Battered  Women, Abused Children, and Child Custody:

"A National Crisis"

The 13th Annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference
"Custody Litigation, Trauma, and Recovery"
May 4th, 5th, and 6th, 2018


BEN ATHERON-ZEMAN is a public speaker and comedic performer on issues of violence prevention. He has given performances and keynotes in 45 states, Canada, England, Turkey, China, South Africa, India, Nepal and the Czech Republic. Ben has spoken and performed at colleges, high schools, public theaters, conferences, houses of worship, and juvenile detention facilities. For almost thirty years, Ben has worked as a prevention educator for rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs, and state coalitions. He is an advisory board member for the White Ribbon Campaign in the United Kingdom and a blogger for Ms. Magazine.

Ben is learning how to use Twitter, and occasionally tweets as @feministben. He’s trying to popularize the hash tag #menlistentowomen. Ben identifies as a “recovering sexist”* and believes every man must challenge violence and sexism in the world and in themselves. He met and fell in love with his incredible wife, Lucinda, sixteen years ago while they were both doing improvisational comedy; they live in Maynard, Massachusetts and have no children except themselves.

For information about Ben’s one-man play, “Voices of Men,” please go to

*Please note: if you’re reading this out loud, please make “air quotes” when you say the phrase “recovering sexist.” It’s (hopefully) funnier that way. Thank you!

LUNDY BANCROFT is the author of Why Does He Do That, The Batterer as Parent, and other books, articles, and presentations on battering dynamics.   He has spent the last fifteen years of his career specializing in domestic abuse and the behavior of abusive men and is considered one of the world’s experts on the subject. He is the author of journal articles on abuse that have appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of Contemporary Psychology. The former codirector at Emerge, the nation’s first program for abusive men, Bancroft now practices in Massachusetts while training various state and judicial agencies in dealing with domestic abuse situations.

LEE BARNETT/alias ALEX GELDENHUYS is a mother/fugitive/prisoner/felon/story teller of the truth/always; Mother.
I fled the United States with my daughter, Savanna in 1994 with false passports and a desperate need to fulfill the promise I made to her, “Mommy will always protect you.” Through five continents, nearly 20 years, a second marriage, another child and imprisoned, I eventually was extradited in chains back to Charleston, South Carolina where it all began. Now I’m here and free to tell the true story.


MELANIE BLOW is an incest survivor, a biochemist, a writer, and is absolutely passionate about ensuring that every child has a safe home. She leads Stop Abuse Campaign’s NY projects, is a member of the Board of Directors for Prevent Child Abuse NY, and sits on the Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking. She blogs for the Stop Abuse Campaign, testifies in front of legislators, and talks to anyone who wants to learn about child abuse or how to prevent it. Melanie lives in Rochester, NY.

DARA CARLIN has a master’s in Marriage & Family Counseling, and is an independent Domestic Violence Survivor Advocate who has spent the majority of her career working in CPS-related and non-profit social service agencies. A survivor of both child abuse and domestic violence herself, she now spends most of her time fighting to correct the system she used to work in. Dara is a practicing Catholic and Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) teacher at her parish in Hawaii.

RHONDA LEE CASE is the Portland Liaison for Dr. Riane Eisler’s Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence and Co-Coordinator for the “We Will Speak Out” campaign to end sexual and gender-based violence, a project of IMA World Health. She is a survivor of institutional betrayal trauma and domestic violence. Her son, Louis, a victim of traumatic abuse, was the subject of a costly contested custody dispute in Oregon. He took his life in December 2014. May his memory be a blessing.

PHYLLIS CHESLER is the author of Mothers on Trial.

HOLLY COLLINS is a Protective Mother. Jennifer and Holly Collins –
Just before Christmas in 1992, Jennifer Collins was torn from her loving mother’s arms and handed over kicking and screaming to the father who had so abused her. A family court judge had ordered a change in custody for both Jennifer and her brother Zachary, based largely on the junk science of ‘parental alienation syndrome’.  The court was not interested in hearing from the children.
The court then further silenced Jennifer and her brother by telling them they were not allowed to even talk about the abuse they continued to suffer at the hands of their father. If they did, they would no longer be allowed to see their mother at all.
So, believing that there was no other choice, in 1994 Jennifer’s mother Holly heroically rescued her and her brother and fled on an incredible journey in search of safety. They made it to the Netherlands where, after living in refugee camps for 3 years, they were the first Americans to receive Asylum!
It has been two decades since she was forced to live with her abuser but unfortunately little has changed. Still too many children are forced to suffer the same fate as Jennifer and Zachary. 

