Keynote Speaker

Stef Loveland

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Stef Loveland is deeply passionate about Jesus, people, and adoption. As a momma, wife, friend, daughter, and counselor, Stef is grateful to pursue all three. Adopted twice, once by the Lord, and once by her parents, Stef is given great hope by the story adoption tells and she loves to share this good news. Stef and her husband West adore their son Shepherd, and are thrilled to continue building their family through adoption. 

Stef is counselor and loves her job at a high school in Kansas. She is also a public speaker, and is writing her first adoption book, Kept-Not Borrowed. She holds a M.S in Community Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling 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 at the Kanakuk Institute. 

Breakout Speakers


Brian Jennings

Brian lives in Tulsa with his wife, Beth, and their four children. Brian preaches at Highland Park Christian Church and serves on the boards of Blackbox International (help for trafficked boys) and Ozark Christian College. You can learn about his books, Lead Your Family and Dancing in No Man's Land: Moving With Peace And Truth In A Hostile World at

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Angie manages the child abuse prevention program at the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the implementation of multiple projects related to child abuse and neglect including child sex trafficking, prevention of child sexual abuse, online safety for parents and kids, and mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect. She has over 15 years of experience in the field of family violence and has a special interest in the impacts of family violence on mothers and their children. Angie is also an adoptive mom to a precious 8 year old daughter.

Angie Boy, DrPH

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Gay Brielle Crawford, M.B.A., M.Ed.

Gay Brielle is an educator, speaker, advocate, and former foster youth who stays on the frontlines of amplifying the voices of marginalized children.  After aging out of foster care, having survived 23 placements, she knew God called her to foster and adopt while inspiring others who can to do the same. Gay Brielle currently has 5 children ranging from 1 to 17 years of age as a single foster and adoptive mom.


Emily Dunavent

Emily is 32 and a single foster mom from Joplin, Missouri. She has had 14 kids over the last 5 years and 16 kids total including a kinship placement a couple years prior to becoming a licensed foster parent.  Emily has had placements anywhere from 2 weeks to 2.5+ years, ranging from birth to 16 years. Emily is currently in communication and/or contact with 14 of the 16 kids in some fashion. Emily adopted her first son, Hudson, in 2020 and sits on the board of Fostering Hope.

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Yiyi Pauls

Yiyi can't wait to tell you about her story! Yiyi 17 years old and goes to Shawnee Mission East High School. She lives in Overland Park, Kansas. Before Yiyi came to America, she lived in Guizhou Province in China, until she was 10 years old. Yiyi’s parents adopted her when she was 10 years old. She likes talking with people about her adoption and helping parents talk with their kids about adoption.

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Tamia Collins McGuire

Tamia is Human Resources Director for a Fortune 50 company who has over 15 years of experience in coaching, organization effectiveness and team strategy and design. She is a certified Gallup Strengths coach who has a B.A. in Journalism and African American Studies from Indiana University-Bloomington and a J.D from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Tamia is an adult adoptee and an adoptive parent. She is married with two children, ages 10 and 3. She is a member Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, two premiere organizations that are dedicated to nurturing and strengthening the African American community.

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Nikki Pauls DeSimone, LMSW

Nikki is currently working in her 18th year of being an adoption social worker, and now her second year of being a professor of social work at Park University. Nikki’s favorite job is being Yiyi (age 17) and Cece's (age 2) mom. This is Nikki’s 6th JITJ retreat and she is so excited to be sharing the microphone with her daughter this year!


Gary Roberts Jr 

Gary received his BS in Psychology from University of Central Oklahoma. He obtained his MS degree in Rehabilitation with an emphasis in counseling from Langston University. Gary is a Licensed Professional Counselor and LPC approved supervisor. His counseling experience ranges from providing family and individual therapy in substance abuse, PTSD, depression, anxiety, conduct disorders, and others. Gary has also served as a non-profit director, foster care director, clinical director of several counseling agencies, and an in-patient psychiatric hospital.


Kelly Wright, MD, FAAP  

Kelly Wright is a pediatrician at CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri and a parent to 5 children, 3 who were adopted.  Kelly has a particular interest in resilience and trauma informed healthcare and has pursued additional training through the Pediatric Integrated Care Collaborative at Johns Hopkins University and through the American Academy of Pediatrics PATTeR Project.  Kelly chairs the Building Resilience subcommittee of the Child Abuse and Neglect Collaborative at Community Partnership of the Ozarks and serves on the trauma informed care committee of the Missouri American Academy of Pediatrics.


Maria Hansen-Quine

Maria has devoted the past 22 years to working with children, currently working as a school counselor in a beautiful inner city community. Maria has worked in three different states and six different schools. Maria calls herself a precious jewels mama as she and her husband have 10 jewels, 7 through adoption, 2 born biologically, and 1 bonus adult daughter. Her husband Sam is also another adult adoptee. Maria is the author of two children's books, called "Be Different & Be Kind," and "Hope."

*Speakers are subject to change
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