Conference Materials

Annual Conference of the Parental Defense Alliance

April 27-28, 2017

Zermatt Resport and Spa

Thursday, April 27, 2017

7:30- 7:45  Registration and Breakfast
7:45-8:00 Welcome and Business

KEYNOTE: The Project to Enhance Permanency by Christine Sabino Kiesel, Esq.

Christine serves as the Coordinator of the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project within the New York State Unified Court System's Office of Court Administration. Prior to this appointment, Christine served as a Court Attorney Referee in Oneida County Family Court where she presided over a best practices permanency part. She also served as a Court Attorney to two Family Court Judges. As a private practitioner, Christine's practice focused primarily on Family Law serving as the First Assistant Public Defender for the Oneida County Public Defender's Office - Civil Division, as well as acting as Law Guardian for many Oneida County children. Christine regularly presents both within the state and nationally on child welfare topics and taught Business Law to undergraduate and graduate business students at SUNY Institute of Technology and at Ithaca College. She was the recipient of a local award entitled the Accent on Excellence for her work in the area of Court Improvement and service to the community. In 2001, Christine received the National CASA Board Member of the Year Award.


Using as a foundation for discussion the results of a quantitative analysis of the quality of New York State's permanency hearings, the presentation will highlight four key findings: reasonable efforts; child safety; engagement of parties; and presence and engagement of youth. Those findings will be used to support enhanced parental representation in child welfare matters. The presenter will provide insight supporing policy arguments and practice changes to improve outcomes for children and families.



Networking Break


Getting an Early Start on Cases: Panel Discussion moderated by David Boyer

The panel will be discussing practice tips and tricks developed during their careers that have enabled them to get an early start on cases and use that momentum to their advantage.

McKette Hinkins Allred McKette is a native of Emery County.  She currently lives in Lawrence with her husband.  McKette practices with her husband in his firm, David M. Allred P.C. She is the mother of 5 children and a grandmother of 4. She graduated from BYU with her bachelors of science and from the University of Arkansas with her Juris Doctorate. McKette currently serves on the Utah Family Law Executive Committee as the Vice President, and serves on the Domestic Violence Coalition and the Felony Drug Court for Emery County. McKette has served on the Children Justice Advisory Board for Carbon and Emery Counties and has formerly served as the local bar president for the Seventh District. McKette is a private guardian ad litem and primarily practices family law and parental defense.  McKette received the Parental Defense Attorney of the year in 2009 and the Pro Bono Attorney of the year in 2016.  McKette makes wedding cakes as a hobby and loves any kind of exercise, especially Zumba and she enjoys camping and fishing with her family.  McKette’s latest adventure has been the opening of Meridian Mentoring, a residential treatment center for troubled, teen girls.

Janell Bryan Janell Bryan graduated sum laude from UNLV Boyd School of Law in 2007. She worked for the law firm Scribner and McCandless from 2007 to 2009, and held a conflict juvenile court public defender contract with the Utah County Public Defenders Association from 2008 to 2013.  She worked as a solo practitioner in family law and juvenile court from 2009 to 2013, including an additional conflict juvenile court public defender contract with Wasatch County.  Ms. Bryan became a full-time juvenile court public defender with the Utah County Public Defenders Association in 2013 to the present. Ms. Bryan was awarded Trial Attorney of the Year from the Parental Defense Alliance in 2014.



Jason Richards Jason grew up in Ogden,Utah and graduated from Ogden High School in 2000. He attended undergrad and law school at the University of Utah. Before law school,he worked for a number of years in politics, managing field operations for several state-wide initiatives and successful congressional campaigns. After graduating law school, Jason worked for two years for Weber County public defenders, mainly on capital homicide cases. He is now in private practice with offices in Ogden and Farmington. He has had a parental defense contract since 2012. Jason is a member of Weber and Davis County Bar Association, juvenile and bankruptcy section of the Utah State Bar, the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Utah Bankruptcy Lawyers Forum. In 2016, Jason was awarded the Trial Attorney of the Year award by the Parental Defense Alliance of Utah. He has extensive experience at the trial and appellate level in defending the rights of parents in child welfare matters. Jason lives in Farmington with his wife and 3 kids. When not at work, you'll usually find him skiing, running, gardening, cooking, and playing with his kids.


