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SPARK 2023

Hyatt Regency Bethesda One Bethesda Metro Center, 7400 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

October 16, 2023 @ 8:00 am October 17, 2023 @ 5:30 pm UTC

Registration for SPARK 2023 is now closed.

SPARK 2023 will unite practice excellence, innovation, and federal policy advocacy to advance our sector’s impact and help all families and communities thrive. This in-person event will elevate important conversations around our most vexing challenges and showcase insight and expertise from the field.

This event is designed for leaders who are fueled by a commitment to advance equity and improve the well-being of all people. Together, we will share inspiration and practical tools for implementing innovative practice, policy, and research. Our keynote speakers and breakout sessions will address new insight and promising approaches related to:

  • Brain Science
  • COA Accreditation
  • EDI, Belonging, and Justice
  • Innovative Programs and Practices
  • Workforce Resilience and Leadership

Igniting Advocacy Training and Hill Day

New to this year’s event will be Social Current’s first-ever Hill Day. Because federal policy advocacy is key to advancing our missions and achieving impact, SPARK 2023 will offer a two-day advocacy training and trip to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. View full event details for Hill Day (registration closed Sept. 18) and training Part 1 and Part 2.

Who Should Participate

  • Executives
  • Director-level staff
  • Board members
  • Performance quality improvement staff
  • Professional and clinical services

Registration must be received on or before Sept. 18 to receive the early bird rate. After that date, regular rates apply.

The deadline to register for the Igniting Advocacy Training and Hill Day is Sept. 18.

Organizations that Have an Enterprise Engagement Package and/or Achieved COA Accreditation
Early Bird Registration $550
Regular Registration $700
Igniting Advocacy Training and Hill Day $25*

Other Organizations
Early Bird Registration $650
Regular Registration $800
Igniting Advocacy Training and Hill Day $40*

*This fee covers transportation, congressional meeting scheduling, and logistics.

Multiperson Registration Discount
Register five (5) full conference participants from the same organization and receive $50 off all subsequent full conference registrations from the same organization. Only one discount per person; no other discounts apply. Once all five full conference participants are registered, contact Social Current to receive the discount code for all subsequent full conference registrations.

Cancellation by Participant
All cancellation requests must be made in writing. Conference cancellations are subject to a $100 processing fee. Cancellation requests received after Oct. 1 will not be refunded. Credit toward future Social Current events is not currently possible. Participants unable to attend the conference may send an alternate participant. Notice of written cancellation or alternate participant requests must be emailed directly to Social Current.

Cancellation by Social Current
If Social Current cancels this conference, all registration fees will be refunded in full.

SPARK 2023 participants will convene in Bethesda, Maryland, a prominent community in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Located on the Red Line Metro with the station located beneath the hotel, the conference hotel is just 20 minutes away from our nation’s capital. Bethesda offers exceptional restaurants, great shopping, and trendy hot spots.

The Hyatt Regency Bethesda is approximately 40 minutes by car from Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI).

Hyatt Regency Bethesda
One Bethesda Metro Center
7400 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814

Hotel Reservations
Social Current has arranged a special room rate of $229 for single or double occupancy, plus applicable taxes. Reserve your room by booking online or calling the hotel at 301-657-1234 by Sept. 25 and mentioning the group name Social Current SPARK 2023 to receive the discounted rate. This rate is available for stays up to three days prior to and after the conference, but it is subject to availability at the time of booking.

Sunday, Oct. 15
12:30-4 p.m. Registration/Info Desk
1-5 p.m. Pre-Conference Sessions


Monday, Oct. 16
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration/Info Desk
8-9 a.m. Breakfast with Exhibitors
9-10:30 a.m. General Session
10:30-11 a.m. Break with Exhibitors
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session A Workshops
12:30-2 p.m. Networking Lunch
2-3:30 p.m.
2-4 p.m.
Session B Workshops
Igniting Advocacy Training
4:30-5:30 p.m. Networking Reception


Tuesday, Oct. 17
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration/Info Desk
8-9 a.m. Breakfast with Exhibitors
9-10:30 a.m. Session C Workshops
10:30-11 a.m. Break with Exhibitors
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Session D Workshops
Igniting Advocacy Training
12:30-2 p.m. Networking Lunch
2-3:30 p.m. Session E Workshops
3:45-5 p.m. General Session


Wednesday, Oct. 18
8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Igniting Advocacy Hill Visits

Elizabeth Carey
President & CEO
Starr Commonwealth in Albion, Michigan

Richard Davidson
Family Service in San Antonio

Shannon Fisch
Compliance and Accreditation Manager
Children & Families First in Wilmington, Delaware

Julio Galan
President & CEO
Family & Youth Counseling Agency in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Louis GrowMiller
Senior Director of Family Services
Turning Points for Children in Philadelphia

