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The 10th Annual Strengthening Families Summit: The Power of Stories

September 22, 2022
Grappone Conference Center, Concord

Grounded in the Strengthening Families Framework, the 10th Annual Summit: The Power of Stories, extended its lens to an important vehicle for communicating family strength: storytelling. Stories have the power to move, heal, and expand our perspectives. One personal story can influence decision-makers more powerfully than legions of protesters.


We spent the day looking at how stories promote protective factors, explore the collection and dissemination of stories, and consider how the power of stories can be harnessed to strengthen families and build stronger communities.

This year's Summit was an engaging in-person experience that convened parent leaders, practitioners, and community members who engage in family support and strengthening from around our state. We prioritized showcasing NH expertise with an eye toward presenters and attendees representing the diverse cultures and perspectives in our state. The day was one of learning, sharing, and recharging.  LISTEN KEYNOTE ANN GARVIN by clicking the button below!

Summit Objectives


Explore the important role that storytelling can play in creating strong families and supportive communities. 


Highlight storytelling initiatives that amplify the voices of parents, caregivers, children, and youth, especially those in New Hampshire.


Explore multiple dimensions of collecting, disseminating, and crafting stories that honor the teller and the story. 


Provide an opportunity for parent leaders and professionals to recharge and recommit to this important work. 


Meet our Keynote Speaker

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Ann Garvin, Ph.D. is the USA Today bestselling author of I Thought You Said This Would Work (released May 2021), I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not AroundThe Dog Year, and On Maggie’s Watch.  She is in the process of writing Falling In Love Is The Easy Part which will launch in 2022.

Ann worked as an RN and after receiving her Ph.D. taught Exercise Physiology, Sport Psychology Nutrition, Stress Management, and Global Health for thirty years in the University of Wisconsin system. She currently teaches creative writing at Drexel University in their low residency Master of Fine Arts program and has held positions at Miami University and Southern New Hampshire in their Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing programs.

Ann is the founder of the multiple award-winning Tall Poppy Writers where she is committed to helping women writers succeed. She is a sought-after speaker on writing, leadership, and health and has taught extensively in NY, San Francisco, LA, Boston, and at festivals across the country.


Workshop Block 1

The Story Teller's True-North. Twin Questions that get to the heart of the matter
Presented by Ann Garvin, Ph.D.

This presentation will expand on Dr. Garvin's keynote address, and will focus on the power of storytelling, and how storytellers should "present" their stories to people who listen to stories for a living. How do we get the heart  of an individual's story? How do we find the truth amidst what makes us most human so we can help in a concrete way? Dr. Garvin  will reveal the answers to those questions, by sharing that one is easily gotten, while the other comes from asking the right questions, listening acutely, and being mindful of what makes humans human.  

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Ann Garvin, Ph.D. is the USA Today bestselling author of I Thought You Said This Would Work (released May 2021), I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around, The Dog Year, and On Maggie’s Watch.  She is in the process of writing Falling In Love Is The Easy Part which will launch in 2022.

Telling your Story - The Science of Communication
Presented by Kenneth Smythe-Leistico, EdD, MSW, LSW, assistant professor and director of MSW Field Education

This interactive session will explore the foundations of decision-making science and what moves people to engage with your messaging. It will offer a simple, three-question rubric for the evaluation of your current (and future) communication artifacts and highlight common messaging pitfalls. It will also explore the methods we use to adapt our communications to a variety of audiences, and how these adaptations expand interest and reduce social distance. It will answer the questions of, "Which audiences should I connect with?" and "What pathway should be used to reach them?" There will also be plenty of laughs and interactions with Ken!

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Ken is known for having worked with dozens of agencies across the country on implementing best-practices in non-profit communication. He is an assistant professor at Carlow University and MSW field director. His presentation will focus on the importance of experiential and applied learning, and how he merges evidence-based approaches and practical service delivery to create innovative practices that get results.

Stories We Tell - A Catalyst for Change and Growth
Presented by  Kathryn  Wilson, LMHC, program director, Parenting Journey, and Cristina Pachano, LMHC, clinical director, Parenting Journey

In this workshop, Kathryn and Cristina will introduce a  method of approaching and healing from trauma that involves expressing and interacting with our stories, and making meaning from them, through experiential activities that bring mind, heart, and body together.

