I’m a dyslexic writer, speaker, and do-gooder who did not learn to read until 12 years old. I faced a number of low expectations growing up—was told I would flip burgers, be a high school dropped out and end up in jail. Needless to say, there hopeful prophecies didn’t come to pass. As opposed to being a high school dropout I became a college graduate from Brown university with an honors degree in English lit; instead of flipping burgers I ended up writing books, the first of which I wrote at the age of 23 as an undergrad; And instead of becoming an inmate I became an advocate creating organizations and initiatives that help people who get the short end of the stick.
Jonathan Mooney’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, HBO, NPR, ABC News, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. A nationally recognized advocate for neurological and physical diversity, he’s been speaking across the nation and around the world about neurological and physical diversity for two decades, inspiring those who live with differences and calling for change. He has published three books: The Short Bus, Learning Outside the Lines, and Normal Sucks.
Dr. Jim Henry
Special Lunch Speaker
Dr. Jim Henry is a co-founder and project director of the Children’s Trauma Assessment Center. His professional history includes over 17 years as a child welfare/protective services worker. Since 1997 he has worked as a professor at Western Michigan University’s School of Social Work where his focus is developing and providing trauma-informed instruction in the Social Work curriculum. He has published over 22 articles in professional journals and presents at national and international conferences on the traumatic impact of child maltreatment. He is the principal investigator of three Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Child Traumatic Stress Network Initiative grants; an Administration for Children and Families grant and the principal investigator of two federal SAFE START Initiatives for children exposed to violence.
He has served on two national committees of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) that developed trauma informed curricula for child welfare workers and resource parents. He is co-chair of the NCTSN Child Welfare Committee and sits on the Steering Committee for the NCTSN. He is a coauthor of a book, Seeking Justice, which explores best models of system intervention in child sexual abuse. He has trained over 70,000 professionals, caregivers, and community members on child maltreatment and trauma-informed practices. He has developed a secondary trauma model as well as a critical response protocol for human service professionals working with traumatized children and families.
Dr. Henry has received several awards including the 2012 Western Michigan University Health and Human Services Scholar Award, 2003 Michigan Child Advocate of the Year (Ray Helfer Award), Michigan Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (MiPSAC), 1991 Child Advocate of the Year, Kalamazoo Child Abuse and Neglect Council, and the 1990 Exemplary Child Welfare Worker of the Year, Michigan Chapter National Association of Social Workers.
Mark Andrew Ostach
Closing Keynote Speaker
Mark Ostach helps people find the courage to connect. A globally recognized speaker on Digital Wellness and frequently featured in the USA Today, Mark has done two TED talks, written 2 books, and spoken to thousands of people encouraging them to embrace a spirit of courage through vulnerability.
Fostering Connection in a Hybrid Workplace
Many of us are learning, living, and leading from home. This can create a sense of disconnection and isolation. Demonstrating empathy for the changes we are all going through and understanding ways to restore energy and human interaction are critical – especially when navigating a hybrid workplace. In Mark’s message, he will provide ways to reignite human connection leaving you filled with a newfound courage to connect.
- Learn how to combat video meeting fatigue
- Find ways to create quicker and more meaningful connections online
- Improve your digital & emotional wellness
- Be in community & have a little fun!
Lauren M. Sanders
Master of Ceremonies/ Moderator
Lauren grew up in the historic African American, Detroit neighborhood, Conant Gardens. She graduated from Detroit Public School, Renaissance High and from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She attended Wayne State Law School yet, she is perhaps best known as the weekend morning news anchor for Detroit’s NBC affiliate, WDIV Local 4 News. Never afraid to dive in and learn, she started as a newsroom intern and was hired as an evening news writer which eventually landed her a weekend morning anchor position.
Lauren’s executive communication experiences developed parallel to her news career. She has been the talent for hundreds of corporate communications that include hosting live programs for Fortune 500 Companies including the multimillion-dollar grand opening of General Motors’ Detroit Headquarters, moderating executive panel discussions, conducting intimate author interviews for the Morgan Stanley client series and hundreds of automotive and other corporate training films. She’s worked for decades as a voice talent and has continued live event hosting virtually during our recent pandemic adjustments.
Consistent with her entrepreneurial spirit she launched The Elevate Project Inc., providing clients with marketing strategies, content creation, social media, website optimization and management along with live/virtual production services. She’s cofounder of both a transportation company and a healthy beverage company. Lauren is also an active member of the Detroit Chapter of The Links Inc., and Jack and Jill of America, North Oakland Macomb Chapter. She’s a dedicated mom of 3 boys; Nigel, a Howard University Junior, Nicholas, a 4.0, rising senior and 14-year-old, exotic car aficionado and pilot to be, Noah. With over 20 years dedicated to raising her own boys, she’s launched her nonprofit, The SONshine Project, with a mission to quantifiably elevate boys’ exposures to STEAM, health/fitness and financial literacy while also providing targeted financial support in an effort to help the boys in her program realize their abilities and how they can contribute to themselves, their families, and their communities. Lauren believes in clean, conscious eating and practicing a variety of workouts.
The Detroit Institute for Children currently serves more than 5,000 children with special needs in schools, Head Start, and Early Intervention programs throughout Detroit and Southeastern Michigan. The DIC provides speech language pathology, occupational therapies, social work, psychological services and special education consulting.