Mr. Wrege is President of PULSE Issues & Advocacy LLC, a Washington, DC-based government relations firm he founded in February 2007. PULSE provides a range of local, state and federal advocacy, research and policy services with an emphasis on health insurance, healthcare and general business issues.
Kevin is a licensed attorney, a registered Washington, DC lobbyist and a respected conference speaker. He has appeared on NBC's Today Show and CNN, he is a published op-ed writer and he has been quoted as an industry expert in a variety of general news and healthcare industry publications. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science magna cum laude from Hobart College and a law degree from Boston College Law School. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar. Kevin, his wife Elizabeth and their adopted children Cole and Grace reside in Washington, DC.
Mr. Blacquiere has served as President of Bethany Christian Services since January 1, 2006. Beginning in 1986, Bill served as Bethany's Chief Operating Officer for five years, providing leadership and team management to 75 locations across the United States and overseeing adoption and social services in 13 other countries. Prior to becoming COO, Bill was Bethany's Michigan Director of Operations. He also has ten years' experience with the Michigan Department of Social Services. Bill graduated from Calvin College and earned his master's degree in social work from Western Michigan University. Bill is a member of the Leadership Alliance of Pregnancy Care Organizations and serves on the boards of the National Council for Adoption and the Christian Alliance for the Orphan.
Ms. Cox serves on the Adoption Review Committee, identifying obstacles that impede the department's ability to find permanent placement for children and to search for ways to improve the foster care system. Heidi has served with the Gladney Center for adoption for nearly 20 years and has impacted thousands of lives for the better- adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees. During her time at Gladney, she has been instrumental in coordinating over 2,000 adoptions. Ms. Cox is a dedicated and passionate advocate for women and children. She is extremely involved in local and national advocacy.
Ms. Cox received her B.A. in History and a minor in both German and Philosophy from Trinity University. She also attended the University of Freiburg, Germany for one semester for general studies. And finally, went to Texas Tech University school of Law for her Doctor of Jurisprudence.
Fred Helm is Vice President & Counsel in the Richmond office of Kemper Consulting. His practice focuses on state government procurement. Mr. Helm provides successful procurement strategies in technology, health care, insurance, and other areas. He advises clients concerning contracts, regulations, and business opportunities. He also lobbies the General Assembly and the executive branch, using strong relationships developed over 15 years of experience.
Before joining Kemper Consulting, Mr. Helm was a law partner in the Government Affairs Section of Williams Mullen. His practice at Williams Mullen focused on government relations, legislation/lobbying, technology procurement and regulatory matters.
From 1994 – 99, Mr. Helm served in the administration of Governor George Allen as Assistant Commissioner for Legal and Legislative Services at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. He acted as the agency’s in-house legal and procurement counsel as well as primary legislative lobbyist.
Mr. Helm also served as a commercial litigation attorney with McGuire Woods. He served as the law clerk for United States District Judge Claude M. Hilton, and as the legislative assistant to Congressman D. French Slaughter, Jr. of Virginia.
Mr. Helm has been recognized as one of Virginia’s Legal Elite by Virginia Business Magazine. He is a member of the Virginia and District of Columbia Bars, and the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference.
Mr. Helm received his law degree from William & Mary Law School, where he was selected to serve on the William & Mary Law Review and received an American Jurisprudence Award. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.
Phil joined Holt in 2003 as the vice president of marketing and development, served as senior vice president from 2008-2012, at which time he was appointed president and CEO. In the ten years before he joined Holt's leadership staff, Phil worked for what is now the world's largest marketing and communications agency exclusively serving nonprofit organizations – the Russ Reid Company in Southern California.
A father of three, Phil adopted his two sons domestically at birth. After fostering several children in their home, he and his wife recently adopted their youngest – a daughter – from the local foster care system.
Brian Luwis is the CEO of America World Adoption, an international adoption agency he founded with his wife, Renee. Brian and Renee have five children, four through adoption and one through birth. As the CEO, Brian serves as a 40+ hour/week volunteer – not taking a salary for his work. Prior to starting America World Adoption, Brian was an architect and builder in the Washington, DC area where he has lived for over 40 years. Brian has a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and an undergraduate degree in architecture. Brian also serves on the Board of Directors for the Christian Alliance For Orphans. Brian and his wife, Renee, volunteer with the adoption/orphan ministry at their church.
Bio coming soon.
Rosemary C. McDonough is a development consultant and free-lance writer with over 35 years’ experience in fund raising. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, with a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she has served non-profits ranging from Ivy League universities and independent schools to a small award winning theater company.
Rosemary was on the board of the National Council For Adoption from 2002-2010, and was Board Chair from 2005-2008. She has authored a bimonthly column for her community paper, “The Main Line Times,” is an inner city mentor and volunteer, and is a member of Franklin and Marshall College’s Council for Women.