They will present action-oriented techniques derived from Family Therapy and the Parenting Journey program, such as sculpting, psychodrama, role reversal, and other experiential tools and techniques. The underlying values include working with families in a non-hierarchical model, empowering parents by encouraging them to see their own innate strengths and developing roadmaps for parents for healing and growth. 


Kathryn Wilson is a licensed mental health counselor with a specialization in trauma-informed and strength-based practices. She earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Pace University. Her career has been dedicated to supporting individuals and families in nonprofit and community mental health settings.


Cristina Pachano has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Boston College, and a certificate in advanced graduate studies from Cambridge College, with a concentration in family therapy studies. She previously served as a mental health research clinician at Massachusetts General Hospital. Before emigrating to the United States, she worked as a licensed psychologist in Caracas, Venezuela.

Storytelling with Data - Plotlines, Program Development, and (sometimes) Surprise Endings 
Presented by Becky Berk, M.Ed., data administrator, New  Hampshire Children's Trust, and George Tremblay, Ph.D., lead evaluator, Behavioral Health Improvement Institute, Keene State College

From conception to implementation to evaluation, every program has an anticipated story line: Who will be reached/served and why, with what activities, and for what expected result? But what happens when the anticipated story is different from the story that unfolds? This workshop explores the practical use of quantitative and qualitative data in storytelling and what we learn when our assumptions are challenged. Through case studies, small group discussions, and guided activities, participants will explore the essential questions that arise when program participation or results are better or worse than expected. Using curiosity, the principles of CQI, and best practices in communicating with clarity, this workshop will ensure that you are learning as much, or more, from your programs as your intended recipients.


Becky Berk has worked in New Hampshire’s nonprofit sector for 35 years as an executive director, grant-writer, consultant, and program improvement specialist. As the data administrator for the New Hampshire Children’s Trust, she leverages her experience in the effective use of data – including data collection protocols, benchmarks, dashboards, storytelling, and processes for continuous quality improvement – on behalf of the network of family resource centers in the state.

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George Tremblay, a lead evaluator with the Behavioral Health Improvement Institute at Keene State College, helped design the data platform used by the family resource centers to “tell the story” of their work.

Words Matter-Telling an Asset-Based Story to Funders
Presented by Kelly Laflamme, MPA, senior consultant/grant writer, Pear Associates

The words we use to tell our stories matter. This is especially true when telling the stories of our organizations, our communities, and the families we serve to our funders. In this session we will learn how to use "asset-based" stories that emphasize systems and solutions, rather than people and problems. Attendees will learn how asset-based stories can inspire funders and other partners to support the work of mission-driven organizations.

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Kelly Laflamme has more than 25 years of nonprofit experience as a grant writer, grant maker and communicator. As a consultant for Pear Associates, she supports mission-driven nonprofits at the local, regional, and national level, including charter schools, professional associations, and human service organizations. Kelly worked for the Endowment for Health for 10 years, prior to joining Pear Associates.

Workshop Block 2

Story Lab - Applied Story Work in the Community 
Presented by Kirsten Durzy, MPH, and Sarah McPhee, MPH 

In this two-hour workshop, Kirsten and Sarah will share information about the applied use of "story-work" in the community, and how the concept is applied to group work, ethics, and technology. Facilitators will also guide participants through a narrative writing, or interview process, reflecting their experience during the COVID pandemic. At the conclusion, participants will have an opportunity to gain experience about how to upload their stories to the project story compendium.

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Kirsten Durzy is a public health professional who has worked in multiple states and partnered with organizations in the nonprofit and public sectors. She has also worked with higher education institutions and provided expertise in strategy, governance, community engagement, and facilitation to various public-private collaborations across New Hampshire. 

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Sarah Kennedy McPhee has worked in public health for the last 20 years, where she has focused on the fields of reproductive health and HIV education. She is a skilled manager, teacher, and community health educator.

Incarcerated Parents - Parenting after Prison
Presented by Anthony Payton, writer and podcast host 

Anthony will share his story about what it was like to be a parent while incarcerated, and what his parenting journey has been like since his release. His presentation will revolve around what it is like to “re-establish” ties and building bonds. He will share what he has learned, through all his trials and errors.