JENNIFER COLLINS is part of the Courageous Kids Network.
They say kidnapping is bad for you. 22 years after she was kidnapped the verdict is finally in on the damage that was (or was not) done to Jennifer Collins resulting from her mother kidnapping rescuing her from an abusive father and fleeing from the United States of America to protect her from abuse.
As an adult survivor of severe childhood abuse Jennifer Collins will take a lighthearted, direct and humorous approach to illustrate how resilient children can be if they know they have support from at least one loving parent. She will look back at what things her mother did that helped her and what you can do to let your child know that even when physically absent you are still there for them.

MICAELA DEMING, Esq., LLC is the Staff Attorney and Assistant Director of Legal Clinics at the Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law. Attorney Deming represents protective parents in family law matters, particularly when child maltreatment is an issue. She is a member of the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence, and has presented locally and nationally on topics related to sexual assault and abuse, domestic violence, and child maltreatment. Attorney Deming works tirelessly on individual cases and on systemic issues to help keep protective parents and children safe from domestic and sexual violence.

NANCY S. ERICKSON (J.D. Brooklyn Law School, LL.M. Yale Law School, M.A. Forensic Psychology John Jay College of Criminal Justice) is a consultant on issues relating to law and psychology, particularly child custody evaluations and domestic violence.
    For eight years she was a Senior Attorney at Legal Services for New York City, Brooklyn Branch, representing low income clients– primarily battered women – in divorce and other family cases. For over ten years, she was a professor of law, teaching at New York Law School, Cornell, Ohio State, New York University, and Seton Hall Law School. She has also been an attorney for the City of New York, a Legal Services attorney with the National Center on Women and Family Law (no longer in existence due to funding cuts), and an attorney in private practice.
    She has written books and articles on family law, including domestic violence, child support, custody, marital property, attorneys for children, custody evaluations, and adoption. She is currently researching and writing in the area of custody evaluations.


MAUDE GORMAN is a 21 year old communication and journalism student at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. She is the president and founder of her own anti-bullying non-profit organization and has served as a faithful volunteer to the American Red Cross, Avon Walk For Breast Cancer, New England Aquarium, Horizons for Homeless Children, and Autism Speaks. Gorman also enjoys volunteering as a piano instructor for struggling teens at a local community center, and organizing beach clean-ups throughout Massachusetts. Continuing on, Gorman’s efforts have helped raise over $4,500 for the Epilepsy Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network, and World Wildlife Fund. In her downtime, Gorman enjoys snowboarding competitively for the United States of America Snowboarding Association and has earned herself several national and international rankings over the years. Gorman has also claimed the privilege of working as a co-host on Henry’s Baseball Show, as well as a media-directed marketing volunteer for the TV series “Obsessed With The Dress.” Throughout her reign as Miss Massachusetts World America, Gorman plans to promote her platform statement of sexual assault awareness by working directly with fellow survivors. To request Miss Massachusetts World America for an appearance please contact: gormanmaude@,

BARRY GOLDSTEIN is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate.  He is responsible for some of the leading books about domestic violence and custody, including Domestic Violence, Abuse and Child Custody (the second volume is now being printed) co-edited with Dr. Mo Therese Hannah, Representing the Domestic Violence Survivor co-edited with Elizabeth Liu, Scared to Leave Afraid to Stay and his newest book, The Quincy Solution: Stop Domestic Violence and Save $500 Billion. Barry has been an instructor in a NY Model Batterer Program since 1999. He is co-chair of the NOMAS Child Custody Task Force and on the board of the Stop Abuse Campaign which is working to implement the Quincy Solution and the Safe Child Act. Barry was an attorney for 30 years, but now is a nice guy.