She has been married for 33 years to Walter McDonough, an attorney. Rosemary is adopted, as are the McDonough’s two children: Molly, 24, born in Philadelphia; and Patrick, 20, born in Santiago, Chile. The McDonough’s live in Narberth, PA, west of Philadelphia.
Ms. Reynolds is the Principal partner in a private consulting firm, SJR Associates, based in Oakton, Virginia. As a consultant, Reynolds advises clients on media relations, marketing, program development, public and government relations. Her consulting expertise is in alcohol and other drug issues, crime and violence, marketing plans for small organizations. Ms. Reynolds is the former director of the American Council for Drug Education in its efforts to eliminate alcohol and other drug abuse through preventive and educational programs.
Prior to launching her consulting firm and before her employment at the American Council for Drug Education, Ms. Reynolds worked for Special Olympics International in a variety of positions. Her experience there included training, public relations, marketing and development. She began her work career on Capitol Hill and a lobbying group in downtown D.C. during her education pursuit of a Masters in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University. She graduated with a BA in Political Science from The College of Charleston.
Ms. Reynolds has been and is currently active in many non-profit organizations such as The Gladney Center for Adoption, CharityWorks, National Council For Adoption, Ronald McDonald Childrens Charities, Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation, and many others. She is married to Kevin Reynolds and has two children, Brooke and Brandon, and two golden retrievers.
Mr. Rosen is an attorney whose practice is primarily in the field of adoption, has a law office in Malvern, PA. He holds a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University, an M.B.A. from the University of Arkansas, and a J.D. from Widener University School of Law. In 1988, he co-founded La Vida International, a private nonprofit adoption agency, and currently serves as legal counsel to the agency.Mr. Rosen is a Fellow in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and a member of NCFA’s Board of Directors, and chairs the International Committees of both organizations. His other memberships include the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Chester County Bar Association.
Mr. Sharp was adopted at birth by two loving and inspirational parents, Bob Henry and Mayana Yates Sharp.
After receiving his Ph.D. (International Trade & Finance) at Michigan State University, Wayne had a distinguished 25-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, was twice awarded the "President's Meritorious Foreign Service Award", and served two years in the White House as an Assistant Director of the President's Council on International Economic Policy.
Upon his retirement in 1991, he became a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), developed and for 18 years directed a very successful, client-focused Financial Planning Practice, known as Sharp, Konopaske & Associates, which he turned over to his business Partner, Gregg S. Konopaske, in June 2009.
Wayne now devotes his professional, economic, financial ,and leadership skills as a volunteer and philanthropist in the areas of Adoption, Children's Health, Musical Arts, and his Community Association. Wayne and his wife Linda have resided in McLean, Virginia since 1984, and have two adult children, Catherine Lynette Sharp of Rosslyn, Virginia, and Stephen Wayne Sharp, and his wife, Peggy, of Mountain View, CA.
Wayne worked closely with and became a good friend of the founder and first CEO of the National Council For Adoption, Dr. William Pierce. Since the mid 80s, Wayne has served as a volunteer on International Adoptions, the Hague Convention, and many other issues. In 2007, Wayne was elected to NCFA's Board of Directors, became the Treasurer in 2008 and Vice Chairman in 2012. Wayne served as Chairman of NCFA's 30th Anniversary Gala in 2010.
Bio coming soon.
Bio coming soon.
Rebecca Spicer serves as the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). As the chief communications officer, she manages the communications strategy for the trade association, which represents 3,300 licensed, independent beer distributors nationwide. She manages internal, membership and external communications and also develops and executes key public relations strategies related to the association’s advocacy priorities.
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) honored Spicer with the Rising Star Award, and PR Week magazine recognized her as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” public relations professionals in the country. Additionally, she has been published in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Washington Times, National Journal and The Daily Caller discussing NBWA advocacy issues.
Prior to joining NBWA in 2007, Spicer served at the White House as the Associate Director of Communications. There she produced televised events for President George W. Bush including bill signings, press conferences, state arrival ceremonies, state dinners, taped messages and interviews. She managed the coordination and execution of press events in a fast-paced environment, reacting quickly to national and world developments while coordinating the needs and interests of numerous offices at the White House.
Spicer also worked in television news for 12 years. She produced the award-winning 6 p.m. newscast at WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. Spicer received the Outstanding Newscast Award from the Associated Press; the Outstanding Continuing Coverage Award from the Associated Press for coverage of the 2002 sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C., region; and an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding News Program for coverage of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
Before moving to Washington, Spicer worked at KTRK in Houston, Texas; WTNH in New Haven, Connecticut; WVTM in Birmingham, Alabama; and CNN in Atlanta, Georgia. She began her career as a high school intern assisting with “Snow Bird” school cancellations at WSMV in her hometown, Nashville, Tennessee.
Spicer attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and Studio Art. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Telecommunications from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
A devoted Sewanee graduate, Spicer has served in multiple volunteer positions for the university, including Board of Trustees alumni representative; Sewanee Club of Washington, D.C., president; and fundraising and reunion chair for her class. In 2007, she received the Young Alumni Award, which is presented for outstanding achievement in a profession, untiring service to the community and repeated loyalty to and support of the university.