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Anthony Payton is a Brooklyn-born, New Hampshire-based, award-winning columnist and podcast host. In addition to being a father, he is a regular freelancer for the Granite State News Collaborative and its partner, ManchesterInkLink. Anthony is a co-founder of “The B.O.S.S. Initiative,” which helps men and women return to society from incarceration.

Stories of Resilience - Overcoming Substance Misuse and looking to the future 
Presented by Joanne Malloy, Ph.D., MSW, research associate professor, UNH, Macey Muller, MBA, MP, project director, Institute on Disability, Jen Williams, assistant project coordinator, and panelists Whitney Brown, Jordan Brown, and Emily Carrera

The Institute on Disability is training paraprofessionals who work in family resource centers, community health centers, and treatment and recovery centers, to support children, youth, and their caregivers who are impacted by substance misuse. Three trainees will talk about their work with parents in recovery and share several stories of parents who lost everything but are now rebuilding their lives.

Joanne Malloy has been working with youth and young adults with emotional and behavioral challenges for 26 years and has used ethnography to identify the challenges and strengths of young people. She has presented on youth resilience and person-center planning for 25 years. She created the intervention program for youth, called RENEW (Resilience, Empowerment, and Natural Supports for Education and Work) that is being implemented in New Hampshire and ten other states. The goal of RENEW is to elevate young voices and develop a support network with each youth.

Advocating with Your Story  
Presented by Rebecca Woitkowski, Esq., policy director, Kids Count, Emma Sevigny, Esq., Children's behavioral Health Coordinator, Jess Wojenski, trainings manager, New Futures

Learn how your story can influence policy change in New Hampshire! This workshop will provide an overview of the New Hampshire State Legislature, with a focus on how to advocate in the legislative process. We will review the landscape of Early Childhood policy in the state and discuss upcoming legislation in 2023 that you can influence by sharing your lived or professional experience. We will also provide examples of how stories have influenced past policy change in the field. We will then provide a storytelling framework and offer time for participants to practice authoring their own story. We will conclude with a discussion about the ways you can use your story to communicate with elected officials and the public to make change in New Hampshire!


Rebecca Woitkowski leads policy and advocacy efforts to address the needs of children and families in New Hampshire. She and Emma have collaborated extensively with advocates to develop their stories and empower individuals to use their voice for change.


Emma Sevigny and Rebecca have worked in tandem addressing the needs of children and families in New Hampshire. Their colleague, Jess Wojenski, has been the training manager at New Futures for three years, and has delivered 150 trainings that have taught Granite Staters how they can get their voices heard  at the statehouse.

It's Your Story-You Should Tell It
Presented by Reverend LaTaska Nelson, Mdiv , SPACEs in Action, Hope Joyner, member, relationship manager,
SPACEs in Action 

We each have a story, and you are the perfect person to tell your own!  In this session we will learn the art of "active listening." We will connect our values, reflect on common problems, and identify the solutions that are beneficial to all.  We will take a storytelling journey that will end with the discovery of bold solutions and action steps we can use to amplify our tales. 

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Reverend  LaTaska Nelson is a Health Equity Organizer with SPACEs In Action, a grassroots, membership-based, multi-racial organization in D.C./Montgomery County, MD. She leads SIA's work to educate families about health programs in D.C. that  support babies, toddlers, and their families. 


Hope Joyner is the Membership and Relationship Manager with SPACEs In Action. She leads the cultivation of organizational systems to support leadership development.




, Networking & Continental Breakfast


Welcoming Remarks


Keynote by Ann Garvin, Ph.D.


Morning Break


Workshop Block 1


Lunch & Networking


Workshop Block 2

Summit Program Now AVAILABLE

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Continuing Education Units

This event has been approved for professional CEU’s with the National Association of Social Workers – NH Chapter and the NH Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals.


Thank you to our Sponsors!

Community Sponsor


Family Sponsors

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Friend Sponsors

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Neighbor Sponsors
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For sponsorship opportunities please contact Diane Hastings, Community Relations Coordinator at

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