MO THERESE HANNAH, Ph.D., Conference Chair, is a Professor of Psychology at Siena College. She is a licensed New York State psychologist with a specialty in couple’s therapy and relationship dynamics. She is an Advanced Clinician in Imago Relationship Therapy and an Academic Faculty member of Imago Relationships International. Her clinical and research interests revolve around couples therapy, intimate partner violence, and transpersonal psychology. She serves as the Editor of Family and Interpersonal Violence Quarterly and has published seven books, including as Co-Editor, with Barry Goldstein, Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody: Legal Strategies and Policy Issues, Volumes 1 (2010) and 2 (in press). In 2004, she co-founded and continues to serve as Chair of the annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference (BMCC;

DANA HANUSZCZAK is an organizer for the Voices of Women Organizing Project

KEITH HARMON SNOW is the author of Worst Interests of the Child.

STORMY HAYES has an Associate’s Degree in Radiology Technology, specialized in Mammography, MRI, Cardiology and Trauma Radiography. I also have an Associate’s Degree in Arts, specialized in teaching and acting. I have also done research on Arnold-Chiari.
I am a mother of three grown kids, and like so many, went through a very bad divorce. I have seen generations of abuse and learned that the stories make sense when you try to leave. Many things are discounted by law enforcement and the medical field, simply because they don’t have the experience or training. I hope to change that.

TOBY KLEINMAN is a NJ attorney and a partner in the law firm of Adler & Kleinman. She has litigated domestic violence, child custody, and abuse cases and has been a consultant in legal cases dealing with domestic violence and child abuse in over 45 states.  She is an Associate Editor of The Journal of Child Custody, published articles and editorials in the Journal of Child Custody, written a Legal Affairs column for the Trauma Psychology Newsletter of Division 56, the American Psychological Association’s Division on Trauma, has published articles in The New Jersey Law Journal, has two chapters in the book, The Broken Family Court and is currently working on the 3rd Edition of Social Work and The Courts: A Casebook with co-author Daniel Pollack.  Voted a NJ Super Lawyer, Ms. Kleinman has trained family court judges in several states, is an adjunct Professor to the Center for Psychological Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Ft Lauderdale Florida, and is called as a guest expert on network television, including Good Morning America and World News Tonight.

LIANE J. LEEDOM, M.D. is a psychiatrist and Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology at the University of Bridgeport. She teaches in the Graduate Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, and in the Undergraduate Psychology Program. For the past 10 years she has dedicated herself to researching and assisting with the needs of survivors of domestic violence and their children. Her publications include peer-reviewed journal articles and books for the public including Just Like His Father: A guide to overcoming your child’s genetic connection to antisocial behavior, addiction and ADHD.

DORCHEN LEIDHOLDT is the director at the Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services, Sanctuary for Families, NYC

PATRICE LENOWITZ is a domestic violence survivor, advocate and activist. She is the founder and co-facilitator of The Nurtured Parent Support Group, a weekly support group empowering survivors of domestic abuse. Of paramount importance to her work is advocating for victims’ rights and to unravel why family court often fails to protect the most vulnerable among us, victims and their children in crisis seeking a life free from abuse. Patrice is also the co-playwright with author Lundy Bancroft of FORBIDDEN TO PROTECT, a theatrical production that tells the true stories of family court victims, and raises questions about the improper court response to domestic violence and child abuse. FORBIDDEN TO PROTECT is expected to open to audiences in the fall of 2015. Last year, Patrice co-founded the Children’s Justice Campaign with actress Kelly Rutherford. The CJC is a national organization that seeks to protect children’s constitutional rights and promote their health and wellbeing in law and society. As a Community Educator for the Center for Hope and Safety, Patrice speaks publicly to a wide range of audiences on the dynamics of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking, and their palpable threat to our nation’s women and children. To further address these issues in her home state, Patrice and crime victims’ attorney Rich Pompelio have teamed up to form a statewide grassroots project that calls for family court and child protective services reform. WE THE CHILDREN is a revolutionary movement in the area of child victims’ rights and made up of members from every county in the state of New Jersey.

