Keynote Speaker Pat O'Brien
Pat O'Brien is the Founder & First Executive Director of You Gotta Believe! The Older Child Adoption & Permanency Movement, Inc. Pat ran the day-to-day operations of this homelessness prevention program for its first 18 years of existence from 1995 to 2013. Pat continues to work in an advisory capacity at You Gotta Believe while he also works as a consultant in the following areas: 1) advocating for permanent parents for all teens and young adults before they age out of foster care; 2) utilizing laughter and playfulness to alleviate the stresses, tensions, and pain of everyday living and particularly during times of stress; and 3) teaches on the power of unconditional commitment which is the primary form of love-in-action that matters to traumatized youth placed into forever families from foster care.
Pat has his Master of Science degree in Social Work from Columbia University. In May 2013, Pat was elected President of the New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children, an organization that supports foster and adoptive parents throughout the State of New York. Pat is also the President of the Family Builders Network, a network of adoption agency executives and trainers across the United States who meet as a professional group to discuss pressing issues as it relates to helping find and support families who adopt children with special needs. Pat is also the Vice-President of Voices for Adoption, a Washington based group that educates Congress about important issues related to adoption. Pat recently accepted an appointment to the Advisory Board of the Treehouse Foundation a community of foster and adoptive parents living together with caring neighbors. In addition, Pat is a Senior Trainer with the National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness. Finally, Pat also serves as a board member and is a Senior Consultant to the National Center on Adoption and Permanency.
Pat produces and often hosts a live weekly radio broadcast called The Adopting Teens and 'Tweens Radio Forum that airs every Sunday night from 6:30-7pm Eastern Time on 1240 on the AM dial. A live stream of this broadcast can also be listened to on-line by logging on thewww.am1240wgbb.com every Sunday from 6:30-7pm Eastern Time. Archives of inspiring interviews with many people who adopted youth who were over 18 at the time of placement are available for listening at no cost at www.adoptingteensandtweens.com.
In October 2007 Pat was also honored with an Angels in Adoption award by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Pat was also honored for his over a quarter of a century individual work in adoption with an Adoption Excellence Award by the US Department of Health & Human Service's Children's Bureau in October 2013.
Currently, Pat is currently serving a two-year sabbatical working the job experience of his life as a Wendy's Wonderful Kids (WWK) Recruiter, the signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, with Klingberg Family Centers based in the State Connecticut. Pat has committed the past year of his life, and the next year, as a full time recruiter finding permanent parents for youth with goals of APPLA who might have been freed for adoption but have no discharge plan beyond being prepared for adulthood and ultimately being discharge to no one but his or her self. WWK is attempting to get these youth between the ages of 16-21 into a permanent lifetime forever families before their final day in care.