When Life Hands You Teenagers

Registration closes Tuesday, September 24 at noon.
On-site registration will be available at the conference.

See the FAQ section below to pay with a PO and for other information about the conference.

Featured Speakers

Nora McInerny Purmort

Not *Just* a Sad Story

Nora McInerny
Podcast Host and Author

First comes love. Then comes a brain tumor. That’s not exactly how the rhyme is supposed to go, but that’s how it went for Nora and Aaron. Nearly five years after her husband’s death, Nora is now an author and podcast host known for bringing heart and humor to life’s hardest topics. She’s also a mother to two teenagers. In this funny, engaging talk, Nora explores how her own pain changed her family, her parenting, and her approach to life, and how our most painful moments can create opportunities for change, connection, and growth.

A "reluctant grief expert and notable widow” (her words), Nora miscarried her second baby, lost her dad to cancer, and lost her husband to a brain tumor, all within six hellish weeks in 2014. 

A prolific creator, Nora wrote the critically-acclaimed memoirs It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) and No Happy Endings, as well as The Hot Young Widows Club. She hosts the award-winning podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, founded the non-profit Still Kickin, recently spoke at an official TED Conference, and has written essays for ElleCosmopolitanTime, Slate and Vox. A master storyteller, Nora is known for bringing heart and humor to tough topics.

Nora will be signing copies of her new memoir, No Happy Endings, a book for people living life after life has fallen apart. The book will be available for purchase at the conference.

Erin Walsh, M.A.

It’s Complicated: Teenagers, Social Media and Mental Health

Erin Walsh, M.A.
Spark & Stitch Institute

In this interactive and energizing presentation, Erin uses brain science, stories, and humor to explain how technology is changing the ways that teenagers grow up, socialize, and forge their identities. Erin helps professionals understand the key ingredients for wellness in the digital age and provides practical tools and strategies that help teenagers build on their strengths.

Erin is a dynamic speaker on brain development and digital media topics. She was instrumental in developing the MediaWise movement and worked with her father for 10 years at the National Institute on Media and the Family before creating Mind Positive Parenting in 2010, which was recently rebranded as Spark & Stitch Institute.

In addition to writing articles for several organizations, including Bolster Collaborative and Psychology Today, she co-authored the 10th Anniversary Edition of the national bestseller Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen. Erin also consults with schools, school districts, parent groups, and other youth-serving organizations.

Linda Rodriguez, Ed.D

Developing Positive Relationships through Safety and Connection

Linda Rodriguez, Ed.D
Senior Director for School Behavioral Health
The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

Linda uses research, humor, personal stories and examples to answer the question “Why do some children and youth find it so hard to manage life and connect, and what can I do to be helpful?” With more than 31 years in education, Linda brings boots-on-the-ground” experience in behavioral management, social and emotional learning, trauma, and mental health to create practical strategies that help to develop more positive relationships through safety and connection.

Linda built her career in education, working with at-risk children and youth for more than 30 years. She is a former bilingual elementary teacher, counselor, assistant principal, principal, and director of education for a career and vocational training school. Linda previously worked as a district coordinator for the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program for Pasadena ISD.

She has worked at all school levels – elementary, middle, and high school – in traditional, charter, and alternative settings. Linda is also an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas and is a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor.

Dexter 72PPI-03.jpg

ME: The Intersection of Mental Health and Education

Dexter A. Chaney II
KIPP Destiny Elementary

As a principal, Dexter sees the power of the connection between mental health and education to create a full academic experience that allows young people to thrive. Regardless of the community, cause, or severity of trauma, we have to solve for it if we want to move forward in a healthy way. Find out how prioritizing mental health can positively impact teachers, students, and academic achievement, and learn strategies for building a strong social-emotional learning environment.

Dexter is the School Leader at KIPP Destiny Elementary. He previously served in Houston ISD and Chicago Public Schools before joining KIPP Public Charter Schools as founding school leader at KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary, where his CHAMPION teachers and CHAMPION scholars prioritized social emotional learning, culturally relevant pedagogy, and data driven coaching.

Dexter is a Milken Educator Award recipient and served as a Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the United States Department of Education. He’s driven by the desire to inspire current and future KIPPsters to become CHAMPIONS inside and outside of the classroom, in the academics and the arts.

TeenED Talks
Travis Moore

How Getting Outside Helps Heal the Inside

Travis Moore, LPC
Vale Counseling

We all know that spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine is good for our health. But what about the benefits to our mental health? A therapist and outdoorsman at heart, Travis will discuss the importance of nature to our mental and emotional health, especially for teens. He’ll also talk about the benefits of integrating nature and therapy, as well as sharing outdoors strategies he utilizes with clients in North Texas. 

Travis developed a lifelong passion for the outdoors while growing up in Texas. That passion led him to a career in fly fishing where he saw the profound impact nature and the art of fly fishing have on people. Inspired to share the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors with clients, Travis pursued a career in professional counseling. 

Travis is a counselor at Vale Counseling and also at Rockwall County Juvenile Services, where he helped develop and implement an Experiential Adventure Therapy program. Whenever Travis is not in session, you can find him fishing, golfing or off on an adventure with his wife and two children.

Ebony Smith

Change Your Mind, Change Your World  

Ebony Smith
Yoga N Da Hood

Ebony overcame a rocky, turbulent childhood and young adult life through the discovery of yoga, which began the healing process her heart had been longing for. In this talk, she’ll teach us how yoga and mindfulness help with managing stress, achieving wellness, and attaining self-healing and self-love, as well as explaining how teachers, parents, and administrators can implement mindfulness into their work with young people.

Ebony, aka “The Ghetto Guru,” is the founder of Dallas-based nonprofit Yoga N Da Hood, a wellness outreach organization teaching people in under-served communities the art of self-healing, self-talk, and self-love.

Molested at a young age, Ebony grew up in silence, unable to express her rebellious feelings and lacking the skills to make positive choices. The healing process began when she discovered yoga. Now a certified trauma-informed yoga instructor and wellness coach, she uses the practice of yoga and mindfulness to equip individuals with the tools to empower their own lives.

Have a question? We have answers.

Who should attend this conference?

If you teach, counsel, mentor, live with or work with teens, this conference is for you!

What is the cost of the conference?

Early Bird Registration is $65 through June 30. Registration is $75 beginning July 1.

Do you offer a group discount?

Yes—for groups of five or more! Early Bird Group Registration is $60 per person through June 30. Registration is $70 per person for groups of five or more beginning July 1.

Can I pay with a PO?

Yes. Download and fill out our PO form and email to or mail to Grant Halliburton Foundation at 6390 LBJ Freeway, Suite 100, Dallas, Texas, 75240. Early Bird PO forms must be received by June 30 to receive the Early Bird discount.

Are there CEUs for this event?

Yes! Participants will receive ~4.5 hours of LPC/Social Work CEU credits for the conference. Special thanks to CEU provider Medical City Green Oaks.

What’s included with registration?

Registration includes a light breakfast, boxed lunch, all-day beverages, conference packet with handouts and notepad, sponsor exhibits, four keynote presentations, and two TeenEd Talks.

What about sponsor opportunities?

We love our sponsors! When you sign up as a conference sponsor your organization will gain valuable exposure while supporting teen mental health. You can also download a Sponsor Form and email it to us or call us at 972.744.9790 if you have any questions. But hurry—sponsorships go fast!

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors!

When Life Hands You Teenagers Sponsors