2020 'Charting the Course' - Keynoters

2020 American Adoption Congress
Charting the Course for the Future of Adoption
Keynote Presenters

Thursday Morning
Mary McGowan (B.S. Psych)
Mary has led the Minneapolis-based Association for Training on Trauma and Attachment in Children
(ATTACh) since 2011. During her tenure, Ms. McGowan has implemented multiple comprehensive trainings
for parents and professionals which have been shared to thousands in North America. She continues to raise
awareness on a national level of how early abuse and neglect impact our youth and families.

Ms. McGowan served as a post-adoption specialist for North American Council on Adoptable Children
(NACAC) doing successful grass roots recruitment for foster and adoptive families for 10 years. She has
earned accolades as the National Education Manager for the Professional Association of Treatment Homes
(PATH) and is an experienced trainer who teaches and consults locally and nationally.

Mary holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with minors in Community Violence Prevention and Child
Development from Metropolitan State University, and a master’s candidate in Counseling and Psychological
Services from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Mary earned several certifications including Therapeutic
Crisis Intervention for Family Based Placements (TCIF) from Cornell University, and holds a post-grad
certification for Attachment & Trauma-focused Therapy.
Thursday Noon
Thomas Verny 
"The Hidden Brain" A transformative new concept in psychobiology
Thomas R. Verny is a psychiatrist, writer and academic. He has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto, St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute.

In 1983 Verny founded the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America (PPPANA, renamed APPPAH—Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health – in 1995), and served as its president for eight years. In 1986 he launched the APPPAH Journal – the Journal of Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (JAPPAH) (Human Sciences Press, New York), which he edited from its inception until 1990. In 2013 he became once again Editor-In-Chief of the JAPPPAH. In 1987, Verny edited Pre- and Perinatal Psychology: An Introduction, published by Human Sciences Press. Verny's next two books were Parenting Your Unborn Child (Doubleday 1988), and Nurturing the Unborn Child (co-author Pamela Weintraub, Delacorte Press 1991, and Dell 1992)

Friday Morning
hawna Hodgson and Tim Monti-Wohlpart (B.S., M.S. Ed)
"Clean" Adoption Reform:  Past, Present and Future
Shawna is a Texas born adoptee and fifth generation Texan. At age 40, she identified her birth family using DNA testing and shortly after, reunited with her birth parents and two siblings. Shawna became active in adoptee rights/OBC access legislation in Texas in 2014 after her experience with the adoption agency that facilitated her adoption. 

In 2015, Shawna co founded the grassroots organization Adoptee Support Advocates based in her hometown of Houston, Texas. In 2017, Shawna co founded Equality 4 Adoptees, designed to network with other adoptee rights groups around the country. Once a month Shawna is a co leader of an in person search and support group for adoptees and birth parents in Houston, TX.  In addition to her adoptee rights advocacy, Shawna is a trained and certificated mediator, including advanced family law mediation and a member of the Texas Association of Mediators.

Her training makes her particularly adept in communicating with others, and her heartfelt candor encourages others to listen. This has been invaluable while communicating with legislators and their staff regarding OBC access and adoption reform.

Tim is a New York born adoptee, in reunion since 1998. He is the AAC's National Legislative Chair and New York State Representative. In 2002 and 2003, he served as Vice President and Legislative Liaison for New York Statewide Adoption Reform. At that time, he lobbied for unrestricted original birth certificate access for adult adoptees. In 2015, he began a grass-roots effort to restore, advance, and enact the unrestricted access bill after it was changed in June 2015. His public petition, supporting that effort, has been provided to key legislators, Governor Cuomo and the Department of Health.  He holds a B.S. in marketing, with minor in political science, and a Master of Education. He lives in Brooklyn.

Friday Lunch
Dr. Julie Lopez 
Live Empowered: Rewire Your Brain’s Implicit Memory

Dr. Julie Lopez is a speaker, master clinician, and the Founder of Viva Partnership, a mental health organization dedicated to sparking a mental health revolution.

As a human systems expert with a niche in performance enhancement, Dr. Julie works with individuals, teams, and organizations to feel empowered within their professional, personal, and relational realms.
Her clinical specialty is working with implicit memory (hidden, cellular memories) by utilizing advanced brain based therapies, including EMDR, Brainspotting, and Neurofeedback.

Saturday Morning
Erica Babino (B.A.)
Adoptees and the Imposter Syndrome
Erica Babino, is a professional mediator, conflict management coach peer mediation trainer, is the principle of Speak in Green Consulting. Her focus and passion is providing tools for children and adults to manage conflict from the inside out. For more than 11 years, she has worked to transform businesses, schools, families and couples with creative, personalized strategies to reduce conflict in their personal and professional lives. She is the author of Rolling into Peace: Speaking in Green and the upcoming Petey Peacemakers: Speaking in Green, books with lessons that encourage peer mediation, positive speech, diversity and inclusion, and managing conflict for elementary school children.