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Conference Plenary Speakers
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Conference Plenary Speakers

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Opening Plenary keynote


Alan Dettlaff, PhD

Dean and Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s Chair
University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


"Standing Up for Social Justice"


Based on his experiences as a social worker in the child welfare system, a researcher on racial disparities, and currently as Dean of the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston, Dr. Dettlaff will share lessons he has learned on understanding and addressing structural racism in our society and becoming an advocate for social and racial justice.  

The Opening Plenary will also feature Galveston Mayor James D. Yarbrough presenting a proclamation for "Professional Social Workers Day" and an awards ceremony for the 2017 NASW/Texas Awardees who will describe how their work reflects the conference theme, "Social Workers Stand Up!”


The Opening Plenary will be held Thursday, October 5, 2017, 12:30-2:15 pm in the Grand Ballroom of the Galveston Island Convention Center. (1 CEU)


Speaker Bio: Alan J. Dettlaff is Dean of the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston and the inaugural Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s Chair.  Prior to joining the University of Houston, Dean Dettlaff served on the faculty of the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from TCU, and master’s in social work and PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington.  Dean Dettlaff’s research focuses on improving outcomes for children and youth in the child welfare system through examining and addressing the factors contributing to racial disparities and improving cultural responsiveness.





Closing Plenary

Will Francis, LMSW

Government Relations Director



"The Long Strange Trip of The Social Work Board & Other Terrifying Tales from the 85th Session"


Don't miss Will Francis' breakdown of the highlights and the lowlights from the 2017 legislative session. He’ll cover what passed and what didn’t make it, with a focus on the NASW legislative agenda and the Sunset process for the licensing board. You’ll gain a better understanding of how social work and our clients fared from a policy and budget perspective.


The Closing Plenary will also include another fun-filled Texas Political Action for Candidate Election (TPACE) fundraising contest and the 2017 Student Poster Presentation awards ceremony. Our thanks to this year's Student Poster Presentation Sponsor, Stephen F. Austin State University School of Social Work.


The Closing Plenary will be held Saturday, October 7, 2017, 8:00-9:30am in the Grand Ballroom of the Galveston Island Convention Center. Show your school spirit and wear your school or alumni t-shirt to the Closing Plenary! (1.5 CEUs)


Speaker Bio: Will Francis is the Government Relations Director for the NASW/Texas. He previously worked for Mental Health America of Texas as the Technical Assistance Manager for Texas Parents as Teachers: a home visiting program that focused on school readiness, child development and the reduction of abuse and neglect. Other previous work experience includes positions with Child Protective Services and Travis County Juvenile Probation. He also served as the Assistant Dean at a private school in Austin, TX. Will received a master’s in social work at the University of Texas, Austin in 2010 and a bachelor’s degree in English from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia in 1997. Will lived in Hong Kong and Singapore at an early age, and residing abroad helped him develop a love of travel and an appreciation for cultural diversity. He has a passion for promoting the profession of social work and supporting social justice through public awareness.


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