Our Speakers

Dr. Wess Stafford is President Emeritus of Compassion International and is an internationally recognized advocate for children. Wess grew up as a missionary kid in Africa and later earned undergraduate degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Biola University, and a master’s degree from Wheaton College, as well as a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Wess joined the staff of Compassion International in 1977 and served as President for 20 years. Wess is a veteran, having served four years in the U.S. Army as a linguist in military intelligence. He is also an avid outdoorsman and committed family man, living on a small ranch near Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife Donna. They have two daughters, Jenny and Katie — the two children in the world for whom Wess is the greatest advocate of all.

Julie Lowe is a faculty member at Christian Counseling & Education Foundation. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary. She is a licensed professional counselor with over 15 years of counseling experience. Julie is the author of Childproof: Parenting by Faith, not Formula. She has extensive experience with women’s issues, sexual abuse, body image issues, parenting, and child maltreatment issues. Julie is also a registered play therapist and has developed a play therapy office at CCEF to better serve families, teens, and children. She is a trained facilitator for Stewards of Children, a non-profit organization that provides training on child sexual abuse. Julie has trained a therapy dog that she works with both professionally and on a volunteer basis. She and her husband, Greg, have six children and serve as foster and adoptive parents.

Melodie Bissell is the President of Plan to Protect®, an organization providing the highest standard of abuse prevention and protection to 10,000 churches and organizations through policy-writing, training, screening, and consulting. Prior to working with Plan to Protect®, Melodie was the Executive Director for Child Evangelism Fellowship of Ontario and has served as the National Children’s Point Person for The Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches in Canada. Melodie is an author of numerous books and articles including co-authoring the best selling Plan to Protect®: A Protection Manual for Children and Youth, and those that serve among them. Melodie is a Doctor of Ministry Candidate at the University of Toronto. Melodie is married to Scott, who is a Pastor of Missions and Outreach for Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church. They have three children working and serving overseas.

Theresa Sidebotham has represented a variety of businesses, ministries, and churches in her capacity as founding attorney at Telios Law PLLC. This has included legal and policy issues such as child protection and safety, as well as facilitating investigations; both historic and current. After attending Columbia International University, Theresa received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from Wheaton College. She graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law with her Juris Doctor in 2005 and was licensed by the Supreme Court of the United States in March of 2019. Theresa speaks regularly on protecting children from sexual assault, specifically in ministry settings. Currently serving as the pro bono General Counsel for the Child Safety Protection Network, Theresa has previously served as a board member for Special Kids, Special Families. She also became a member of the Digital Images Task Force in 2016.

Dr. David Fletcher is often called “The Dean of Executive Pastors”. David was a pastor for 35 years in a variety of churches- single, multisite, mergers, and churches with camps, schools, apartments, and cafés. He founded XPastor.org in 2003 and its 1,100 free articles have become a principal resource for leaders in a complex church world. David has two graduate degrees from Dallas Seminary and executive education at the Kellogg School of Management and the Harvard Business School. He teaches Doctor of Ministry students at Dallas Seminary and Evangelical Theological Seminary in India, and has written eight books and scores of articles for national publications. He and his wife, Tami, love to walk the hills near their home in Austin, Texas, and David loves scuba diving in rivers, lakes, missile silos, and the world’s oceans.

Christa Hicks is a licensed therapist in the state of Florida, a certified clinical trauma professional, an RYT 200-hour Yoga instructor, and a second-generation survivor of sex trafficking. She is the founder of an organization providing direct services to adult trafficking survivors in Southwest Florida and is Executive Director of Anti-Trafficking at One More Child. Christa has been providing direct services to sexually exploited and trafficked persons since 2011 and uses her expertise both nationally and internationally. She is grateful to share her experience as a trafficking survivor, her education in mental health, and years of growth as a direct service provider to continuously better the services available to children, teens, and young adults being sold and exploited by others. She enjoys reading, yoga and the outdoors, but her greatest joy is found in relationships with her teenage daughter, and Jesus Christ, her Savior.

Sally Wagenmaker provides legal counsel in corporate, tax, employment, and real estate matters for nonprofits operating on local, national, and international levels. Her clients include churches and other religious organizations, social service providers, and schools. Sally’s corporate and tax work includes development of new tax-exempt entities, providing guidance for effective nonprofit governance and other operational legal issues. In addition, she represents clients in property tax exemption matters for charitable, religious, and educational purposes, shared occupancy arrangements, and property transfers. In addition, she worked as a solo practitioner, providing legal assistance to indigent and low-income clients primarily in Chicago’s west side neighborhood of North Lawndale. Sally lives in Chicago with her husband Dan, and they have two children in college.


Scott Beard serves as Deputy Director for the Department of Crime Victim Compensation, in Columbia, South Carolina. He has advocated for rights and services for crime victims on the local, state, and national levels for the past 30 years as a civil attorney, victim advocate, executive administrator, and public policy professional. Scott’s efforts include advocating for legislative and public policy reforms for crime victims, directing a rape crisis center, managing a prosecutor based domestic violence program, and managing two statewide crime victim compensation agencies. He has also been involved in several faith and victim services programs on the state and national level. Recently he was invited to speak to two conferences in the Balkans to help advance the rights of victims in those countries and to help develop their victim compensation programs.