DOREEN LUDWIG Doreen Ludwig divorced her abuser in 2004.  She was the full-time mother of her 7 & 8 year-old daughters yet, through fraud and false accusations, was eliminated from all contact in 2006.  Doreen learned the law, filed numerous appeals, and became informed of the potential that fatherhood funding fueled the obvious denial of due process.  Nine years later, Doreen published “Motherless America:  Confronting Welfare’s Fatherhood Custody Program” and founded Mothers Against Court Custody Abuse/MACCAbuse ( to educate, demand accountability and reform.   Doreen continues to research federal custody funding with the support of Leora Rosen and Connie Valentine. 

RENEE MAZER is the creator of the Award Winning, critically acclaimed and top selling Not Too Scary Vocabulary. She is an honors University of Pennsylvania Grad, Penn Law Alumni, Mensa Member, award winning attorney and founder of High Score, a test prep company. She was the mother of two happy, thriving boys. For the past few years she has been writing a book to bring attention to her bright, articulate son Fletcher’s plight and spending her time begging people for help. A custody Judge gave her violent (well documented) ex-husband full custody of their son to keep him wrongly institutionalized against the laws which has resulted in suicide attempts and a near death coma. Renee has not been allowed any contact with Fletcher for over a year. “Free Fletcher!”

MARALEE MCLEAN is a child advocate, protective parent, domestic violence expert, professional speaker, and author of PROSECUTED BUT NOT SILENCED: Courtroom Reform for Sexually Abused Children. Maralee has several articles published in the ABA Child Law Journal and in Women’s E-News about the problems in our family courts not protecting abused children. Maralee is affiliated with the Women’s Media Center (WMC), SheSourceExpert, NPEIV (National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence) and is with RAINN speaker bureau. Her passion for advocacy developed through living a mother’s worse nightmare. Fighting the system both body and soul, she gained the insight that this was not her nightmare alone. She organized a National Rally of Mothers at the Capitol and is involved in legislative work that spans over two decades.  She testified before Congress to promote judicial accountability to better protect sexually abused children’s rights in our courts. Her story has been covered by many media outlets and internationally on CNN.

LISA MEHOS is an educator, certified Yoga instructor, and mother of two who is dedicated to bringing the healing and empowering benefits of yoga to children, adults, and those who struggle to overcome obstacles, including domestic violence survivors. Her certifications encompass children’s yoga, family yoga, and trauma-sensitive yoga. Committed to the mission that everyone deserves compassion, respect, and equal opportunity, she has developed curriculum for children ages 2-13 years old in pre-schools, elementary schools, and shelters; providing support in underserved communities, where yoga can help transcend barriers of race, gender, and economic status.
Lisa is also certified in trauma-sensitive teaching methodology that includes a comprehensive understanding of trauma and vicarious trauma, including the effect of trauma on the brain and body; triggers and resources. Although yoga cannot eliminate the hardships people face in life, her goal is to help empower others to overcome obstacles and trauma through yoga; combat bullying; and build resilience and strength.
      She has worked with New York Cares, NYS Education Department, Gilda’s Club, and community programs for children and adults throughout NYC. Her background includes experience in NYC schools, business community, shelters, recreation centers, and private instruction. A graduate of Emma Willard School and Boston College, she taught Step Aerobics and earned an AFAA certification, while completing a B.S. degree in Business and Human Resource Management. She worked in that field, before starting a promotional products company; until her own children influenced her to dedicate herself to the health and well-being of children, individuals, and families.

