The Distinguished Speaker Series is back for the last time in 2023! This year's series Advocacy from the Bench is an opportunity for the CASA network and other community partners involved in the child welfare system to learn about four honorable judges from across Texas. The multi-part series features these high-caliber speakers sharing their background and expertise on topics and issues impacting the child welfare system.

Registration is $25 and includes all four episodes. Each episode is approximately 20-30 minutes.

Episodes will be available for viewing until Nov. 30, 2023.

Group registration is not available. No cancellations or refunds.

Already registered and ready to watch? Click the button below. You will need the email address you registered with to access the episodes. Once you are signed in, drag your mouse over the Sessions link on the top navy blue header. From the dropdown that appears, click on Watch Past Sessions.
Watch the 2023 episodes

How to watch

You must have registered for Distinguished Speaker Series before the deadline. If you are registered, please follow the steps below to access your custom event hub. These instructions were also emailed to all attendees. 

  1. Click the button below to log in to your custom event hub. All of the episodes will be viewed through this link. We will send a reminder email each week with the link, or feel free to bookmark it.
  2. When prompted, enter the name and email address you registered with and click Next.
  3. Once you have entered and submitted your information, a unique code will be sent to your email and your mobile phone.
  4. Enter this code when prompted on your screen and click Log in.
  5. You're all set! All of the content in the event hub, including the speaker presentations will be available for 90 days. Log back in at any time to watch any episodes you missed or want to see again after they are released.
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2023 speakers


Judge Rob Hofmann recently began a fourth term as judge of the 452nd Judicial District in five Hill Country counties. In 2021, Judge Hofmann was appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to serve as Senior Jurist in Residence for the Children’s Commission. He currently serves as President-Elect for the board of directors of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. He has served Texas as judicial representative at several national summits as well as current membership on the National Center for State Courts’ Rural Justice Collaborative Advisory Council.

Release date: Sep. 6


Judge Delia Gonzales is appointed as the Associate Judge for the Child Protection and Permanency Court in Dallas County. She serves on multiple committees through the Texas Children’s Commission and the National Center for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Recently, Judge Gonzales was awarded the Ken Fuller Pro Bono award by the State Bar of Texas for her dedication and leadership to the youth that the Court serves. Judge Gonzales has built the foundation and fundamentals for the court to assist children who are in the permanent custody of CPS obtain positive permanency, enhance outcomes and address wellbeing issues.

Release date: Sep. 13


The Honorable Carlos Villalon Jr. is appointed as Associate Judge for the Child Protection Court of the Rio Grande Valley West and presides over child welfare cases in both Hidalgo and Starr Counties.   He has served as a Commissioner on the Texas Children's Commission and currently serves as Chair on the Commission’s Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Task Force. His court is also a mentor site in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ Implementation Sites Model Courts Project and the Child Protection Court Dual Status Pilot.

Release date: Sep. 20


Aurora Martinez Jones is the 126th District Court judge in Travis County and is responsible for the oversight and administration of all Travis County Termination of Parental Rights lawsuits filed by DFPS. She is the presiding District Judge for the Travis County Family Drug Treatment Court: Parenting in Recovery and of the Crossover Program for Dual Status Youth.
She co-founded the Child Welfare Race Equity Collaborative in Texas and is committed to equitable, progressive, anti-racist work and approaches to supporting the children and families who appear in her court.

Release date: Sep. 27

watch episodes from previous distinguished speakers

2021 speakers


A litigator with more than 26 years of experience in juvenile and education law, Diane Smith Howard’s work at the National Disability Rights Network focuses on conditions for children, youth and adults with disabilities in institutional systems. Specifically, youth in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and refugee resettlement systems, and adults with disabilities in the criminal justice and mental health systems. 

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Mical Raz, MD, PhD, MSHP, is the Charles E. and Dale L. Phelps Professor in Public Policy & Health at the University of Rochester, where she also works as an internal medicine physician. She is the author of The Lobotomy Letters: The Making of American Psychosurgery, What's Wrong with the Poor? Race, Psychiatry and the War on Poverty, and Abusive Policies: How the American Child Welfare System Lost its Way.

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In the 1990s, Dr. Robert Anda began a collaboration with Kaiser Permanente to investigate child abuse as an underlying cause of medical, social, and public health problems. This produced the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study). Dr. Anda now spends his time consulting and showing how its findings are useful to inform programs, policy, and legislation to prevent disease and disability.

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Since 2021, Jerry Milner has been Director of the Family Integrity and Justice Works at Public Knowledge®. He began his career as a front-line social worker in child welfare. From 2017–2021, he led the U.S. Children’s Bureau, Department of Health and Human Services, with a focus on prevention of child maltreatment, family and social justice, giving voice to those with lived expertise, and empowering communities to support families.

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2020 speakers


Dr. Jessica A. Pryce is an Assistant Professor at Florida State University and the Executive Director of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. For the past 10 years, Dr. Pryce has been involved at multiple angles of child welfare (direct practice, teaching + training & policy and research) and is working to address racial disproportionality within the system. She has published on child welfare related topics, such as, training and education, racial disparity and anti-poverty practices. Her TED Talk on Implicit Racial Bias in Decision Making has over 1.2 million view. 

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Riki Wilchins is Executive Director of TrueChild, a network of researchers and experts devoted to helping improve life outcomes among at-risk youth by reconnecting race, class, and gender. Her writing on gender norms and philanthropy has been published by the Council on Foundations, GrantCraft, GuideStar, and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Riki’s newest book for funders and nonprofits is titled, “Gender Norms & Intersectionality: Connecting Race, Class and Gender.”

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Kevin Campbell is an internationally known youth permanency expert, founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness and developer of the Family Finding model, a set of strategies now utilized throughout the world to establish lifelong supports for children and youth in foster care.  With more than 28 years of experience, Campbell continues to develop strategies to address the epidemic levels of loneliness that youth in foster care experience, and is a renowned motivational, inspirational speaker and story teller.

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Ibram X. Kendi closed out the Distinguished Speaker Series with a powerful and engaging conversation with Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs. Professor Kendi is a national award-winning author and has authored three #1 New York Times bestsellers, including his recent book How to Be an Antiracist. Purchase his book or learn more about Professor Kendi and his work. Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. 

NOTE: The recording of Professor Ibram X. Kendi’s episode expired on Dec. 3.


Sessions will be released at 11 a.m. CT every Wednesday from September 1-22. After the release, attendees will have 90 days to watch, or rewatch, at their convenience.

The exact time length of each session will vary based on the speaker's content but all sessions will be under an hour.

September 1

Session 1:
Diane Smith Howard

September 8

Session 2:
Dr. Mical Raz

September 15

Session 3:
Dr. Robert Anda

September 22

Session 4:
Dr. Jerry Milner

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