2017 Keynote Speakers

Texas CASA is Setting Our Course for Galveston for the 2017 Texas CASA Conference, and we are excited to announce that this year’s keynote speakers are Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew and Cortney Jones!

OPening Keynote Speaker | Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew 

Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew is a Survivor Leader and 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. T uses her story and experiences as a former foster youth and survivor of sex trafficking to highlight wellness, self agency and empowerment.

Named by TIME magazine one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2014 and one of the “30 People Under 30 Changing the World” in 2013, T was also honored by Glamour magazine as a “Woman of the Year” in 2011. T testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the need to strengthen the child welfare response to domestic child sex trafficking, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA). T presented on “Exploring Sexuality After Trauma” at TEDx Amherst, and has delivered keynote speeches and served as a panelist at many conferences, including the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Google Ideas Summit, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Currently, she serves on the boards of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls) and the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council, and is a consultant for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

As part of the opening keynote address, T will be joined on stage by Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs and Dr. Melissa I. M. Torres to answer your questions on sex trafficking and the child welfare system. Ask your questions now!

Closing Keynote Speaker | Cortney Jones

Cortney Jones 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. As a former foster youth, Cortney’s life mission is to help others find their true potential, while inspiring youth and adults to never let their past situations determine their future.

Over the past 13 years, Cortney has advocated for youth and alumni in the foster care system. She often refers to herself as a “firefighter” and can often be found putting out others’ fires. Cortney has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Texas A&M University-­Commerce and a Master’s degree in Social Work emphasizing Administrative Leadership from Texas State University in ­San Marcos.

Cortney is a remarkable social worker and a dynamic motivational speaker, whose speeches are based on life trials and tribulations and how she has overcome adversities to inspire others across Texas.