Sat 2.24

Cecily’s Advocacy Conference

Start Time
8:15 am
End Time
12:30 pm
Lochinver Lane Campus Get Directions

Cecily’s Advocacy Conference
Saturday, February 24
8:15 am-12:30 pm
(check-in begins at 7:45 am)
Lochinver Lane Campus
8224 Lochinver Lane
Potomac, Maryland

Guests: $25
Complimentary for McLean Parents, Alumni, Admission Applicant, Faculty & Staff

Breakfast & Snacks Provided

Register Here

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Daniel Lerner, Keynote Speaker
Thriving in All Seasons

Creating Tools for Resilience & Well-Being

Cecily’s Advocacy Conference is one of McLean School’s signature events bringing together our community along with parents, professional educators, and mental health practitioners from the greater Washington area to showcase McLean’s commitment to child and family development. This year’s Keynote Speaker, Daniel Lerner, expert in positive psychology, author of U-Thrive: How to Succeed in College and Beyond, and clinical instructor whose course, The Science of Happiness, is the most popular at NYU. Mr. Lerner will dive into creating tools and opportunities for resilience and well-being. The day will also include workshops on Building Resilience, SPACE (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions), and 5 Helpers, 5 Hurts: A Guide to Identifying Your Child’s Strengths. Participants will leave with tangible tools to implement in their parenting and professional lives.


Workshop 1

Building a Resilience Toolkit

Mary K. Alvord, PhD
Psychologist & Director
Alvord Baker & Associates, LLC

Resilience is the skill of coping with the big and small challenges of life. There are five decades of research on the protective factors that promote resilience. The good news is that it can be learned and enhanced. This presentation will focus on practical strategies for parents and educators to help build children’s resilience at home and school. Through discussion and experiential practice, we will together build a toolkit of skills to take away.


Psychologist and founder of Alvord, Baker & Associates, and Resilience Across Borders. Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and co-author of the Resilience Builder Program for Children and Adolescents, Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens, and The Action Mindset Workbook for Teens.

Workshop 2

Using Supportive Statements to Block Child Anxiety: An Introduction to the SPACE Approach

Robin Brannan, LCMFT
Founder & Director
Better Together Family Therapy

Parenting an anxious child or teen is exhausting. Even if we plan carefully to prevent distress (ours and theirs), the tears and fears always come back. Enter the SPACE approach: Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions.  This evidence-based parenting strategy interrupts the patterns that keep anxiety growing and starts children on a path toward managing their fears on their own. In this workshop, you’ll learn how and why SPACE parenting works, and get ready to use the first step of the SPACE approach (Supportive Statements) with your child.

Robin Brannan (she/her) is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist who has been helping Maryland families cope with anxiety for more than 20 years. She is the Founder and Director of Better Together Family Therapy in Kensington, where she specializes in treating families living with ADHD and/or autistic traits. Robin holds a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland College Park and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Wake Forest University.  She is a Maryland board-approved Clinical Supervisor, former Director of School Based Mental Health Services at EveryMind, and a McLean parent.  She has been teaching families about SPACE treatment since 2021 and posts free content for families every week here.

Workshop 3

5 Helpers, 5 Hurts: A Guide to Identifying Your Child’s Strengths

Annetta (Benjamin) Guillen Garcia MA, LPC, NCC
Benjamin Counseling Center

The purpose of the 5 Helpers 5 Hurts for children is to assist parents in recognizing the positive and negative thoughts, feelings, and actions of their children. The information presented in this workshop intends to help parents develop a more conscious recognition of their child’s strengths.

Annetta (Benjamin) Guillen Garcia obtained her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling, both from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. After completing her graduate degree, Mrs. Benjamin went on to receive her Clinical License as a Professional Counselor (LPC) and Certification as a National Counselor (NCC) in the state of Virginia. She specializes in counseling children, adolescents, and young adults with behavior, academic, self-esteem, coping, communication, bereavement, eating, and anger issues. Mrs. Benjamin has been in private practice at Benjamin Counseling Center, LLC for thirteen years and has been able to expand to a group practice by adding additional therapists. Mrs. Benjamin is also a Clinical Supervisor for Residents in Counseling, Undergraduate, and Graduate student interns. In addition to the latter, Mrs. Benjamin added the title of Life Coach in the fall of 2018 and Author in the spring of 2019. Mrs. Benjamin published her first book 5 Helpers 5 Hurts: A Guide To Improve Your Thoughts & Feelings, and then in the fall of 2020 she published 5 Helpers 5 Hurts Journal: A Notebook to Track your Thoughts and Feelings.

Cecily’s Advocacy Conference Program

7:45 am Check-in

8:15 am Welcome & Opening Remarks
Co-Heads of School, Melissa Gray-Hughes & Jeff Berman

8:30 am Keynote Opening Address, Daniel Lerner

9:30 am Q&A Panel

10:00 am Workshops

11:15 am Panel Discussion

12:15 pm Keynote Closing Address, Daniel Lerner

Register Here