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2021 Champions of Children Conference


Make sure to sign up for Coalition Manager for access to all CACI trainings/conferences/events/etc.

We have recently started using Coalition Manager. This is where you will update your contact details for our directory, register for trainings, track training attendance and certificates, and access CACI member resources. 

If you are an Illinois CAC employee, your Director has, or will soon, add you to the system. Once this is done, you will receive an email to login and change your password.

If you are a MDT member, CACI/CAC Board Member, or other collaborative partner, you will register yourself HERE and a CACI staff member will approve your entry.

NOTE: Beginning January 1, 2021, this will be the only option available to register for trainings, pay dues, and/or retrieve past certificates of attendance.  

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Continuing Education Credit Information

  • CEUs are ONLY available for live sessions!
  • If you are seeking CEUs for social workers/therapists you will receive a form after the conference to mail into Northern Illinois University requesting those CEUs. Along with that form you will have to mail in a $9 check. 
  • The Illinois Law Enforcement Training & Standards Board has approved Mandated Training Requirements for the 2021 Champions of Children Conference!  The list of approved sessions can be found here.



Detective  Daryl Sims
Detective Daryl Sims

New York City Police Department

Detective Daryl Sims was a member of the New York City Police Department for 25 years, joining the force in 1994 and retiring in 2019. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Police Science from John Jay College.  He spent four years on patrol in the 44th Precinct before being designated Detective Third Grade in 2000. He was promoted to Detective Second Grade in 2012, and Detective First Grade in 2017. He has held assignments within the Organized Crime and Control Bureau; he worked as an undercover and investigator in Narcotics Borough Bronx, and as an investigator in the Firearms Investigative Unit. In 2008 he transferred to the Detective Bureau where he worked in the Special Victims Division for the Bronx Special Victims Squad and DNA Cold Case Squad.

Detective Sims’ time working in Special Victims was especially rewarding. He was involved in hundreds of cases and was often asked to participate or head some of the agency’s highest profiled cases. He was known to be a dogged investigator in cases that were thought to be solved or unsolvable. His curiosity and attention to detail, along with communication skills set him apart from his peers. In 2012, he worked exclusively on the Horace Mann School investigation for one year, which resulted in legislative changes in reporting throughout New York State. Although no arrests were made as a result of the investigation, it did shed light on the systemic nature of abuse that can occur in “safe spaces” and also had an effect on the reporting time younger victims have to report sexual assaults. In 2011 and 2014, he solved separate cases that were originally classified as accidental deaths of an infant and toddler, respectively. He successfully advocated for both cases to be reclassified as homicides, and in both cases the suspects were arrested and convicted.

In 2015 Detective Sims was transferred to the DNA Cold Case Squad, an elite unit designed to have investigators reexamine unsolved cases dating back decades. While the unit was successful in solving, confirming or bring closure to cases, he noticed a disturbing pattern when reading the older cases: the victims were treated poorly, which in some cases resulted in criminals being eliminated, not questioned or exonerated. Recognizing that modern interviewing techniques and investigative resources have changed drastically within the past decade, he believes that professionalism and proper training from law enforcement is a necessity in today’s climate.

Al  Killen-Harvey
Al Killen-Harvey

The Harvey Institute

Al Killen-Harvey has worked at the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital for over 27 years.  He served as a practicing clinician and then a Clinical Improvement Coordinator of mental health services and now serves as a trainer and technical advisor under several grants designed to improve Trauma Informed Care in Child Welfare and Mental Health systems across the state of California. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, he has worked for many decades in the field of trauma treatment. He is a past recipient of the San Diego County Child Abuse Coordinating Council’s “Unsung Hero” Award for his work with children who have been abused and/or neglected. He is also the co-founder of The Harvey Institute, a training and consultation company whose mission is improving health care outcomes through integration of sexual health.


Mr. Killen-Harvey is a frequent presenter, nationally and internationally, on a wide variety of topics including:  trauma informed care for children and adolescents; sexual health conversations for medical and mental health professionals; and sexual identity and gender identity issues for children and young adults.  He has served on the board of CAPSAC (California Professional Society on the Abuse of Children) as well as the Clinical Advisory Board for the Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.  He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of California and The Courthouse Dog’s Foundation. He has served as an expert witness for the United States Army in several same sex sexual assault cases and provides expert witness testimony for the San Diego District Attorney’s Office in the prosecution of child sexual abuse cases. He is currently the co-chairperson of the Sexual Health subcommittee for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (and previously served as co-chairperson of its’ Cultural Consortium).

