Healing Kid’s Brains, Emotions and Behaviors Presenter

Amanda Herron

LMSW, TBRI®, Educator + Founder of Nurturing Change

Amanda is the Founder & CEO of Nurturing Change, which provides Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training and implementation support to foster, adoptive, kinship and biological parents, schools, churches, and agency professionals.

Partners in Permanency Presenter

Aimee Hill

Foster Village

Aimee brings a unique perspective through her experience intersecting with the child welfare system both through her professional lense and experience working within the system and in her personal life through her journey as a foster parent. Aimee has two daughters adopted from foster care and remains an active foster parent and respite provider. Aimee is a LBSW and a License Child-Placing Agency Administrator. She has valuable experience working at several local child placing agencies prior to joining the Foster Village team to lead the Partners in Permanency Program. She is passionate about supporting biological families and being partners in permanency following family reunification.

Embracing the Imperfection Presenter

Amber Chesser


Amber Chesser, MS, LPC, NCC is a counselor and parent coach with STARRY Family Preservation in Round Rock, Texas. She has supported children and families for over 10 years and currently assists families involved with the Williamson County Recovery Court, STARRY Counseling, and the Georgetown Family Resource Center in learning about Trust Based Relational Intervention and incorporating trauma-informed care into their homes and communities.

Fighting For Families Panelist

Belinda Honey

Christian Tree Farms; Family Recovery Court (FRC)

Belinda Honey is a person in long term recovery with over 27 years. As a child Belinda suffered severe trauma, being abandoned at age 11 by mother, and physically, emotionally and sexually abused by father. At age 15 Belinda ran away from home, and began a life of sexual promiscuity, which began her  ( SUD  substance use disorder ) to worsen and her life became unmanageable. 

Today Belinda is living successfully in Waco Texas, She is a licensed Peer Specialist Supervisor by the State of Texas, and RSPS since 2018. Belinda is Director of Recovery Support Services at Christian Farms Treehouse in Temple Texas, and Peer Specialist with Mclennan County DWI/ Drug Court. Belinda has been working with Williamson County Family Recovery Court clients since 2023 and loves bringing Hope to our clients and guiding them to a successful future in the Community. 

 Belinda has 3 children who are living successfully and enjoys her thirteen grandchildren. She lives her life to serve others, her family and God.

Beyond “Happily Ever After” Presenter

Dr. Brooke Wagen

Fostering Hope Board

Brooke Wagen is an internal medicine physician who specializes in older adult primary care and palliative/hospice care. Her career in medicine was preceded by two decades of volunteering in the church, her neighborhood, and as a volunteer medical interpreter. She has three children, the youngest of whom was adopted from Ethiopia as an infant. She lives with her family in East Austin and is committed to her local church; she loves helping families work through major changes and transitions, including adoption, new and hard medical diagnoses, and aging.

The Loneliest Generation Presenter

Cheyenne Erickson

Director of Safe Families Austin

Cheyenne is the Director of Safe Families Austin. As a junior in college, Cheyenne had an unexpected pregnancy that turned her world upside down. Due to this experience, she is passionate about creating practical resources for people facing crises with a limited social support system. Cheyenne fell in love and married her high school debate rival. They have three kiddos and live in South Austin.

Partners in Permanency Presenter

Chrystal Smith

Founder + CEO of Foster Village

Chrystal Smith is the Founder and Executive Director of Foster Village. As a licensed foster parent, adoptive parent, and survivor of child abuse, Chrystal saw gaps both for caregivers and for children intersecting with the child welfare system. Drawing from her personal and professional experience with childhood adversity, parent education, advocacy and foster care along with her expertise in child development and child safety, Chrystal set out to create an organization that would address the immediate needs of families in the child welfare system, but would also address the root causes and vulnerabilities by providing Community Beyond the System. She saw firsthand how families and children with consistent and therapeutic networks of support were the ones who ultimately had the most success in growth and restoration, inspiring the idea for Foster Village and its programs. Chrystal is most passionate about her role as wife and mom to her four beautiful children and being a vessel of hope through her story of being saved by Grace. 

Be the Change Presenter

Cortney Jones

Founder of Change1 Mind Change1 Life

Cortney Jones, Founder and Executive Director of Change 1 in Austin, is a passionate advocate for foster care alumni success. With 14 years of advocacy and a background as a former foster youth, Cortney is dedicated to empowering individuals to overcome challenges. Appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Family and Protective Services Council, she contributes to shaping policies for the Department of Family and Protective Services. Cortney holds a Bachelor in Social Work from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Master in Social Work from Texas State University. As a Social Worker, she champions the Restorative Approach, blending research with compassion to support trauma-informed child treatment. A dynamic speaker and former Department of Family and Protective Services employee, Cortney actively serves on advisory committees and boards, fostering positive change in the field of child welfare.

