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Adoption Reform Town Hall: Chicago, IL

April 28, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm UTC-6


This event is simultaneously ONLINE and IN PERSON in Chicago, IL.



DAI is hosting a four city national tour to educate and raise awareness about adoption and foster care adoption in the 21st century.  Before a live and virtual audience, experts and community members will explore DAI’s new public opinion research and discuss the topics that matter most today: access to original birth certificates, uniform options counseling, pre- and post-adoption services, openness in adoption and much more. The Town Hall events will reflect DAI’s overall vision to move from a transactional to a transformational approach to adoption and foster care adoption in the 21st century and to strengthen all families.

Discussion topics and panel questions will be inspired by our public opinion research. Each Town Hall will open with a thought-provoking presentation from DAI, followed by a moderated panel discussion of experts. Audience members onsite and online will be able to pose questions.

Our Chicago Town Hall will use our groundbreaking public opinion research to educate and raise awareness about adoption, inspire solidarity within the adoption community and advocate for evidence-based policy changes. Do adopted people have a right to their original birth certificates? What about their first/birth family’s medical history? Join us in Chicago as we explore all of this and more! Sign up for updates as we share more about the questions we will be exploring.


April DinwoodieGabriel BlauAmanda BadenLeslie Pate MackinnonJoyce Maguire PavaoNathan Ross

april-dinwoodie-headshot-1-196x218April Dinwoodie is a nationally recognized thought leader on adoption and foster care. As Chief Executive of the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), April is committed to improving laws, policies and practices through sound research, education and advocacy. She is also a co-founder at Fostering Change for Children, a progressive nonprofit that helps drive innovation in the child welfare system.

Before joining DAI, April created a specialized mentoring program called “Adoptment,” in which adults who were adopted and/or spent time in foster care serve as mentors to youth in care. As a trans-racially adopted person, April shares her experiences at workshops and conferences to help potential adoptive parents and professionals understand both the beauty and complexity of adopting children of another race.
Before she entered the non-profit world, April served as a senior level executive within the marketing and communications departments of some of the most recognized fashion retail companies including: Nine West Group Inc., Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., and J. C. Penney Company Inc., where as Divisional Vice President, she was instrumental in driving transformational change via brand engagement and publicity. Most recently, April served as the Director of External Media at JetBlue Airways, where she managed proactive and reactive communications.

On the agency side, April has worked with Fleishman-Hillard and Ruder Finn on campaigns supporting powerhouse brands such as Gerber, Subway and Cingular Wireless (AT&T). While at Ruder Finn, April championed a web-based teen anti-violence campaign (“Love is Respect”) for The Texas Council on Family Violence. The campaign helped to increase engagement and web traffic by 83% and garnered a WEBBY Award for Activism in 2007.

gabriel-blauGabriel Blau is a nationally acclaimed advocate for LGBTQ families and their communities. For more than 15 years his work has focused on LGBTQ rights, faith, and equality.

He served as the Executive Director of Family Equality Council where he and his team pursued a strategy to reframe the very notion of family values through policy, community engagement, and public education to expand the national conversation about children, parents, and what it means to support families in America. He has been called “A dad fighting for all dads” and has represented these issues on television, in newspapers, and in front of legislators.

He is also the founder of the former God & Sexuality Conference at Bard College and a member of the board of advisors of the LGBT Religious Archives Network. He was named one of The Advocate’s 40 Under 40 in 2014, and honored by the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. He lives with his husband and their son in New York.

Amanda Baden, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership at Montclair State University in N.J. She is a licensed psychologist with a clinical practice in Manhattan.

Her research and practice focus on adoption triad members, transracial/international adoption issues, racial and cultural identity, and multicultural counseling competence. She is on the editorial board of Adoption Quarterly and co-chairs the Biennial Adoption Initiative Conferences in New York. She was a columnist for Families with Children from China Journals across the U.S. and Canada and is an editor of the book, The Handbook of Adoption: Implications for Researchers, Practitioners, and Families. In 2005, she received an Angel in Adoption Award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Leslie-Pate-Mackinnon-lcsw-250-196x218Leslie Pate Mackinnon, L.C.S.W., has maintained a private psychotherapy practice for four decades. She is in private practice in Atlanta, GA, where she works with individuals, families and groups.

Drawn to the field by placing her two firstborn sons for adoption when she was a teenager, her passion today is to educate as many therapists as possible before she drops! She has been involved in adoption education and reform for many years. Mackinnon, an expert on the complex issues encountered by these modern families, speaks nationally and internationally, and is especially committed to educating the psychotherapeutic community about adoption and donor issues. She currently serves on the Donaldson Adoption Institute’s Board of Directors. She has been on GOOD MORNING AMERICA w/ Robin Roberts, and on CNN discussing the impact of the Internet on adoption. She was featured in DAN RATHER’s investigative report; ADOPTION OR ABDUCTION and was most recently on the Katie Couric show along with her oldest son Pete. Leslie’s story is included in the book, The Girls Who Went Away, and the documentary A GIRL LIKE HER.

Joyce-Maguiro-PavaoJoyce Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT, was the Founder and CEO of Center for Family Connections, Inc. (CFFC – est. 1995-2012) in Cambridge, MA and New York. Adoption Resource Center was founded in 1978 and PACT (Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training) was established in 1982-becoming part of CFFC from 1995 to 2012. PACT and ARC are back standing on their own, as of March, 2012. Dr. Pavao is building comprehensive post adoption services throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with Riverside After Adoption Consulting and Training (AACT) they are doing an extensive project with the Department of Mental Health in Massachusetts.

Dr. Pavao has done training, both nationally and internationally. She is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and has consulted to various public and private agencies, schools, and the court system. Additionally, she has worked closely with individuals and families created by adoption, foster care, and other complex blended family constructions. She has developed models for treatment and for training using her systemic, intergenerational, and developmental framework The Normative Crises in the Development of the Adoptive Family and her book The Family of Adoption (1998/2005) has received high acclaim. Dr. Pavao has received many awards and honors, including the Adoption Excellence Award for Family Contribution (2003), and the Angels in Adoption Award (2000).


Nathan Ross is the youth programs supervisor for Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association and has a bachelor’s degree from Park University in social psychology. Nathan works with former and current foster youth on crafting their stories and advocating for positive systemic changes within the child welfare system. A former foster youth adopted at 13 years old, Nathan began using his own personal experiences as young adult to help resource parents and child welfare professionals better engage and support young people who have suffered from trauma. He has spent the last eight years advocating throughout the country for a system that fights against child abuse and neglect, and looks forward to the day when all children who enter care find permanency in loving, supportive homes.


April 28, 2016
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:


The Donaldson Adoption Institute


Chicago History Museum
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614 United States
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