Children and Justice


SUSAN COTTRELL was called "The Mother of All Mama Bears" by OutSmart magazine. She is a prominent voice for faith parents of LGBTQI children who has been featured on ABC's 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America, on NBC News Out, on The Advocate Magazine’s viral videos - as "our favorite affirming matriarch." She is an international speaker who was featured on the TED stage for 5,000 people at TEDxMileHigh, and whose TEDx talk will soon surpass one million views. She is a public theologian, acclaimed author, and through her nonprofit organization—FreedHearts—Susan champions the LGBTQI community and families with her authenticity and tender-hearted zeal. She challenges Christians to love as the foundation of faith. She spent 20+ years in the non-affirming Evangelical church, has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and served as the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin. Her books “Mom, I’m Gay”—Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith; True Colors - Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You; Radically Included - The Biblical Case for Radical Love and Inclusion; and Be the Love You Want to See in the World are critically acclaimed. She and her husband Rob have been married for more than 30 years and have five children, two of whom are in the LGBTQI community.


ASHIA RAY (she/her or they/them) is the founder of Raising Luminaries, helping parents and educators ignite the next generation of kind and brilliant leaders. If you're nervous about tackling hard topics with young kids, find the best children's books to foster age-appropriate conversations with your kids about white supremacy, cissexism, ableism, and more on her website at BooksForLittles.com. Ashia is a multiracial (Chinese/Irish) autistic neurodiversity rights advocate, and the mother of two kyriarchy-smashing young children.You can find her on Facebook at @RaisingLuminaries, on the web at www.BooksForLittles.com, and get exclusive community updates on Patreon at www.patreon.com/booksforlittles


CHRISTIA SPEARS BROWN, PhD, is a Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Kentucky. She earned her Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin and was previously a professor at UCLA. Her research focuses on the effects of gender and ethnic stereotypes among children and adolescents and how teachers and parents can help protect children from limiting stereotypes. In addition to more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, she has written two books, one for an academic audience, Discrimination in Childhood and Adolescence, and one for parents, Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes. Her work on the impact of gender stereotypes on children and adolescents has been featured widely in newspapers, magazines, radio, and national television.


REV. DR. JENNIFER HARVEY is a writer, speaker, and professor of religion at Drake University where she also serves as Faculty Director for the Crew Scholars Program. She has a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Her work focuses primarily on racial justice and white anti-racism. Dr. Harvey's most recent books include Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in Racially Unjust America (Abingdon Press) and Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation (Wm. B. Eerdmans). Dr. Harvey has contributed to the New York Times, CNN and been a guest on both Iowa and National Public Radio (including NPR’s “It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders”). She is a widely sought after public speaker and is ordained in the American Baptist Churches (USA).


Ryan Stollar is an advocate for children and abuse survivors and a child liberation theologian. He is a Certification Specialist for GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and a Board Member for the Child-Friendly Faith Project. Ryan has a Master of Human Services in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University and a Master of Arts in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College. Ryan has served on the boards and managed numerous social media campaigns for homeschool advocacy organizations, including the Coalition for Responsible Home Education and Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out. Homeschooled from kindergarten through high school graduation, Ryan worked over eight years as a public communications educator to high school students in homeschooling communities. His advocacy work on behalf of homeschooled students has been featured in national and international media and academia.

Twitter: @RLStollar 
Website: https://rlstollar.wordpress.com/child-liberation-theology/

Naomi O’Brien is an advocate for equity and racial & social injustice in the classroom. She has been teaching for 10 years. Her area of expertise is K-2. Naomi has been married for 9 years, has a 3 year old son and another son due in October. She creates lessons that help teachers navigate social studies lessons that are inclusive and have a global reach.


Ally Henny is a writer and speaker about race, identity, culture, and racial conciliation. She is a regular contributor for The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, where she writes about black motherhood and other topics related to the black experience from a faith-based perspective.


