The Courage Conference exists to be a refuge for survivors, a place to educate and empower advocates, and a catalyst to spark the conditions where this movement for change can become a Justice Generation that resists abuse everywhere. Now in its third year, this annual gathering of abuse survivors, advocates, and those who love them is an event that is especially poised for this moment in history.
“Some of the most healing experiences for me have been when I have met fellow survivors. We all knew we had something in common, and we could bond over our shared experiences.”
— Ashley Easter
The Courage Conference promotes safety, including our ideology and worldview. We advocate both the theoretical and practical equality of men and women in the home, church, and society. Studies of abuse dynamics show the motivation for abuse is power and control. For this reason, we believe gender equality combats power differentiation. We do not align with any ideology that places women in a more vulnerable position and reinforces men to a unilateral position of power and control.
The Courage Conference values people of all faith traditions, racial and ethnic backgrounds, genders, abilities, and sexual orientations. We do so because abuse affects every part of society, and we strive to offer support to all people, no matter their position within the social strata. We believe no one should experience abuse and everyone deserves help and healing.
The Courage Conference strives to be a safe place for those healing from abuse and trauma. The Courage Conference reserves the right to reject or eject online or in-person attendees and revoke and refund the price of a ticket at any time in order to honor the emotional health of the survivors present. The Courage Conference is not responsible for any additional compensation above the price of the ticket. Safety is paramount.
The Courage Conference is not formally affiliated with any religious institution though many participants self-identify as Christian. We see ourselves as a service to the Church and to those who have been harmed particularly within religious environments. We are happy and willing to serve those with different religious affiliations or without religious affiliations. Abuse affects everyone.
Advocate | Writer | Speaker | Founder of The Courage Conference
Ashley Easter is a Christian feminist, writer, speaker, and abuse-victim advocate who educates churches and secular communities on abuse, introducing them to safe practices and healing resources. She is also the founder of The Courage Conference, a judgement-free place for survivors of abuse—and those who love them—to gather and hear inspiring stories from other survivors about moving forward in boldness and healing. She is the author of The Courage Coach: A Practical, Friendly Guide on How to Heal From Abuse.
Advocate | Writer | Speaker
Sarah Bessey is the author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed books Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith and Jesus Feminist. She is a sought-after speaker at churches, conferences, and universities around the world. She also serves as the President of the Board for Heartline Ministries in Haiti. Sarah lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their four children.
DONNA COLETRANE BATTLE
Advocate | Preacher | Coach
Donna Coletrane Battle, PhD, is a native of Yanceyville, NC and is currently the Chaplain at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. She previously served as the Executive Pastor of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley California, as well as a Life Coach and Associate Dean of the Chapel at Shaw University.
For the past thirteen years Donna has been engaging and facilitating groups in the areas of building healthy relationships, identity, cultivating ethics, values, diversity, conflict resolution, and justice. She is married to Dedrick Nathaniel Battle and together they have two tremendously terrific children: Caio, 6, and Coletrane, 2. Meditating, spending time with her family, reading, movies, counseling, preaching and teaching are among Donna’s greatest joys in life.
Survivor | Advocate
Jules Woodson is a Christian, mother, flight attendant, survivor and advocate. In early January 2018, inspired by the #Metoo and #Churchtoo movements, she bravely shared her story online about being sexually assaulted by her youth minister when she was a minor. Her story, and the response from the church, made international news. By coming forward and speaking out, Jules hopes to inspire, encourage, and empower other victims of abuse. Jules also hopes to use the platform she has been given to raise awareness and motivate culture change in how the Church handles sexual abuse.
SHANITA S. BROWN
Advocate | Adjunct Professor | Licensed Counselor | Speaker | Consultant
Shanita Brown, PhD, is an intimate partner violence scholar, advocate, speaker, and consultant. She received her PhD in Counselor Education & Counseling from North Carolina State University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and National Certified Counselor. Her research, service, and clinical expertise embodies an intersectional approach to various forms of intimate partner violence experiences of women and girls of color, faith/spirituality, mental health wellness, multicultural/social justice counseling and adolescence. She has authored scholarly publications and professional presentations related to her expertise. Dr. Brown seeks to educate, empower and inspire the next generation of advocates to create positive change.
Advocate | Founder of STANDUP- SPEAK OUT
Monica Daye is the voice of many silent whispers. A leader, advocate, poet, women’s activist and founder of StandUp-SpeakOut of North Carolina, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that specializes in servicing children who are exposed to domestic violence and sexual abuse with the assistance of Art Therapy.
A native of Durham, North Carolina, Daye holds a Master of Science in Human Service Counseling and is Board Certified Practitioner for the National Organization for Human Services. She obtained her Bachelors of Science in Psychology in 2012. Daye offers over ten years of experience working with mental health clients and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. As a certified Victim Service Provider, Daye continues her studies in the holistic approaches to healing, offering hope and resiliency through teaching individuals about Healing Through Arts and the powerful transformation of Expressive Art Therapy.
