Keynote Address: David Shipler

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | 10:00AM - 12:15PM

David K. Shipler reported for The New York Times from 1966 to 1988 in New York, Saigon, Moscow, Jerusalem, and Washington, DC. He is the author of six books, including the bestsellers Russia and The Working Poor, as well as Arab and Jew, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and has taught at Princeton, American University, and Dartmouth. He writes online at The Shipler Report.

Shipler was born and grew up in Chatham, New Jersey. His mother, Eleanor Karr Shipler, taught English and upon her death, her family established the Eleanor Shipler English Award that is granted to persistent students. His grandfather, Edmund J. Karr, was a Manhattan businessman. Shipler was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1964 and served on the board of trustees for the college from 1993 to 2003. He served in the U.S. Navy as an officer on a destroyer, 1964–66. He is married to Deborah I. Shipler and they have three children. His father-in-law Harold Isaacs, also a reporter and author, was a professor of political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Featured Mini-Plenary

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | 2:00PM - 3:30PM

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is an award-winning physician, researcher and advocate dedicated to changing the way our society responds to one of the most serious, expensive and widespread public health crises of our time: childhood trauma. She was appointed as California’s first-ever Surgeon General by Governor Gavin Newsom in January 2019. Her career has been dedicated to serving vulnerable communities and combating the root causes of health disparities.  She is the Founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, an organization leading the effort to advance pediatric medicine, raise public awareness, and transform the way society responds to children exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress. Dr. Burke Harris’ TED Talk, “How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across the Lifetime” has been viewed almost 5 million times. Her book “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity” was called “indispensable” by The New York Times. She is the recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Heinz Award for the Human Condition.

General Session Panelists

Thursday, October 17, 2019 | 8:30AM - 10:15AM

Kim McCoy Wade

Kim McCoy Wade is the Acting Director of the California Department of Aging. She most recently served at the California Department of Social Services as the CalFresh & Nutrition Branch Chief, where she led the expansion of CalFresh food benefits to older adults and people with disabilities, as well as several data and technology initiatives, including the GetCalFresh mobile application. She previously served as a consultant to multiple health and human services non-profits and as Executive Director of the California Association of Food Banks. Earlier in her career, she worked in Washington, DC for the Children’s Defense Fund, Bread for the World, and Alliance for Justice. She is an alumna of NYU School of Law, Carleton College, and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She lives in the Bay Area with her family.

Dr. Donna Benton

Donna Benton. Ph.D. is a research associate professor of gerontology and director of the USC Family Caregiver Support Center at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. She recently served as co-chair for the California Taskforce on Family Caregiving, which led to a report which outlines recommendations for supporting family caregivers throughout the diverse communities in CA. She is committed to promoting collaborative partnerships that enhance service delivery for families caring for older adults with long-term memory and health problems.

She received a fellowship grant to study social isolation in family caregivers. Her publications focus on research in elder abuse and family caregiving. She received her graduate training in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and was a Gero-psychological postdoctoral fellow at USC /Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center. She has worked in the field of aging for over 30 years. Her volunteer experience with the Gray Panthers in high school, inspired her career as an advocate for improving how we all view the natural process of aging.

Kathy Greenlee

Kathy Greenlee is a visionary thought leader, policy expert, and advocate with 20+ years of executive experience in health and human services at the international, national, and state level. Kathy has a deep passion for upholding the dignity and independence of older adults and people of all ages with disabilities.

After a 25-year career in public service, Kathy has developed a deep expertise in the areas of aging, long-term care, disability, elder abuse, health care and community service innovation, and LGBT health. Her goal is to engage with local, regional, national, and international partners to advance programs, policies and system reforms aimed at improving people’s lives. She is particularly attuned to the relationships between health, independence, and security.


Keynote Address: Christina Meredith

Thursday, October 17, 2019 | 3:15PM - 5:00PM

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 to 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 long-term 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 bachelor's in political science with a focus on foreign affairs. She will commission December 2019 and plans to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Keynote Address: Dr. Tiffany Manuel

Friday, October 18, 2019 | 10:00AM - 12:00PM

Dr. Tiffany Manuel is the President and CEO of TheCaseMade, a public benefit corporation dedicated to helping leaders powerfully and intentionally make the case for systems change. In this role, Dr. Manuel works with hundreds of passionate social change leaders, changemakers and innovators around the United States who are building better, stronger communities that are diverse, equitable and inclusive. By aligning their community stakeholders around the kind of deep systems changes that can improve population outcomes, these leaders are able to grow their impact, scale their programs, and harness the investments they need to improve their communities.

