Plenary Speakers


Jessica Pryce - Strengthening Families Using a Racial Equity Lens 

Dr. Jessica Pryce is an Assistant Professor at Florida State University. For over 10 years, she has been involved at multiple angles of child welfare (direct practice, teaching + training & policy and research). She has published on child welfare related topics, such as, training and education, racial disparity and anti-poverty practices. She has presented at 50+ virtual and in-person conferences both nationally and internationally. She is the author is several op-eds focused on racial disparity and effective strategies to impact racial disproportionality within child welfare. Her TED Talk on Implicit Racial Bias in Decision Making has since been viewed over 1.3 million times. Dr. Pryce has worked on the frontlines of child welfare, conducted

primary research, been a policy advisor to Florida’s legislature and taught graduate level courses in child welfare. Previously holding the positions of Child Protective Caseworker with the Department of Children and Families, and the Deputy Director of the University at Albany's New York State Education Consortium. In 2019, she received a 5-year appointment to the Advisory Board of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, where she consults and advises on leadership and workforce interventions around the country. She currently sits on the Florida Dependency Court Improvement Panel, alongside judges and advocates who are working towards a more trauma informed approach within the judicial system. She has maintained and cultivated a commitment to the wellbeing of vulnerable children and families, the sustainability of the child welfare workforce, and effectively addressing inequity. Her paramount goal includes re-building and leading a child welfare system that focuses on strengthening families instead of pulling them apart.

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Julie Kenniston - Language and Child Interviewing: A Tribute to Anne Graffam Walker

Julie Kenniston, MSW, LSW, is a Program Manager for the National Criminal Justice Training Program of Fox Valley Technical College. She presents nationally and internationally on forensic interviewing. She is a faculty member for the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and Ohio Attorney General's Finding Words forensic interview courses. Julie co-chairs the APSAC forensic interviewer committee and chairs the committee updating guidelines regarding the use of interview aids in forensic interviews. She has conducted over 3,000 forensic interviews and currently conducts interviews for the Southwest Ohio ICAC Task Force. She co-authored the Handbook on Questioning Children: A Linguistic Perspective, 3rd edition with Anne Graffam Walker, PhD. This speaker is sponsored by the National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC).

Thomas D. Lyon - Language and Child Interviewing: A Tribute to Anne Graffam Walker

Thomas D. Lyon, J.D., Ph.D., research interests include child abuse and neglect, child witnesses, and domestic violence. He is the Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Chair in Law and Psychology at the University of Southern California. Lyon is past-president of the American Psychological Association’s Section on Child Maltreatment (Division 37) and a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. He has published more than 100 papers in law reviews, psychology journals and books; has authored or co-authored more than 150 research presentations at psychology and law conferences; and has conducted more than 280 trainings with judges, attorneys, law professors, social workers, psychologists and reporters. His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Justice, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the California Endowment, and the Haynes Foundation.  A magna cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Lyon received his PhD. in developmental psychology from Stanford University. He was an attorney for the Children’s Services Division of the Los Angeles County Counsel and a research associate at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center prior to joining USC Law in 1995.


Sharon Cooper - Explicit Bias and Racism - Be a Child Advocate and Antiracist

Sharon Cooper is the CEO of Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics, P.A., a consulting firm that provides medical care to children with developmental disabilities, as well as medical care, research and training, and expert witness testimony in cases of child maltreatment. She spent 21 years in the United States Army, retiring as a Colonel.

Dr. Cooper holds faculty positions at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill-School of Medicine and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. She serves on the boards of several national and international organizations focused on violence against children.

Dr. Cooper has lectured both nationally and internationally in well over 300 conferences, including many federal justice agencies, the National Judicial College, the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, INTERPOL, and academic conferences focused on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. She has provided extensive training to representatives of more than 45 countries whose hotlines are focused on the rescue and identification of child and adolescent victims of sexual exploitation.

Dr. Cooper is the lead author of two comprehensive texts on child sexual exploitation and co- author of a book focused on the complexity of investigation, discovery and recovery of missing children and adults. She served on the International Working Group that published the landmark Survivor Survey of victims of abusive images, sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. She has testified before the United States Congress, the European Commission, the Manitoba Legislature, the Italian Senate and the Russian Duma (Parliament).

Dr. Cooper has worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children providing victim-centered training for more than a decade and presently serves on the Board of Directors.

Dr. Cooper served on the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence at the request of the Attorney General of the United States. She also served as a member of the bipartisan Homeland Security Advisory Council on Children and Families for Customs and Border Protection regarding migrating populations from the Northern Triangle.

Dr. Cooper is the Executive Producer of the documentary Not Just Pictures, which delves into the extraordinary victim impact of abusive images and other types of sexual exploitation.