Conference Keynote Speakers

Opening Banquet Keynote:DBHDD blue1
Sally Vander Straeten

Our opening banquet will be highlighted by a keynote from Sally Vander Straeten. Sally works with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, serving as a Suicide Prevention Coordinator.
In this position she is responsible for managing the state Suicide Prevention Program that has been established by the legislature. Guided by the Georgia Suicide Prevention Plan, DPHDD delivers services throughout the state in suicide prevention awareness, community and professional education, surveillance and research.  Their services are directed to children and youth, adults and older adults.  Within DBHDD Sally is responsible for managing contracts to deliver the following services: developing and sustaining local suicide prevention coalitions, developing policy for our providers on assessing and managing suicide risk, reviewing incidents of suicide in our community providers, recommending corrective action plans and providing technical assistance to providers. Sally currently manages the statewide roll-out of our Evidence Based Practice Initiative that will bring the CSSRS and Stanley and Brown model of safety planning to all our provider organizations as well as training in working with those Bereaved by Suicide.



Closing Keynote:
Vernon Wall

vernon wall


GCPA will close the 45th Annual Conference with Vernon Wall, Director of Educational Programs and Publications for the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), College Student Educators International. Vernon’s keynote, “One Better World,” will focus on social justice and creating a welcoming environment for all. 

“Dynamic!” “Current!” “Inspiring!” These are just a few words that have been used to describe Vernon and his presentations. Vernon has accumulated 25+ years of professional Student Affairs experience at Iowa State University, the University of Georgia, UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Chapel Hill. He has experience in Greek life, new student orientation, student activities, leadership development, global education and university housing. Vernon currently lives in Washington DC and is the Director for Business Development at LeaderShape, Inc. Prior to this position, Vernon served as the Senior Director for Professional Development, Research & Scholarship for the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) – College Student Educators International.

He received his B.A. in Political Science from North Carolina State University and his M.S. degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Indiana University. In the spring of 1998, Vernon served as a member of the Student Life Staff with the Semester at Sea program accompanying 600 students on a voyage around the world. Vernon has received numerous awards for his contributions to the quality of student life, is a nationally known speaker in the areas of social justice and leadership styles and is one of the founders and facilitators of the Social Justice Training Institute. Vernon has written several articles and has co-edited two books on issues of inclusion on today’s college campus. His award-winning programs and presentations have been seen by thousands of students, faculty, and staff on campuses across the country and have been described as being “a learning experience – with a touch of wildness.”GCPA welcomes Vernon and hope you welcome him with us in Brunswick!