Tina Bigdeli
Tina Bigdeli

Senior Outreach Manager
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Tina Bigdeli joined the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in 2017. As a Senior Outreach Manager, she is responsible for developing partnerships and implementing a regional outreach strategy to increase awareness and use of NCMEC’s services, resources, and programs. Prior to joining NCMEC, Tina served as the Director of Prevention Education at FAIR Girls, where she led the strategic planning, evaluation and implementation of FAIR Girls' human trafficking prevention education initiatives in Washington, DC and Maryland. She is a seasoned trainer and community educator, with over 10 years of experience working to end sexual violence and exploitation. Tina earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Mary Washington and a Master of Social Work from Howard University.

Melissa Box, LCSW
Melissa Box, LCSW

Clinical Director
ABC Counseling & Family Services

Melissa Box, LCSW, is the Clinical Director at ABC Counseling & Family Services. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from Vanderbilt University and her Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Human & Community Development from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has 10 years of experience helping families heal from trauma. She has received training in play therapy and is a Licensed Sex Offender Evaluator and Treatment Provider. Melissa specializes in working with young children and their parents to reduce trauma-related symptoms and process abuse, neglect, and adoption issues. Melissa is completing her Masters in Public Health with a focus on the prevention of child abuse and trauma through community education and school-based interventions.

Roger Canaff
Roger Canaff

Attorney, Author, Advocate

A widely known child protection and anti-violence against women advocate, legal expert, author and public speaker, Roger Canaff has devoted his legal career to the eradication of violence against women and children.


A practicing attorney, Roger has devoted his legal career to the eradication of violence against women and children. His responsibilities have included being an an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, a Senior Attorney with the National District Attorneys Association, a Special Victims ADA in the Bronx, New York, a Deputy Chief with the Sex Offender Management Unit in the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and a Highly Qualified Expert (HQE) with the United States Army. With more than 20 years experience, he has prosecuted and consulted on cases involving sexual and physical abuse against children and adolescents, and also sexual assault against adults, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Roger also served as president of the Board of Directors of End Violence Against Women International, an organization that provides training, technical assistance, research and advocacy. He was featured in two multi—media resource tools: One a training video sponsored by the National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) on presenting medical evidence in sexual assault trials, and the other an interactive DVD-ROM produced under the U.S. Department of Justice, President’s DNA Initiative, on developing testifying skills as a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner.


Roger left federal service with the U.S. Army in February, 2012 and now teaches undergraduate and law school classes, and trains and consults privately, both nationally and internationally. He is a charter member of CounterQuo, an organization of allied professionals challenging the way our culture responds to sexual violence.

Most recently he became a consultant with, a leading educator in issues related to investigating and prosecuting sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence cases.

Meagan Clark
Meagan Clark

Case Manager
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Meagan Clark is a Case Manager within the Missing Children Division of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Meagan joined NCMEC in 2012 as an Analyst on the Child Sex Trafficking Team, where she provided specialized technical assistance and analysis on child sex trafficking cases. Now, as a Case Manager, she continues to work closely with law enforcement, families, and social services on missing child cases, specifically those that involve child sex trafficking. Meagan has more than ten years of experience volunteering with organizations that work to educate the public and raise awareness about human trafficking.

Howard Dubowitz,  MD, MS FAAP
Howard Dubowitz, MD, MS FAAP

Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Families
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Howard Dubowitz is a Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Families at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Dubowitz is a clinician, researcher and educator, and he is active in the policy arena. His main interests are in child neglect and prevention. Dr. Dubowitz led the development of the Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) model, building upon the opportunities in pediatric primary care to help prevent abuse and neglect. He edited Neglected Children: Research, Practice and Policy as well as the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect’s  (ISPCAN’s) World Perspectives on Child Abuse from 2012 to 2018 (co-edited the last two editions), and he co-edited the Handbook for Child Protection Practice as well as International Aspects of Child Abuse and Neglect. Dr. Dubowitz has over 200 publications and he has presented at many national and international conferences. He is a Past-President of the Helfer Society, an honorary international group of physicians working in the child maltreatment field. He has served two terms on the Executive Council of ISPCAN and on the national boards of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and of Prevent Child Abuse America.

Laura Gapske
Laura Gapske

Director of Programs
Men As Peacemakers

In her 17 + years of experience, Laura has dedicated her life professionally and personally to

ending the violence against women and children.

