We are thrilled to have such a selection of talented and experienced leaders this year! We will continue updating this page as the details roll in.
Beauty Guru who was named 1 of the Nations tier 10 educators for Textured Hair
Roniesha has mastered the world of cosmetology within 21 years’ experience as a professional cosmetologist. As a graduate of Liberty University with a Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship Business, Roniesha has enjoyed each level of her beauty industry career. She dived into educating and became a salon owner, not once, but 3 times! Many thanks to being a military spouse that must uproot when it’s time for a new mission. Never-the-less, Roniesha uses her travels to do God’s work to bless people around the globe by sharing her knowledge in the both the beauty industry and business. She invests her time in mentoring students and parents on topics such as self confidence, etiquette, life skills, and grooming of course.
Roniesha serves in outreach ministry aside her husband Aaron Blaylock at The Mount Peninsula in Yorktown, VA. The two have had the pleasure of fostering, ministering in Sunday school and leading a dance ministry as well. The couple have two college age daughters and are seeking to adopt in the future.
As both a bereaved and a special needs mom, Holly Colonna appreciates using God’s gifts of food and fitness as medicine, and helping others find the joy and grace in movement and nourishment for optimal physical and mental health.
She holds a Bachelors in Exercise Science and is a Certified Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine, holding certifications in various fitness modalities.
Holly leads the Norfolk chapter of the Living in Holland special needs parent support group and co-hosts Through the Lens Podcast: Gospel-driven conversations on hope in the heartache.
Patrick and Melissa are parents to six kids by birth and adoption (ages 13 to 22) and Papa and Yaya to an adorable granddaughter.
They live in Maryland where their open-door policy has blessed them with lots of honorary family members along the way. As Empowered to Connect parent trainers, they are passionate about bringing hope and resources to foster and adoptive families.
They mess up more than they get it right, and they're always up for an adventure.
Stephanie Fast is the name she was given in America. She does not know her original name, birth date, or place of birth, other than that she is Korean.
Because she is biracial, Stephanie was abandoned, left in a strange place to fend for herself, likely to die of starvation, disease—or worse.
Stephanie has made it her life’s work to try to help rescue every orphan out there—terrified, hungry, hurting, abused. If you believe that how we treat the most vulnerable among us determines our own humanity you will want to read Stephanie’s book—you will want to get to know Stephanie’s story.
Stephanie's book is called She is Mine and is available on Amazon and will be available at the conference.
Jamie Finn is the biological, adoptive, and foster mother of 4-6 children. When she's not homeschooling, changing diapers, playing Pokemon, making slime, and singing Let it Go, she spends her time encouraging, equipping, and serving foster and adoptive parents.
She is the host of the Real Mom Podcast and the author of Foster the Family Blog, which is read by 100,000 people each month and has been featured in over 20 online and print publications. Jamie serves as the director of Foster the Family, a nonprofit which seeks to encourage and support foster and adoptive families, mobilize the church and community for foster care and adoption, and advocate for vulnerable children.
and her middle school sweetheart and husband of 14 years, Alan, live in New Jersey with their children.To learn more about Jamie and her passion for this subject, visit her blog.
Stan and his wife, Angie, have pastored Clover Hill Assembly of God in Midlothian, Virginia for the last 22 years. Angie serves on staff as the Family Resource Director as well as the Executive Director of Clover Hill Christian Academy. She also plays an active role as Advocate for The Forgotten Initiative, an organization that mobilizes the body of Christ to be involved in orphan care through local foster systems.
Angie also is a certified Empowered to Connect Parent Trainer and has her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies. This role helps her breathe life into parents who are parenting kids from hard places. She finds great joy in sharing practical tools that promote healing.
Angie is passionate about the power of family. Her greatest joy, outside of Jesus and Stan, are the four that call her Mom - three biological and one through the gift of adoption.
As a foster and adoptive parent herself, she understands the challenges that families face on a daily basis. She shares first hand her own experiences. You will leave strengthened and hopeful.
Sharon Key-Sutton is a 38-year veteran in the field of education. Currently, she serves as a special education teacher at Tidewater Park Elementary School. In addition to teaching students with special needs, her experience includes serving as an Assistant Principal at the middle and high school levels, Director of the Elizabeth City State University (ECSU)Laboratory School, and a Lecturer and Advisor in the School of Education at ECSU.
Dr. Key-Sutton has served as a Facilitator for the National Board Professional Teaching Standards and she has presented workshops on educating preschool age students with special needs via Head Start programs. Dr. Key-Sutton holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Elizabeth City State University in the field of Special Education, Masters of Education in Learning Disabilities and Emotional Disturbance from UNC-Chapel Hill, Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from the George Washington University, and a Doctoral of Education in Curriculum and Teaching from Northcentral University.
Dr. Key-Sutton is also trained in foster care. Her accomplishments include Special Educator of the Year, and Young Educator of the Year. She is also a former National Boards Certified Teacher for Children with Special Needs (Birth-21). Her most sort after ambition now is to work in God’s vineyard. She is an active member of the Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. She has served as a member of the choir, usher, and she has served on several church programs and committees. Last but certainly not least, Sharon is a supportive wife to Calvin Sutton (retired longshoreman) and loving mother to her adult children.
Her introduction to the world of foster care was providing respite at the beginning of the Pandemic for a medically fragile infant. Not only did she survive, but she did it again with the addition of a teenager the second time around!
This single resource parent calls her home a refuge and declares, "it ministers the life of God." She marvels at God's transformative power with every placement that enters and exits.
In the #adulting world, she is an Accredited Financial Counselor ® and published author. Her passions include dance, art, crafts and hosting fellowship events.
Jimia calls RVA home and you can find her south of Richmond.
Patrick Neff has been honored to serve as a foster parent for over 15 years. He and his wife Debra have 7 children with 5 being adopted out of foster care.
As a TBRI Practitioner he has spent nearly 5 years teaching and coaching both professionals and parents on the topic of trauma and the importance of helping children heal. He is both professionally and personally invested in helping children and families grow beyond the pain and history of trauma to a place of true health and wholeness.
Randall and Kelley Nichols are parents to five children ranging in age from three to sixteen. Two of their children have lifelong special needs. They’ve been in ministry for 23 years and are founders of ECHO Orphancare Partners, dedicated to resourcing foster and adoptive families to help ensure success.
Kevin has been the lead pastor at CrossRoads Church in Norfolk, Va. since 2005. Before that, he received his Bachelors of Arts in History at ODU and served as a church planting missionary, with his wife, in Venezuela for 2 years.
He has been pursuing a Masters of Divinity through Southeastern Theological Seminary and serves on multiple boards throughout the city – the University Chaplains Association at ODU, The Globe House at ODU, and Renaissance Movement Music.
Kevin and his wife, Lauren, have 5 children together. Three of them are "homegrown" and two are adopted through foster care. They founded the Entrusted Network while pursuing their second adoption and realizing a deep need for more foster care and adoption support and community throughout Virginia.