30 Years: Together with Families

Fargo, North Dakota
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
30 Years: Together with Families
Tuesday, April 03, 2018 - Friday, April 06, 2018

Holiday Inn Fargo
3803 13th Ave S
Fargo, North Dakota 58103
United States

Map and Directions

See Speaker Biographies and Session Descriptions Below
Or Open Registration Conference Brochure
*Individuals who need accommodations to participate in the training conference should contact Amy Oehlke in advance of the conference at 701-777-3261, ND Relay TTY 800-366-6888 or amy.oehlde@und.edu

North Dakota Family Based Services Association
proudly presents the 30th annual NDFBSA conference

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The 2018 NDFBSA Pre-Conference

Sponsored by
The Kid's Therapy Center,LLC,
Red River Behavioral Health Systems,
& NDFBSA members like you

“Back Pocket Tools for Emotional Regulation” - Valerie Meyers

Join us for a day of hands on activities and skill building for emotional regulation. In this session, we will cover all ages, different aspects of child development, and frequently seen concerns. This will be a fun day with take home activities

Valerie Meyers, MS, LPCC- S, is the owner and Child Mental Health Therapist- Supervisor at The Kid's Therapy Center, LLC in Bismarck, ND. Ms. Meyers has been helping children and families for over 14 years. In her practice, she utilizes a variety of expressive therapies such as Play therapy, Art, and sandtray therapy. She also provides education across the United States on wellness-related issues that can positively impact children and their family's lives. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The 2018 NDFBSA Conference

Sponsored by:
Imagine Thriving
North Dakota Department of Human Services Children & Family Services,
& NDFBSA members like you


“Choose to ACT with ALOHA” – Kevin Wanzer

Get ready for a once in a laugh-time experience.  Since he began speaking when he was a sophomore in high school in 1983, Indiana’s own, Kevin Wanzer, has grown to be one of America’s most sought-  after speakers for young people and adults who impact young lives. In this fast-paced, hilarious, yet touching keynote address, Kevin recalls and reinforces essential life and love lessons. His outrageous program ce-lei-brates the difference we make with each other by choosing to ACT, choosing to love, choosing ohana and choosing laughter. Kevin reminds us that success in life ultimately comes down to finding joy in everyday situations and the importance of who and what we choose to love.  Experience why Kevin Wanzer is one of the most dynamic, memorable and unique speakers on celebrating diversity and building connections with others - for audiences today.

Kevin has been earning rave reviews for thirty years. As a humorist, motivational comedian, and keynote speaker, reaching audiences in refreshing ways is all he has ever known. At 8-year-old Kevin’s lemonade stand, passersby were treated to two types of refreshment: a cold cup of lemonade and hilarious, dead-on stand-up renditions of Steve Martin comedy routines. Decades later, the lemonade is long gone, as are the Martin routines. The refreshment, however, is still to be had. Early in his career, Kevin served on the staff of and appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. As a result of working with First Lady Nancy Reagan, President Ronald Reagan appointed Kevin to serve as a delegate to the White House Conference for a Drug Free America, on behalf of which he spoke at the United Nations. To this day, Kevin is still one of the youngest presidential appointees in American history.

Kevin Wanzer has been noted nationally as one of the most effective and entertaining speakers for inspiring and empowering audiences. He helps people reconnect with hidden passions, embrace diversity, and celebrate community through laughter.


A-1 “Celebrating Ohana” –Kevin Wanzer

Circle this workshop and get there early… but only attend if you are ready to really participate and experience how you feel about those that are different and how others may feel about you. If you thought you enjoyed Kevin Wanzer’s earlier keynote address at the general session, then you will not want to miss this one. It is the perfect way to follow-up the “A.L.O.HA” experience. In his humorous, insightful, creative and often unexpected style of presenting, Kevin helps you discover and celebrate diversity through this interactive and thought-provoking presentation. This workshop allows participants the chance to embrace various aspects of their identity. This session engages everyone…even the “un-engageable,” and allows diverse people a unique opportunity to celebrate their differences and take part in thoughtful conversation - both in a fun and non-threatening manner.

