Stef Loveland is deeply passionate about Jesus, people, and adoption. As a momma, wife, daughter, friend and counselor, Stef is grateful to pursue all three. Adopted at birth, Stef has a heart that beats fast for leaning into adoptee stories and navigating all of the elements involved, specifically grief and loss. Stef's story has been shaped significantly by her faith, adoption, and her mom moving home to heaven in 2017. Stef and her husband West love adventuring with their son, Shepherd, and their two dogs Kamp and Boomer.
Stef began her therapy career in private practice with a focus on adolescent identity development and journeying with adoptees and their families. Currently Stef loves her job as a high school counselor in Kansas and is working on her first book, Kept. Stef holds a M.S. in Community Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from John Brown University. Additionally she holds her B.S. in Elementary Education from Pittsburg State University and spent a year studying Leadership and Bible.
Dr. Deshunna Monay Ricks
Dr. Deshunna Monay Ricks was born and raised in West Fresno, California. Although experiencing many trails, tribulations, and adversities she was determined to become successful. Dr. Ricks has a master’s degree in social work, a credential in counseling, and a doctorate in organizational leadership. Dr. Ricks is a healing vessel for those who have experienced trauma. She is a holistic wellness coach and a mentor to children and adults.
Dr. Ricks is the CEO of I AM Valuable, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring services to children in the public K-12 school system. She is also the CEO of Highly Valuable, LLC in which it exists to equip children and their families with the skills they need to live in holistic wellness. Her purpose in life is to speak life into others so that they may experience wellness. Dr. Ricks is the author of I AM Valuable, a children’s book that describes her story in foster care as a child. She is also the author of I AM Determined, a children’s book about never giving up on oneself. Most importantly, she is a child of the Most High God who has made all things possible for her.
Tristen McGhee is a Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) Practitioner, adoptive mom, writer, and advocate for kids from hard places. She is currently a parent trainer through Saddleback College’s Foster Kinship Care Education program. She has over a decade of experience working with vulnerable families to find a path of hope and healing.
Jessica and her husband have four children through independent, open adoption. ADHD, learning disabilities, strong-willed children, and mental health concerns have all been part of the journey. In addition, she has navigated very different open relationships with three sets of birth parents and their families. She is an advocate for "slow tech" for kids and is passionate about helping youth identify their unique strengths, calling, and identity in Christ.
With a background in both writing and teaching, Jessica uses words to magnify the beauty found in broken places and shines light where God is transforming pain into purpose. To recharge, she does creative stuff or heads to the wilderness for hiking or backpacking.
Kendell is an adoptive momma of five beautiful kids. She and her husband have been navigating private adoption and foster care for the past ten years. In another life she was an educator with a B.S. in Elementary Education from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Kendell is passionate about advocating for birth families and birth family connection, wrapping around foster and adoptive parents in the trenches, and helping adoptive families live fully in the story God is writing. She is a lover of Jesus, words, intentional community, fresh air, strong coffee, and red wine. Kendell is here for vulnerable honesty, even if it hurts, because that's where she's found God and his deep faithfulness and creative provision.
Andrea previously worked as a social worker with Child Welfare in Adoptions for 23 yrs and has continued to be a trainer for foster/adoptive parents through a community college for the last 20 yrs. She is an adoptive mother of two children and a bonus mom to two more through marriage, as well as a proud grandma.
Andrea is passionate about her faith, spending time with her family, and educating foster/adoptive families on issues around trauma, grief and loss, talking about adoption, and maintaining connections.
At the age of 25, Melissa and her husband became foster parents to their first son, who was 15 at the time. Their adventures continued through international adoption and foster care, landing them with a total of five kids now ages 35 to 3. To help her children heal, Melissa has relentlessly explored numerous therapeutic strategies, including residential treatment, neurofeedback, and EMDR. The Phillips’ passion for supporting others on this journey led them to start and co-lead New Chapters, a Christian support group and community for foster and adoptive families.
Melissa is the co-founder and Executive Director of San Diego Refugee Tutoring, a non-profit that supports the unique needs of refugee students in urban settings. In her free time, she is still dating her high school sweetheart, exploring the outdoors with her family, or revealing her vulnerabilities to a good friend.
Lindsey Wilson & SarahBeth Sherreit
Lindsey and SarahBeth are both involved in Encounter Praise, a worship collective from Newbury Park First Christian Church in Southern California. Their hearts are to serve the local and global church by leading them to encounter God through the vehicle of music.
Lindsey Wilson has led worship alongside her husband for more than 15 years. She lives in Thousand Oaks, CA, with her husband, Peter, and three children, Brayden, Blake, and Emma.
Over the past 15 years, SarahBeth Sherreitt has led worship at all sorts of camps, schools, and churches, as well as Orange County Fishfest. She has produced two children's albums, Shout Out and Faith in Motion, which are available on iTunes. She lives in Thousand Oaks, CA, with her husband, Tim, and three young kids, Caleb, Micah, and Lydia.