Dr. Manuel is a dynamic speaker, thought leader, and writer on the issues of community development, social change and cross-sector partnerships. Trained as a social scientist, she is committed to building the capacity of changemakers and leaders to grow their social impact. She has worked to expand opportunity for low-income workers, families and communities through 25+ years of professional and volunteer experience spanning the private and non-profit sectors, government and academia. She is the primary architect of the Opportunity360, a data platform with more than 100k+ users in the community development field, it remains the most comprehensive data platform for practitioners looking to advance systems change and population outcomes. Dr. Manuel is passionate about translating the insights harvested from this work to increase opportunities for public deliberation and public will-building around the issues of poverty, inequality and social exclusion. Dr. Manuel holds doctorate and master’s degrees in public policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston, a master’s degree in political science from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Other Featured Speakers

Ann Edwards

Ann has 25 years of experience in social services and is currently the Director of the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance. Previously she has served Sacramento County as Director of Health and Human Services, as well as a Deputy County Executive, and Solano County as Director of Health and Social Services.

Ann holds a master’s degree in Counselor Education, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, and attended the Harvard Leadership program for executives in public service. She is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is an active member of CWDA, currently acting as Vice President at Large, and was previously Vice President of Services and co-chair of the childcare and CalWORKs committees. She is also a member of the CalWIN Policy Board and the CalSAWS JPA Board.

Ann is married and has one daughter, a step-son, a step-daughter and three grandsons.

Dr. Mark Ghaly

Dr. Mark Ghaly was appointed Secretary of the California Health and Human Services by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. In this role, Dr. Ghaly will oversee California’s largest Agency which includes many key departments that are integral to supporting the implementation of the Governor’s vision to expand health coverage and access to all Californians. Dr. Ghaly will work across State government, along with County, City, and private sector partners, to ensure the most vulnerable Californians have access to the resources and services they need to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives.

Before joining Governor Newsom’s team, Dr. Ghaly worked for 15 years in County health leadership roles in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, he was Medical Director of the Southeast Health Center, a public health clinic located in the Bayview Hunters Point community. In addition to having a large primary care pediatrics practice, Dr. Ghaly led the clinic’s transition to the patient-centered medical home model of care, expanded specialty care and diagnostics services, and addressed issues such as teen health, youth violence, food security, and environmental health issues.

Kim Johnson

Kim Johnson was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as the Director of the California Department of Social Services in July of 2019.

Ms. Johnson had previously been appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve as the Deputy Director of the Family Engagement and Empowerment Division and was responsible for the planning, policy direction and oversight of services to over 4 million individuals, children, families, and living in poverty through safety net resources, employment opportunities, and additional engagement strategies.  Programs included: CalFresh, California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), California’s Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program, Tribal TANF, Child Care and Early Learning programs for families participating in CalWORKs, housing support programs, homeless assistance, disability benefit advocacy, refugee employment and social services, legal services, outreach and community education for immigrant integration efforts, and Civil Rights.

Chevon Kothari

Chevon Kothari, MSW, is the Human Services Director for Mariposa County and serves as the Shelter Branch Director during disasters. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director for a non-profit in her community which focused on domestic violence and rape crisis services, alcohol and drug recovery, youth services, and offender services for almost 10 years. She’s worked in Oregon providing Mental Health crisis services and in Tulare County as a Prevention Services Supervisor for the Health and Human Services Agency. She received her Master’s in Social Work and her Bachelor’s in Psychology at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Frank Mecca

Frank Mecca has served as Executive Director since October 1991, during this time he has helped establish CWDA as a leading advocacy and policy organization in the field of public human services.

Under Frank’s leadership, the association has been instrumental in the development of significant human services programs and policies, including helping shape the CalWORKs program, creating the Adult Protective Services program, and advocating for significant child welfare reform efforts such as extending foster care support to youth after age 18.

Frank is Vice Chairman and a board member of the California Budget & Policy Center, as well as a member of the California Child Welfare Council. He is a former president of the National Association of County Human Services Administrators.