I Said Yes! Presenter

Danny Cook

Fostering Hope Board, President

Danny is the founding and Lead Pastor for Legacy Church Ministries and has been active in foster and adoption care for the past ten years.  He and his wife, Rachel, have welcomed 17 precious children into their homes through foster care along with their biological children, Elizabeth (17), Hannah (15), Emma (15). In 2015, they welcomed their forever son, Samuel (10) into their home through foster care. In 2015, Danny and Rachel began Unshaken, which is a support network for foster and adoptive parents in central Texas. Danny was introduced to the Fostering Hope team years ago through one of our pastor’s gatherings.  He is now enjoying being a part of encouraging and equipping families and churches to say “yes” to kids from hard places and their network of advocates through Fostering Hope.

Main Session 2 Panelist

Derrick 'David' Bryant

Derrick “David” Bryant has been married to his lovely wife, Mary, for 23 years and is the proud father of a 14-year-old daughter. David has over 15 years of experience in working with youth, fathers and families. He currently works in prevention with the Texas DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI). David has been invited to speak at regional and international conferences all over the country and teaches that fathers are an important part of our community and should not be left out of the conversation.

From Hospital to Home Presenter

Hallie Graves

The Well: Foster Advocacy Ministry

Hallie Graves is a native Austinite and advocate for our city’s most vulnerable. Hallie is a lawyer and a single foster and adoptive mama to children with medical needs and disabilities. She is passionate about encouraging people to live fully in light of the grace and freedom of Jesus and to use all they’ve been given in this life for others. Hallie’s also involved with other well respected foster care and orphan care non-profits and has degrees in voice, physics, and law. 

Katie and Hallie established and co-lead the foster care ministry at The Well Austin Community Church where they have recruited, trained, and supported over 30 foster parents in their fostering journey, many of whom also parent children with complex medical needs and disabilities.

Eighteen is Not the End Presenter

Jordan Hope Vera

Parent Development Manager Fostering Hope

Jordan Hope Vera is an Austin area TBRI® Practitioner and the Parent Development Manager at Fostering Hope. Over a decade ago, she began her official career in child welfare through direct care with children and teens who have experienced loss, trauma and separation. She held positions at emergency shelter and residential treatment center (RTC) before deciding to take her expertise to other social service spheres in the Austin area. She has implemented trauma informed care into her work with aged out foster care youth who are court involved, experiencing homelessness, and/or are survivors of trafficking.

Jordan’s favorite roles are being mom, grandma Hope, and Titi. She is a mom through adoption to one + her others came home after having aged out of the foster care system. The Vera home is always full of people that have called it their own. Outside of work, Jordan enjoys serving with the worship and outreach team at her church in East Austin.

Main Session 2 Panelist

Joshua Banks

Joshua Banks is a dynamic speaker with over 15 years of ministry experience, nine years of law enforcement experience and countless hours devoted to community service. Joshua served as the Program Coordinator for the award-winning Involved Dads of Action Developing and Succeeding (IDADS) program and received local, state, and national recognition for community leadership, partnership, and innovation. He currently serves as the Outreach and Engagement Specialist for the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division. A graduate of Rhema Bible College, he is a father, community leader, and a fatherhood advocate. He has authored 2 books.

The Theology of Adoption Presenter

Joshua Owen

Director of Ministry Development & Programs at Fostering Hope

Josh has a passion for equipping and empowering local churches to meet the needs in and around foster care. He was adopted from foster care, and he has served as a foster parent since 2017. He and his wife have five children ages 7 to 19. Josh has over ten years of church leadership experience and most recently worked as a special education teacher and middle school coach. Outside of work, you can find Josh fly fishing, hiking, enjoying cold brew coffee, and rooting for Austin FC.

Beyond the Labels; Beyond the Stories Presenter

June Waters

Adoptee + Adoption Recruiter

June Waters was 13 when she and her 3 siblings were adopted from the foster care system by the Waters family. Since then, they were raised and remain in the Austin area. June enjoys bringing people, ideas, and inspiration togeth- er and hopes to form a dialogue that shares a unique perspective from an adopted teenager. June currently gives back to the child welfare community as a CASA ambassador + advocate for others with lived experience.

Debunking the Myths + Stigma of Foster Care Presenter

Karen Goldapp

LCSW, Lakeway EMDR

Karen Goldapp is an adoptive mother of two girls adopted from foster care.  She previously worked with kids in foster care at CASA of Travis County.  She has been married for 12 years to her wonderful husband.  Lakeway EMDR is owned and operated by Karen Goldapp (she/her), LCSW.  She works with individuals 18 and up, many of whom have histories of trauma, including survivors of abuse, neglect, generational trauma, helping professions, and individuals with family of origin trauma.

