We are thrilled to have these amazing individuals joining us for our virtual conference!

Keynote, Nicole Steward – Thursday, October 1, 5 p.m. EDT, and Monday October 5, 5:30 p.m. EDT

Nicole Steward is a social worker (MSW), homeless/foster youth liaison, and certified yoga instructor with a focus on community engagement, public education, and trauma-informed yoga.

With more than two decades of social work practice in non-profits and accountability work in K-12 education, Nicole has noticed the need for a trauma-informed lens in the worlds of social services and education to better help us understand the needs of those we serve.  Nicole also believes self-care is a radical tendency we must adopt if we are to discharge the toxic stress we absorb through our work and sustain ourselves as service providers, educators, and human beings.

In addition to her day job, Nicole teaches yoga, mindfulness, and offers trauma-informed self-care workshops and retreats. Nicole is a NAEHCY Board member.


Conference Keynote Speakers
Keynote, Dr. Jamie Rife – Monday, October 5, 1:50 p.m. EDT

Dr. Jamie Rife is one of the founders of Purposity, a nonprofit app aimed at promoting generosity across the country, as well as the coauthor of the recent book “Journeys out of Homelessness: The Voices of Lived Experience.”

Prior to Purposity, Dr. Rife spent over 15 years in public education where she most recently served as the State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth at the Colorado Department of Education.




Keynote, Al Vivian – Tuesday, October 6, 1:50 p.m. EDT

AL VIVIAN President & CEO, BASIC Diversity, Inc. (BASIC) Al Vivian has been working actively over the past 25+ years as a trainer and consultant to numerous Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, professional firms, non-profit organizations and academic institutions. He has conducted work on three different continents and is regularly sought by the media to provide insights and analysis concerning diversity and its corresponding impacts on society and business. Media outlets include CNN, USA Today, New York Times, Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Chicago Sun Times, and WSB News Radio. BASIC is the nation’s longest serving diversity and inclusion firm founded in 1974 by Al’s father, Dr. C.T. Vivian who served on Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s Executive Staff. BASIC is best known for its’ Race Awareness Workshop, which has been evaluated as the most effective race relation seminar in the country. Al’s passion is connecting people across their cultural differences. His specialty is Inclusive Leadership — teaching leaders the requisite skills and competencies to effectively lead across cultures. He is the only consultant that approaches diversity from a perspective that is focused on the interconnected relationship between leadership theories and diversity concepts. Being raised with a value-set that taught, “… everyone is responsible to contribute to the society in which they live”, Al made the decision to begin his professional career as a U.S. Army officer where he earned the rank of captain. No organization studies, teaches and develops leaders better than the U.S. Army. As a result, while serving his country Al learned first-hand the vast difference between management and LEADERSHIP. Throughout his professional life, Al witnessed many good, well-intentioned people limit their successes because they were unable to fully engage their people. Not because they were bad leaders, but because they lacked the competencies to engage across cultural differences. This is why he has spent the past decades helping his clients (CNN, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Ford Motor, National Security Agency, U.S. Army, Wal-Mart, World Bank, etc.…) create diversity competent leaders at every level of their organizations. Al’s memberships include: SHRM’s “100 Diversity & Inclusion Global Thought Leaders”, and the boards of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute and the Linked Up Church Deacons’ Board. Al’s military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Parachute Badge (Airborne). Al has also served as Advisor to the U.S. Army for Diversity and Cultural Affairs at the Secretariat level at the Pentagon. Al resides in the Metro-Atlanta area with his wife DeAna Jo. They have two adult sons.

Keynote Dr. Adam Starks – Wednesday, October 7, 1:50 p.m. EDT

Dr. Adam Starks is a former foster child and author of Broken Child Mended Man: An Autobiography. Dr. Starks and his siblings grew up in abject poverty in rural Virginia. However, Adam’s story is not your typical account of a foster child who went on to beat the odds. Dr. Starks studied Business Administration at Eastern Mennonite University, earned an MBA at Strayer University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Capella University.

Dr. Starks believes his positive foster care experience and the adult outcome can be replicated when foster parents, social workers, and educators understand the intricacies and importance of their roles raising healthy foster youth and preparing them for adulthood. He also delivers a powerful personal message to current foster youth preparing for emancipation by instilling a message of embracing community and self-discovery.  Dr. Starks has an important message to share with foster parents, foster care professionals, and educators: “Don’t ever give up on us!”

Keynote, Frederick Shegog – Thursday, October 8, 1:50 p.m. EDT “What is Your Legacy?”

