Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work.

She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of four #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness. Her latest book, Dare to Lead, was released in October 2018, and is the culmination of a seven-year study on courage and leadership.

Brené’s TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 35 million views.

Brené lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve, and their children, Ellen and Charlie.

Alan J. Dettlaff

Alan J. Dettlaff is Dean of the Graduate College of Social Work and the inaugural Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s Chair.  Prior to joining the University of Houston, Dean Dettlaff served on the faculty of the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from TCU, and master’s in social work and PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Dean Dettlaff’s work focuses on improving outcomes for children and youth in the child welfare system through examining the factors contributing to racial disparities and improving cultural responsiveness.  His research and consultation with state child welfare systems has led to significant policy and practice improvements that have resulted in reductions in the overrepresentation of African American children in these systems.  Dean Dettlaff has also conducted groundbreaking research to identify and understand the unique needs of immigrant Latino children and families involved in child welfare.  This research resulted in the first national data on the presence of Latino children of immigrants in the child welfare system and their risk exposure.

Dean Dettlaff served as Chair of the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Education Policy from 2010 to 2016 and led the process of revising the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards that took effect in 2015.  He was named Volunteer of the Year by the Council on Social Work Education in 2014 and was inducted into the 2015 Class of Fellows of the Society for Social Work and Research. 

Dean Dettlaff is co-editor of Addressing Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in Human Services: Multisystemic Approaches and Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families: Culturally Responsive Practice, published by Columbia University Press. He serves on the editorial boards of Child Welfare, Child Abuse & Neglect, and Journal of Public Child Welfare.  He is a member of the advisory boards of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute and the Center on Immigration and Child Welfare. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Social Work Education, and is the Vice President Elect of the Society for Social Work and Research.  Locally, he is a member of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for the Homeless and Mental Health America of Greater Houston. 

Dean Dettlaff lives in Houston with his husband, former TCU football player, Vince Pryor.

Karen Walrond

Karen Walrond is an attorney, author, leadership coach, and a sought-after keynote speaker on topics such as self-empowerment, creativity, and innovation.  She has spoken extensively on leadership, ethics, diversity and inclusion at multinational corporations, universities, legal organizations and many other diverse audiences around the country.  Because of Karen’s diverse legal, corporate and creative background, she focuses on topics as wide-ranging as leadership, diversity, self-image, creativity, social media and human resource issues.  She’s also a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator, trained in Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability, courage, empathy and worthiness.  Her keynotes and workshops include these concepts, specifically addressing how vulnerability — the ability to show up in the midst of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure — is the strongest measure of courage that we have, courage which can help foster innovation and creativity.

She is the creative mind behind the award-winning website Chookooloonks.com, an inspirational source for living with intention, creativity, and adventure.  Her writing, images and other projects have been featured on CNN.com, USA Today, Good Housekeeping and Wondertime magazines, among others.  Her bestselling book, The Beauty of Different, is a chronicle of imagery and portraiture, combined with written essays and observations on the concept that what makes us different makes us beautiful — and may even be the source of our superpowers.    She has appeared on both local & national television and other news media, including PBS, Huffington Post, CNN.com and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Prior to her current career, she was the former Chief Counsel of Landmark Graphics Corporation, one of the largest software companies in the oil and gas industry, as well as the former Chief of Staff of Halliburton Energy Services.  Karen remains an active member of the State Bar of Texas.