Keynote Speakers

Andrew L. Ross, Ph.D., LCSW-C

Andrew L. Ross, Ph.D., LCSW-C

Keynote Speaker | President & CEO

Join the Movement!

SummaryHave you ever thought what it would be like to put kids first and how that would transform how America cares for and educates its youth? We’ve had the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, the Animal Rights Movement, the Environmental Movement and now the time has come for the Kids First Movement! This enlightening keynote provides the rationale for why we need such a movement, and the road map for broadening the role of education from teaching academics to teaching the whole child. Dr. Ross identifies how to make education accessible to traumatized children and youth and puts forth a measuring stick for how communities can judge a quality school. Also addressed is the philosophy and operating systems needed in children’s services organizations to prepare youth for increasing change and competition in a Global society.


About Andy:

Dr. Andrew Ross is an innovator in serving children with emotional and behavioral problems. He became president of The Children’s Guild in 1995. Previously he served as executive director of Family Services in Philadelphia; president and CEO of Children’s Square U.S.A. in Council Bluffs, Iowa; and director of residential services for Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Ross received both a master’s degree in social work and a Ph.D. in social welfare administration from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is licensed as a clinical practitioner in the state of Maryland and is the author of numerous articles and co-authored two books pertaining to the treatment of emotionally troubled children and the management of organizations designed to serve disadvantaged children. He is also the cofounder of the Transformation Education field.

Nakia Nicholson

Nakia Nicholson

Keynote Speaker | Chief Academic Officer, The Children's Guild

Being in the Right Mind: Adult Mindsets Required for At-Risk Work

SummaryHow do adults achieve an optimal mindset that unleashes the potential of at-risk youth and helps them develop, learn and achieve true well-being? What is your inner voice saying and are those messages based on a positive empowering mindset or a  negative limiting one? Our mindset is that inner voice conversation taking place in our heads. It’s our mental attitude that has been shaped by our life experiences, our environment, our education, and ideas and beliefs we have absorbed from those people we have most interacted with throughout our own lives. What does it take to change and shift a mindset to the “right one”— one that is  required to meet the needs of children from backgrounds that include poverty, homeless and trauma.

About Nakia:

Nakia is both an experienced principal and trainer of principals and has held positions in both the Prince George’s County and Baltimore City School systems. She is known for her ability to improve the academic performance of students. She was recognized in the Prince George’s County school community and ranked number one in the district for achieving dramatic academic gains. She was also recognized in 2012 as one of forty women making extraordinary differences in Prince George’s County.

Nakia and her husband are Prince George’s County natives and have 2 children. Amongst some of her favorite activities are thrifting and singing.

Steve Parese, Ed.D.

Steve Parese, Ed.D.

Keynote Speaker | Founder, SBP Consulting, Inc.

FRIDAY, 10/20
The Relationship X Factor

SummaryThe term “X factor” refers to an indescribable variable which significantly impacts an outcome. With at-risk students, the X factor is undoubtedly strong, trusting relationships. But how do we connect with relationship-resistant youth, many of whom have experienced prior trauma? This intriguing keynote with Dr. Steve Parese explores practical strategies for building bridges across chasms of mistrust.   

About Steve:

Dr. Steve Parese has been an educator since 1986, teaching and developing programs for populations with special needs in a variety of therapeutic, community, and correctional settings. He is the founder of SBP Consulting, a small consulting firm which conducts training and technical assistance to agencies serving troubled populations across the nation.

Steve received his Doctorate from George Washington University, and holds degrees from American and Cornell Universities as well. He has authored over a dozen articles and programs, and has spoken at national, international, and regional conferences for at-risk youth, ex-offenders, and welfare to work individuals throughout the world.

Steve grew up in the rural Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York, but for the past 20 years has lived in the small mountain town of Danbury, North Carolina.

Shauna King, Ed.S.

Shauna King, Ed.S.