Please see Wednesday’s Keynote for speaker biography

A-2 “Resiliency of Refugees and Immigrants: How Focusing on Strengths of New Americans can Enhance Integration” – Darci Asche & Laetitia Mizero Hellerud

Refugees experience many trials prior to arriving in the United States and face ongoing challenges associated with re-settlement. Despite facing such difficulties, many refuges demonstrate enormous strength and resilience that facilitates their re-settlement process. Often professionals working with refugee people tend to focus on the trauma story to the neglect of their strengths. At times, this means resilience is overshadowed by a dominant Western deficits model that defines refuses people as traumatized victims. Focus on the trauma story of refugee people may further alienate refugee people from full inclusion into U.S. life by denying their inherent resilience in the face of extraordinary life experiences. We will explore factors that continue to refugee resilience such as personal qualities, support and religion. We will also review elements that may impede resilience including language barriers, racism, discrimination, and labeling the trauma story. Presenters will share their experience and advice considering implications for strengths based approach to work with refugee people.

Darci Asche, has spent her entire life in North Dakota, but has met the world through her work in refugee resettlement, immigration and volunteering. Darci first volunteered to teach English to refugees from Poland who were resettled in her home town of Gwinner. She continued to volunteer with the resettlement program until she became the Resource Development Coordinator for the Lutheran Social Services of ND resettlement program in 1995.  Her work with the resettlement program evolved over the years, including serving as the Assistant Director.  In 2015, after 20 years with LSS, Darci "retired" and began volunteering as the Director of Development with the New American Consortium for Wellness and Empowerment. She provides education about the diverse population in North Dakota, advocates for excellent services for clients, and provides direct service to many New Americans. Darci serves or has served on a variety of Boards of Directors, including United Hearts for Haiti, United Liberians of North Dakota, the Spirit Room, Sister Parish and Abriendo Fronteros - Opening Borders. Her husband, Roger, farms near Gwinner. They have three children, Sara, Joel and Cory, four foster children, Enrique, James, Robina and Joyce, and sixteen grandchildren.

Laetitia Mizero Hellerud is the Founder and Owner of UBUNTU CONSULTING, which specializes in intercultural competence development, cross-cultural leadership and related fields. She was resettled as a refugee from Burundi in the fall of 1998 and has resided in this community since then. She holds a BA degree in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Burundi and a MS degree in Management from the University of Mary. She currently serves on several Boards and Committees, including the Fargo Human Relations Commission, The New Americans Consortium for Wellness and Empowerment, the [MN] Regional Workforce Alliance and the F-M Symphony Orchestra. She is also a member of the ND Human Rights Coalition and was recently selected as one of the participants to the project Those Among Us: The Human Rights Champions of North Dakota Volume 1, a multi-disciplinary media project documenting the human rights and social justice champions of North Dakota. Laetitia worked for Lutheran Social Services in several capacities for a combined ten years between 1999-2015, most recently serving as the Director of the New Americans Program and State Refugee Coordinator. She also worked for SENDCAA Head Start program from 2002 to 2012 and coordinated a Transitional Housing Program for the homeless, through Lakes and Prairies Community Action Agency in Moorhead. Laetitia is married to Mark and they have two children: Yann (22) and Nicole (16). Most recently, Laetitia published a philosophical/biographical book entitled BEING AT HOME IN THE WORLD, Cross-Cultural Leadership Lessons to Guide Your Journey, which sold more than 500 copies the first month.

A-3 “Clinical Supervision of Students - Giving Back to the Profession” – Sandy Thompson

In this session attendees will learn how to effectively supervise students including: learning what your supervision style is, how to adjust your supervision style to meet the needs of your student, the importance of a collaborative relationship with colleges/universities and learning how to supervise individuals from different generations.

Sandy Thompson is a native of Mandan, ND currently residing in Bismarck, ND with her husband. Sandy Thompson is no stranger to addiction having several family members who are or have struggled with their use of substances. This led her to earn a bachelor’s in addiction studies from Minot State University. She became a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) and has worked in that field since 1991. In 2004, Sandy earned a master’s degree in management from the University of Mary. She has been a clinical supervisor to over 50 students, has led small teams of four up to overseeing and being responsible for 225 employees. She has also taught courses in a master’s in counseling program. In January of 2017 she started Path to Pono, where she specializes in family recovery coaching and leadership, and workforce development. Her personal and professional experience provide a valuable background as she assists families who seek their own recovery from addiction in their family or for those seeking guidance in effective recruitment, retention and supervision strategies.