Successful Strategies for Effective Parent Time by Tara Adamson, CMHC, Monarch Counseling and Healing Center, Owner

Tara has helped hundreds of families create lifelong positive changes. Years of training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy, and Trauma and Attachment techniques have given Tara specific tools to share with the families that she serves. She uses her skills to bring about intense change in a playful and upbeat manner.

Testimonial: "Tara has made my family what it is. She has guided my family through attachment, massive trauma, adoption, basic teenage problems and everything in between. Tara has helped me find my kids and helps us all become a family! I couldn't recommend her more. In fact, when people ask me who I recommend I always say Tara at Monarch Counseling!"

Ms. Adamson will be presenting on what parents can do to ensure that their parent time is benecficial to their children and themselves, and helps to move their case in the right direction.


11:45-1:00  LUNCH

Preservation: Starting with the Appeal in Mind by Mark Tanner, PDA Board of Directors

Mark H. Tanner graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Marriott School of Management in 1983. He pursued his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the College of Law at the University of Tulsa, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earning his JD in 1986. He has worked as Emery County Attorney, Carbon County Public Defender, Emery County Conflicts Counsel, and in private practice. He is married to the former Nanette Hinkins. They are the parents of 10 children, and six grandchildren (so far).
Mark is active in his community. He has served as the youth baseball county league president and city commissioner. He has served on and chaired the Orangeville City Zoning and Planning Council, and chaired the Orangeville Centennial Celebration. He has served many years in the Boys Scouts of America, and currently serves as the Tavaputs District chairman. He was awarded the Silver Beaver in 2012. Mark currently serves as South Eastern Utah Bar Association (SEUBA) president, serves on the Pro Bono Committee for the Seventh Judicial District, and as a board member for Heritage Funeral Home. He was awarded the PDA Attorney of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
He represents parents in DCFS matters, and also practices in the areas of criminal defense, bankruptcy, estate planning and other family matters. Mark loves being with his family, serving the community and cheering the youth on to responsible and productive adulthood.

Mark will be presenting on how shifting his perception on how he approached a case at the trial level to keep a possible appeal in mind has improved results at all levels and enhanced preservation of important issues for appeals.


Celebrity Match Game! Professionalism and Civility Challenge by Grant Dickinson

Grant Dickinson is the President of the Parental Defense Alliance Board of Directors and has been a member of the PDA since 2010. Grant's practice focuses mainly in Utah County and like many of our members focuses on Parental Defense, Criminal Defense, and Family Law related cases. Grant achieved the Parental Defense Alliance 2012 Appellate Attorney of the Year for a case in which he finally obtained a reversal of the trial court's termination of his client's parental rights in L.G. v. State. The main issue in this case is rights of incarcerated parents. While studying at Willamette University, Grant served each year on the executive board of Willamette University's Public Interest Law Project. Prior to Law School, Grant was employed at the Fourth District Court as Deputy Clerk in Commissioner Patton's Court and also as a Deputy Probation Officer. You may also recognize him as the star of the PDA's recently produced film, Navigating Your Child Welfare Case: A Guide for Parents Involved in the Utah Juvenile Court System.

Grant will be reviewing Utah's Standards of Professionalism and Civility in a game show format.


Networking Break


Advancing Your Argument  By Professor Kristin Gerdy, Director of the Advocacy Program at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU and Kirstin Norman, Executive Director of the PDA 

Kristin Gerdy is a Teaching Professor and Director of the Rex E. Lee Advocacy Program at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU where she also teaches courses in Church History and Doctrine. Professor Gerdy is past president of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and currently serves as the Editor in Chief of Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, a peer edited scholarly journal. Professor Gerdy joined the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1995. Her scholarship focuses on legal education, issues arising from appellate practice and procedure, and the integration of religious principals in law practice and legal education. Professor Gerdy is also of counsel with a local law firm where she specializes in domestic appeals.