Karen is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). Karen's primary modality is EMDR, and it is helpful for persons who have survived abuse, neglect, and other kinds of trauma by somatically processing “stuck” memories and negative self-beliefs.  Karen has seen numerous clients empowered from EMDR to reduce and eliminate many symptoms like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and other triggers.

From Hospital to Home Presenter

Dr. Katie Rose

The Well: Foster Advocacy Ministry

Dr. Katie Rose is a licensed psychologist and single foster and adoptive mama to children with medical needs, disabilities, and mental health challenges. In her professional role, Katie works with parents and children that struggle with emotional and behavioral dysregulation in her private practice and full-time role at Travis County Juvenile Probation Department. Katie also serves as adjunct faculty at University of Texas at Austin in their Psychiatry Department and provides consultation and training in areas of suicide prevention, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and parent coaching. 

Katie and Hallie established and co-lead the foster care ministry at The Well Austin Community Church where they have recruited, trained, and supported over 30 foster parents in their fostering journey, many of whom also parent children with complex medical needs and disabilities.

I Said Yes! Presenter

Kim Holtzclaw

Fostering Hope Regional Consultant

Kim is a Regional Consultant for Fostering Hope. In college, she worked as a Youth Pastor and mentored a teen in the foster care system. She and her husband, Brian, adopted a 2 ½-year-old and a newborn within 6 months of each other. Walking through that process without much support gave Kim the motivation to begin working with a newly formed foster care ministry at her church. She has also served as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in the Highland Lakes area since 2020. Kim feels God has given her an ability to connect people with resources, whether it be meeting needs for a new foster/kinship family or helping an individual understand the foster care system and how they can get involved in one of the Five Areas of Need.

Finding Your Own Village Presenter

Lisa Ho

Fostering Hope Board

Lisa Ho is a single, foster/adoptive mom whose “foster only” plan was interrupted when the reunification for her two foster sons did not come to fruition. Lisa adopted her sons in March 2019, works as a Business Analyst at a large technology company, and is passionate about foster care awareness. She attends Mosaic Church Austin where she has contributed to building a Christ-minded singles community and helped create support for foster/adoptive parents. In her rare free-time, she loves to write for her blog, Kingdom Love Stories, which has encouraging, real-life stories about Jesus, foster care, and singleness. Visit to find out more.

Recharge + Refuel Presenters

Lonnie + Cindy Wendling

Lonnie + Cindy Wendling

Lonnie Wendling serves at Journey Bible Fellowship as Co-Director of Foster Family Ministry. He also is on the board of AngelHeart child placement agency. Both roles are voluntary. In his career, he is the Technical Services Program Director for the Government Consulting & Advisory (GCA) organization with NTT DATA Services focused on supporting State government agencies with a focus on Health & Human Services.

CindyWendling serves at the Journey Bible Fellowship as Co-Director of the Foster Family Ministry. She has been a memberof Journey Bible Fellowship for 11 years. Cindyhas been working with children and children's ministries in various capacities throughout the past 20 years. She also has a deep understanding of Biblical Worldview as a graduate of the Colson Fellowship Program and has a passion to help Foster and Kinship Families be better served through The Church.

Helping All Children Feel Safe Presenter

Lynn Floyd

Executive Director of Fostering Hope

Lynn has 12 years of service as lead pastor, interim pastor, bi-vocational pastor of several churches in Texas, and is a certified Church Revitalization consultant. He is a certified Maxwell leadership coach, trainer, speaker and facilitator, and ran his own leadership development and coaching practice for several years. Most recently, Lynn led the Leadership and Professional Development Unit for all of the Texas Department of Public Safety. His calling to law enforcement allowed him to see, firsthand, the need for people to engage with families and children in crisis. He and his wife Amanda have six kids, including one from adoption, and they actively serve as foster parents. Lynn holds a Bachelor of Arts from Howard Payne, and a Master of Divinity from Hardin Simmons. In December 2023, Lynn completed the Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) practitioner training.

Faith In Action Presenter

Mandy Ryniker

FAM Coordinator for Hope Chapel

As Hope Chapel’s Foster & Adopt Ministry (FAM) Coordinator, one of Mandy’s greatest desires is to see Christ glorified through family. FAM currently serves adoptive, foster, kinship and reunified families within Hope Chapel's congregation and is actively growing in size. Her own family is an open foster home seeing their previous four placements reunified with biological relatives. In her free time you can find her working as a part time L&D RN, chasing her own five kiddos, and being the wife to Hope Chapel’s Senior Pastor, Matthew.

