Empowered to Connect Conference

Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27  from 9:00am – 5:00pm

Come experience practical teaching at this two-day event in a safe and supportive community as we work to equip families, churches, and professionals to better serve children impacted by adoption and foster care. If you’re an adoptive parent, foster parent, potential adoptive or foster parent, you will benefit from this free event.

Featuring Trust-Based Relational Intervention® methods developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, this conference helps bring attachment and connection in families.

*Lunch and childcare up to age 10 provided

What to Expect

The Empowered to Connect Conference features two days of practical teaching in a safe and supportive community as we work to equip families, churches, and professionals to better serve children impacted by adoption and foster care.

If you are an adoptive parents, foster parents, potential adoptive or foster parents, and professionals or ministry leaders serving children, then this conference will benefit you!


Each adoptive and foster parent will receive a certificate of attendance. The certificates will be handed out at the end of each day, per parent. Attendees are responsible for providing the certificate to their agency, and it is at the agency’s discretion whether or not to count participation toward training credits. To be eligible with your agency to receive training credits, each participant will need to turn in to their agency a copy of each certificate and it is beneficial to also provide them the schedule of the conference. There is no need to sign up for adoptive/foster training credit.

The conference runs from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon. Coffee, water, and a lunch will be provided during the breaks.

Yes, childcare is provided for child ages 0 – 10. Please register your child when you register yourself.

The conference is free event to help empower you! Additional resources from other venders are available to purchase.

The Empower to Connect Conference will be held at Mount Hope Church in Lansing, MI in the Event Center. Click here for a map of the campus.

The original conference is shot live in Fort Worth, TX and simulcast to Mount Hope Church. Click here for more information or to simulcast at your location.

Yes! When you register though, you are registering for the full event. Check-in will be open both days if you are only able to attend one day.

Love One is an awareness campaign, started by Mount Hope Church in Lansing, MI in 2017. Pastor Kevin Berry and the people of Mount Hope Church recognize the growing need in Michigan for families to adopt, foster, or support children without families and help the agencies that work to care for these at-risk children. Mount Hope Church partners with St. Vincent’s Catholic Charities, Bethany Christian Services in order to provide hope and help to foster children and those awaiting adoption.

Find out more at iwillloveone.org


Free 2-Day Event

Please register by Friday, April 12



* Please register your children for childcare.


Help in sharing hope.


Volunteer Form

Conference Schedule

Friday, April 27th 

  • Check in: 8:30 am
  • Simulcast AM Session: 9:00 am
  • Lunch: 12:15 pm – 12:45 pm
  • Simulcast PM: 12:45 pm – 4:30 pm

Saturday, April 28th

  • Check in: 8:30 am
  • Simulcast AM Session: 9:00 am
  • Love One Breakout Session: 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
  • Lunch: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
  • Simulcast PM: 12:45 pm – 4:30 pm

Simulcast Session Speakers

Daren Jones, Training Specialist

Daren Jones is a Training Specialist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KP ICD). As training specialist, Daren’s main focus is instructing professionals working with children who have experienced trauma, in Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®). Since Daren joined the Purvis Institute in 2014, he has been an integral part of teaching and spreading TBRI® across the U.S. and throughout the world.

Daren earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He began his career as a behavior instructor of a therapeutic day treatment program serving children and youth who could no longer function in a regular academic school setting. After serving as a behavior instructor, Daren decided to obtain his Masters in Social Work from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Daren spent 12 years serving youth and families within residential and foster care settings as a direct-care worker, residential group home supervisor and trainer, before beginning his work with the KP ICD. Daren is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling & Counselor Education at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, where he resides with his wife, daughter, and son.

Dan and Terri Coley

Dan and Terri Coley are Show Hope founding board members who live in Franklin, Tennessee. Dan also serves on staff at Show Hope as the Senior Director of Programs and Growth Strategies. Terri serves on staff in pre and post adoption support. They have served as foster parents for more than 40 infants and birthmothers, and have adopted children domestically and internationally. Their family is multi-racial and includes children with special needs. It is their heart’s desire for every child to have a family.

Through personal experience, they have come to know the importance of understanding the challenges and needs of children from “hard places.” Dan and Terri are committed to helping educate and prepare families for the adoption journey and empowering them with the tools to help children heal while maintaining healthy families. The Coleys have nine children and ten grandchildren.