In her role as Director of Programs, she is designated to empower and take the lead in

shaping an inclusive, holistic and innovative staffing and programmatic leadership plan at

Men As Peacemakers. She is responsible for the implementation, management,

supervision and evaluation of all the organization’s programs in accordance with the

standards set out by the organization, and their partners and funders. In addition to

supervising the daily operations of the organization, she participates in strategic planning

and budgeting initiatives. She oversees the development of effective program planning,

implementation, and evaluation, and provides direct supervision. She is a contract

employee with First Witness Child Advocacy Center where she took the lead on a four

year research project on the intersection of domestic violence and child maltreatment

cases. In her past role, she served as the co-chair of the St. Louis County Mortality

Review Committee for child protection services while working as the Program Director

at First Witness Child Advocacy Center. She continues to stay involved as a forensic

interviewer and trainer under contract services with First Witness and her new consulting

business as an independent expert witness working in the field of child forensic


Laura has worked at Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP) as the Coordinated

Community Response Coordinator. Her role focused on maximizing the safety of victims

who experience domestic violence by working to enhance and maintain an effective

coordinated community response to domestic violence that included the ability to

effectively work with all women, the men who batter them, and their families. While at

DAIP, she facilitated non-violence groups with women that were court ordered for their

use of resistive violence against their partners. She has participated in the development,

expansion, and the execution of training for Zero Abuse Project (ZAP) and DAIP’s

National Training Project (DAIP). Laura additionally has over five years of experience as

a co-facilitator for the Creating a Process of Change for Men Who Batter and Training


In her personal life, she is serving her second term as an elected official on her local

school board district and is the mother of two boys that are avid soccer players

Dr. Betsy Pope Goulet
Dr. Betsy Pope Goulet

Clinical Assistant Professor and Director
UIS Child Advocacy Studies Program (CAST)
in the College of Public Affairs and Administration

Betsy Goulet is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the UIS Child Advocacy Studies Program (CAST) in the College of Public Affairs and Administration. For over thirty years, Dr. Goulet has worked in child protection, serving as the founding director of the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center and working as the Children’s Policy Advisor to the Illinois Attorney General. She also started the State Chapter of Children’s Advocacy Centers in Illinois and served as the organization’s first president. From 2002 – 2008 Dr. Goulet worked for the National Children’s Alliance as a Membership Specialist, conducting accreditation site reviews for Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country.

Through a contract with Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, Dr. Goulet developed a new model for child protection training that emphasizes experiential learning and the use of a Residential Simulation Lab and mock courtroom on the UIS campus.  She has presented nationally and internationally on the Child Protection Training Academy and has consulted with several states who are interested in replicating the model.  In the summer of 2020, the Journal of Public Child Welfare published Dr. Goulet’s research article on the model “Moving from Procedure to Practice: a statewide child protection simulation training model.” Recently the Capacity Building Center for States, part of the Children’s Bureau created a new website for simulation training, featuring the UIS Training Academy.

Dr. Goulet also serves as the principle investigator for a federal SAMHSA grant in partnership with the University of Missouri St. Louis.  The FORECAST grant trains CAST faculty and community professionals from around the country in trauma-informed practices using simulation and Problem-Based Learning.

Dr. Goulet’s research with Dr. Ted Cross was published in an international book on Mandated Reporting in 2015 and a new book chapter on Mandated Reporting, co-authored with Dr. Cross was published in August, 2020.

Tiffany Henderson
Tiffany Henderson

Supervisor of the Child Sex Trafficking Team
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Tiffany Henderson has been with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) since 2015 and is currently the Supervisor of the Child Sex Trafficking Team within the Analytical Services Division. She is responsible for the daily operational oversight and management of 13 analysts dedicated to supporting the FBI and other local/state law enforcement agencies who are working to identify and recover child victims of trafficking, as well as to identify and prosecute individuals involved in the trafficking of children.

Tanisha L.  Knighton, Ph.D
Tanisha L. Knighton, Ph.D

Independent Consultant and National Trainer

Tanisha L. Knighton, holds a B.A., M.C.J. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Knighton is an independent consultant and national trainer with over 15 years of experience as a Social Worker with Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services and over 6 years in the Missing Persons Unit for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. Dr. Knighton is an active member of the Human Trafficking Task in her area and a number of other agencies that address issues that affect missing persons. Dr. Knighton designs curricula and provides training on different topics for a variety of agencies and national conferences. 