Lindsay ‘Lindz’ Amer creates LGBTQ+ and social justice media for kids and families. They write, produce, and co-host Queer Kid Stuff, an original LGBTQ+ educational webseries for ages 3 and up. They are the founder and CEO of Queer Kid Studios, a multi-media production company based in Portland, Maine making queer-focused intersectional all-ages media. They are a Creative Resident at SPACE on Ryder Farm, and a TED Resident, were named a Rising Star by GLAAD, a Queero by them.us, were a Webby Honoree, and have received grants from the Made in NYC Women’s Media Fund, the Awesome Project, and VidCon’s Emerging Creator program. The Huffington Post calls Queer Kid Stuff a “groundbreaking YouTube educational resource.” Teen Vogue praised their episode on consent during the height of #MeToo that “shows exactly why there’s no excuse not to grasp consent. Even toddlers can understand it.” And @shondarhimes tweeted she’s “so here for this!” 

Lindz is currently developing a children’s podcast focusing on social justice, and a narrative web series spin-off of QKS. They are also writing a picture book, and a full-length screenplay about a non-binary kid!


Gentle Parenting


IRIS CHEN is an Asian American writer, unschooler, and founder of the Untigering movement. After seeing the negative effects of tiger parenting in her own life, she began to deconstruct from her authoritarian ways. Now, she’s on a mission to empower others to untiger by promoting self-awareness, gentle parenting, and education freedom for children. She recently moved back to California with her husband and two sons after 16 years of living in China (land of the tiger parent!). You can follow her blog at untigering.com where she writes about her adventures in parenting and unschooling.

YOLANDA WILLIAMS and CRYSTAL STAMPLEY are two determined moms, immensely passionate about demystifying Conscious Parenting in the black community, raising our collective self-awareness, and making this world one where all children are empowered and encouraged to thrive as their authentic selves. We firmly believe that conscious parenting is activism against racism, and we use Conscious Parenting Time as a platform to help black parents address the complexities, nuances, joys, and magic of raising the next generation of emotionally-well men and women activists!


Leslie Priscilla Arreola-Hillenbrand is a first generation Chicana mother to two biracial girls, ages 7, 1 and expecting baby # 3 in May. Formerly an early childhood teacher and behavioral coach, Leslie has worked with children and families for over 11 years. She has a dual degree in Child Development Family Studies as well as Family Life Education from CSULB. She has worked within mental health agencies and facilitated groups for parents in schools, transitional homes, teen shelters, drug rehabilitation centers, and family resource centers throughout Orange County. She is the founder of Comadre Wellness & Education, a developing nonprofit in Orange County.


Lizeth Toscano is a Latina mother to a two year old son. She obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Southern California to continue ending the cycle of violence in her family and community. Over the course of her career, she has worked in early mental health and prenatal mental health. Lizeth has provided individualized therapy based on the cultural, socio-political, and diverse needs of individuals, families and children. She has worked as In Home Outreach counselor in a family preservation program and advocated for parent’s rights to resources. In addition, Lizeth has been a lead trainer at Echo Parenting and Education where she facilitated and developed professional trainings in Trauma Informed Nonviolent practices. She lead and facilitated workshops and classes for parents in community based organizations, LAUSD and domestic violence shelters.


Lelia Schott is a South African grateful mother of six children. She is a certified parenting coach and family counselor, an independent child development researcher, founder and writer at the international advocacy and consulting group; Synergy: gentle parenting resources, administrator at Gentle Parents Unite and contributor at several Thought Leader Forums. Lelia calls herself a messenger, not an expert. Her goal is to empower parents to empower their children.


L.R. Knost is an award-winning author, feminist, and social justice activist. She is the founder and director of the children’s rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Her work has been quoted from Hollywood to D.C. to South Africa, most notably in an address on children’s rights to the South African Parliament by the Minister of Justice. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and the youngest four of her six children.


Children and Spirituality


BRAD JERSAK (PhD) is the incoming Dean of St. Stephen's University's Master of Ministries program (New Brunswick, Canada -- SSU.ca). He is the best selling author of A More Christ-like God. He has also authored two children's books, Children, Can You Hear Me? and Jesus Showed Us.


