2016 Speakers

Opening Keynote Speaker | Tavis SmileyTexas-CASA-2016-conference-opening-keynote-speaker

We are excited to announce that the 2016 Texas CASA Conference: Amplifying Voices will kick off with a powerful opening keynote address from Tavis Smiley!

In addition to hosting the late-night television show Tavis Smiley on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International (PRI), Smiley is a broadcaster, author, publisher, advocate and philanthropist – and an outstanding voice for change.

Smiley has written 19 books. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times Bestseller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach #1 on The New York Times Bestseller’s list.

In the New York Times Bestseller, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, Smiley and his co-author, Dr. Cornel West, challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America — what it really is and how to eradicate it.

His most recent text is My Journey with Maya, a remarkable story of friendship, love and courage. In this book, Smiley shares personal memories of his twenty-eight year friendship with Maya Angelou, one of history’s most fascinating women.

The nonprofit Tavis Smiley Foundation is in the midst of a $3 million four-year campaign called ENDING POVERTY: America’s Silent Spaces to alleviate endemic poverty in America.

TIME magazine has cited Smiley as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People,” and Mr. Smiley has been honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

His opening keynote address will leave you inspired and set the stage for what is to come throughout the conference – powerful voices creating lasting impact in the lives of children.


Closing KEYNOTE SPEAKER | jackie davis

Texas-CASA-2016-conference-closing-keynote-Jackie-DavisJackie Davis entered foster care at just 18 months old due to his parents’ struggle with drug and alcohol addictions. While in care, he experienced traumatic transitions and abuse from a system that was supposed to protect him, but failed. After rotating through several homes and shelters, and experiencing a failed adoption at the age of five, he had a successful adoption at the age of 13.

Davis now speaks publicly about his past, using his platform to advocate and create awareness in various communities about the needs of youth in foster care. Davis also draws on his experiences while working at MHMR of Tarrant County as a Youth Transition Specialist, where he directly helps youth from the ages of 16 to 21 transition into adulthood.

Davis recently graduated from the University of North Texas (UNT), receiving a Bachelor’s in Social Work. While attending UNT, Jackie co-founded and led an award winning organization called Persevere Until Success Happens (PUSH), an educational support group for foster care alumni on the UNT campus. The grassroots efforts of this organization led to establishing a program to meet the needs of foster care alumni at the university level. Davis is currently attending the University of Texas at Arlington pursuing a Master’s in Social Work.

In his closing keynote address, Davis will share his inspirational story and the role his CASA volunteer had in shaping his life. Join us as we conclude the 2016 conference with this influential and passionate voice that uplifts, encourages and educates youth across the state.