COMPASS Holds Third Annual FACCT Conference

The COMPASS Family Center at the University of San Diego will hold its third annual Families and Communities Caring Together (FACCT) Conference, providing support and  information for families with children with special needs and the professionals that serve them.

The conference runs from  8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Saturday, Sept. 27 at USD’s  Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.. Cost is $20 per person for students, $30  for families and $55 per person for professionals which includes Continuing Education Credits. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Four-time Emmy award-winning television anchor and entertainment reporter Lee Thomas will deliver the keynote speech. Thomas, who is African American, was diagnosed with a pigment disorder, vitiligo, which is literally turning his skin white. He will share his journey in an effort to illustrate the challenges and strengths that can come from having any chronic or disabling condition.  Thomas has appeared on Larry King Live, 20/20, Hannity and Colmes, The Montel Williams Show and The Hour on CBS, in addition to speaking at national conferences spreading a message of hope and acceptance. 

Lawyers, educators and therapists are among professionals who will benefit from the conference in addition to parents, grandparents, caretakers and other family members of children with special needs. Two separate tracks, specifically catered to family members and professionals, will teach in the areas of Mental Health, Family Support and Special Education.

Workshops for parents in Family Support include “More Than Just Coping: Empowerment Strategies for Parents” by Chantal Sicile-Kira of Autism Making A Difference, Inc.; “The Sibling Experience: Growing Up With a Brother or Sister with Special Needs,” by Moises Baron, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and founder, COMPASS Family Center, and “Transitioning into Adulthood: Our Perspectives,” by a panel of students with Nancy MacNamara and Kristen Smith of the Excelsior Academy.

Workshops for professionals include “The Impact of Speech-Language Disorders on Parent-Child Interaction” by Karyn Lewis Searcy, M.A., CC, Crimson Center for Speech and Language; “Coaching Models: What are they and why use them?” by Mark Baker-Ericzen, Ph.D., CASRC, Children’s Hospital and “Transition to Adulthood for Students with Profound Disabilities: Parent, Teacher and Cultural Perspectives” by Kristy DeZonia, TERI, Inc.

For more information about the conference or to register, please contact Sharna Langlais at (619) 260-7667 or or visit

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls  approximately  7,500 undergraduate and graduate students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The establishment of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies  brings the University’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Education, Law and Nursing and Health Sciences.

The COMPASS Family Center represents an innovative approach to helping and supporting families of children with special needs. This is achieved through the integration of resources and services aimed at assisting families to cope more effectively with the challenges and needs presented by having a child with a disability or chronic illness. All of the services provided to families by COMPASS and its partner organizations are based on the belief that parents are competent decision-makers who must be allowed to choose the level of involvement that best suits them according to their values, resources, strengths, needs and supports.

About Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas is a playwright, journalist, and four-time Emmy Award-winning television broadcaster. The son of a military officer and a nurse assistant, Thomas got zest for life and love for people from his strong family and their many travels. Currently residing in Detroit, he is an anchor/entertainment reporter and regularly goes to Hollywood to chat with the stars. While dealing with the rich and famous he never thought the toughest story to tell would happen by turning the spotlight on himself, revealing a secret that was in plain sight. Lee Thomas, an African-American broadcaster, is turning white. In 1996 he was diagnosed with the pigment disorder, vitiligo.  Thomas has a B.A. in Speech Communications from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. As a broadcast journalist he has worked for the national television show “Channel One”; WABC 7 Eyewitness News in New York City; and WJBK Fox 2 News in Detroit. He can be seen daily on Fox 2 morning in Detroit.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.