DR. RANDY WOODLEY, PhD is an activist/scholar, distinguished speaker, teacher and wisdom keeper who addresses a variety of issues concerning American culture, faith/spirituality, justice, race/diversity, regenerative farming, our relationship with the earth and Indigenous realities. His expertise has been sought in national venues such as Time Magazine, The Huffington Post and Christianity Today. Dr. Woodley currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture and Director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at George Fox University/Portland Seminary. His books include:

Decolonizing Evangelicalism (forthcoming); The Harmony Tree: A Story of Healing and Community; Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision; and Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity. Randy was raised near Detroit, Michigan and is a legal descendent of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. Randy co-hosts the Peacing it all Together podcast with Bo Sanders. Dr. Woodley and his wife are co-sustainers of a regenerative teaching farm in Newberg, Oregon. The Woodleys have been innovators and activists for over three decades. They have four grown children and four grandchildren.





REV. CAROL HOWARD MERRITT (@CarolHoward) is the award-winning author of a number of books, including Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church (HarperOne) and a frequent contributor to books, websites, magazines, and journals. She is a writer at the Christian Century where her blog is hosted. She’s a Presbyterian (USA) minister who serves First Presbyterian Church in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Visit: http://www.carolhowardmerritt.org/


SANDY SASSO served as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Indianapolis, Indiana from 1977-2013.  She is currently the director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute.  Dr. Sasso received her B.A. and M.A. from Temple University. She was the first women ordained from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1974 and received her Doctor of Ministry from CTS in 1996.  

Sasso is the author of two books for adults and many nationally acclaimed children’s books.  She is a contributor to many publications on children’s spirituality including the International Journal of Children’s Spirituality and is a co-editor of Nurturing Children and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World’s Religions, 2006. She was co-editor with Michael Shire of the CCAR Journal on Spiritual Teaching and Transformation, 2014.  Her interview with Krista Tippet on “The Spirituality of Parenting” has been heard around the world. She has been a keynote speaker at the International Conference on the Spiritual Life of Children.  In 2004 she received the Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature and in 2019 she was honored with an Indiana Author’s Award. Her children’s book, The Shemah in the Mezuzah won the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Best Illustrated Children’s Book.


PETER ENNS has a Ph.D. from Harvard and occupies an endowed chair at his university, but he talks and writes like a normal person who loves God (and baseball) and is trying to follow Jesus day to day. 

Pete’s deep curiosity about the Bible led to questions that get to core issues of faith, but that are often taken for granted. Pete’s courage to work through tough questions rather than avoid them cost him his teaching job, and nearly his own faith, until he saw that the process was deepening his faith in new and unexpected ways. 

Now, Pete is passionate about helping us see the Bible from fresh angles to deepen our faith,  to free us to bring our doubts, fears, and questions to God, and to show us that asking our deepest and most frightening questions of faith is part of our spiritual journey...not the end!


REV. DR. JULIE FAITH PARKER is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at The General Theological Seminary in New York City. She was awarded the Ph.D. with distinction in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Yale University and is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. Her research has largely focused on children in the Bible and developing a new academic field of child-centered (or childist) biblical interpretation. Dr. Parker has authored or edited seven books (including Valuable and Vulnerable [Brown University, 2013]; My So-Called Biblical Life [Wipf and Stock, 2017]; and The T&T Clark Handbook of Children in the Bible and the Biblical World [Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2019]) and lectures in the US and abroad. She has a deep passion for exegeting stories of children in the Bible to uplift young people as essential to the Bible’s message of hope and justice.  


Matthew Paul Turner is a writer, speaker, and author of sixteen books, including the best-sellingWhen God Made You and When I Pray For You. Matthew, his wife, Jessica, and their three children live in Nashville, Tennessee.


Kim John Payne is the best selling author of Simplicity Parenting and several other parenting books. He is a consultant and trainer in public schools across the nation and around the world. He has frequently appeared on television including ABC, NBC, NPR, as well as featured in print media such as Time, Parenting, Chicago Tribune, and more.