A-4 “Celebrating Ohana” – Kevin Wanzer  (repeat of A-1)

Circle this workshop and get there early… but only attend if you are ready to really participate and experience how you feel about those that are different and how others may feel about you. If you thought you enjoyed Kevin Wanzer’s earlier keynote address at the general session, then you will not want to miss this one. It is the perfect way to follow-up the “A.L.O.HA” experience. In his humorous, insightful, creative and often unexpected style of presenting, Kevin helps you discover and celebrate diversity through this interactive and thought-provoking presentation. This workshop allows participants the chance to embrace various aspects of their identity. This session engages everyone…even the “un-engageable,” and allows diverse people a unique opportunity to celebrate their differences and take part in thoughtful conversation - both in a fun and non-threatening manner.

Please see Wednesday’s Keynote for speaker biography

A-5 “Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Problem Behaviors Among Refugees and Immigrant Youth” – Darci Asche & Laetitia Mizero Hellerud

We will review available research concerning adjustment and behavioral problems, including violence among refugee and immigrant youth. The information will be examined in light of mainstream theories and interventions, including programs that have been adapted to diverse populations. This information will enable public and private health, education and social service agencies to better understand the unique needs and strengths of refugee and immigrant youth, more easily identify youth and families in need of services, and more effectively engage them in culturally appropriate prevention and treatment programs.  

Please see session A-2 for speaker biography

A-6 “Today’s Workforce: Effectively Managing a Variety of Generations in the Workplace– Sandy Thompson

In this session attendees will learn about the five generations in the workplace and why it’s important to have all of them! In addition, participants will learn what each generation values in the workplace, what each generation needs from their workplace and how to supervise them.

Please see session A-3 for speaker biography


“Megan’s Story: Bullying and Cyberbullying in Today’s World”
– Tina Meier

sponsored by Imagine Thriving

When working closely with youth, pediatric professionals need not only to be aware of bullying and cyberbullying issues, their many forms, where they occur, and why they happen, but more importantly the lasting, incredibly damaging impact it can have on our children’s' lives.  We are beginning to realize that bullying is no longer considered "a normal part of growing up," but rather an issue truly wreaking havoc on youth's self-esteem, self-worth, academic performance, motivation, emotional well-being, and overall happiness.  The objective of Tina Meier’s keynote address is to convey information regarding bullying and cyberbullying in ways that professionals working with youth can understand and provide them the proper tools to identify such situations and provide assistance.

Tina Meier is the Founder and Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation. On October 16, 2006, Tina Meier’s life took a devastating turn when her 13-year-old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life after being cyberbullied by an adult neighbor posing as a fictitious boy named “Josh Evans” on MySpace. In December of 2007, Tina Meier founded the Megan Meier Foundation, a non-profit organization that proactively addresses issues of bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide in today's world.  Since its inception, Tina and Foundation staff have reached over 280,000 students, parents, and educators in 35 different states.  

Tina worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008.  Representing the mission of the Foundation, she has appeared nationally and internationally on many network television stations, news magazines, and syndicated talk shows speaking about the issues of bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide.  She was a consultant for the 2011 ABC Family movie, “Cyberbu//y”, and appeared in several documentaries, two of which were in 2015, Discovery ID’s “Web of Lies,” and the story of Lizzie Velasquez “A Brave Heart.”  In April 2016, Tina was one of the featured speakers for TedX Bend, Oregon.

Tina has received numerous recognitions and awards on behalf of the Foundation for her bullying prevention efforts, from being selected as Teen Line’s Humanitarian of the Year for 2009, to her acceptance of a presidential invitation to attend the White House Anti-Bullying Conference in 2011, being honored by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights with the Judge Arnold Krekel Trailblazer Award in 2013, and being a Women in Leadership honoree in 2015 by Tribute to Success.

Today, Tina continues to travel throughout the country educating youth, parents, educators, and professionals on the consequences associated with the harmful effects of bullying and cyberbullying with hopes to inspire others to "Be Megan's Voice... Be the Change!"

Thursday, April 5, 2018


“The Relationship X Factor” – Dr. Steve Parese

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

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 numerous national and regional conferences for at- risk youth, ex-offenders, and welfare to work individuals. Steve grew up in the rural Mohawk Valley of upstate New York, and currently spends much of his free time renovating his 100- year-old home in the small mountain town of Danbury, North Carolina.


