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Derek Clark

Derek Clark’s story is one of resilience and redemption. Derek spent 13 years in the foster care system. Before entering foster care, Derek suffered unthinkable child abuse, abandonment and emotional distress, Derek knows first hand on how to cope with adversity and overcoming hardship.

At five years old Derek’s mother and stepfather turned him over to the county social services. His father was in prison for the criminally insane. Psychiatric reports stated that at the age of five years old, Derek had severe behavioral problems and fascinations of extreme violence and death. Neurological reports stated that at six years old, he had the IQ of a two and a half year old and diagnosed him with erratic psychosis. Having also been misdiagnosed as mentally handicapped and having numerous emotional and language difficulties, Derek never gave up. With the help of his foster parents and mentors, he has defied the artificial limitations imposed upon him. This has never held Derek back from accomplishing what he set his heart and mind to.

Derek Clark is an inspiring speaker/trainer, singer/songwriter and the author of the I Will Never Give Up book series. Derek has over 100 tracks on iTunes. His true-life trials and personal triumphs have inspired organizations throughout the United States with his powerful message of hope and unwavering perseverance. He has been featured in numerous radio shows in many major U.S. cities, newspaper articles, and television. He has performed his music for some very famous people including the President of the United States. He has been featured with Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Brad Pitt, Tyra Banks and U2 as “People Who Roar” by Roar Clothing. He unleashes his creative energy in a never-ending effort to ignite passion in others and instill the courage to never give up. His maxim is to make no excuses and become what you want to become. He has turned his situation from a victim to a victor, equipping him with the Wisdom and the Will to Never Give Up.

To find out more about Derek Clark and his inspiring programs, visit www.IWillNeverGiveUp.com

Dr. Karyn Purvis

Dr. Karyn Purvis earned her doctorate in developmental psychology, specializing in serving at-risk children, and she has spent the last ten years developing research- based interventions for those children. She is a former foster mother with a personal and professional calling to create a welcoming, loving environment for children who come from “hard places.” She serves as an expert witness in court cases of child abuse, testifies for state and national legislation, and speaks frequently to national and international groups. Recent trips have taken her to varied national groups from trainings for judges and CPS workers, to training international parents and professionals in England, Iceland, Scotland, Romania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. She has eight grandchildren, two of which are adopted.

Dr. Purvis received her undergraduate degree at TCU and continued on to receive her masters and doctorate in Developmental Psychology from TCU as well. During her time at TCU, Dr. Purvis developed and directed (1999 – present) the Hope Connection, a research and intervention summer day camp for adopted children. She continued her work with this population as the director of the Adoption Project from 2003 -2006. Work from these projects has been featured in NBC Dateline, Fort Worth Weekly, Newsweek, Parents Magazine, and other popular parent magazines. She and her colleague, Dr. David Cross, write for scientific journals, parents magazines, and have co-authored a feature book for McGraw-Hill titled, The Connected Child: Bringing Hope and Healing to your Adoptive Family. Within six months of publication, The Connected Child earned rank as a best-seller in adoption books. She and her colleague, Dr. David Cross were recently honored with the Dallas business journal Heroes of Healthcare Award. Dr. Purvis was awarded the T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award, a state-wide award for child advocacy. She was also awarded the title of Distinguished Fellow in Adoption and Child Development by the National Council for Adoption. Dr. Purvis was appointed Presiding Officer of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Committee on Licensing Standards by Governor Rick Perry.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed B.C.’s first Representative for Children and Youth in November 2006. The Representative is an Independent Officer of the Legislature. Ms Turpel-Lafond is on leave from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court, where she was the Administrative Judge for Saskatoon. She was appointed to the bench in 1998, and was actively involved in projects relating to access to justice, judicial independence, and public outreach.

She has also worked as a criminal law judge in youth and adult courts, with an emphasis on developing partnerships to better serve the needs of young people in the justice system, particularly sexually exploited children and youth, and children and youth with disabilities, such as those who suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Ms Turpel-Lafond was a tenured law professor at Dalhousie University Faculty of Law, and taught law at the University of Toronto, the University of Notre Dame and other universities. She has been a visiting professor at University of British Columbia and University of Victoria law schools.

She holds a doctorate of law from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in international law from Cambridge University, a law degree from Osgoode Hall, and a bachelor of arts degree from Carleton University. She also holds a certificate in the international and comparative law of human rights from the University of Strasbourg in France. The Representative received honorary doctorate degrees from Ontario’s Brock University in 2010 and from B.C.’s Thompson Rivers University in 2009.

In 2007, the Indigenous Bar Association awarded her the distinction of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel’. As well, Time Magazine has twice bestowed honours upon Ms Turpel-Lafond, naming her one of the ‘100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow’ in 1994, and one of the ‘Top 20 Canadian Leaders for the 21st Century’ in 1999.

In 2009, Ms Turpel-Lafond was awarded the Bill McFarland Award from the Parent Support Services Society of B.C. This award recognizes her outstanding commitment to the prevention of child abuse and her many efforts, as B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth and previously as a judge and a lawyer, through which she has made a lasting mark in child welfare.

In November 2010, Ms Turpel-Lafond was awarded the Perry Shawana Award for the leadership she has provided and her work as a champion for the voices and rights of children, as well as, her advocacy on their behalf and her outstanding commitment to their well-being. Also in November 2010, the Vancouver Sun recognized Ms Turpel-Lafond as one of B.C.’s top 100 most influential women.

In February 2011, the Trudeau Foundation named Ms Turpel-Lafond as one of their 10 new Trudeau Mentors. Trudeau Mentors are selected from the most eminent Canadian practitioners in all sectors of public life. Ms Turpel-Lafond will assist her assigned Scholar in research and work contributing to strong social-serving systems that support the vulnerable in society.

Ms Turpel-Lafond is the elected President of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates, an alliance of provincial children’s advocates from across the country who champion the voice and rights of children in their respective provinces and territories.

A member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, she is active in her First Nations community. In 2005, she published a book on the history of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation that was short-listed for a Saskatchewan Book Award. Ms Turpel-Lafond, her husband George Lafond, their son and three daughters, (including twins), reside in Victoria, B.C.