting Youth Leaders workshop

This workshop truly embodies the saying “Nothing About Us Without Us”, which is all about how important it is to center young people’s voices in work that impacts their lives. Led by TNOYS’ very own Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) members, this workshop will talk about the risks and challenges youth face when experiencing homelessness, as well as resources and tools to help them better navigate the systems. It brings me joy to see TNOYS set the example of promoting youth leadership through its Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) and in its work with young adult staff.

Lauren Rose, Director of Public Policy

Staff Pick: Recap of Texas’ 87th Legislative Session workshop

With two weeks left before the 87th Legislative Session adjourns, there is still a lot up in the air for legislators to make decisions on. This session, TNOYS has been busy advocating for increased funding for providers as well as policies that help youth transition to adulthood, prevent youth from entering systems such as the juvenile justice system, and much more. Our team continues to advance TNOYS’ priorities and work to make sure that the proposals still on the table are in the best interest of Texas youth and the providers who serve them. I look forward to seeing the outcome of this session and sharing key takeaways.

What Young Adult Leadership Council Members are Excited About

Our Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) is busy preparing for the conference, and we asked members what they are looking forward to! Check out their thoughts below.

Brenda Woolley, YALC Member and Conference Co-Presenter

Workshop Picks: The Cool Aunt Sex Trafficking Talk, and Resources for Youth in Foster Care

What I’m generally excited about: I am looking forward to the experience, the information and the opportunity to get to hear from different individuals. I am slightly nervous but also ready to present at the conference.

Jorge Leyva, YALC Member and Conference Co-Presenter

Workshop Pick: Self-Care: Compassion Fatigue & Secondary Traumatic Stress

What I’m generally excited about: Honestly I’m really just nervous! But I hope I can learn to grow from a nerve-racking experience.

Sally Amara Uzomba, YALC Member and Conference Co-Presenter

Workshop Pick: Youth Homelessness Prevention

What I’m generally excited about: learning about different experiences and also sharing my knowledge on the topic.

Conference registration closes May 31. We hope to see you there!

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