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Alison Larkin’s appearance at Barker’s 2009 Annual Conference was met with great praise and her return has been highly anticipated. Alison is an internationally acclaimed comedienne, keynote speaker, novelist, audiobook narrator, and adoptee. Adopted by British parents through the Barker Adoption Foundation and raised in England and Africa, Alison is the mother of two teenagers and the bestselling author of The English American. Based on the true story of her adoption by British parents and reunion with her all-American birth parents 28 years later, The English American grew out of Alison's hit one woman show on the subject and is currently under development to be turned into a t.v. series. Since then she has narrated over 100 audiobooks from her recording studio in the Berkshires, Massachusetts and in 2012 Alison won the Audiofile Earphones Award for her narration. To learn more about Alison’s work, visit www.alisonlarkin.com
Rhonda M. Roorda was adopted into a white family and raised with two non-adopted siblings. She is a nationally known speaker on the topic of transracial adoption and a recipient of the Judge John P. Steketee Adoption Hero Award from the Adoptive Family Network (MI). With Rita J. Simon, she coauthored a landmark trilogy of books on transracial adoption: In Their Own Voices, In Their Parents' Voices, and In Their Siblings' Voices. Her most recent book is In Their Own Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption. The book has been very well received and went into its second printing before its official release date. Ms. Roorda works as a Fund Administrator at an educational advocacy organization in Lansing, Michigan. To learn more about Rhonda's work, visit www.rhondamroorda.com
Sarah Saffian is an adoptee, a therapist, a writer, and a teacher. Her memoir, Ithaka chronicles her experience of being found by her birth family -- both parents and three full siblings. Sarah teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and at Sarah Lawrence College, and works independently as a writing coach. As a therapist, she counsels individual clients and runs support groups, with Spence-Chapin Services, the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center, and in various private practice settings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Her clinical experience also includes New York University’s Counseling and Wellness Services. Sarah earned her BA in English from Brown, her MFA in creative writing from Columbia, and her MSW from NYU. For more information about Sarah’s work, visit www.saffian.com
Debbie Schugg works with the National Center on Adoption and Permanency and has 30 years of experience working with families of at-risk youth and those with special needs. She is a Family Recruiter and Family Coach with extensive experience as Lead Parent Partner in an Adoption and Permanency Wraparound Program. She is the mother of eight children from culturally diverse backgrounds, seven of whom were adopted in sibling groups from the foster care system. Debbie and her husband also provide a safe haven and permanent connections for a number of teens and young adults, many of whom identify as LGBTQ.
Chauncey Strong is a motivational speaker, trainer, and a committed advocate for children and families. Originally from Newark, he earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from Elizabeth City State University and a master’s in social work from Norfolk State University. Chauncey has dedicated his career to helping improve the outcomes of children and families involved in the child welfare system, and he presently is a foster care supervisor with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services in Fairfax, Virginia.
Chauncey is the immediate past chair of the board of Foster Care Alumni of America. He has served on a variety of other boards, including those of the Foster Family-Based Treatment Association, and the Virginia Association for Family Preservation.