“Incarcerated Families: A Story that Can Be of Harm or Healing” – Adam Martin

One of the biggest and most painful layers to the punishment of incarceration is the separation of families.  This has a profound effect on the parent through the worry, stress, and pain all manifesting in the question of “what is happening with my child/children?”  The effect on the children is exceptionally complex as the separation is happening while the children are developing, learning, seeking answers, and creating/needing bonds.  Both short-term and long-term effects for children can be seen at home, in school, and in relationship building with friends.  Post-release successes for the parent is higher among inmates who have maintained family ties during incarceration too.  The parent-child relationship is changed and requires a great deal of nurturing in order to heal and then thrive.  Visitation programs are centering on fostering the family relationship, allowing for growth and understanding, and simply allowing family to love one another and step forward.  This session will candidly discuss the dynamics of the family unit when incarceration and recovery are components.  Adam will describe the intersection of the prison system and the family unit.  He discusses both existing conditions and trends he is seeing in his mission with The F5 Project as well as his own story.  He will talk about the ups and downs of alcoholism/addiction, collaboration with his son’s mother outside of the court system, recovery, tolerance, and change.  You will leave this session thinking about ways in which you can affect positive family change and systems change. 

Adam Martin is a five-time felon turned entrepreneur who has started both For-Profit and Non-Profit businesses that help change the lives of prisoners that transition back into our community.  After serving time and seeing the lack of services for those recently released from prison, Martin realized if we as a society are unable to help break the cycle in an individual's life that led them to crime, we will fail. Instead, if we are able to provide continued support when they leave confinement, we have a greater chance of positively impacting a former offender's life by leveling barriers. That benefits all of us, their families, and their children, as well as the former offender.

Prior to his mission of creating social change, Adam worked in the field of information technology sales.  Before that, he served tables at the local IHOP and made cold calls to get people to answer questions on a survey. As a believer in the strengths of all experiences in live, he states that both of those jobs serve him well today in his current work.  “I get amped about new technologies, meeting new people and doing the impossible. Well, my ‘impossible’ may seem more like a life goal than anything. From being homeless, not having a car, and not knowing if I was going to eat, to helping enterprise level customers making strategic technology decisions every day, well... that's part of the impossible.”  Now, Adam helps people overcome their version of “impossible” each day by helping create opportunities to capitalize on potential and all things POSSIBLE.

The mission of the F5 Project is to provide opportunities, connections, and empowerment to individuals with a challenging past.  This is a process of coordinating services/support and simply meet people where they are at in the journey of rebuilding, reconnecting, and reestablishing as strong, motivated citizens striving for quality of life.  F5 Project focuses this work on helping individuals transition from incarceration to community which also deters repeat offenses.  This work exists in five main focus areas:  communication, housing, employment, transportation, and healthy socialization.  Support for recovery and wellness are intertwined in all areas of F5 Project.  It is our purpose to provide equitable opportunities for quality of life and success for people of all backgrounds as one’s past should not dictate the potential of one’s future. 

Commonly known as function keys on a computer keyboard, F1 through F12 may have a variety of different uses but F5 is special to us for one reason… F5 is the refresh key. No matter what data you have on your computer screen, when you hit F5 it all deletes. This is really what any person with a background wants, to start over, clean, refresh.


B-1 “Acting Up or Just Acting Out? Therapeutically Managing Misbehavior in Community and Foster Care Settings” – Dr. Steve Parese

Staff and foster parents are often called upon to manage distracting, disruptive, or even dangerous problem behaviors. Handling these youngsters can be extremely challenging, especially when the cause is uncertain, and adults react personally rather than responding professionally to misbehaviors.  This extremely practical workshop explores two psychological sources of problem behavior offers therapeutic interventions for de-escalating highly emotional behaviors.  

Please see Thursday’s Keynote for speaker biography.

B-2 “Addressing the Opiate Crisis in North Dakota” – Melissa Henke

Learn about the trends that treatment providers are seeing in North Dakota related to the opiate epidemic as well as what treatment options are available. New Legislative changes that influence the opiate crisis in North Dakota will also be discussed.

