The 2020 speakers will announced soon! Below you will see a sample of our speakers and topics from the 2019 conference.

Speakers will posted as confirmed.


Christopher Thurber, PhD
Board-Certified Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Christopher Thurber is devoted to educating leaders using innovative content that stirs thinking and compels action. A graduate of Harvard University and the University of California at Los Angeles, Chris has served as a psychologist and instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy since 1999.

An entrepreneur from a young age, Chris is the co-founder of, the Internet’s most popular library of educational videos for youth leaders. He has been invited to deliver keynotes, contribute articles, and lead workshops at schools and camps on five continents. His award-winning preparatory resource for families, The Summer Camp Handbook, was recently translated into Mandarin to help launch the youth camp movement in China.

A proud father of two boys (Danilo, born 2002, and Sava, born 2004) Chris and his wife Simonida (a chemist and musician who grew up in Belgrade, Serbia) live in New Hampshire, in the northeast United States. You can learn more about Chris and access all of his articles, book chapters, videos, and podcasts on


The two Keynotes to be delivered by Dr. Thurber are:

Kids Do Dumb Stuff

When I was 4, I stuck a toy car in an electrical socket. That was just the beginning of a developmentally normal trajectory of doing dumb stuff that peaked (I hope) in adolescence. Of course, we must distinguish between normal student shenanigans, behaviors that indicate trouble, and the mistakes that make us better people. The goal of this keynote is help educators and students make this distinction, embrace mistakes, and respond wisely. Faculty, staff, and students can all cultivate patience while they promote learning. Jaw-dropping stories are the prelude to healthy best practices.

XXX-Posed: Youth Development in the 21st Century

The world is no more or less violent or sexualized than it ever was, but young people’s exposure to this content is certainly greater than it ever was. Rape, racism, and murder are not a war away, they are a click away. The result is a cohort of campers who look sophisticated but feel vulnerable. Caring adults can and do set limits, such as drinking ages, ratings systems for movies and games, and even Internet filters. But ultimately, we need to be with children and teens as they emerge into adulthood. Learn how faculty and staff can guide development by providing wise context to students who don’t dare to admit they’re confused.

Breakouts/Roundtable Discussions & Ted Talks

Metropolitan Gregory
Primate, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A.

Topic: Staying Focused in the Orthodox World



Mother Christophora
Abbess, Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration

Topic: Spiritual Self Care

As an abbess of a monastery, I often received the advice to “take care of yourself,” and then the caring person would walk away. Good advice, but I received no hint or assistance in how to do that. I finally realized that self care is not a gift from anyone to us. But a gift from ourselves to ourselves. Let us explore some healthy ways to keep ourselves spiritually healthy.

Fr. Michael Nasser
Pastor, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Grand Rapids, MI

Topic: How to Accept & Love Others When It Counts the Most

Fr. Michael has enjoyed a varied ministry which has never been far from a focus on youth. As a priest, his current assignment as the Pastor of St. Nicholas is a bookend with his first assignment as the Pastor of St. George in New Kensington, where he developed his love for all things Steelers. In between he enjoyed a decade of involvement at the Antiochian Village and OCF, and three blessed years as the parish priest to the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage near Tijuana, Mexico. He is a promoter of varied and effective youth ministry programs, but is passionate that they only work when offered by youth workers committed to a relational ministry with our kids.

Fr. Tony Vrame
Director, Department of Religious Education for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America & Vice-President of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission

Topic: Curriculum Best Practices

Fr. Tony Vrame is Director of the Department of Religious Education for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Vice-President of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission. He is Adjunct Associate Professor of Religious Education at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. He is well known for his many writings and presentations on topics of Orthodox Christian Religious Education, especially topics related to curriculum development and educational ministry with youth and adults. He has worked for many years to develop textbooks and other resources for use in religious education programs. A native of Chicago, he holds degrees from DePaul University, the University of Chicago, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and Boston College.

Fr. Ben Kjendal
Pastor, St. Michael Orthodox Church, Cotuit, MA & Regional Development Leader, Thrivent Financial

Topic: Being Financially Sound

Jenny Haddad Mosher
Director, The Telos Project

Topic: Creating Leadership Opportunities

Jenny Haddad Mosher is the Director of the Telos Project at Hellenic College Holy Cross, a 5 year exploration of how Orthodox young adults engage in the Church. Before coming to Telos, she worked in religious education curriculum design and production, as a teacher and retreat leader in several Orthodox jurisdictions, and as a grant writer for Orthodox social service agencies. She has a ThM in Systematic Theology & Ethics from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and is a PhD candidate in Religion & Education at Union Theological Seminary. She and her husband Fr. Joshua, an OCA priest, have three teenage sons.

Kh. Janet Shadid, MSW/LSW
Psychotherapist at Westmont Family Counseling Ministries & Mental Health Counselor, Antiochian Village Camp

Topic: Mental Health

Hailing from Boston MA, Janet served as an AV camp counselor from 1980-1984 and 3 years as a Special Olympics Counselor.  She was a Jr. High Teacher in Boston & Johnstown, PA until she had children & became a stay at home mom.  In 2000, she got her MSW from The University of Pittsburgh.  She has been a therapist at Cambria County MHMR, Memorial Medical Center where she worked on the inpatient psychiatric units for 16 years, primarily in the child and adolescent unit & is currently a psychotherapist at a Christian agency where she does much family, couples & individual therapy.  She has served as an AV camp therapist for over 10 yrs working with campers, staff & volunteers who struggle with any MH issues or stressors.  Janet has also been a Diocesan Youth Advisor & Church School Teacher.

Chris Shadid, MDiv, MSW/LSW
Assistant Camp Director, Antiochian Village Camp & Psychotherapist at Westmont Family Counseling Ministries

Topic: Mental Health

Born and raised in the booming metropolis of Johnstown, PA, Chris is a PK (priest’s kid) who grew up being active in SOYO, attending camp at the Antiochian Village, and later serving for 6 summers at the AV Camp as a counselor and head male counselor.  After receiving his Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013, he began working at AV as an Assistant Camp Director where he currently serves. He earned his Master in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Pittsburgh and got his License in Social Work (LSW).  In addition to serving at AV, Chris works as a therapist at Westmont Family Counseling Ministries in Johnstown, doing counseling with individuals, couples, and families of all ages and backgrounds, struggling with a variety of mental health issues. Along with his mom (Janet), Chris helps serve campers and staff at AV who struggle with mental health issues.

Natalie Saliba
Director of Operations, Antiochian Village Camp

Topic: Social Media


Katrina Bitar
YES Program Director, FOCUS North America

Topic: Exploring Our Youth Ministry Motivations

Katrina has been the YES Program Director of FOCUS North America since May of 2009 (Fellowship of Orthodox Christian United to Serve), following her graduation from St. Vladimir’s Seminary.  She has been involved in youth ministry for almost 20 years.  She served as a full-time parish youth director for 6 years, St. Nicholas Camping Program Director from 2003-Present (Frazier Park, CA), OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) College Conference Advisor for 5 years, and has been involved with the YES Program since 2004.  She previously served as a Camp Counselor and Head Counselor at Antiochian Village, Bolivar, Pennsylvania; and Parish Youth Director, Phoenix, Arizona, 2001-2007.  Katrina holds a B.A. in Communications from Ruters University (1999) and an M.A. in Theology from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (2009).

Nick Chakos
Orthodox Ministry Services

Topic: Increase Your Fundraising Success


Kira Senedak

Topic: Having Difficult Conversations

 Dr. Peter Gagianas

Topic: Medical Best Practices

Mike Herzak

Topic: Risk Management & Youth Protection