Presenter Bios 2017


List of  2017 Conference Presenters


Keynote Presenter

Julia Cook
REBOUNDARIES and RESILIENCE …Enhancing skills that foster boundary recognition, determination and GRIT!

With approximately two million books in print, Julia Cook is a former school counselor and teacher who never dreamed she could evolve into a national award-winning children’s author, parenting expert and inspirational speaker. She now travels the country and abroad encouraging others to follow in her footsteps. She is the recipient of many book awards including The Association of Educational Publisher’s Distinguished Achievement Award, the National Parenting Seal of Approval, and The Mom’s Choice Award. Julia chose to “think outside the box” and now teaches thousands of people, helping them learn effective problem-solving skills that will last a lifetime!”

Breakout Session Presenters

Sandra Slack
Building an Emotionally Healthy Brain

Sandra has an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education. She is a Field Consultant for the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, and is the co-author of Make Room for Boys. Sandra has 35 years of experience teaching young children. She is a long-time presenter at state, national and international conferences.

Anthony Andrews
Internet, Television & Technology: How does it affect social/emotional development

Anthony has been interested in early childhood education since his daughter was born 10 years ago. Since then, he has had a very strong desire to launch a preschool of his own. Anthony earned his Child Development Associate credential in 2016, and he hopes to continue to add value to this great community through education and safety.

Jason Giambrone
The Impact of Positive Male Influence

Jason Giambrone is a New York native, who has been working in the area of childhood development for over 20 years, and has worked in many capacities in the Lynchburg City School Division. He currently teaches high school for the alternative school Fort Hill Community School.

He is also the founder and director of two community-wide mentoring programs for males, through the non-profit organization Churches for Urban Ministries. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Education, and a Master’s degree in Special Education.

Catherine Gray
The Impact of Incarceration on Social/Emotional Development

Catherine Gray has a BS in Criminal Justice and a Minor in Criminology. She is a wife, a mother of two and a grandmother of two. Catherine was employed with the Virginia Department of Corrections for almost 25 years. She started out at the Virginia Correctional Center for women, and later transferred to Central Virginia Correctional Unit #13, where she was an Investigator.

Amanda Ferris
Rhythm of Resilience: Using music-based interventions to build awareness and strength

Amanda Ferris is one of only three board-certified music therapists in Lynchburg. She has a Bachelor’s of Music degree and a Masters degree in Music Therapy. She currently works as a Community Support Specialist at HumanKind, where she supports the needs of members of the local community through Intensive In-Home, Mental Health Skill Building, and Family Coaching.

Jennifer Smith Ramey
Building Resilience in Children Diagnosed with Behavioral and Mental Disorders

Jennifer Smith Ramey earned her M.S./Ed.S. degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Counselor Education in 1996. She has been a Licensed Professional Counselor since 1999. She has worked with a variety of populations including adults with severe and persistent mental illness and adolescents with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. She also has a number of additional relevant certifications and trainings in her background.

Susan Shutt
Building Resilience in Children Impacted by Trauma/Abuse

Susan Shutt has been working in the non-profit world for 17 years. She has worked with teen moms, incarcerated females, and currently works for CASA of Central VA. She manages 22 volunteers who are assigned by the 24th Judicial Juvenile and Domestic court in Bedford VA, to advocate for abused and neglected children. Susan is certified by the state of Virginia as a Family Partnership Facilitator, and is a certified Nurturing Parenting trainer. She is the mother of two girls, ages 25 and 28.

Melvenia Lovelace
Healthy Eating for Life: Nutrition and Resilience

Melvenia Lovelace has been a registered clinical dietitian for over 20 years. She has worked for a number of local and regional providers as a consulting dietitian. Her experience ranges from completing nutritional assessments, and developing dietary meal plans, to providing educational classes at various conferences. Melvenia participates on various multi-disciplinary teams, but also spends time providing one-on-one nutritional counseling services to patients and families. She specializes in nutritional care for cardiovascular patients.