LILIANE HELLER MILLER, Conference Vice Chair.  In 2004, she co-founded and continues to serve as Vice Chair of the annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference (BMCC;

PATRICIA MITCHELL is a longtime child advocate for over 18 years, lending a voice to children in foster care and providing direct assistance to parents who have been unjustly separated from their children (she and her only child became unlikely victims of Child Protective Services). Patricia is the founder of ‘Patricia’s Children,” a non-for profit organization. She presents her research and analysis at nationwide conferences and events, advocating for policy and procedural improvements within the CPS industry. In her early years, a former Michigan State Champion in children’s storytelling, and Michigan’s Miss Teen runner up, she was recently invited to speak in front of both the Michigan House of Representatives’ Family Children and Seniors Committee and the Michigan Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect. She is a classically trained actress, also spent a decade as a successful fashion model, working in seven countries. Patricia holds a B.A. in Communications, and has attended Colorado College and King’s College in London. She is a Practitioner of the Zen Mountain Buddhist Monastery for over a decade and since 2004, an ambassador for Menla Mountain Retreat Center (managed by the ‘Tibet House’ in NYC/owned by the Dali Lama) yet she also is a practicing Catholic. Patricia has a mainstream book on pop Buddhism coming out next year; she makes her living as a professional photographer. She currently lives in New York State.

WENDY MURPHY is an adjunct professor of sexual violence law at New England Law Boston where she also co-directs the Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project under the Center for Law and Social Responsibility. A former Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School, Wendy prosecuted child abuse and sex crimes cases for many years. In 1992 she founded the first organization in the nation to provide pro bono legal services to crime victims. Wendy is an impact litigator whose work in state and federal courts has changed the law to better protect the constitutional and civil rights of victimized women and children. Wendy writes and lectures widely on the rights of women, children and criminal justice policy. She is a contributing editor for Women’s eNews and writes a regular column for The Patriot Ledger. Wendy has published numerous scholarly articles on novel legal issues including the first law review article to describe the legal relationship between sexual assault on campus and Title IX. Dubbed the “Goddaughter of Title IX” by the “Godmother of Title IX,” Dr. Bernice Sandler, Wendy’s impact litigation in the area of campus sexual assault, beginning in the 1990s, includes a first of its kind case against Harvard, which was filed with the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education in 2002 and led to widespread awareness and reforms in the redress and prevention of campus sexual assault. Other impact litigation and topics of scholarship include: ensuring that “anti-bullying” laws are not used to inhibit the public’s understanding of sexual harassment as a civil rights injury; using due process and standing doctrine to address gender bias in criminal rape cases; using constitutional privacy rights doctrine to protect victims’ therapeutic counseling files; forcing state courts to comply with the American with Disabilities Act and grant testimonial accommodations to disabled crime victims; protecting the parental rights of women who become pregnant from rape; protecting child rape victims from court-ordered rape; protecting the free speech rights of victims so they can use words such as “rape” and “victim” during trial.
Wendy is a popular and bold speaker on the lecture circuit who describes herself as “fiercely non-partisan.” Wendy is also a well-known television legal analyst who Emmy Award-winning journalist Emily Rooney calls the “best talker” on television with a “finger on the pulse of victims’ and women’s rights.” Wendy has worked for NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News. She regularly provides legal analysis for network and cable news programs. Her first book, “And Justice For Some,” was published by Penguin/Sentinel in 2007.

ELSA NEWMAN is a formerly incarcerated protective mother, advocate, government attorney, artist, and writer. After finishing Goucher College in 3 years with Honors and attaining a J.D. from University of Maryland Carey School of Law with an Asper Fellowship in prisoners’ rights, Elsa clerked for the Honorable Judge Samuel Lehrer in Philadelphia. As a merit appointee to Assistant Attorney General, Elsa prosecuted physicians for licensing violations and represented the Commonwealth in court. She handled arbitrations and taught business law at Harrisburg College. Elsa was an attorney at the Solicitor’s Office of the Federal Labor Relations Authority in Washington, D.C., for many years where she won awards for her litigation skills. She volunteered in promoting court programs for young adults and was a six year docent at the U.S. National Arboretum. Elsa was listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Only the reach of family court could enable her conviction as a conspirator of one to a crime committed by a member of the Safe Child group Elsa created to educate the public. The conviction was reversed by the high court which ruled no evidence existed against her, and testimony from a terminated divorce lawyer was unusable. The prosecutor plus the divorce characters who targeted her for her implication of her children’s father in child abuse pursued her, and she was in prison for years. She wants to express her eternal gratitude to Dr. Mo Hannah and all stalwarts who toil unceasingly for mothers and children trapped in America’s family courts. She holds dear her happy childhood embedded in her parents’ love: traveling the world, excelling in school and regularly featured on Philadelphia public television for English and art. Elsa currently assists in criminal justice initiatives.

