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Conference schedule

Conferences dates and times:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 — 10 a.m. — 5 p.m.

  • Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 — 8:30 a.m. — 5 p.m.

  • Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 — 8:30 a.m. — 12 p.m. 


Conference highlights

Wednesday, November 14 

Joint welcome and opening address 

Commissioner Emily Piper: Emily Piper is commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, as appointed by Governor Mark Dayton in 2015. DHS is the state’s largest agency and administers a broad range of services, including health care, economic assistance, mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, child welfare services, and services for the elderly and people with disabilities. 

Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea: Justice Gildea will share her gratitude and affirmation of service to attendees, emphasizing the partnership involved in supporting families in Minnesota. Lorie Skjerven Gildea was appointed Minnesota’s 22nd Chief Justice by Governor Tim Pawlenty, taking office on July 1, 2010. Prior to her appointment, she had served as a Supreme Court associate justice since January 11, 2006. 

During her term on the Supreme Court, she chaired the Supreme Court Gender Fairness Implementation Committee and served as the court’s liaison to the Board of Legal Certification, the Advisory Committee on Juvenile Protection Rules, and the Committee on General Rules of Practice of District Courts.

Youth voice spoken word presentation
Representatives from regional Youth Leadership Councils

The Minnesota Department of Human Services supports eight Youth Leadership Councils in Duluth, Rochester, Willmar, Bemidji, Crookston, Mankato and two in Minneapolis. Councils are comprised of current and former foster care youth. The councils meet regularly, recruit new members, and learn leadership and planning skills. They visit the State Capitol each year to meet legislators and advocate for laws affecting youth. Council members also educate foster parents, youth in care, social workers and other professionals, as well as raise funds to support issues they care about. 

Keynote speaker 

Sixto Cancel: CEO of Think of Us, a web and mobile life-coaching platform that helps foster youth navigate their transition to adulthood. The platform ensures that youth are aware of all of the steps they have to take to navigate the foster care system and that they are prepared to live independently after they turn 18 and are on their own. Sixto has served as a Young Fellow at Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative since 2010, where he has worked on youth engagement, asset development and permanency. Here is a link to more information and a couple videos Sixto shares some of his experience in foster care and determined to build systems to better support young people on their own journeys. 

Think of Us website 


Thursday, November 15 

Opening welcome 

Assistant Commissioner, Nikki Farago: Nikki oversees operations within Children and Family Services, advanced child welfare and public assistance policy, and represented Children and Family Services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She provides support to several divisions overseeing child care, child support, community partnerships, child safety and permanency, and economic and employment supports. 

Keynote Speaker 

Steve Gilliland: Steve is a dynamic storyteller, comedian, and author; member of the Speaker Hall of Fame who is able to connect with audiences through inspiring reminders of the impact each individual can make within their role or position. With a personal tie to social services, Steve will share insights and thoughtful connections to the nature of what it takes to work in helping professions, through inspiring passion, purpose, and humor. 

Making a Difference website

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