Women Empowerment Series Conference

Registration Here

You’re Invited to our first SERVE Conference!


The overall goal of this conference is to equip practitioners and professionals across various disciplines how to best empower women and girls in areas of leadership, congregations and mental health. All six research assistants will share their personal research. Breakout sessions in which faculty from our Waco Campus and practitioners from Houston will present on more specific areas of women’s empowerment. No matter the discipline, becoming an ally to women and girls strengthens individuals and communities.

Dinner will be served on Thursday and breakfast and lunch on Friday.

The conference will be $25 for community members and $15 for Baylor field instructors, and task supervisors.

CEUs will be provided for those who attend!


Anna Coffey – Keynote Speaker

With a background in social work, public health and law, Ms. Coffey has pursued her passion for building healthy, strong communities. She has served women in a wide range of roles from working with rural women in West Africa to helping women make smart decisions about health care. Most recently, Ms. Coffey served as President and CEO of The Immunization Partnership for 9 years. Ms. Coffey has an undergraduate degree in social work and a law degree with a specialization in public health. She has also been published in several peer-reviewed journals.

Danielle Parrish, PhD

Dr. Parrish began her social work career as a clinical social worker in a large public mental health system where she provided infant mental health, outpatient mental health, and juvenile justice mental health services. During this time, she was struck by the discrepancy between the growing literature demonstrating the efficacy of certain behavioral health treatments and a lack of their consistent use in practice. Dr. Parrish joined the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work in August 2018 after serving on faculty at the University of Houston for nine years. Dr. Parrish is also affiliated faculty with the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

Jon Singletary, PhD

Dr. Singletary was named dean of the Garland School of Social Work in 2015.  As a member of the faculty, Singletary taught and developed courses in community practice and social justice. Dr. Singletary is a very accomplished researcher and has published many articles in many journals. His main research focuses include advocacy and social justice, community development, and strengthening congregational community ministries. Dr. Singletary has served as a pastor as well as a social worker.

Holly Oxhandler, PhD

Dr. Oxhandler joined Baylor University’s Garland School of Social Work in Fall 2014, upon completing her Ph.D. at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on the intersection between ethical and effective integration of clients’ religion/spirituality and the evidence-based practice process in mental and behavioral health treatment. She developed the Religious/Spiritually Integrated Practice Assessment Scale, which assesses mental healthcare providers’ (social workers, psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and nurses) attitudes, perceived feasibility, self-efficacy, behaviors, and overall orientation toward integrating clients’ religion/spirituality in practice.

Pam McKown, LCSW

Ms. McKown has always had a heart for social issues and bringing justice and hope to those in need. She received her Masters in Social Work at Baylor University. Since graduation she has pursued being a real and authentic partner to journey with those suffering from mental health concerns. In June 2015, she co-founded Take Heart Ministries, a non-profit that exists to build dignity, improve health, and restore hope to women who are homeless or in transition by providing them female hygiene products.

Jason Culverhouse

Mr. Culverhouse is a small business owner in the Houston area. Over a decade ago, Jason and his wife, Jennifer, started up a company of hair salons with a hope of helping guests feel beautiful from the inside out while empowering and uplifting stylist and front desk coordinators int he company. This passion for empowerment expanded when Jason and Jennifer created a non-profit called Free Roots. This non-profit was created for the purpose of taking empowerment beyond the walls of the salons and into the world and community around. Each year, Jennifer and Jason take a team of stylists from the salons to India to teach women who are at-risk or coming from a history of trafficking the trade of hair. Throughout the year, Jason takes a team of stylists to work with an organization in Houston, Texas to teach adolescent girls hair skills while playing games and doing activities to empower and build self-esteem. During his breakout session, Jason will be talking about empowerment and leadership development among staff within the company and how to influence the next generation of leaders.

Jenny Matheny

Dr. Matheny is an associate professor of theology at Manhattan Christian College in Manhattan, Kansas. Dr. Matheny will be speaking about biblical and theological foundations that have either affirmed or created barriers for women and girls to be empowered and equipped within congregational contexts. She will also be discussing the creative models within diverse congregational settings that have empowered women and girls. Then, she will discuss the impact of the growing number of women entering theological education and the specific roles that congregational support can play to empower women and girls in their callings.

Flor Avellaneda

Ms. Avellaneda is a current PhD candidate at the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work. Ms. Avellaneda is a graduate of the Baylor MSW program and has served in many capacities in agencies in Waco, TX.  Ms. Avellaneda will be speaking about empowering survivors of interpersonal violence. She will also discuss best practice for intervention approaches to help empower women who have experienced intimate partner violence.

Liza Barros-Lane, PhD, LMSW

Dr. Barros-Lane is currently in postdoctoral research training with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. She is also working on research about helping survivors of clergy sexual abuse. She will be presenting on this research including information about empowering women and girls who have experienced this type of abuse of power. At the end of her presentation, attendees will be able to identify at least one strategy that congregations can use to prevent clergy perpetrated sexual abuse.  They will also be able to more effectively respond to and work alongside a person (congregation) harmed by clergy sexual abuse.

Crystal Walter, LCSW

Ms. Walter is a clinical social worker with a private counseling practice in Houston, TX. Ms. Walter specializes in grief counseling, women issues on continuum (female pre-adolescents, millennial women, and elder women), life transitions, relationship issues, emotional intelligence/character development, chronic illness, shame, depression, spiritual issues, addiction, family mediation/parenting/caregiving issues, boundary development, and domestic violence/victims of violent crimes.

SERVE Project Team Panel

The SERVE Project research assistants will be discussing their research that they have been working on all semester. They will also include this information about what the SERVE Project Team thinks are important for professionals to know about working with women and girls. This panel will be discussion based and questions from the audience will be welcomed.


UnBound is activating local communities to fight human trafficking through prevention, professional training, and survivor advocacy. UnBound works to educate and empower youth, spread awareness through citywide outreaches and provide human-trafficking presentations to groups and organizations within local communities. UnBound provides professional training to lawyers, medical professionals, educators, social service providers and more to equip all professional to use their skills to identify and serve victims of human trafficking. UnBound advocates for survivors by providing for immediate needs, offering support to caregivers, volunteering services and connecting with aftercare programs to help each survivor through his or her unique restoration process. Headquartered in Waco, Texas, UnBound is made up of individual chapters around the United States and across the world working to see change in their own communities. Each chapter works in different areas based on the culture and needs of their city.


One thought on “Women Empowerment Series Conference

  1. This conference seems like an incredible opportunity to not only gain insights from the research assistants but also delve deep into specialized areas of women’s empowerment through breakout sessions. The collaboration between faculty from the Waco Campus and practitioners from Houston promises a rich exchange of knowledge. It’s commendable how inclusive the event is, catering to various professionals and ensuring no one misses out by providing meals. The affordable pricing, especially for Baylor field instructors and task supervisors, is a great touch. The provision of CEUs is a bonus for attendees. Truly looking forward to it!
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