The 7th Annual Conference on Strengthening LGBTQ Relationships
MAY 1-2, 2020
Julius Glickman Conference Center, Patton Hall, University of Texas
305 East 23rd Street, Austin, Texas 78712
6-9 CE Credits - Including 3 in Ethics
3 CE Credits
Sean holds master’s degrees in religious studies (Rice University) and clinical psychology (University of Houston – Clear Lake) and received his doctorate in psychology through Saybrook University’s program in Jungian studies. Sean is a psychotherapist in private practice and has been employed at The Jung Center since 1997. He is the author of The Ethical Imagination: Exploring Fantasy and Desire in Analytical Psychology (Routledge, 2019). His research interests also include the intersection of psychology and spirituality, and vicarious trauma and the self-care needs of helping professionals and social service providers. He is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and serves on the boards of the Houston Museum District Association and the Network of Behavioral Health Providers. His local and national teaching schedule can be found at his website, sfitzpatrick.com.
Sean Fitzpatrick, PhD, LPC
Vagdevi is a licensed psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Texas. She has a private clinical and consulting practice in Austin where she specializes in relationship therapy, intensives, and retreats, professional training and supervision, and organizational consultation. Vagdevi has extensive experience with multicultural psychology, especially eastern influences on psychological practice, and cross-cultural research on relationships. She has over 30 years of experience as a therapist, consultant, and educator. Vagdevi has been a certified Gottman Couples Therapist and workshop leader since 2006. As a Master professional trainer for the Gottman Institute, Vagdevi has presented workshops and retreats to professional and lay audiences in the US and abroad. Vagdevi incorporates mindfulness, relational neuroscience, and positive psychology into her presentations on relationships, and has published several book chapters and articles on the Gottman method of couples therapy. She is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Relationships (http://www.thecenter4relationships.com) as well as the founder and President of Sukha International, Inc, (http://www.sukhainternational.com). She is passionate about helping individuals, partners, teams, and organizations develop flourishing and authentic relationships to self and others.
Vagdevi Meunier, PsyD
Paul is a board-certified clinical psychologist seeing couples, and adults in Chicago, IL for psychotherapy. He is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Feingold School of Medicine, Northwestern University where he teaches and supervises trainees in couples therapy and the psychotherapy process. He balances his clinical caseload with professional consultation with helping corporations address mental health needs of their employees.
Paul Pendler PsyD, ABPP
Geron (she/her) is a Senior Attorney at AARP Foundation specializing in systemic litigation to protect the rights of older adults with disabilities, those neglected in congregate care settings, and those affected by unscrupulous commercial practices. This work includes advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ older adults who face social isolation and financial insecurity. Geron began her legal career in New York and Florida, representing corporate clients in intellectual property, securities, construction, and related commercial disputes. In 2011, Geron returned to Alabama, from which her family hails, to focus on public interest litigation on behalf of people with disabilities and in various civil rights matters. Prior to joining AARP Foundation, Geron served as Legal Director of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, where she was lead class counsel in a class action resulting in a consent decree requiring the Alabama Department of Mental Health to timely provide court-ordered psychiatric services. Geron earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Methodist University, a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Geron Gadd, JD, MTS
Candy has been counseling, training, writing, supervising, facilitating and advising people through therapy and social advocacy since 1981. Her passion and enthusiasm in serving the mental health needs of all communities have helped guide her life’s work as a healer. Her tagline is: “Helping People Bring Meaning to Their Lives.” Candy’s current focus is introducing The Gottman Method to couples in conflict. She also counsels Individuals and serves as a Professional Supervisor for professionals wanting to gain full licensure in Professional Counseling and Marriage and Family Counseling. A social reform veteran, Candy was one of Dallas’ first professional counselors who worked with the LGBTQ+ community as an out lesbian herself. She also is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and works with multiple compulsive behavior programs.
Candy Marcum, LPC-S
Crystal's expertise is grounded in neurodevelopment, attachment theory, and family systems. Her master's degree is in clinical pychology and doctorate is in counselor education. Dr. Collier created a comprehensive prevention model to teach the neurodevelopmental effects of risky behavior to children, teens, and parents which was selected for the 2015 Prevention and Education Commendation from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Crystal teaches counseling skills, family & couples therapy, and addiction classes as an adjunct professor. In 2018, she awarded the Torch Bearer of the Year award by the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals and a research fellowship by the Hope and Healing Center & Institute to write a prevention guide for parents and families. In 2019, the Houston Counseling Association named her Counselor of the Year.
Crystal Collier, PhD, LPC-S
Erin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, Texas. She received her Masters of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is currently pursing a Graduate Certificate in LGBT Health Policy & Practice at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Erin's journey through eating disorder recovery affirms her belief that recovery is difficult, fully possible, and life changing. Throughout Erin’s varied personal and professional experiences--one thing remains constant, an unwavering belief in the power people possess to create a life worth living. She has specializes in working within in the field of eating disorder recovery and is grateful for the daily opportunity to watch the amazing growth and hope that is possible through recovery.