Jenna Quinn is a triumphant survivor of sexual abuse, author, TED speaker, and the survivor behind Jenna’s Law. She has become a valiant warrior against sexual abuse of children and adolescents through education and legislation. With a master’s degree in communication studies, Jenna has spoken for over 100 Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country and has reached international audiences sharing her unique and inspiring story with legislatures, law-enforcement, abuse prevention groups, schools, communities of faith, nonprofit organizations, and the general public for over 14 years. She moved into political action in 2007, reaching out to Texas legislators about the need for schools to adopt age-appropriate curriculum on child sexual abuse, now known as Jenna’s Law which was passed in May 2009. In 2017, Jenna’s Law was amended to include sex trafficking prevention education in schools. Over half the country has adopted a form of Jenna’s Law since its origin in 2009.


Dr. Jerry Haag serves as president and CEO of One More Child – a leading child welfare agency that provides Christ-centered services to meet the needs of hungry children, trafficked children, foster children, single moms and struggling families. Dr. Haag earned BBA and MBA degrees from Baylor University and a Ph.D. in Finance and Real Estate from the University of Texas at Arlington. Under Dr. Haag’s leadership, One More Child has increased from serving 3,351 children and individuals in 2007 to impacting 249,044 in 2018 and has guided the expansion of ministry sites from nine locations in Florida to more than 50 locations around the globe. Dr. Haag brings extensive leadership to public policy platforms through his work at the White House in Washington D.C, through his appointment as the chairman of the Florida Governor’s Faith-Based Advisory Council, and through close partnerships with top leaders around the world. Dr. Haag and his wife, Christi, live in Lakeland, FL, and are proud parents to their sons Ben and Brady.


Kurt Gebhards grew up in a home where there was no gospel influence; however, God’s power, beauty, and gospel grace changed his life forever and still overwhelms him to this day. Gebhards has extensive ministry training background which includes studying at The Master’s Seminary and serving at Grace Community Church under John MacArthur, a doctorate at Southern Seminary, and as the Pastor of Children’s Ministry at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He is passionate about making disciples, training leaders, and considers a Christ-honoring children’s ministry as a cornerstone of every meaningful church. Gebhards has served in ministries in North Carolina, Chicago, and currently serves as Senior Pastor at The Grove Tampa in Florida, where he resides with his wife, Julie, and their six children.

Thomas Hampson has been an investigator for over 50 years beginning as an intelligence analyst for the US Air Force during the Vietnam War and later becoming an investigator for a state agency in Illinois. For several years he worked extended undercover investigations infiltrating several groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, and former Minutemen. During this time he also directed an eight year investigation into the abuse, molestation, and sexual exploitation of children. It remains the most extensive law enforcement investigation on the topic ever done in the US. In 2006, he was retained by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to conduct an investigation into predator priests in Illinois. It was this investigation that prompted Hampson to establish Truth Alliance Foundation. Using his extensive knowledge of all varieties of predators, from common street hustlers to serial killers, he set out to develop a better way to protect children. If properly implemented, Truth Alliance Foundation’s method will screen out all predators from any ministry.


Dee Dee Mayer is the Associate Head of School for Spiritual Life at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, CA. Spending over 20 years in private practice serving youth and families, Dee Dee is passionate about child safety and developing healthy and thriving youth. Dee Dee has served in many roles including program director of Options House, a youth shelter in Hollywood serving runaway and throw away youth, mental health counselor for gang intervention at First Offenders, and at Northridge Hospital in the adolescent lockdown psychiatric unit. Dee Dee spent five years as co-host of MovieGuide TV with Ted Baehr, a Christian movie review organization created to inform families of the impact of media on wellness. She holds a masters degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Ministry degree from Azusa Pacific University. Dee Dee has been married to Albert for 25 years and together they have three college-aged children. She loves the Lord and leading students and families to the abundant life for which we are all designed!

Ed Sherrill serves as the Regional Sales Director of GuideOne Mutual Insurance Company. Prior to this, Ed was an Executive Director/CEO in the summer sports camp and conference center industry where he served as Education Chairman and Site Accreditation Visitor for the Texas Section of the American Camping Association and President Elect of the Missouri Section of Christian Camping International. Ed achieved certification from Cambridge University in the area of Risk Management for Churches and Schools. Ed has a strong understanding of the property and casualty insurance needs of ministries, risk management and loss control, as well as the unique insurance needs of ministry staff. Ed speaks at multiple meetings and conferences throughout the year on various risk management and loss control topics and is certified through the Kanakuk CPP program in the risk management and loss control of Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures, Prevention, and Management of those losses. Ed is married with three daughters and one grandson and enjoys golf and fishing.

Robert Showers is Managing Partner of Simms Showers Law Firm which focuses on civil and commercial litigation and church, nonprofit, and business law. Before going into private practice in 1989, he acted as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and served as Executive Director of the National Obscenity Enforcement Unit in the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Showers took a leave of absence from his law practice in 1992 to start the National Law Center for Children and Families where he served as its first President and General Counsel. He has trained hundreds of law enforcement and prosecutors, legally aided victims of child abuse crimes, and defended churches and nonprofits in areas including sexual misconduct and child abuse. He has lectured extensively nationwide and written articles on church and nonprofit law, sexual misconduct, and child sexual abuse. Mr. Showers serves on the boards of the National Christian Legal Society Board (Past President), Hope Force International, Every Orphan’s Hope, National Law Center for Children and Families, Gateway Community Church, and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.