Featured Keynote Speakers

AFFCNY's 30 annual foster care and adoption conference

 The Coalition’s 30th Annual New York State Foster Care and Adoption Conference will be held on Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, June 1, 2019  at the Hilton Albany in Albany, New York


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Our New York State Foster Care and Adoption Conference, which starts on May 30th, will be headlined by two unique keynote speakers:

Shawn Kittelsen; Adoptee and Advocate, featured on TLC’s Long Lost Family

Afternoon Keynote Address on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 1:00 pm 

Shawn Kittelsen  “Two years and 100 Reunion Connections Later”

You’ve searched, you’ve found, you’ve reunited. Now what?

In 2017, writer Shawn Kittelsen, born and adopted in New York as an infant,  reunited with the first of his long lost biological family members. Two years later, he has connected with over 100 newfound relatives and his reunion story has been featured on TLC’s Long Lost Family (Season 5 Episode 2 “A Mysterious Disappearance aired 10-15-19).

In our Friday keynote address, Shawn will discuss the triumphs and challenges that can accompany the adoptee as they transition into their newly found biological family and how to foster those connections. He will share his personal advice on how to survive and thrive after one opens the  Pandora’s Box during an adoption search and reunion .

Professionally, Shawn is best known as a video games writer whose credits include the blockbuster fighting games Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat 11. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, his son, and the cutest little dog ever. He is wary of social media and thinks you should spend less time on your phone.


Nim Tottenham, PhD.; Director of the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Lab at Columbia University

Morning Keynote Address on Saturday,  May 11st, 2019  at 12:15 pm 

Nim Tottenham  “Emotional, Behavioral, and Brain Development Through Transitions”

Children who experience disruptions in caregiving are at increased risk for emotional, cognitive, and behavioral challenges later in life. The current talk will discuss these outcomes and current evidence pointing us to their neurobiological correlates. Nim will also highlight the large individual differences that are observed in these outcomes that can vary from one child to another and discuss some potential reasons for these differences. Finally, Nim will present findings on the role that strong families play in promoting healthy development following early caregiving adversity.

Nim Tottenham, PhD is a Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and Director of the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Laboratory.

Nim’s research examines brain development underlying emotional behavior in humans. Her research has highlighted fundamental changes in brain circuitry across development and the powerful role that early experiences, such as caregiving and stress, have on the construction of these circuits. She has authored over 90 journal articles and book chapters. She is a frequent lecturer both nationally and internationally on human brain and emotional development. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and her scientific contributions have been recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) Award, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and the Developmental Science Early Career Researcher Prize.


Get to know the rest of the 2019 Conference Workshop Presenters; just click here.

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