HOPE NEWTON is a Parent Advocate, Organizer, Voices of Women Organizing Project  

ELIZABETH RICHTER   Elizabeth A. Richter is a freelance writer who has published a number of articles in Glamour Magazine, Liberty Magazine, Psychotherapy Networker, Open Minds Quarterly, Spare Change News, Storyteller Magazine, and The Hartford Courant. She currently writes extensively for  the “Divorce in Connecticut” blog in connection to legal matters affecting protective mothers and has edited two books of essays associated with the blog.. Elizabeth has a B.A. from Mt. Holyoke College, an M.L.A. in English from Harvard University Extension School, and a certification as a High School English teacher from Umass/Boston. She is also certified as an ADA advocate by Equal Access Associates, and Advocacy Unlimited. For  twelve years she was an adjunct instructor in the English Department at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, CT.  She also co-owned and managed a small veterinary pathology service for many years. Currently, she is a single mother of three and lives in CT with her partner, Sherif.  To contact Elizabeth, you may do so via email at:

KATHLEEN RUSSELL is the Executive Director at the Center for Judicial Excellence.  She is a Co-Founder and the Executive Director of the Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) in Marin County, California, where she implements all of the organization’s media and legislative advocacy work. For the past decade, Kathleen has advocated for legislative and administrative changes that promote judicial accountability and better protect children’s rights in the judicial system.
     Currently, Kathleen is working with the California Protective Parents Association to pass Assembly Bill 2098 into law, which would allow children age 10-14 to speak directly with the judge or commissioner in their parents’ family law case. It passed unanimously out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. She is also leading a coalition that is pushing for greater transparency and accountability for California’s judicial discipline process. This coalition stopped the state’s Commission on Judicial Performance from receiving additional funding it requested from the state legislature to increase its staff, and the Commission is now being pressured to adopt greater transparency. Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed CJE’s Senate Bill 594 into law, mandating that custody evaluators must follow the minimum standards set forth in the law when writing their reports (a recent appellate court decision in CA had allowed a trial court judge to accept a custody evaluation that the evaluator admitted had violated the law).
     Previously, Kathleen organized the first-ever White House Briefing on the Family Court Crisis in May 2010 and she addressed the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women about the family court crisis on March 2011. She also led the Center’s 17-month legislative effort with Senator Mark Leno to secure the unanimous passage of an audit request through California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC). The results of the Audit of the Marin and Sacramento County Family Courts that were released in January 2011 showed significant accountability problems in nearly every area measured. Kathleen and her colleagues Steve Burdo and Connie Valentine also led the successful two-year effort to pass Fiona Ma’s Assembly Bill 1050 into law, granting children 14 and older the right to testify about their wishes in California family courts.
     Kathleen produced the latest CJE video project, Kids of Divorce Speak Out. Kathleen also co-directed and produced the 2008 award-winning documentary Family Court Crisis: Our Children at Risk and served as creative director and writer for the companion photo exhibit entitled Family Court Crisis: Surviving A Broken System.

TOM SHANAHAN is a NYC based civil rights attorney

keith harmon snow has worked as a journalist, war correspondent, genocide investigator and photographer in many countries -- often traveling by simple means (mountain bike, raft, horse, foot) to enable a deeper engagement with reality.  He is the 2009 Regent’s Lecturer in Law & Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recognized for over a decade of work documenting war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.  He is also a certified Holotropic Breathwork facilitator, and author of the non-fiction book: The Worst Interests of the Child: The Trafficking of Children & Families Through U.S. Family Courts.

ANNE STEVENSON is a Journalist   

ANITA TARNAI, Ph.D., is an educator and researcher. Her research focuses on the impact of trauma on language and memory. As part of her research, she reviews Holocaust survivor testimonies for the Shoah Foundation, translates for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and has piloted a discussion group on war and literature for veterans.