She serves on the National Advisory Council for the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee, and on the Salvation Army Advisory Board of the National Capital Region.
Spicer lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Sean, and their two children.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Stern graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1952 and Temple University in 1956. Upon graduation, he served in the United States Army (Infantry) from 1956 to 1958, after which time he became a Manufacturer's Representative in the jewelry industry.
Mr. Stern is a founding member of the NCFA Board since 1980. He has served as Chairman of the Board five times, for a total of 13 years. He is president of his homeowner's association and has served on his town's planning board for five years, serving as Chairman for the last three. Mr. Stern and his wife moved to Florida in 1997. He is currently enjoying service on NCFA's 30th Anniversary Gala Committee and planning his 12th Cheltenham High School reunion.
Steve Sunday has worked in the field of adoption for more than 30 years as a caseworker, supervisor, and administrator. Currently he is President and CEO of Covenant Adoption and advisor to the adoption advocacy support organization, United For Adoption.
Since graduating with his MSW in 1981 from Arizona State University, he has worked professionally in Arizona, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Utah.
Steve was the project lead on the award winning Adoption, It’s About Love television and radio commercials in partnership with Bonneville Communications. He is a passionate advocate for the needs of children worldwide. In 2009 he was appointed to the board of directors for the National Council for Adoption. In addition, Steve serves on the board of directors for the Foster Care Foundation for the State of Utah and chairs their fundraising committee.
Reflecting on his life’s work, Steve commented that it has been one of the choicest blessings in his life to be associated with the great work of caring for children and building families. Steve and his wife have seven children and eleven grandchildren.
Mike Thorne joined the Yankee Candle Company in 2006 and currently is President of their Wholesale Division. Prior to joining Yankee Candle, Mike was employed by the Russell Corporation where he began as a Business Development Manager in 2000 for the Spalding division and then was promoted to Vice President of Sales on the Spalding, Huffy, BPI brands in 2003. Mike then became President, Russell Athletic Team and Bike Athletic Divisions in October of 2004. In total, he spent 20 years working in sales and marketing leadership roles within the sporting goods, footwear, and apparel industries before joining the Gift industry with Yankee Candle.
As President of Wholesale at Yankee Candle, Mike oversees the sales, marketing, and operations of a 70 person department responsible for candle and home fragrance products sales in wholesale channels across the US. His major goals are to enhance the brand’s market position, profit structure, and sales growth while developing and training the organizational talent in his department.
Mike graduated from Assumption College with a BA in Economics in 1986.
Andrea T. Vavonese is Senior Counsel at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. She focuses her practice on government contracting and commercial litigation. Ms. Vavonese serves as general counsel for government contracting firms, including a construction company and a technology management company, advising on all aspects of dealing with the federal government, including procurement, contract negotiations, protection of intellectual property, changes and compliance. She also represents clients, including technology companies, on litigation matters relating to claims against the US Government, contract disputes, intellectual property disputes and construction disputes.
Ms. Vavonese has conducted jury and bench trials, arbitrations and mediations. She has argued motions in federal, state and administrative courts and has taken and defended numerous depositions. She has handled federal bid protests and federal and state appeals, including matters before numerous Federal Boards of Contract Appeals.
From 2002 to 2006 Ms. Vavonese served as litigation counsel for VeriSign, Inc., where she defended and prosecuted lawsuits, governmental investigations and subpoenas for the company and its subsidiaries worldwide. She handled patent, trademark, domain name, unfair competition, earnout and employment litigation. She also worked closely with senior management to develop litigation strategy and mitigate litigation risk.
Prior to joining VeriSign in 2002, Ms. Vavonese was an associate at Akin Gump.
Ms. Vavonese received her B.S. in accounting from the State University of New York at Geneseo in 1991, where she remains actively involved in the Alumni Council Career Committee. She became a certified public accountant in 1993. She received her J.D. magna cum laude in 1997 from the Catholic University of America, where she was a member of the Catholic University Law Review.
She is a member of the District of Columbia and Virginia Bars and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and various federal trial and appellate courts.
Ms. Vavonese is committed to supporting the needs of children, serving on the board of directors for the National Council For Adoption, her children's elementary school PTO and Developmental Connections, an organization that assists families with children with developmental disorders.
For 33 years, NCFA has been the authoritative voice for adoption. Our research and education programs have led the way in promoting sound, ethical adoption policies and practices that have enabled children to find nurturing, permanent families through adoption.
America's Christian Credit Union (ACCU) believes every child deserves a forever family. Their adoption loan program has helped place over 1,000 children in loving homes. In addition to adoption loans, ACCU provides effective banking solutions to individuals and ministries that empower them to reach their financial goals while expanding God's Kingdom. Click here to read more >>