Tine Hansen-Turton
President & CEO
Woods in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Patricia Hillis-Clark
Executive Director of Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Services
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health in Villanova, Pennsylvania

Keith Kozerski
Chief Program Officer
Catholic Charities Twin Cities in Minneapolis

Lynn Kyle
Executive Director
Lampion Center in Evansville, Indiana

Justin Loehr
Senior Director of Campus Life Services
The Omaha Home for Boys in Nebraska

Eric Masi
President & CEO
Wayside Youth & Family Support Network in Framingham, Massachusetts

Gabriel McGaughey
Director of Child Well-Being
Children’s Wisconsin Community Services in Milwaukee

Brent McLaughlin
President & CEO
Branches in Miami

Kim Peterson
Vice President of Change Management
Aviva Family and Children’s Services in Los Angeles

Eric Schindler
Child & Family Resources in Tucson, Arizona

Lorita Shirley
Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Marlena Torres
Children’s Home Society of Washington in Seattle

Mona Way
Director of Contracts and Grants
Boys Town in Nebraska

Social Current’s robust network of organizations and individuals across the country provides a unique opportunity for sponsors to reach C-suite decisionmakers in their target demographics. Simultaneously, sponsorship will allow brands to assess challenges unique to the sector, collaborate, and access network expertise.

Through our network, we can reach more than 12,000 human services professionals representing more than 1,800 organizations that serve nearly 70 million individuals.

Please view the SPARK 2023 prospectus and contact Marisa Collins, director of strategic partnerships and partner communications, to learn more.

Intensive Accreditation Training (IAT) SOLD-OUT
Oct. 15 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
The Intensive Accreditation Training (IAT) is designed to prepare organizations to get the most out of their COA Accreditation experience. It provides an overview of the COA Accreditation process and standards, tips on how to manage the work, and advice for preparing for the site visit.

Performance and Quality Improvement Training (PQI) SOLD-OUT
Oct. 15 from 1:30-4:30 p.m.
This performance and quality improvement (PQI) training is designed to help organizations pursuing COA Accreditation develop a comprehensive approach to a quality improvement process that will advance an efficient and effective service delivery system and enhance organizational capacity to deliver quality services.

Hardwired for Fear, Hardwired for Connection: The Intersection of Brain Science and EDI
Oct. 15 from 1-5 p.m.
Through thought-provoking discussion, this session will explore the connection between brain science and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Participants will build a shared understanding of foundational brain science and EDI concepts, and consider key frameworks, research, and tools that use brain science to improve EDI.

Volunteer Appreciation Celebration
Oct. 15 from 6-8 p.m.
We could not do what we do without our COA Accreditation volunteers. All active COA Accreditation volunteers are invited to join us as we gather and celebrate all that you do. Catch up with colleagues, share site visit stories from the road, and get ready for the start of SPARK 2023. There will be dinner, prizes, and a host of swag – so you will not want to miss this event.

Opening Keynote

George M. Johnson (They/Them)
Award-Winning Writer, Author, and Activist

As George M. Johnson’s memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue has reached massive success as a New York Times bestseller, it has also become American Library Association’s third most challenged book of 2021. But with each shove, George just continues to persevere and advocate for Black and queer voices. “Black storytelling has often been banned,” George says. “My book is a tool so that Black queer kids and LGBTQ teens can see themselves, read about themselves, and learn about themselves.”

In this opening keynote, George will speak on the importance of sharing diverse stories—why we should remain resilient, how representation in media can support young adults’ mental and physical health, and what we can do to support these voices. By listening to one another and understanding the history, language, and actions necessary to change the world, we can form a community where we are all free to be our true, authentic selves.

About George M. Johnson
George M. Johnson is an award-winning Black non-binary writer, author, and activist located in the New York City area. They are the New York Times bestselling author of All Boys Aren’t Blue and We Are Not Broken. They were named to the 2022 TIME100 Next, TIME’s annual list of rising stars across industries, and they were nominated for an Emmy award for their dramatic reading of All Boys Aren’t Blue.

The young adult memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue explores George’s adolescence growing up as a young Black Queer boy in New Jersey through a series of powerful essays. The book is a Teen Vogue Recommended Read, a Buzzfeed Recommended Read, a People Magazine Best Book of the Summer, a New York Library Best Book, and a Chicago Public Library Best Book. It was optioned for TV by Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions and Sony TV. George serves as the executive producer and co-writer for the upcoming series based on their real-life college experience at Virginia Union University, an historically Black college or university (HBCU).

George’s second memoir We Are Not Broken tells the vibrant story of George, Garrett, Rall, and Rasul—four children raised by Nanny, their fiercely devoted grandmother. Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin, calls the book, “a deeply impactful account of intergenerational love that reveals the power of accepting young people exactly as they are while encouraging them to be ever more themselves.”