KAYTE THOMAS is a clinical social worker and mother of two biological children and two stepchildren. She is a passionate advocate for social justice and is currently working with legislators in her state to introduce new laws that would improve the family court system and prevent abuse. Ms. Thomas has been taken to court repeatedly by her former spouse since 2008. With no indication of an end to her own custody challenges, she is now using her advocacy skills to uplift the rights of mothers and children who have endured similar experiences.

LISA A. TIESZEN, MA, LICSW is the Project Director of the Advocate Education & Support Project (AESP) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and has a private consulting and psychotherapy practice in Brookline, MA.  Lisa teaches widely on issues related to domestic violence, personal and professional boundaries, and stress management.  Since 1999, she has worked with community providers to develop a better response to the Secondary Traumatic Stress/Vicarious Trauma experienced by interpersonal violence advocates.  She is currently Resource Coordinator for the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit project, funded by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and based at Northeastern University.

Lisa has spent over 30 years developing advocacy programs in health care, working with survivors, and training providers.  In 1986, she helped to develop the Advocacy for Women and Kids in Emergencies (AWAKE) project at Children’s Hospital and in 1994 initiated the Safe Transitions:  Domestic Violence Intervention program at Beth Israel Deaconess.

DEANNE UPSON   Ms. Upson is an Economist who has focused the majority of her career on highly complex economic analyses related to climate change, air quality, and energy analyses.  For example, Ms. Upson contributed significantly to President Bush's economic analyses of climate change policies and advanced technologies for domestic and international negotiations.  Ms. Upson led extensive policy and regulatory efforts for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Ms. Upson is a Consultant on economic, energy, technology, and environmental issues across a wide range of industries.  Ms. Upson has an MBA International Banking and Finance and a BS Economics, both from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Ms. Upson also has an AS Engineering from Ferris State University.​  Ms. Upson has been involved in Advocacy work on domestic violence issues since 1990.  Ms. Upson is a Victim and Survivor of family court child custody abuse and related domestic violence.  Ms. Upson is currently very happily married, has a wonderful German Shepherd Dog, and loves equestrian and outdoor activities.

CONNIE VALENTINE has an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling, is the co-founder of CA Protective Parents Association (CPPA) and has been instrumental in creating Mothers of Lost Children, a social movement to counteract the efforts of batterers and molesters to regain power and ownership over women and children. Mothers of Lost Children began with three mothers in prayer in Davis CA Central Park over a decade ago. We patterned ourselves after the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina, mothers protesting the capture and torture of their adult children by government forces.

GARLAND WALLER is the Director of the Television Graduate Program, an assistant professor, and an award-winning producer-writer-director of nationally syndicated and local television and independent film programs. No Way Out But One, her second indie feature documentary, won a Silver Award at the Colorado Film Festival and was a selection for the Bare Bones International Film Festival. She has also won an Indie, an Accolade, and a Telly award. No Way Out But One, initially a documentary short, was selected for The Unspoken Film Festival on Human Rights and also won a Telly. Screenings have taken place in New York, California, Colorado, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, and Washington, DC, to name only a few. The documentary focused on Holly Collins, the first American woman to be granted asylum by the Dutch government on grounds of domestic violence. The goal of No Way Out But One is to expose the failure of America’s family courts to protect battered women and their children. ( Small Justice: Little Justice in America’s Family Courts, her first independent production, was produced under the banner of Garland Waller Productions. National awards include Best Social Documentary, NY International Independent Film Festival, GirlFest Indie Award, Award for Media Excellence 8th International Conference on Family Violence, and the Key West Indie Film Fest. Waller’s early awards for television productions include the Grand Prize and the Gold Prize at the International Film Festival of New York, the Iris Award for Best Entertainment, two Ohio State Awards, five New England Emmys and two Action for Children’s Television Awards.

ANDREW WILLIS is the CEO of the Stop Abuse Campaign. Born in Hong Kong, schooled in Great Britain and traveling ever since. A Captain in the British Army, he spent much of his life practicing integrated marketing communications for global brands like IBM, American Express, HP, Citi and the Royal National Institute for the Blind. A survivor of both child sexual abuse and domestic violence, Andrew has dedicated the second half of his life to ending abuse and alleviating the suffering of those involved.