Empowered to Connect Conference


The Empowered to Connect Conference is a
two-day event and simulcast presented by Show Hope.

Experience practical teaching in a safe and supportive community as we work to equip families, churches, and professionals to better serve children impacted by adoption and foster care.

This year’s conference took place in April and included Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) methods developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, which exists to bring attachment and connection in families. The nationwide participation in the Empowered to Connect Conference is a testament to the impact and work of Dr. Karyn Purvis. Read more about her legacy of hope and healing here.


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2019 Presenters

Daren Jones, Training Specialist

Daren Jones is a Training Specialist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. He began his career as a behavior instructor at a therapeutic day treatment program serving children and youth who could no longer function in a traditional academic school setting. After serving as a behavior instructor, Daren decided to obtain a Master of Social Work from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Daren also obtained a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He has spent the past 13 years serving youth and families within residential and foster care settings as a direct-care worker, residential-group home supervisor, and Licensed Child Care Administrator. Daren is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education at TCU in Fort Worth, where he resides with his wife and two children.

Dan and Terri Coley

Dan and Terri Coley are Show Hope founding board members who live in Franklin, Tenn. Dan also serves on staff at Show Hope as the senior director of programs. Terri serves on staff in Pre+Post Adoption Support. They have served as foster parents for more than 40 infants and birthmothers and have adopted children domestically and internationally. Their family is multi-racial and includes children with special needs. It is their hearts’ desire for every child to have a family. Through personal experience, they have come to know the importance of understanding the challenges and needs of children from “hard places.” Dan and Terri are committed to helping educate and prepare families for the adoption journey and empowering them with the tools to help children heal while maintaining healthy families. The Coleys have nine children and 10 grandchildren.

Amanda Purvis

Amanda Purvis is a Training Specialist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KP ICD) at TCU. Amanda earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Metropolitan State University in Denver, CO. She began her career working in Child Protective Services as an intake worker. She then transitioned to foster care and post-adoption support, where she spent a decade of her career before beginning her work with the Purvis Institute in December 2017. Amanda lives in Castle Rock, Colorado, with her husband and five children, and their dog, Scout.

Sarah Mercado

Sarah Mercado earned her bachelor’s degree from Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She began her career as a direct-care staff working with adolescent boys living in a residential treatment center (RTC). After serving in the RTC for several years, she shifted her focus to foster care, where she was regional director for a foster and adoption agency. Sarah spent 20 years serving youth and families within residential and foster care settings as a direct-care worker and trainer before beginning her work as a training specialist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU  in May 2016. Sarah and her family live near Austin, Texas.

Marti Smith, OTR/L

Marti is an Occupational Therapist in Austin, Texas. She is a fellow with Child Trauma Academy and a TBRI Practitioner. She carries extra certification in Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, Massage Therapy, CiSM, Therapeutic Listening, and Interactive Metronome. She is a co-founder of Simple Sparrow Farm where she helps people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to Learn, Grow, and Heal. She began her career studying Autism in the public schools until a friend encouraged her to focus on children from hard places who could also benefit from similar sensory focused interventions. She is currently raising her children and providing trainings all over the world to help caregivers understand the why behind the action and how to best support the child and help them reach their full potential. Her Trauma Tips podcast series can be found at www.creativetherapies.com.

Mark and Tona Ottinger

As part of the Empowered to Connect team for over 11 years, Mark and Tona are committed to empowering parents, professionals, non-profits, churches, and communities on how to create safe, attachment-rich spaces for children and families to thrive. In 2016 they co-founded the Memphis Family Connection Center (MFCC). MFCC is a non-profit that provides holistic attachment-centered counseling, occupational therapy, speech therapy, parent mentoring, and integrated services to the family as a whole.

Mark is a campus pastor at Fellowship Memphis Church and serves as Executive Director of MFCC. Tona is the Director of Community Based Programs at MFCC as well as Director of Empowered to Connect. They are passionate about the gospel, restoration, justice, and empowering parents and children to live deep, connected lives with one another and the Lord.

Mark and Tona have been married 22 years and have six children.

Cindy R. Lee

Cindy Lee, LCSW, LADC, specializes in providing counseling services for children, adolescents, and adults. Cindy is a TBRI Practitioner, and serves as a mentor for other practitioners. Cindy also co-founded the HALO Project and currently works as the executive director. HALO is a 10-week intensive intervention program based on the principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), for children in foster care and children who have been adopted. In collaboration with Dr. Karyn Purvis & Dr. David Cross, Cindy has published a series of children’s books based upon the valuable lessons of TBRI, which are available through Amazon. Cindy resides with her family in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Continuing Education Credits for Professionals

All professionals interested in receiving continuing education credit must register through this siteYou will not be eligible for credit without a confirmation of registration. For more information regarding CEUs, please click here.