Frederick Shegog, Founder/CEO of The Message LLC, is inspiring, educating, and creating healthy lifestyles for all as a motivational speaker. Dumpster diving, panhandling, and drinking were once everyday activities for Frederick Shegog. In his early twenties, he entered a spiral of addiction and untreated mental health that pulled him away from his childhood dreams. Despite a decade of alcohol abuse and time spent homeless, Shegog was able to transform himself into a graduate with high honors. Now, as a motivational speaker, he is on a mission to help others combat substance use disorder and mental health. Experienced in creating and facilitating workshops to address the needs of the community in the areas of collegiate recovery, substance use disorders, and mental health, he is changing the way colleges serve/educate students in recovery and dealing with mental illness. Frederick routinely speaks to patients range in age from 16-65 dealing with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities. Group and lecture topics range from family, parenting, friendships, significant others, and goal setting. To learn more about Frederick, visit his website, http://www.themessagellc.com.

Keynote, Enoch Jemmott – Friday October 9, 1:50 p.m. EDT

After graduating from Brooklyn Generation School, Enoch Jemmott worked as an intern for College Access: Research & Action (CARA), helping high
school students prepare to work as peer college counselors in their schools.

Enoch enrolled in SUNY Cortland in the fall of 2015 where he then played football. He transferred to Queens College in his Junior year, and currently majors in media production. Now Enoch is one of Personal Statement’s impact campaign leaders, and he also is the creator of the #WeBelongInCollege Campaign.


Partners and Friends
U.S. Department of Education

Monday, October 5

John McLaughlin has been a specialist with the McKinney-Vento program at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) since 2008. Prior to that, he was the State Coordinator for homeless, and neglected or delinquent education programs with the Minnesota Department of Education. Currently, he also works on the Title III program for English Learners and Immigrant Children and Youth. He has been an educator in the fields of teaching English as a Second Language, migrant education, teacher education and service learning. John started out as a counselor at a group home for runaway and at-risk youth in New Haven, Connecticut in 1988. He was also a high school and university ESL and social studies teacher in Japan, and later a teacher educator at the University of Michigan, English Language Institute.

Bryan Thurmond works in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, where he serves as a program officer for the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) grant program. In addition, Bryan is the lead program officer for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s initiatives related to students in foster care. Bryan has worked at the Department since 2014, when he was hired to coordinate technical assistance provided to Race to the Top program grantees. Bryan began his career as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher in the Prince George’s County Public Schools system in Maryland.

Deborah Spitz is an Education Program Specialist in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.  She is the Group Leader for the Teachers, Leaders, and Special Populations Group in the Office of School Support and Accountability. This group is responsible for the administration of Title IIA, Title IIIA, Title I Part D, and the Education for Homeless Children and Youth and Foster Care programs. She was previously a senior member of the Title I Assessment Team and prior to that, managed many of the Department’s early childhood and literacy programs such as Even Start, Reading First, and the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.  In addition to her seventeen years at the U.S. Department of Education, she was the Deputy Director of the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and a policy analyst for the District of Columbia Public Schools and the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board.  She received a law degree from Stanford Law School in 1996 and a master’s degree in Education Psychology in 2016.

Ruth Ryder is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy and Programs – Formula Grants in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) at the U.S. Department of Education.  OESE has responsibility for implementing programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, in this role, Ms. Ryder oversees a broad range of management, policy, and program functions related to formula and discretionary grant programs under the ESEA.  Ms. Ryder was previously the deputy director of the Office of Special Education Programs in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, which she joined in 1988.  Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Ryder was a program administrator in a Washington state school district.  Ms. Ryder began her career as a special education consulting teacher and a general education classroom teacher.  Ms. Ryder has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education and a master’s degree in special education.

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)

Tuesday, October 6

Dr. Joe N. Savage, Jr. is a recognized leader with over 15 years of experience in the fields of homelessness, social policy, economic development, and human services administration. His prior work experience encompasses positions in which he was responsible for overseeing transitional and permanent supportive housing programs, Continuum of Care funding, strategic planning, and coalition building.  His passion for this work has cultivated years of skills and expertise that have helped bring over $150 million of funding to support housing and services for the homeless and community development projects. Joe’s commitment to this work is rooted in his belief in the dignity of human life. He received masters’ degrees in social work and urban planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware.

Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative

Wednesday, October 7

Jasmine Hayes joined ICF in 2020 as the Executive Director of the Capacity Building Center for States (Center), which is part of the Children’s Bureau’s Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative. The Center works to support state child welfare agencies in effectively initiating and sustaining change and innovation to improve child welfare practice and achieve better outcomes for children, youth, and families.  Responsible for providing visionary and strategic direction for the Center, Jasmine oversees the design, delivery, and evaluation of capacity building activities. Prior to joining the Center, Jasmine served as Deputy Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, where she oversaw the policy team and led federal efforts to prevent and end homelessness among youth and families with children. Driven by her belief in the dignity and worth of every individual, Jasmine is committed to improving safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children, youth, and families. Jasmine has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Toronto.