Erin Ebert, LCSW
Emily is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 20 years of experience working with adults, couples, families, children, and adolescents. She started her work as a therapist in California where she received her Master of Arts in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling after first finishing a Master of Divinity. After some time living abroad she settled in her home state where she ran her own private practice while completing her PhD in Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee. She has extensive experience through practice, training, and research in the areas of life transitions, depression, anxiety, anger, infidelity, couples work, trauma, spirituality, sexuality, grief, issues of diversity, and LGBTQIA related issues. She has enjoyed presenting in academic and religious conferences at both the local and nation level on sexuality, queer theory, trauma, and spirituality. Her reputation as a therapist, supervisor and professor is one of being open, courageous in dialogue, curious, and respectful of each individual. Emily spends most of her free time coordinating the fun chaos of her four kids, 2 bonus stepkids and a brand new puppy with her partner Kelly.
Emily Stone PhD, LMFT-S
Cedar Park, Texas
Susan has over thirty years of experience as a Touch Pro: esalen massage, surrogate partner, yoga and tantra teacher.
For twenty years she has been a Talk Pro: Sexologist, intimacy coach, sex educator and human sexuality professor. She has a Masters and Doctorate in Clinical Sexology and Sex Education, Institute for Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality; and a B.A. Degree in Human Services, Villanova University. Her training includes Esalen Massage, Esalen, CA; Surrogate Partner Practitioner, Masters & Johnson Clinic, St. Louis, MO; Tantra Teacher Training: Sedona Institute, AZ and Charla Hathaway, Body Joy Institute, TX. She has been a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists since 1985, and a member of the American College of Sexologists since 2000.
Susan Kaye, PhD
Jeff has been in private practice for 31 years and is the Founder of the Contemporary Relationships Conference, as well as Q Marriage Mentors - a podcast featuring conversations with remarkable LGBTQ couples. He is the co-author of two chapters in Affirmative Counseling with LGBTQI+ People (American Counseling Association, 2017), a chapter in the Handbook of LGBT-Affirmative Couple and Family Therapy (Routledge 2012), and author of Okin the Panda Bear Finds His Family - a children's book about family diversity (Creative House Press, 2011). His articles about LGBTQ relationships and families have appeared on The Bilerico Project and Therapy Matters. He has presented at the conferences of the American Family Therapy Academy, the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, and the Texas Psychological Association. The former Executive Director of Soulforce; Jeff has spoken at universities, churches, and rallies around the country, and his social justice efforts have been covered by numerous media outlets, including NPR and CNN.
Jeff Lutes, LPC
Trystan is an educator and storyteller who lives in Portland, Oregon with his partner Biff and their three amazing children. Trystan launched into the public eye as “the pregnant man” in 2017, when the story of his family gained international media attention thanks to closing performances for The Moth in Portland, Albuquerque, and Brooklyn. A video of the Brooklyn event has now garnered more than 2.5 million views, and as interest in his family’s story grew, Trystan began to partner with many major media outlets, including CNN, NBC, People, Buzzfeed and more to educate an even wider audience. He is the Director of Family Formation at Family Equality, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing equality for LGBTQ families and those who wish to form them, where he developed and runs a training system that increases the ability of family-building professionals to understand, welcome, and support LGBTQ prospective parents—everyone from powerhouse fertility clinics to doulas and midwives.
Joanna is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in the state of Texas and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Massachusetts. She has been licensed since 1999. She earned her MS in 1997 from Springfield College, Springfield, MA and her BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY in 1991. Joanna has also completed advanced training at the School for International Training, Kenya, Africa and the Power of Breath Institute in Keene, NH. Always studying and exploring new pathways to healing, Joanna is a level 3 Gottman trained therapist currently working on becoming a certified Gottman therapist. Joanna has a private practice in Houston where she works both in her psychotherapy office and art therapy studio. She has years of experience treating anxiety, depression, mood disorders, sexual problems, substance abuse, and trauma. She works extensively with LBGTQAI people individually and in couples. Joanna came out as a lesbian when she was 22 years old and married the love of her life, Jill, when she was 36. She knows personally the impact a socially constructed straight world has on finding and keeping a healthy relationship. Joanna and Jill have twins who are now 10 years old, one of whom is transgender. They are deeply dedicated to understanding and sharing their knowledge of the gender spectrum and living in harmony with a very straight/binary world.
Joanna Smith, LPC-S
Shelly (she/her) is a Senior Attorney for Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving the full recognition of civil rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV. Shelly is a seasoned litigator, mediator, arbitrator, trial advocacy instructor, and appellate practitioner. Shelly served as the Chair, Vice Chair, and Council Member of the LGBT Law Section for the State Bar of Texas and President of the Dallas LGBT Bar Association. Shelly holds a diploma in International Arbitration and is a frequent and often cited speaker and author on LGBTQ legal issues, including the First Amendment, Public Accommodations, Marriage Equality, employment, and probate. Shelly was a founding member of, and Co-Chair of Policy & Advocacy for the “Coalition for Aging, LGBT,” is serving a three year term on the State Bar of Texas CLE Committee, handles legal clinics for pro bono name and gender marker changes, and is an adjunct law professor. In 2018, she earned her LL.M. from UCLA School of Law in Constitutional Law and Law and Sexuality.
