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Meet Keynote Speaker, Elia Hernandez-Moreno 
National Program Director of Communication Across Barriers

Elia serves as the National Program Director for Dr. Donna M. Beegle's organization, Communication Across Barriers, a national and international consulting firm that serves professionals, organizations, and communities on breaking the cycle of poverty in America. Elia also holds the position of National Director of Community Outreach for the No Excuses University Network of Schools, a growing network of 250 schools who promote college readiness for all students, especially those living in poverty.   Elia serves on many boards and committees including a state board, Texas Christian Community Development Board.

Elia is bilingual, and a master at assisting organizations and individuals who seek to implement fresh ways to connect with those living in poverty.  Elia was selected as a 2015 USA Characters Unites Award Winner by USA Network, the winner of the 2016 Suddenlink Community Impact Award as well as bestowed the privilege of being named the 2016 Amarillo Beta Sigma Phi Woman of the Year. Most recently she was honored with the 2017 Amarillo Hispanic Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award.

GRC Sessions:  Elia will discuss her personal journey and insights on the importance of adding value to the lives of others when working on the front lines during her Keynote.  Elia will also lead participants in a painting session during Renewal time.  During this session, Elia will share information from her second book on the importance of self-care and strategies to avoid compassion fatigue, improve coping abilities, and find time to reenergize.  


Meet Keynote Speaker, Susan Burton
Founder of A New Way of Life (ANWOL)

Ms. Burton struggled to rise above a life of poverty, violence, and loss. As a way to cope, she fell harder into substance misuse and became enmeshed in the cycle of mass incarceration for nearly two decades. After being released from prison for the sixth time, Ms. Burton was finally able to access recovery services in an affluent area of Los Angeles. There she discovered and embraced opportunities that were never offered before. Determined to bring those resources to areas plagued by poverty and over-incarceration, Ms. Burton founded A New Way of Life (ANWOL) in 1998.

Ms. Burton is a co-founder of All of Us or None (AOUON) and the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM), both national grassroots civil rights movements composed of formerly incarcerated individuals, their families and community allies. In collaboration with UCLA’s Critical Race Studies Program, she launched an employment rights reentry legal clinic, which has grown to be the largest of its kind in Southern California.

Susan has earned numerous awards and honors for her work. In 2010, she was named a CNN Top Ten Hero and received the prestigious Citizen Activist Award from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is a recipient of the Encore Purpose Prize (2012) and the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award (2014). In 2015, on the 50th Anniversary of Selma and the Voting Rights Act, Susan Burton was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of eighteen new civil rights leaders in the nation. Released in 2017, her memoir, Becoming Ms. Burton, received a 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in the category of Biography/Autobiography. Becoming Ms.Burton is also the recipient of the inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice. In 2019, Susan received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from California State University, Northridge.

After a 2017-18 tour with her memoir in 64 prisons and jails in 26 states and three countries, Ms. Burton launched the SAFE (Sisterhood Alliance for Freedom and Equality) Housing Network to replicate A New Way of Life’s effective and humane reentry model. Since 2018, Ms. Burton has mentored and supported seventeen organizations in twelve states (Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington) and two countries (Uganda and Kenya) to open their own safe homes.

Ms. Burton will share her story of tragedy, incarceration, and return to help others who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. As the founder of A New Way of Life, she will describe the organization's program that provides housing, case management, pro bono legal services, advocacy, and leadership development for people rebuilding their lives after incarceration.

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