They’ve written for major outlets including Teen Vogue, Entertainment Tonight, NBC, The Root, Buzzfeed, Essence, Ebony, THEM, and The Grio. They have also served as guest editor for BET.com’s Pride Month. They were awarded the 2019 Salute to Excellence Award by the National Association of Black Journalists for their article, “When Racism Anchors your Health” in Vice Magazine and was named to The Root 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2020.

They’re also an HIV activist, serving as chair of the Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition, an affinity group of AIDS Healthcare Foundation; a national advisor for ViiV pharmaceutical, and a Gilead speaker.

George is a proud HBCU alum twice over, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.

Closing Keynote

Kai Kight
Violinist, Composer, Creativity Keynote Speaker

Whether in education, business, health care, or government, the systems and routines we depended on for so long have disappeared. While this void has been devastating, it also leaves us with an incredible opportunity: a blank page on which we can compose our future. We will look back at this time as the moment we made leaps forward by creating more innovative technologies, more human-centric businesses, and more inclusive workplaces.

As a violinist and keynote speaker, Kai Kight believes that music can be used not only as an escape during this difficult time, but as a guide for us to learn from as we look to redesign our lives and work environments.


About Kai Kight
As a classical violinist turned innovative composer, Kai Kight uses music as a metaphor to inspire individuals and organizations across the world to compose paths of imagination and fulfillment. Kai is on a mission to spark a global mindset shift in which ingenuity is the norm, not the exception.

Kai’s unique background is one of both art and science. As a musician, Kai has performed his original music for thousands in venues across the world, from the White House to the Great Wall of China. As a product of Stanford University’s design and engineering program, the d. School, and the Behavior Design Lab, Kai studied how to help people create healthy and transformative habits in life.

Co-founder of Tea at Shiloh, a late-night teahouse in Los Angeles, Kai aims to reimagine nightlife by designing environments that calms the senses and foster authentic connection. On stage, Kai fuses his experiences to create presentations that are not only designed to stir the soul, but spark concrete action.

Kai Kight’s appearance arranged through Gotham Artists.

Sort By:

A (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)

A1: COA Accreditation: Surviving and Thriving
Area of Focus: COA Accreditation
A3: The Economy and Health of Equity (CANCELLED)
Area of Focus: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
A4: How Shifting Power to Communities Counteracts Child Abuse and Neglect
Area of Focus: Innovative Programs and Practices
A6: How Politics Is Shaping Our Future and How to Navigate It
Area of Focus: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

B (2-3:30 p.m.)

B2: Brain Science Applied to Staff: Using Parallel Processes to Support Team Members
Area of Focus: Brain Science and Trauma-Informed Approaches
B4: Building Bridges Beyond the Badge: The Family Wellness Academy Edition
Area of Focus: Innovative Programs and Practices

C (9-10:30 a.m.)

C5: United Spider Webs, Equitable Collaboration, and Organizational Development
Area of Focus: Workforce Resilience and Leadership

D (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)

D2: Innovate to Mitigate: Executive Functioning Across Generations Curriculum
Area of Focus: Brain Science and Trauma-Informed Approaches
D5: Fight Burnout with Tips & Tricks to Manage Compassion Fatigue (CANCELLED)
Area of Focus: Workforce Resilience and Leadership
D6: Igniting Advocacy Training Part 2: Effective Advocacy Strategies
Area of Focus: Government Affairs and Advocacy

E (2-3:30 p.m.)

E1: A Quality Quest of Committee Superheroes
Area of Focus: COA Accreditation
E2: How Poverty Changes the Brain, Which Changes Everything
Area of Focus: Brain Science and Trauma-Informed Approaches
E3: Real Talk: Thinking About EDI vs EDI in Action
Area of Focus: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
E5: Inviting Black Men to the C-Suite and Why Inclusion Matters Most
Area of Focus: Workforce Resilience and Leadership

Igniting Advocacy Training and Hill Day

Because federal policy advocacy is key to advancing our missions and achieving impact, SPARK 2023 will offer a two-day advocacy training and trip to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Igniting Advocacy Training Part 1: Building Blocks for Effective Advocacy: In this first training session, participants will learn the fundamental aspects of effective advocacy and develop a strong foundation for future advocacy efforts.

Igniting Advocacy Training Part 2: Effective Advocacy Strategies: This second training session will focus on advanced advocacy strategies, equipping participants with the skills to navigate policymaking and advocate for their causes.

Hill Day: For the Hill Day event, Social Current will arrange meetings with members of Congress on your behalf. Using the addresses you provide, we will schedule meetings with your respective legislators, ensuring that you have meaningful interactions with key decisionmakers. Most participants will have three meetings, including two Senate and one House meeting.

The training sessions are required for those participating in Hill Day, and all SPARK 2023 participants are invited to join. The deadline to register for the Igniting Advocacy Training and Hill Day is Sept. 18.

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Supporting Contributor

Interested in Becoming a SPARK 2023 Sponsor?

One Bethesda Metro Center, 7400 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
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