Keynote Presentation

Join us for a brief welcome from CEO of Upbring, Dr. Kurt Senske, followed by commentary from Rodney Brittingham (representing the Annie E. Casey Foundation) on their 2015 policy report “Every Kid Needs a Family.”

Welcome from Upbring

Kurt Senske

Dr. Kurt Senske is Chief Executive Officer of Upbring, the new Lutheran Social Services of the South, a multi-faceted, multi-state, social service agency with an annual operating budget of more than $75 million and 765 employees. During his tenure, he has been responsible for more than tripling the size of the agency and bringing it back to financial stability.



Every Kid Needs a Family

Rodney Brittingham

As associate director of the Child Welfare Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Rodney Brittingham oversees a team of staff and consultants who provide intensive consulting to help child welfare agencies most effectively serve children and families involved in the system. He also supports CWSG’s work in public child welfare agencies across the nation. Prior to joining Casey, Brittingham served as deputy to the Cabinet secretary and chief policy advisor in the Delaware Children’s Department.

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Morning Session

Texas Youth Permanency Study

Join us for the public launch of the new Texas Youth Permanency Study, led by the Child and Family Research Institute at UT-Austin, which will examine post-permanency experiences and long-term developmental outcomes of older youth in foster care.

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Monica Faulkner

Dr. Monica Faulkner is Co-Director of the Child and Family Research Institute at the UT-Austin School of Social Work, where in addition managing the Texas Youth Permanency Study, she oversees multiple research and evaluation projects related to advancing child welfare in the State of Texas.


Tina Adkins

Dr. Tina Adkins has worked her entire career in the field of child welfare. She began as a Child Protective Services worker and went on to become a counselor and then specialize in attachment and child development. She went to London to learn about cutting edge child welfare interventions and obtained two of her degrees from University College London. She presently conducts child welfare research at University of Texas, has developed a promising parenting intervention and speaks extensively at trainings and conferences.

Breakout Session 1

Addressing Developmental Needs of Young Maltreated Children

Presentation on promising practices that ensure children with developmental needs are referred to the early intervention services for which they are eligible.

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Michelle Johnson-Motoyama

Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, Ph.D., M.S.W., is an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. Her scholarship focuses on child maltreatment prevention and the reduction of racial/ethnic disparities in child abuse and neglect. She received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Social Welfare in 2007, and M.S.W. and B.S. degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mindi Moses

Mindi Moses, M.S.W., is a Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant at The University of Kansas. She has worked as a bilingual elementary school teacher and in the social services field as a family counselor and substance abuse therapist. Her main research interests lie in the area of child well-being, education and early childhood development, and identifying and evaluating practices to strengthen social and economic supports for vulnerable families.

Educational Resilience for Youth in Foster Care

Presentation from the Child and Family Research Institute on a framework for structuring policies and practices to promote educational resilience for youth in foster care.

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Beth Gerlach

Dr. Gerlach is the Associate Director of the Child and Family Research Institute at the UT School of Social Work. Her professional interests include child abuse prevention, educational stability of foster youth, restorative discipline in schools, and reducing the multi-generational impact of trauma.



Catherine LaBrenz

Catherine LaBrenz is a doctoral student at the UT Austin School of Social Work, and a recipient of the Graduate Fellowship in Honor of Adoptive Parents. Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, receiving a bachelor of arts in sociology with a sub-concentration in social services and social welfare, a bachelor of arts in Spanish language & literature and an academic minor in Germanic languages & literature, later completing an MSW at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Strong Communities for Children

Presentation on the success of a child abuse prevention program based on building community bonds in Greenville County, SC and how it can be implemented in other cities.

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Jill McLeigh

Jill D. McLeigh, PhD, is a research assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She currently serves as the symposia editor of American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and consultant on the Strong Communities replication in Tel Aviv. Dr. McLeigh’s principal research interest has been in the development and evaluation of preventive interventions that are intended to strengthen communities’ capacity for family support, participation, and mutual assistance.

Lunch & Interview Session

Enjoy lunch while Upbring’s President and COO Michael Loo conducts a one-on-one interview with Dyann Daley, MD, on predictive analytics as a tool to aid in the prevention of child maltreatment.

The Use of Predictive Analytics in Child Welfare

Dyann Daley

Dr. Daley is a Pediatric Anesthesiologist at Cook Children's Medical Center and Executive Director of The Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment Dr. Daley became involved in child maltreatment prevention after witnessing the suffering and death of severely physically abused children who came to the operating room for emergency surgery. She established The Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment to educate and raise awareness on child maltreatment.

Michael Loo

As President and Chief Operating Officer of Upbring, Michael Loo oversees the departments of strategic planning, operations, programs, information technology, human resources and finance. He has extensive experience in strategy development, organizational planning, financial structures, and operational constructs and systems. Prior to joining Upbring, Loo served as Vice President of Finance and Administration of Kamehameha Schools, as well as, Vice President – Controller and Treasurer in the restructuring of Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

Breakout Session 2

Policy Driving Transformative Change – Success Stories and Breakthrough Opportunities

A policy panel discussion featuring representatives from DFPS PEI, Children's Defense Fund, CivicLink, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Rodney Brittingham

See keynote.




