2017 Conference Highlights


Thank you to the more than 700 members of the CASA network who attended the 2017 Texas CASA Conference: Setting Our Course in Galveston! This year’s conference was an outstanding success thanks to each of you who came ready to take your advocacy and skills to the next level. Over the course of three days, we heard from inspirational and innovative speakers, celebrated the CASA network’s growth, and came together to set our course for the future.

The conference kicked off on Thursday, Oct. 19, with four institutes that dove into key issues facing children in the child welfare system and focused on enhancing essential skills for programs. New this year was the Seaside Galleria – the go-to spot for special activities and vendors showcasing the best resources, promotional items and gifts. Attendees could also print their conference photo at the Seaside Galleria photo booth with our hashtag #OurCourse17. Check out all of the amazing photos!

On Friday morning, attendees heard from Will Wise, Co-founder of We!, Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs, and Survivor Leader and former foster youth T Ortiz. Wise opened the general session and help establish the goal and vision for the conference. Spriggs provided an update on the current state of Texas CASA and the CASA community in Texas, and what is to come this year. T is a nationally recognized policy consultant, specializing in developing strategies to end domestic child sex trafficking; reforming the child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems; and implementing policies and practices to ensure that all vulnerable children have an opportunity to thrive. Sharing her story, T addressed the need for more dedicated people like CASA volunteers to support youth in care and help prevent them from becoming victims of sex trafficking. As part of the opening keynote address, T was joined by Dr. Melissa Torres, Director of the Human Trafficking Research Portfolio at the University of Texas at Austin, for a Q&A on the state of sex trafficking of minors and youth and what we can do to help prevent it.

Also featured in the opening general session was a special preview of Texas CASA upcoming short film Emily’s Dragon. Meet Emily now, and stay tuned for the world premiere of the full film on Nov. 28, #GivingTuesday.

Following the opening session were our breakout workshops covering topics beneficial to members of the CASA network and child welfare community at every role. Closing out Friday was the Beacon By the Sea Gala. Attendees were invited to help us celebrate the network in their finest white attire as we brought the beach into the ballroom. The night was filled with dancing and fun as we honored just how far we have come and the strides we have taken to get closer and closer to that goal of CASA representation for every child in the child protection system.

The final day of the conference featured four more workshops and our closing keynote speaker Cortney Jones. Cortney is the founder and executive director of Change 1, a volunteer program that brings together community organizations, nonprofits, churches and schools to increase volunteerism, mentoring and fostering to youth transitioning out of the foster care system. Cortney shared her story of growing up in foster care and how she was able to overcome obstacle after obstacle.

Thank you to all of this year’s speakers and presenters and our sponsors for making the conference possible, and thank you to everyone who attended. Texas CASA hopes you enjoyed your conference experience and learned new tools to continue to be the best voice for children in care. We hope you all join us again for next year’s conference in Denton on Oct. 18-20, 2018.

See you in Denton!

Thank you to our 2017 conference sponsors!