Spots still available for ‘Strengthening Families Summit’ June 8 – 9

Jun 01, 2011

Gov. Sam Brownback to speak June 8

A limited number of registration spots are still available for The Kansas Strengthening Families Summit, a two-day event presented by Newman University, other educational institutions, community leaders and public and private agencies to help Kansas families.

Family SummitThe event will take place Wednesday, June 8, on the campus of Newman University, 3100 McCormick, and Thursday, June 9 on the campus of Friends University, 2100 W. University, both in Wichita. The summit will feature a keynote address by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, and a variety of presentations, speakers and workshops designed to gather the latest research about and the most effective approaches to making Kansas families stronger and healthier.

The Kansas Strengthening Families Summit is open to the public. Registration is $45, which includes two lunches and continuing education units (CEUs) for qualified participants. To register or for more information, visit

The event will gather together national, regional and state experts, policy makers, community leaders, and social service practitioners and clinicians who are committed to taking informed action to help strengthen Kansas families. Event organizers and speakers stressed that the summit is designed to benefit families of all socioeconomic levels.

“The desire for a happy home is not an income-specific phenomena, but the resources and skills needed to achieve the dream of the ‘white picket fence’ are not equally available to all,” said Jennifer L. Baker Psy.D., LMFT, a member of a panel scheduled to speak at the summit on June 8 who is director of the Center for Professional Solutions in the School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute in Springfield, Mo. “Over the years I’ve heard it said by well-meaning professionals that ‘those people,’ meaning low-income folks, were not interested in marriage. However, this has not been my experience. It didn’t matter if I was teaching at our county jail, supervising students seeing couples at our community-based mental health center, or teaching a workshop to middle and upper-middle class couples in a retreat center – they all wanted a happy, healthy relationship. When we make healthy marriage and relationship education available to every segment of our community, we make our community a better place to live.”

Other speakers noted the important role a healthy family plays to children, and that Kansas is ahead of many other states in the nation in providing resources to help families.

“Marriage matters to kids and that’s what it’s all about,” said Bill Coffin, former special assistant for Marriage Education at the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and current executive director of The Institute for the Development of Emotional and Life Skills (IDEALS). “I expect Kansas will soon move to the top tier of states providing support to marriages and families. Kansas is on a roll and this Strengthening Families Summit is the right event at the right time.”

The summit is designed to collect the latest research on the social and economic impact of healthy family relationships, learn about current evidence-based practices to strengthen families, and build new connections for state and community collaboration, according to Mike Duxler, Ph.D., a summit organizer who is associate professor of social work at Newman University and program manager of Marriage for Keeps, Catholic Charities, Wichita.

“A large focus of the summit will be to capture as much of each participants’ comments throughout the two days as we can, and to assimilate this into priorities and an action plan to benefit families in Kansas,” Duxler said. “We want to share our collective expertise in the area of marriage and family, with the dual purpose of applying research findings and identifying innovative and impactful strategies that have a proven track record.”

Duxler noted that Brownback, who will join with members of his cabinet to speak at the summit, has stated that two main goals of his administration are to turn the economy around and to strengthen families, and that one can’t be done without the other.

Duxler said the summit is expected to draw people from many professions, groups and fields of interest, including medical, faith, African-American, Hispanic, business, government, the legal system, education, and many others. The summit is funded entirely from in-kind support from universities and financial contributions from local businesses and non-profit groups, he said.

On June 8, sessions and presentations by nationally and regionally known speakers will take place during the day at Newman University, while 10 to 12 critical conversation forums made up of topic-specific issues related to family strengthening will take place in the evening. The evening forums will be held on the campuses of Newman, Friends, Wichita State University and the Kansas University Medical Center-Wichita, with no more than 15 people per group led by a national leader in each respective area. On June 9, the summit will feature a variety of sessions and topic-specific workshops led by many summit participants who spoke June 8. All workshops will take place on the Friends University campus.

A general agenda and featured speakers for the summit are noted below. For full details and to register visit, or contact Diane Longfellow at the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, 316-268-1141, or [email protected].

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, June 8 – Performance Hall, De Mattias Fine Arts Center, Newman University
7: 30 – 8:15 a.m. –
Welcome, Check-in and visit vendor booths
8:30 – 11:30 a.m. – Morning Session
Keynote Address by Governor Sam Brownback
Rob Siedlecki, Secretary of S.R.S., State of Kansas
Gary Allen, Office of Family Affairs, MDRC Research
Bill Doherty, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
National Panel – Peter Larson, Ph.D., Prepare/Enrich; Lief Noll, Ph.D.; Kay Reed, Dibble Institute; and Courtney Harrison, National Healthy Resource Center
Ann Menard, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
1 – 4:30 p.m. – Afternoon Session
Robert Moser, M.D., Kansas KDHE Secretary
Regional Panel – Jennifer Baker, Psy.D., Operation Us; Ryan Carlson, A.B.D., University of Florida; Matt Munyon, M.S., University of Florida; Kendy Cox, Oklahoma Marriage Initiative
Jack Myrick, Community Outreach Manager
Nick Barton, Prestigious Films
Jon Rolph, Visioneering Wichita
Kansas Panel – Sherdeill Breathett, KAMI; Mike Duxler, Ph.D., Newman University; Charlotte Shoup Olsen, Ph.D., CFLE, Kansas State University; Joyce Webb, Ph.D., KHMI; Curtis Whitten, Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority; Deborah Zelli, Ph.D., Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence

Thursday June 9 – Friends University
8:30 – 11:45 a.m.
– Morning Session
Workshops – See Web site for details
1 – 2:30 p.m. – Afternoon Session
Workshops – See Web site for details
2:45 – 3:30 p.m. – Wrap Up

The Family Strengthening Coalition is an emerging group of Kansas community leaders and professionals committed to strengthening the family relationships children depend on to thrive. The Coalition aims to connect and collaborate with businesses, agencies, and services through pro-active research based community initiatives with both immediate and generational impact. Partners in the Family Strengthening Coalition are: EMPAC; Friends University; Kansas Healthy Marriage Institute; Kansas State University Research and Extension; Kansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence; Meritrust; Newman University; Pure & Simple Health Education, Inc.; The Rolph Family; University of Kansas School of Medicine – Wichita; Wichita State University, and Visioneering Wichita.