Shelly Skeen, JD, FCIArb, LLM
Chris-James has been a social advocate the LGBTQ community for more than 25 years. Now in private practice at A Mind at Ease Counseling in Dallas-- Chris' focus is on helping clients gain new insights, make better choices and live a more holistic and fulfilling life. He incorporates the Gottman method into his relationship counseling for all couples. Throughout Chris' career he has been always been an educator whether in public or corporate settings and continues to consult and provide his services to the corporate and public education settings. He is also an award winning instructional designer and independent training and development expert with more than 25 years of experience in the creation of blended learning solutions. He has honors awards and affiliations from: National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development, International Conference for Technology in Education, The Ford Foundation, Dallas County Community College District, and League for Innovation, for the creation of innovative and groundbreaking programs ranging from hi-tech industries to inner-city youth and their families. Hailing from New York City and resides in Dallas he serves the Fortune 1000 and not-for-profit organizations.
Chris-James Cognetta, MSIT, MS, LPC
Rahim is a registered social worker who works as a psychotherapist on a family health team in Toronto and as a consultant in private practice. He operates from a harm reduction, sex-positive, anti-oppressive and trauma-informed approach providing psychotherapy to newcomer, racialized, queer, trans and HIV-affected communities. Rahim also supervises masters of social work and counselling psychology students and has taught as a post-secondary instructor. He is a co-editor of a local history anthology entitled Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Toronto Book Awards, and is part of the National Core Organizing Team with Salaam Canada, an LGBTQ Muslim organization.
Rahim Thawer, RSW
Toronto, ON, Canada
Adam is a straight friendly, genderqueer, sex positive therapist who works with relationships of all sorts. He is co-host and producer of The Queer Quiz Show and the podcast, Me & My Gorgeous Husband, as well as a regular contributor to the Bedpost Confessions. When Adam isn't dismantling systemic injustice, she can be found drinking champagne and cuddling her dog, Scout.
Adam Maurer, LMFT, LPC
Robert's 17 years in the field of addiction and mental health encompass private practice, clinical supervision, the creation and management of clinical programming, the co-founding of The Lovett Center in 2014 and the co-founding of Ethos in 2018.
Robert Hilliker LCSW-S, LCDC
Ty is a current PhD candidate in Clinical Sexology, with specialty in BDSM/kink at the International Institute of Clinical Sexology. He began his clinical practice in 2009 after completing his master’s degree at the University of Houston Clear Lake. With experience in both private practice and agency work, he has a solid clinical practice spanning numerous treatment topics, with an emphasis on sexuality and gender and anxiety. Ty is licensed as a supervisor for LPC-Interns in pursuit of terminal licensure and thoroughly enjoys the cyclical nature of the mentoring process. He became a certified hypnotherapist (CHt) in 2007 and often includes trance work in his practice when appropriate. His expertise has been sought out for public speaking engagements including the Fulbright Commission in Cairo, Egypt; The Jung Center (Houston, TX); Rice University, University of Houston, University of Houston Clear Lake, University of Houston Victoria, Lone Star College System, and numerous high schools and community centers. He has made multiple appearances on the “Great Day Houston” show with Deborah Duncan, news spots on ABC, NBC, and KHOU news stations, and numerous shows on the KPFT 90.1 radio station. He taught as adjunct professor, and consulted with academic counseling service centers to provide culturally competent holistic mental health care for students. Ty was recognized as the “Best Male Mental Health Therapist” by OutSmart Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards in both 2018 and 2019. Outside the clinical world, Ty is married and father of three Australian Shepherds, holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, has sung and stage managed professionally, and is proud to have referred to on multiple occasions as “the orchid whisperer”.
Ty David Lerman, LPC-S, CHt
Micki got her undergraduate degree at Baylor University is Sociology and her Master's in Social Work at University of Houston, majoring in treatment. She is trained in Imago and Gottman Couples Therapy as well a psychodynamic and Jungian therapy. She has treated adolescents, couples, adults, LGBTQ and geriatric populations for 38 years. She owns Southwest Psychotherapy Associates, a group practice with 8 clinicians. She came out in mid-life as a lesbian and has appeared in Dear John, I Love Jane by Candace Walsh. She was interviewed for a new book by Carren Srock called Married Women Who Love Women. She is a regular guest on mental health issues for Great Day Houston with host Deborah Duncan, and a mental health consultant for ABC, CBS, and NBC. Most recently she was featured on Mind-Body radio and has appeared on the Oprah show twice.