Sarah Mercado

Sarah Mercado is a training specialist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU. As a training specialist, Sarah focuses on instructing care professionals in Trust-Based Relational Intervention as they work with children who have experienced trauma. Sarah earned her bachelor’s degree from Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She began her career as a direct-care staff working with adolescent boys living in a residential treatment center (RTC). After serving in the RTC for several years, she shifted her focus to foster care, where she was regional director for a foster and adoption agency. Sarah spent 20 years serving youth and families within residential and foster care settings as a direct-care worker and trainer before beginning her work with the Purvis Institute in May 2016. Sarah lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband, AJ, and their two daughters.

Casey Call, Ph.D.

Casey is the Assistant Director at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, and a passionate advocate for vulnerable children and families. Her responsibilities include research, training, and outreach connected to TrustBased Relational Intervention®. Casey also teaches, advises, and mentors TCU students in the Child Development undergraduate and graduate programs.

Casey is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and is a registered Circle of Security® parent educator. She has also received training in Theraplay® Level One and in scoring the Strange Situation Protocol. Casey has earned advanced degrees in elementary education, counseling, and developmental psychology. She is passionate about bringing trauma-informed interventions into systems of care, especially educational systems. Casey is married to a lieutenant in the Fort Worth Fire Department. They have two children, and reside in Fort Worth, TX.

Love One Breakout Session Speakers

Rhonda Trask

Rhonda Trask is the Director of Heart’s CRI, a ministry at Brighton Assembly of God focused on providing wrap around services to foster families and children in Livingston County. Additionally, she serves as chairperson on the Faith-Based Coalition, a State-wide initiative dedicated to engaging congregations to assist the State in solving the crisis they face in the area of foster care. Mrs. Trask has also recently become the Director of Narrative, which is an Assemblies of God initiative, focused on rewriting the story of children’s lives who are in foster care by creating partnerships between Assemblies of God congregations, the State, county, and private agencies within Michigan.

Mrs. Trask is a graduate of Michigan State University (BA Telecommunications), Madonna University, (Secondary Teaching Certificate), and Wayne State University (M.Ed Secondary Administration and Leadership). She is married to Dr. Bradley Trask and has two children Elijah and Elanore.

Ryan & Carla Kelley

Ryan & Carla Kelley lead Open Arms, the adoption and foster care ministry of Trinity Church in Lansing. They are parents to three children, two through international adoption. Their personal experience with special needs, trauma and older child adoption has given them a passion to come alongside other foster and adoptive families.The mission of Open Arms is to live out James 1:27 in the following ways: Providing Support to foster and adoptive families at Trinity and in the community; Raising Awareness; and Being a Resource.

Mark Dillingham

Mark Dillingham is the National Assistant Director of Bethany Christian Services’ Safe families for Children Program. Mark is a retired School Superintendent who desired to serve the Lord in a ministry that truly matters. Safe Families for Children (SFFC) is that ministry!

Becky Carson

Becky Carson has worked with children who have experienced abuse and neglect within the child welfare system for nearly 25 years. She served youth in a residential treatment program in various capacities for 18 years prior to joining CASA for Kids, Inc. Barry, Eaton & Ingham as the Executive Director in 2011. She has most recently expanded CASA’s service, which provides volunteer court appointed advocacy for children under court jurisdiction due to abuse and neglect, to Ingham County. Becky’s professional experience covers a range of areas related to child welfare and leadership.

Dan Nowiski

Dan has worked for Community of Christ in Michigan since June 2012. Currently Dan serves a member of the Mission Center President team with a focus on administrative support to congregations, campgrounds, pastors, and ministry leaders. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master of Arts in Religion. His partner Abby is a Student Support Specialist with the Lansing School District. Together they serve as therapeutic foster parents for abused or neglected children who are transitioning to permanent families. They also serve as PRIDE co-trainers, assist in facilitating the Ingham County meeting of the Faith Communities Coalition on Foster Care, and participate on the Ingham Co. Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative Community Partners Board.  Dan is also a Professional Registered Parliamentarian, and is the Board Secretary of CASA for Kids, Inc. Barry, Eaton & Ingham. In the fall of 2013 Dan worked with Open Table to help launch and serve on the first table in Michigan. He has presented to leaders in the Department of Health and Human Services and faith communities around Michigan about implementing the Open Table model for faith communities to provide volunteer wraparound support to young adults transitioning out of foster care.

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