Sasha Rasco

Sasha Rasco leads the Prevention and Early Intervention Division of DFPS as Assistant Commissioner. She had been serving as director of Prevention and Early Intervention since 2013. Her previous experience includes developing programs and projects at Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services' Early Childhood Intervention program and serving as Assistant Commissioner for Child Care Licensing; in 2009 the Texas Licensed Child Care Association recognized Sasha as the Early Care and Education Champion and in 2010 the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services awarded Sasha their TDFPS Employee of the Year.

Laura Guerra-Cardas

Laura Guerra-Cardus, MD, serves as Associate Director for the Texas office of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). She leads CDF’s policy initiatives, including the Texas Well and Healthy Campaign, which works with statewide partners to ensure that all Texas children have access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage. Since 2008 the Campaign has connected over a million additional children with health coverage. Laura is a graduate of Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Rebecca Lightsey

Rebecca Lightsey is an attorney and Principal of CivicLink, a non-profit consulting firm. She currently works with the Texas Supreme Court’s Children’s Commission, as well as advising non-profits across the country. Most recently, she was Executive Director of Texas Appleseed, a public interest law center. Lightsey has served in state government as Texas Commissioner of Insurance, Executive Director of the Texas Insurance Purchasing Alliance, and as Assistant General Counsel to Governor Richards. She received her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.

Knox Kimberly – Moderator

Knox Kimberly is Senior Vice President of Government and Corporate Relations at Upbring. Knox joined the agency in 2014 to develop the organization’s advocacy platform and partnerships, and has since assumed management responsibility for grants, corporate relations and several community programs. In the community, Knox serves as Chair-Elect of Mental Health America of Texas and in various organizations and collaboratives engaged in policy matters of importance to children, youth and families.



Special Health Needs of Children Investigated for Maltreatment

Presentation on the analysis of NSCAW data to determine whether certain physical or behavioral health needs are more prevalent and predictive of out-of-home placement.

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Rebecca Orsi

Dr. Rebecca Orsi is a Research Scientist with the Social Work Research Center at Colorado State University. Her research interests include the use of nationally representative survey data and human service administrative data for complex analyses in child welfare. A trained research methodologist, Dr. Orsi actively collaborates with many researchers on studies to improve human health and well-being.

Non-Traditional Trauma Therapies: A Review

Presentation on the review of what evidence exists for various nontraditional trauma therapies for youth, such as equine-assisted therapy, art therapy, or EMDR.

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Natalie Hoskowitz

Natalie Armstrong Hoskowitz, M.A., is a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Candidate at Sam Houston State University. Her research interests include the influences of trauma on at-risk and justice-involved youth's mental health outcomes, how psychotropic medication exerts protective effects on at-risk and justice-involved youth's delinquent behaviors, the effectiveness of trauma and other treatment modalities in applied settings, and the direct, policy implications of each. Natalie will attend Eastern Virginia Medical School to complete her clinical internship, and will be seeking postdoctoral fellowship opportunities that allow her to continue engaging in research and clinical work.

Afternoon Session

Perspectives of medical experts on child abuse pediatrics

Join us for a panel discussion on public health and pediatric issues related to child maltreatment prevention, with medical experts from across the State of Texas.

Christopher Greeley

Christopher Greeley is Chief of the Section of Public Health Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. He currently serves on the AAP Section on Child Abuse and Neglect Executive Committee, and is the co-chair of the Texas Pediatric Society Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. He is the current president-elect of the Ray E. Helfer Society; the international society for physicians working in the field of child maltreatment. Dr. Greeley was the 2006 Ray E Helfer Award winner “to a distinguished pediatrician for his or her contribution to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.”

Anu Partap

Anu Partap, MD, MPH, has been a pediatrician since 1998 and Clinical Director of the Foster Care Clinics at Children's Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center since 2009. Dr. Partap's work has been recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other local leaders. She was appointed to multiple Arizona state commissions and advisory groups on behalf of two Arizona governors, Arizona Medicaid, Early Childhood Intervention, School Readiness, Attorney General's Office, and the Arizona Supreme Court, as well as committees of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Since 2009, her clinical, research, advocacy, and medical education endeavors are dedicated to promoting health, healthcare, education, and community support of children and youth in foster care.

Kelly Liker

Dr. Kelly Liker is currently the Medical Director of Child Abuse Pediatrics at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. She is board certified in pediatrics and child abuse pediatrics. In addition to her role at Dell Children’s, she serves as Medical Director of the Center for Child Protection, is a member is the Travis County Child Fatality Review Team and the Travis County Child Protection Team, and collaborates with community partners as part of a work group to recognize, prevent, and protect children from sex trafficking. She is engaged in clinical research, the development of a medical home for children in foster care and, one of her greatest passions, the education of medical trainees in the medical subspecialty of child abuse pediatrics.

Murray Chanow – Moderator

Murray is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Community Engagement at Upbring where he has been instrumental in overseeing strategic planning processes and the creation of our Austin-based Strategic Alliance Partnerships. Murray is also promoting Upbring’s thought leadership on issues relating to child abuse by commissioning the Texas Youth Permanency Study with UT-Austin and a series of published white papers by notable researchers.

Closing Session

Donna Palmer

As Upbring’s Chief External Relations Officer, Donna oversees the planning and implementation of all external relations strategies, activities and initiatives including fundraising, marketing and communications, advocacy and volunteer relations. She has more than twenty years of experience building teams and programs to effectively increase funding, awareness and community involvement. Palmer has served in senior leadership roles with national organizations such as the LIVESTRONG Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, Compassion International, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.