Main Session 2 Panelist

Marcus Griggs

Marcus Griggs has worked with youth and families affect- ed by interpersonal violence as an advocate, mentor, and group facilitator since 2001 with the SAFE Alliance and the Man in Me Organization. In his work, he has empowered many to take an active role in healing from their trauma with the hopes of creating healthy families and a safer community.

Out of the System, Not Out of Mind Presenter

Marie Ezell

Founder of Angel in Me, Inc.

Marie Ezell is mom of four and has been married to her husband for 24 years. She entered the foster care system when she was seven years old through a kinship placement. By the age of 15 she had been through multiple foster homes and was pregnant. Her prayer is to inspire other “un-fostered” children in the child welfare system by sharing her story of how God brought her through foster care into starting her own non-profit to change the way we interact with children who have experienced the foster care system.

Marie is the founder of Angel In Me Incorporated. A non-profit organization whose focus is the success of children aging out of the foster care system. 

The Unspoken Language of Trauma Presenter

Megan Zellner

The Settlement Home for Children

Megan Zellner is the Foster & Adoption Clinical Director at The Settlement Home for Children and is currently provid- ing therapy services for post-adoptive families. She has 20 years of experience working in child welfare with foster and adoptive families. She views the family as the conduit of change.

Fighting for Families Panelist

Melissa Cook

Family Recovery Court (FRC)

Melissa Cook got her start in child welfare 25 years ago as a case manager for foster parents. That started get journey as a case worker, clinician, and finally attorney representing children and parents in CPS initiated legal cases. For the past 4 years, she has enjoyed being a member of the Family Recovery Court program in Williamson County and further serving families.

Mentors Matter Presenter

Mike Jones

Austin Angels

Mike is a Case Manager at Austin Angels. As a foster/ adoptive parent and Case Manager he sees the hardships and hope that's needed daily. He believes that a big part in providing hope comes through community and it's his desire to help others find that.

Fighting For Families Panelist

Nadia Castilla

Family Recovery Court (FRC)

Nadia Castilla serves as the Case Manager for the Family Recovery Court in Williamson County, Texas.  She oversees the activity of the team, conducts quality assurance of each team member, maintains client data, and coordinates services from each discipline, and the local community, in a manner that is most therapeutic to the participant. Nadia is passionate about working with individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. She has over 18 years of experience in case management and crisis intervention with clients of various ages and backgrounds.

Fighting For Families Presenter

Judge Ryan Larson

Family Recovery Court (FRC)

Ryan D. Larson was sworn into office on April 4, 2016.JudgeLarson launched and leads Williamson County's first-ever Family Recovery Court, an alternative to the traditional processing of Child Protective Services cases involving substance abuse and mental health conditions. The Family Recovery Court applies an evidence-based, non-adversarial, collaborative approach and utilizes a multidisciplinary team. By coordinating local faith-based organizations, non-profits, and other community stakeholders, the Court builds Williamson County's capacity to develop, implement and sustain the community's own solutions to address needs within the child welfare system.

Web Wisdom Presenter

Dr. Season Mussey

Educator at UnboundNow Austin

Dr. Season Mussey is an educator and volunteer trainer with UnboundNowAustin, a non-profit organization that aims to end human trafficking and ignite hope. She earned her Masters and Doctorate at the University of California, San Diego, and is now teaching mathematics and English as a Second Language in Austin, TX. Season loves teaching and learning and cares deeply about the youth and families she serves. In the fight against human trafficking, she believes that raising awareness is the key to prevention, and providing hope and encouragement to victims and survivors can improve individual lives, communities, and the world.

Finding Your Own Village Presenters

Sharon Johnson

Sharon Johnson has been a licensed foster parent for two years. She has been caring for a dynamic 11-year-old girl for 18 months. Five years ago, she relocated with her company to Austin from Raleigh, NC. Sharon's day job is as the Global Head of HR Compliance. She has been with the same company for almost 24 years. To keep things exciting, Sharon recently began coaching her daughter's soccer team while kicking off her first class toward a doctorate degree. Sharon keeps her sanity with a glass-half-full perspective and remembers God has a sense of humor.

Embracing the Imperfection Presenter

Stephanie Acker

Foster & Adoptive Mama and Advocate, The Dwelling Place

Stephanie Acker was born and raised in Austin, Texas. And a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos. Professional, Stephanie has served the data and sass industry for the past 15 years.

Stephanie is a wife to husband Vance of 13 years, Mama to Nickolas (8) and Olivia (6), and a co-founder of Dwelling Place, whose mission is to specifically serve the foster, adoptive and kinship caregivers in our area of Liberty Hill/Leander area.

Stephanie is a chronic reader of thriller novels, addicted to true crime podcasts, a lover of lattes, and is obsessed with Beyoncé. She is committed to building a legacy of leaving things better than she found them and pursuing Christ first and foremost in all her endeavors.