Melissa Henke is a 1998 graduate of Concordia College and a 2002 University of North Dakota graduate with a Doctorate of Medicine. She completed her Internship and residency at the University of Kansas Medical Center with Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. She is a member of the American College of Physicians, the North Dakota Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the North Dakota Psychiatric Society. She was a staff psychiatrist from 2007 until 2014 at Sanford Heath and is currently the Medical Director with the Heartview Foundation and also serves as a Psychiatric Consultant through Henke Psychiatric Services.

B-3 “Recovery Coaching: What It Is and What It’s Not” – Sandy Thompson

In this session attendees will learn what recovery coaching is and, more importantly, what it is not. Attendees will also learn how recovery coaching can be utilized as both an option as a path to recovery or an enhancement to more formal treatment. Lastly, attendees will learn how convenient and important recovery coaching can be to both those seeking recovery from substances or for the forgotten victims of addiction, families.

Please see session A-3 for speaker biography


B-4 “What’s in YOUR Wallet? Acknowledging Our Own Issues in Crisis” – Dr. Steve Parese

Challenging children and youth often push problems to the limits, and are expert at pushing buttons on staff as well. As staff and foster parents, we may sometimes find ourselves taking problems too personally, needlessly escalating problems. This eye-opening workshop explores common anger traps which can trigger emotional power struggles with challenging foster children, and offers stay-calm strategies to help us keep on track.

Please see Thursday’s Keynote for speaker biography.

B-5 “Addressing the Opiate Crisis in North Dakota” – Melissa Henke

Learn about the trends that treatment providers are seeing in North Dakota related to the opiate epidemic as well as what treatment options are available. New Legislative changes that influence the opiate crisis in North Dakota will also be discussed.

Please see B-2 for speaker biography.

B-6 “Professional Ethics and Social Media” – Dr. Jeremy Carney

Most helping professionals and human service organizations now use social media in some way. What are the potential hazards of social media use and how can helping professionals avoid these pitfalls? Dr. Carney will explore these issues and the ethical implications involved. An engaging discussion of professional ethics and modern technology will be the focus of this session. This presentation will use a number of case studies to illustrate these ethical dilemmas, so come prepared to participate!  

Jeremy Carney, MSW, Ph.D. is a Professor of Social Work at Minnesota State University Moorhead and Director of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program. His professional practice experience has been in the areas of child welfare services, both public and private, and community based mental health care.

Friday, April 6, 2018


“ICWA: Perspectives and Best Practice” - Michelle Robertson

This session will briefly discuss history of family based services and the first federal law promoting permanency-the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. Different perspectives on the ICWA will be explored. As workers strengthen families, build relationships with children and provide best practice to their clients, they need to sustain themselves (self-care). This is hard work, some ideas for more effective relationships with children, families, communities, and tribes will be reviewed. The session will be informal, with an invitation for input, questions, and examples of best practice!

Ms Robertson has been with The College of St. Scholastica for fourteen years and is the Social Work Undergraduate Field Director. Prior to that she was the Lead Social Worker for a Tribal Foster Care Program. Michelle has trained for the Minnesota Child Welfare Training System for over twenty years in various curriculums; foster/adoptive/kinship parent, core social work. ICWA, and curriculum review. She is a Leadership Coach with the Blandin Foundation’s Community Leadership Programs and a trainer for PACC (Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate) through the University of Minnesota. Ms.  Robertson’s first position with the tribe was as a Families First Worker (pilot program in Minnesota in the early 1990’s). The site was the only American Indian site at the time. Michelle is married, lives in Duluth and is sharing her home at this time with her son, his wife, and two beautiful grandchildren, whom she adores!


Make your reservations directly with the Holiday Inn Fargo at 701-282-2700.

Convention Rate is $110.00 for a standard room. 
A block of single rooms & double rooms have been set aside for conference attendees. Blocked rooms will be held at conference rates until March 3, 2018

State Rate: when you book the reservation, you initially will get the block convention rate. Upon check-in, you must provide a State ID Card to get the state rate of $83.70 for a single occupant and $98.70 for double occupancy. There are a number of hotels in the area that offer state rates if you'd prefer to stay elsewhere.  If you intend to use a county voucher, please make clear, prior arrangements with the Holiday Inn.

 Holiday Inn Layout

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Contact Information

  • North Dakota Family Based Services Association

    PO Box 9114
    Fargo, ND 58106



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