The 33rd Annual Children’s Network Conference will take place on
Wednesday, September 18th and Thursday, September 19th, 2019
at the Ontario Convention Center.
This annual conference has dynamic keynote speakers, pertinent workshop topics, and an exhibit hall filled with a variety of resources and products.
Every year, Children’s Network provides an opportunity for professionals to enhance their knowledge through a wide array of workshops concerning children, youth and families. The conference aims to advance knowledge and practice standards of professionals in the fields of social work, mental health, juvenile justice, child development, child welfare, medicine, and nursing.
Participants will have many opportunities to:
* Learn from local leaders
* Be inspired by outstanding keynote speakers
* Network with professionals in the field
* Share ideas and knowledge
* Grow professionally
* And…make a difference!
This year’s Keynote Speakers are:
September 18, 2019:
Empowering others with her inspiring life story, Christina Meredith survived sexual, mental and emotional abuse, incest, trauma, aging out of foster care, poverty and homelessness to forge a life committed to helping others. Through strong faith and hard work, she went on to become Miss California, enroll in college, found her own nonprofit foundation, and pursue the path to becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. As told in her book, CinderGirl: My Journey Out of the Ashes to a Life of Hope (now under development to become a major motion picture) and during appearances on the Today Show and before speaking audiences nationwide, Christina’s story celebrates the transformative power of education, and the potential within all of us triumph over adversity. "My entire story is about hope, faith, hard work, achieving the dream and the purpose that you have been given in this life, and not allowing things to deter you, because circumstances change," she says. "With hard work and a little faith, you can make them change."
One of ten children born to a mother that suffered from both mental illness and substance use disorder, Christina endured years of traumatic abuse. This included sexual abuse by an uncle and constant physical and psychological abuse by her mother, who locked her in a closet for days at a time. By the time Christina was in high school, the cumulative effects of longterm trauma had made it nearly impossible to learn. "The teachers and junior ROTC program at Allen D. Nease High School in St. Augustine, Florida literally saved my life," says Christina. "It really took a village." Faculty brought her food, provided extra tutoring, and paid the fees for her to participate in sports. Once Christina finally revealed her situation at home, they also worked to get her into foster care. After graduation and aging out of foster care at 18, Christina lost her supportive foundation. She headed for California, living in her car for almost a year while working three jobs to survive. Praying every day, she relied on the power of her strong Christian faith. Christina caught the eye of a pageant recruiter who encouraged her to compete for Miss California. She won. Since then, Christina has used her platform to advocate for abused children all over the country. She also founded The Christina Meredith Foundation, which will advocate for foster youth to ensure that they receive basic necessities, health care, trauma care, and education. Christina currently serves in the U.S. Army and is earning her bachelors in political
One Gateway Center, Suite 751 | Newton, MA 02458 | Phone: 617.614.1600 | Fax: 617.965.6610 | apbspeakers.com
science with a focus on foreign affairs. She will commission December, 2019 and plans to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves. Determined to change the way America handles foster youth, Christina travels the country as a foster care activist and mental health advocate. She is committed to helping others heal the deep wounds of trauma. Christina has shared her inspiring story and mission with thousands, speaking to audiences ranging from universities to churches to business groups. With faith, fortitude and a fierce commitment to never giving up, Christina encourages all of us to look within, overcome any obstacle, and ultimately, find the strength to achieve our highest goals and dreams.
September 19, 2019:
Mark Anthony Garrett grew up in the tough inner city of Dayton, Ohio as a foster child and was then later adopted. Throughout his childhood he faced many hardships such as poverty, neglect, homelessness, abandonment and abuse, both physical and sexual. At 14, he lost his adopted mother to cancer, dropped out of school, joined a gang and was in and out of juvenile jail.
Although his surroundings were negative, Mark was encouraged by his third grade special education teacher to never give up on life and to always strive for excellence. He knew he had to take destiny into his on hands. After receiving guidance from influential mentors, Mark enrolled in college and majored in wildlife biology and went on to become a two-time U.S. Achievement Academy Award Winner, recipient of the National Collegiate Minority Leadership award and received the highest honors given by his college, which were the President and Trustee award.
This experience inspired him to dedicate his life to helping troubled youth and adults overcome the negative challenges within their own lives and discover that they have greatness within them. Mark is extremely passionate about helping raise the mental consciousness of people all over the world.
For over 20 years Mark Anthony Garrett has worked as a Top Level Consultant, Master Trainer and Professional Speaker for various businesses, child welfare agencies, education associations and K-12 school systems. He had motivated audiences through his electrifying speeches, training and transformational seminars. Mark is a leading expert within the Child Welfare and K-12 educational industry on such topics as Teacher Leadership, Cultural Pedagogy, Staff Retention, Motivational Empowerment, Leadership, Service Excellence, Overcoming Adversity, Youth Empowerment, Building Relationships and Maximizing Human Potential. He is best known for his premium professionalism, high-energy programs, humor, enthusiasm and the ability to captivate audiences of all types. He has contributed and published articles for various newspapers and publications around the country and was recently featured as a celebrity expert in Forbes Magazine. Mark is a leading columnist for Fostering Family Today Magazine and the author of Teachers Are Heroes - 7 Success Principles For Transformational Teaching. Marks story and Teachers Are Heroes message has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS & FOX networks and affiliates.