Will Laird
Will Laird

State Government Affairs Officer
National Children’s Alliance

Will Laird is the State Government Affairs Officer for the National Children’s Alliance, which is the national membership and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) in the United States. Will is also a member of Charleston City Council in West Virginia’s capital city.  Prior to joining NCA, Will worked for the West Virginia Legislature’s House Committee on Finance as a Senior Budget Analyst for over a decade. Having worked under both Democrat and Republican administrations, Will brings a wealth of experience to helping State Chapters of Children’s Advocacy Centers advocate for legislative changes that positively support child abuse victims and the CAC model. When he’s not at work, Will is an avid outdoor adventurer and loves to spend time with his wife, two boys, and his garden.

Carol Morris
Carol Morris

Victim Assistance Specialist
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

Carol Morris is a Victim Assistance Specialist for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  She has over 25 years working in the field of child sexual abuse, primarily in federal law enforcement settings, including the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.  She holds a Masters in Social Work and works with all victims of crime, although her caseload is currently focused on child exploitation and human trafficking.  Her duties include providing a full range of advocacy services to children, young adults and families identified in investigations.  Carol is based in Denver and covers a four-state area.

Channing Petrak,  MD, FAAP
Channing Petrak, MD, FAAP

Medical Director
Pediatric Resource Center

Dr. Petrak received her medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  She completed her pediatric residency at UICOM-P in May 2003 and began working for the Pediatric Resource Center.  In 2011, Dr. Petrak became Medical Director of the Pediatric Resource Center.  Dr. Petrak holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and Masters of Business Administration.  Dr. Petrak is Board Certified in General Pediatrics and Child Abuse Pediatrics.  Dr. Petrak serves on the Peoria Illinois Child Death Review Team Peoria Region and Children’s Justice Task Force Illinois. Dr. Petrak is a member the Ray E. Helfer Society, an honorary society of physicians seeking to provide leadership to enhance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

Natalie Phelps Finnie MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
Natalie Phelps Finnie MSN, APRN, FNP-BC

Rose Creek Consulting, LLC.

Natalie Phelps Finnie MSN, APRN, FNP-BC served as State Representative for the 118th District in the Illinois House of Representatives from September 2017 to January 2019. Appointed by the Democratic chairmen of the district, she has the distinction of being the first female to hold that position as well as being the first nurse to serve in the history of the General Assembly. During her time in the legislature, she was successful in passing several meaningful pieces of legislation - some of her bills required extensive negotiations and amendments. Legislative successes include but are not limited to: a one-time appropriation to State Board of Education’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget of $16.3 million to leverage matching funds from the federal government to help cover the cost of construction for installing fiber-optic connections in schools across the state, creation of the Broadband Taskforce to investigate and ultimately remove the barriers to expansion of broadband in rural Illinois, and creation of an exemption allowing agriculture to haul heavier weights during annual harvest from August through January without fee or need for Governor to declare emergency.  Natalie was elected a Delegate for Joe Biden from the 15th Congressional District.  She also comes from a family of public servants - her father, David D. Phelps, served in the Illinois General Assembly from 1985 - 1998 and in the U. S. Congress from 1999 - 2002. 


Natalie holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Southern Indiana and a Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.


Her professional career includes experience as an RN on a cardiac unit at a large teaching hospital in Evansville, IN, and in the operating room of Harrisburg Medical Center in Harrisburg, IL.  For nearly seven years Natalie worked for GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals as a Therapeutic Specialist.  After obtaining her MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner degree she worked as an FNP in Cardiology and Dermatology but spent most of her time at the Gallatin County Wellness Center - which is a School Based Health Center and Primary Care Clinic. Natalie and her husband Kyle also own and operate Rose Creek Lumber, LLC which produces custom wood flooring, trim and other building products.   Natalie handles the business side of Rose Creek Lumber as well as marketing, sales, design, and customer management. Her healthcare experience coupled with her business acumen and time spent in the Illinois General Assembly, have uniquely qualified and prepared her for her newest journey as an independent Lobbyist/Consultant in her own firm, Rose Creek Consulting, LLC.


Natalie has been married over 20 years to Kyle Finnie.  They live in Southern Illinois on Rose Creek Farm where they raise cattle and their three children.  Natalie comes from a family with a rich heritage in Gospel music.  She and her three sisters sing in the trio, The Phelps Sisters.  