Keynote Speaker | Executive Director, King Professional Development Services

FRIDAY, 10/20
Become the Change

SummaryHave you ever worked with someone whom you felt had an “attitude”?  Have you ever heard another educator talk about students having an “attitude?” The truth is, we all have an “attitude,” and it is something that we can choose every day. In this engaging session, Shauna will share her journey of being a teacher with an attitude to becoming the teacher with “the attitude,” and the three actions you must take to become the change you want to see in your students.

About Shauna:

Shauna King, Ed.S. is an educational consultant who also serves as adjunct faculty for LaSalle University, a school climate coach with The University of Maryland Positive School Center and a certified presenter for the TranZed Institute. She is a former principal, classroom teacher and PBIS district coordinator with over 20 years of experience in public and non-public school settings.

Shauna has a talent and passion for connecting with adults who have chosen to serve children. This passion led to the formation of King Professional Development Services, an organization designed to engage and empower the adults who serve children. Shauna is the author of School Smart: It’s more than Just Reading and Writing, and her articles on teacher language and positive behavior have been featured in the AMLE (Association for Middle Level Education) magazine and NAREN (National At-Risk Education Network) journal.

As a member of the TranZed Institute’s team of certified presenters, Shauna has traveled nationally and internationally presenting on brain-based topics including executive function, poverty and the brain, and building student engagement. She also served as a keynote and featured presenter at numerous local, national and international conferences, including the annual NAREN conference.

Shauna earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Morgan State University, a Masters of Education from Bowie State University and an Education Specialist degree in Adult Learning from Walden University. Shauna is a proud wife and mother of two children, who are the joy of her life. She is also an active member of her church where she serves on the Leadership Team and as Chairperson of the Drama Ministry.


Frank J. Kros, MSW, JD

Frank J. Kros, MSW, JD

Keynote Speaker | Director, NAREN; President, The Upside Down Organization; COO & EVP, The Children's Guild

FRIDAY, 10/20
Trauma and the American Dream

Summary: While there are millions of individual American Dreams, our collective American dream is that our children will live a better, happier, more prosperous life than we did. But our collective American Dream is in peril from the devastating impact of childhood trauma. This keynote address illustrates the pain, suffering and destruction wrought by childhood trauma and traces how the impact of unidentified, untreated childhood trauma spans a victims lifetime and erodes our families, neighborhoods, communities and nation. We must transform our awareness, thinking and behavior about childhood trauma if we are to reverse this worsening epidemic and provide a real opportunity for our children to achieve the American Dream.


About Frank

Frank is a career child advocate, who has served as a childcare worker, child abuse investigator, children’s home administrator, consultant, college professor, attorney, writer and speaker. Frank currently serves as president of the Transformation Education Institute (formerly The Upside Down Organization), Director of the National At-Risk Education Network (NAREN) and Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of The Children’s Guild, a multi-service children’s organization headquartered in Maryland.

Frank joined The Children’s Guild as vice president of programs in 2000 and became executive vice president in 2002. Prior to arriving at The Guild, Mr. Kros practiced law with Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego, California, where his practice focused on children’s issues. He also has served as vice president for curriculum and training at Children’s Square U.S.A. in Council Bluffs, Iowa; as a child abuse service officer for the Douglas County Juvenile Court in Omaha, Nebraska; and as a family teacher at Father Flanagan’s Boy’s Home (Boy’s Town).

Frank is a worldwide speaker and presents seminars to parents, educators, child-serving professionals and their leaders on various topics including brain-based learning, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), neuroscience of the teenage brain and brain-compatible organizational leadership. He also speaks on the effects of stress, child abuse and poverty in relation to brain function and development. He has presented his workshops at national education, social work and human services conferences, and Frank was awarded a Maryland Governor’s Citation for his speaking efforts.

In addition to lecturing nationwide, he co-authored the books Creating the Upside Down Organization: Transforming Staff to Save Troubled Children (2005) and The Upside Down Organization: Reinventing Group Care (2008).

Frank received his law degree magna cum laude in 1993 from Notre Dame Law School, where he served on the Notre Dame Law Review. He also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Creighton University.