Plenary Session Presentations

Opening Session

Sunday, July 16, 3:15 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

Sixto Cancel
Sixto is the founder and CEO of Think of Us, a non-profit dedicated to leveraging technology to improve the life outcomes of foster youth aging out of the system. Sixto was selected as Forbes Top 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs in 2017. He has been recognized by the White House as a White House Champion of Change, a Millennial Maker by BET, and was named as one of the Top 24 Changemakers in government under 24 in the country by the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council and Sparkaction. He has participated in several White House briefings around technology, foster care and LGBTQ issues.
In the spring of 2016, Sixto and his team co-organized and executed the first White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon. Since 2010, he has served as a Young Fellow at Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, where he has worked on youth engagement, asset development and permanency. Currently, he leads a working committee that focuses on the learning of vulnerable youth demographics for Dell. Sixto is one of the executive panel members on the National Evaluation Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth who are Neglected, Delinquent or At-Risk. Additionally, he is serving as a consultant for the Children's Bureau via the Center for State Capacity.
System transformation has often been an administrative burden and has not always shown clear results. Today’s political climate is forcing agencies to think differently about their administrative work. How do we have radical transformation of system practice with limited resources and constant resistance to change? This presentation will provide practical examples, moving stories, analysis of myths and pitfalls, and concrete steps your agency can take to leverage technology, data and multimedia to transform the way we help people build permanency and develop our clients' ability to thrive.
 Sponsored by Casey Family Programs

Keynote Address
Evidence-based Policy and Practice in Child Welfare

Monday, July 17, 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Bryan Samuels 
Child welfare is a rapidly changing field. Much of this change is driven by efforts to integrate research evidence into policy-making and service delivery. In his keynote presentation, Mr. Samuels will discuss how these changes affect provider agencies and their frontline staff. What are federal and state agencies doing to integrate research evidence into their requirements? What is the most relevant research evidence for practitioners? Calling on his experience as the federal government’s leading policy maker in child welfare, Mr. Samuels will address these questions and discuss how Chapin Hall is working with state, county and private agencies to effect change.
Bryan Samuels is the Executive Director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, one of the nation’s leading research and policy centers focused on improving the well-being of children and youth, families, and their communities. Under Samuels’ leadership, Chapin Hall has continued to build its reputation as a center for excellence in data analysis, innovative research, and policy expertise. He has also helped establish Chapin Hall as a national leader on issues ranging from child well-being to youth homelessness.
Before joining Chapin Hall, Samuels was appointed by President Barack Obama as Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), making him from 2010-2013 the highest-ranking federal child welfare policymaker in the country. As ACYF Commissioner, he emphasized the importance of child well-being and the use of data-driven approaches to improve the welfare of vulnerable children and youth. Samuels has over twenty years of experience in child welfare, including having served as the Chief of Staff of Chicago Public Schools under Arne Duncan and as Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. He was also a lecturer at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration from 1997 to 2003. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Sponsored by The MENTOR Network