Scott Snider, LCSW
Scott Snider, LCSW

Clinical Coordinator
Duke Child Abuse and Neglect Medical Evaluation Clinic

Scott Snider, LCSW, is the Clinical Coordinator of the Duke Child Abuse and Neglect Medical Evaluation Clinic, where he has conducted diagnostic interviews as part of children’s medical evaluations for suspected abuse for over 19 years.  He trains DSS, law enforcement, medical, and mental health professionals in the RADAR interview model, and lectures at national conferences on child interviewing.  

Sheryl Stokes
Sheryl Stokes

Family Advocacy Specialist
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Sheryl has been with NCMEC for eleven years & works as a Family Advocacy Specialist. She provides crisis intervention, education, reunification assistance, and therapeutic support to families of missing & sexually exploited children and minors of child sexual abuse images.  

Before joining NCMEC, Sheryl was a forensic interviewer, forensic evaluator, and psychotherapist for a Georgia CAC.  Sheryl is a Licensed Professional Counselor and holds a master’s and education specialist’s degree in professional counseling with an emphasis on traumatology from Georgia State University.

Jane Straub
Jane Straub

Victim Assistance Specialist
Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (JWRC)

Jane is the Victim Assistance Specialist for the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (JWRC), a program of Zero Abuse Project. In this role, she trains and educates on topics related to violence and prevention, supports families who have a missing loved one and advocates for victims and families struggling with the effects of abuse or neglect.

Jane has been working in the violence prevention and intervention field for over 20 years and has worked with youth and families for more than 25 years. In addition to providing advocacy and support, Jane is a national trainer on topics such as missing persons, domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, trafficking, bullying/cyberbullying, reproductive coercion, healthy relationships, consent and impact of trauma (Ace Study). She was instrumental in creating the curriculum and is the principal trainer for “From Trauma to Resilience: Fostering Hope through Trauma Informed Care”. Her training audience ranges from pre-school to college-age students, victim/survivors to offenders, parents, teachers, community leaders and all professionals working with youth. One of Jane’s goals is to work collaboratively with fields such as law enforcement, all components of health, education, social services and business to collectively connect the dots of risk and prevention, to provide coordinated services and create hope and health for all of our children and families.

Jane provides direct case management in cases of family and nonfamily abduction, lost, injured or otherwise missing children, runaway youth and adults missing under suspicious circumstances. Assistance includes reunification assistance, emotional support, reporting procedures, posters, flyers and social media campaigns, working with law enforcement and media and referrals for search and rescue. Connecting families with appropriate support and resources is vital when a person is missing. Advocacy continues for as long as a loved one may be missing including resources for reunification, services needed upon recovery as well as support for cases where the loved one is recovered deceased.

She provides advocacy and support to victims, families and allies of those experiencing any type of child maltreatment, exploitation, stalking, sexual assault and domestic violence. Assistance includes emotional support, aid in navigating the justice system such as court advocacy, victim impact statements, notification procedures and compensation, traditional and non-traditional support groups incorporating trauma informed yoga, writing and the arts.

Amy Wheeler, MSW
Amy Wheeler, MSW

Child Protection Training Academy at University of Illinois Springfield

Amy joined the Child Protection Training Academy at University of Illinois Springfield in October 2017 as a simulation facilitator, and became Director in May 2020.  She joins the Academy after serving over two decades in the social work field, and her dream job has always been training child protection workers to make better decisions.  Amy is elated to be a part of such a groundbreaking program.  Amy holds a BSW and MSW, and is currently working towards her Doctorate in Public Administration.


Special Victims: How We Approach Victims

Detective Daryl Sims

This presentation will discuss the varied approaches that can be used when dealing with victims of sexual assaults, as well as victims of child abuse. These victims are distinctive in that almost always they have experienced a traumatic event or events, and care must be taken when engaging with them.

All too often the initial interaction with first responders, law enforcement or other authorities is mishandled due to a myriad of factors. This could be because of inherit biases (neighborhood, age, race, appearance, occupation, etc.), because of inexperience, or simply overlooking or misjudging a situation. As first responders we need to be aware of signs (a victim outcrying) that may trigger action or even inaction. Discussions regarding the importance or recognizing when a person may be a victim and the proper ways to engage if one believes further action or investigation are needed.

Also discussed will be the marginalization of victims in urban areas and victims of color. This is especially critical for those that patrol in neighborhoods with a significant population of color or where the population’s lifestyle is considered non-traditional.


The Children's Advocacy Centers of Illinois is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an accredited chapter member of the National Children's Alliance

Children's Advocacy Centers of Illinois 400 S. 9th St., Suite 101 • Springfield, IL 62701 • 217.528.2224