Advocate | Law Professor | Founder & Director of G.R.A.C.E.
Boz Tchividjian is a former child abuse prosecutor who currently teaches Child Abuse and the Law and several other courses at Liberty University School of Law. As division chief, Professor Tchividjian was personally responsible for prosecuting hundreds of cases of child sexual abuse. He is the founder and executive director of G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). G.R.A.C.E. is an organization that educates and equips faith communities to correctly respond to sexual abuse disclosures, while also providing practical guidance on how to protect children and serve survivors. Tchividjian is the third eldest grandchild of Reverend Billy Graham and co-author of Thank You, Billy, and The Child Safeguarding Policy for Churches and Ministries.
Advocate | Pastor | Writer
John Pavlovitz is a pastor, writer, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. In the past four years his blog "Stuff That Needs To Be Said" has reached a diverse, worldwide audience. A 20-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities.
He is the author of A Bigger Table, and his new book Hope and Other Superpowers arrives in November 2018.
DIANNE DARR COUTS
Advocate | President of MK Safety Net
Dianne Couts serves as President of MK Safety Net, an organization that understands the unique aspects of the Missionary Kid (MK) experience and offers support for MKs on their healing journeys.
As a nine-year-old, Dianne was sexually abused in West Africa by a missionary colleague of her parents. She and her brothers also attended Mamou Alliance Academy and are featured in the documentary about abuse, entitled "All God’s Children."
Dianne is a retired French and English teacher. She and her husband Bud, a retired minister, have three married children and six grandchildren.
CHARLES L. BAILEY, JR.
Survivor | Advocate | Author | Speaker
Charles L. Bailey, Jr. is a 67-years young, happily married husband to Susan for 46 years, father of four, and grandfather of ten. Charles lectures at least once a year at Wake Tech in their Crisis Intervention Course, and answers the phone at a national hotline for sexually abused persons three days a week. Along with leading support groups, Charles is a published author whose book—In the Shadow of the Cross—won an honorable mention at both the London and Los Angeles Book Festivals and was requested by the Vatican for educational information.
Advocate | Writer and Co-creator of The Wartburg Watch
Dee Parsons is a wife, mother, blogger, victims' advocate and a new Lutheran who holds a BSN and MBA. Dee primarily worked in public health nursing and spent two years on the Navajo Reservation. During that time, Dee encountered a fair number of abuse and neglect clients in her early nursing career.
Dee Parsons launched The Wartburg Watch with her best friend after they observed Dee's former Southern Baptist Church mishandle a pedophile situation. Deciding to focus primarily on abuse in the evangelical church, Dee thought no one would ever read their articles. Sadly, Dee has never been without material to write about, as there is far more abuse in the Church than anyone could have imagined.
The Wartburg Watch tells the stories few people wanted to hear before #MeToo, and has always supported those who have been abused. Dee hopes by providing information on the Church's many misdeeds that church-goers would be empowered and equipped to recognize and avoid abusive churches and church leaders.
Linda Kay Klein
Advocate | Author | Speaker
Linda Kay Klein is the author of the upcoming book, PURE: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free (Touchstone; September 2018)—a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir.
inda is the founder of the organization Break Free Together and a trained OWL sexuality educator. Her work has been highlighted on the TEDx stage and at major gatherings such as the 92Y’s SHE Summit and the Apollo’s Women of the World Festival. She holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree from NYU, where she focused on American Evangelical sex and gender education.
Advocate | Author | Speaker
Angie Devone is the author of Reclaiming Your Life and Spirit After the Bond Breaks (2013), based on her testimony of reemerging from divorce with dignity and faith.
A certified nursing assistant, phlebotomist, and Notary Public, Angie’s mission is to empower, encourage, and inspire others with the lessons she has learned through her life. One of Angie’s favorite self-penned mantras, “Never lower your standards for someone who is unwilling to raise their own.”
Outside her advocacy, Angie’s passion includes gardening, jazz concerts, traveling, exploring museums, and home staging and design. College basketball is her favorite sport and Angie is an avid fan of The UNC Tarheels. Angie has three grown sons and a dog, Coco.
Advocate | Pastor | Speaker
Gricel Medina is a pastor, speaker, writer, and advocate who has planted three churches and leads a prayer movement for the MidSouth Conference. An ordained pastor through the Evangelical Covenant Church, Gricel was the first Hispanic to be Chairperson of the ECC commission on Biblical Gender Equality (CBGE). In that role, Gricel developed leadership development material and has contributed numerous writings on the affirmation of women in all areas of leadership within the Church. Pastor Medina has written for several widely distributed Spanish and English magazines, devotionals, and blogs, including Covenant Companion. She is a regular writer for the award-winning magazine, Mutuality, and the CBE blog Arise.
As a tenacious leadership and community developer, Gricel’s work has impacted public and Christian education, court systems and Washington, D.C. Pastor Medina was most recently the headline speaker for CBE International Conference in Orlando, Florida, where she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for her advocacy for women at all levels of leadership in and outside the Church.