Kirstin Norman is the Executive Director of the Parental Defense Alliance of Utah. She received a J.D. from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU in 2009. During law school, she developed a passion for appellate work and competed on BYU's traveling moot court team. In 2009, she and her partner won the National First Amendment Moot Court Competition at Vanderbuilt University and also won Best Brief. After graduating, Kirstin clerked for Commissioner Patton in the 4th District before practicing in Utah county, focusing on family law and juvenile court cases. Kirstin also worked as a Writing Professor at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, teaching Intro to Legal Writing and Intro to Advocacy to first year law students. Before becoming Executive Director of the PDA, Kirstin took a brief hiatus from her practice to raise her three small, slightly mischevious children. She has been involved with the PDA since 2014, assisting with various projects, including the annual conferences.


Kristin and Kirstin will be presenting on various strategies that help to improve the overall efficacy and persuasiveness of written arguments, particularly on appeal.


Friday, April 28, 2017

7:30-8:00  Registration, Breakfast, and PDA Business

Case Law Update by Mary Westby, Staff Attorney for the Utah Court of Appeals

Mary Westby graduated from the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 1998. After five years in private practice, she became a staff attorney for the Utah Court of Appeals in 2004. She has received two Meritorious Service Awards for her work in staffing the Judicial Council's Study Committee on Indigent Criminal Defense. She is a member of the Utah Appellate Rules Committee. As a staff attorney, she works closely with the Clerk of the Court and with all of the judges on the court of appeals.

Ms. Westby will be presenting a summary of cases handed down in the past year that impact the practice of child welfare in Utah.


Ethics: Dealing with Difficult Clients by Lisa Lokken, Lokken & Associates

Lisa B. Lokken is president and owner of Lokken & Associates, P.C. Ms. Lokken received her B.A. in Economics from Westminster College of Salt Lake City, and her J.D. from J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.
Ms. Lokken has been a coordinator and a presenter in several Parental Defense Conferences and has provided training to parental defense attorneys throughout the State of Utah. She has been a requested speaker at both state and national conferences pertaining to parental defense, child welfare and dependency drug court related issues.
Ms. Lokken has over 20 years of experience relating to child welfare proceedings and parental defense. Ms. Lokken is involved in several committees and strives for ongoing improvement and support of the child welfare system as it relates to parents and the attorneys that represent them.

Ms. Lokken will be presenting on how to deal with difficult clients under Utah's Rules of Professional Conduct.


Networking Break and Mid-Morning Awards


The Brain Architecture Game  Administered by the PDA Board of Directors

This tabletop board game experience was designed to engage policymakers, community and business leaders, health and education service providers, and government officials in understanding the science of early brain development-what promotes it, what derails it, and what the consequences are for society. Originally developed in 2009 through a partnership of the Center on the Developing Child and the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, the game has been play-tested by more than 12,000 people in teams at small workshops and large conferences..

For more information about the game, go to




Legislative Update by Tara Harrison, Associate General Counsel for the Office of Legislative Research

Tara Harrison is Associate General Counsel for the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. She drafts legislation relating to Human Services, Child Welfare, and Abortion. Prior to joining OLRGC, Ms. Harrison worked at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. From the U.S. Embassy to the European Union, Ms. Harrison coordinated with international stakeholders to address migration and refugee issues in the European Union. From U.S. Consulate Guangzhou, Ms. Harrison administered the international adoption program of Chinese orphans by U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Ms. Harrison is a 2008 graduate of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law where she graduated with high honors. From 2008-2009, Ms. Harrison clerked for the Honorable Matthew B. Durrant, Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court.

Ms. Harrison will be presenting an update of the bills passed in the most recent legislative session that impact the practice of child welfare law.