2024 SVN Annual Conference Speakers and Workshops 

Plenary Speakers

Lillian Grant-Baptiste: SVN's Featured Master Storyteller and Celebrant

Lillian Grant-Baptiste is an informed cultural artist, motivational speaker, and uplifting storyteller.  She has nearly 30 years of experience as a motivational speaker and a professional storyteller.  Ms. Grant-Baptiste has been showcased at storytelling and performance venues throughout the United States. She is a moving performer that will stir your soul and leave you on the edge of your seat yearning for more. She skillfully gathers and retells stories from diverse cultures but has a particular fondness and love for folktales from the African Diaspora. Lillian believes that storytelling is a powerful tool that can be utilized to uplift, empower, and ultimately transform individuals, families, and communities.    Her signature story is “The People Could Fly”. The story is a moving and beautifully retold folktale that captures how the faith of a people gave them the strength to traverse and magically fly above the tribulation and trepidation of slaveryThroughout her performances, she continually promotes a deep and abiding appreciation for and preservation of the stories and folktales from traditions around the world. Her stories and programs are as rich and enduring as the mighty Baobab tree. 

Learn more about Lillian Grant-Baptiste HERE

Dr. Bertice Berry 

Sociologist, Bertice Berry, PhD. is a best-selling author award-winning lecturer and has been named Comedian of The Year, Lecturer of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. She has published 13 best-selling books in both fiction and non-fiction and has won numerous awards and accolades for both her writing and presentations. Berry has had her own nationally syndicated television show and has hosted, interviewed and made numerous television, documentary and radio appearances on a variety of diverse venues including The Tonight Show, Oprah Winfrey, Between The Lions, Crossfire, 20-20, NPR, PBS, Comedy Central and CNN.

Berry has used her unique gifts and talents as a writer and ghost writer for others on a wide range of topics including race and gender issues, sociological studies, stratification, healthcare reform, humor, spirituality, sexuality, slavery and the abolitionist movement, weight loss and wellness, relationships, servant leadership, transformational leadership, diversity and love. Berry has led parades, had classrooms named after her and has been awarded over 10 honorary doctorates. She earned her own doctoral degree from Kent State University at the age of 26 and still sees her most fulfilling achievement and role in life as that of mother to her 5 adopted children.

“If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done,” a character in one of Berry’s novels says. Berry believes that every one of us has been given a unique purpose and it is our obligation to find it and use it to improve first our own self and then for those we live and work with.

Learn more about Dr. Bertice Berry HERE  

Vira Salzburg  

Vira Salzburg is a Ukrainian-American living in Savannah, Georgia. She is a Program Director for Safety and Resilience programs at Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council. She earned a Master of Science degree in Management, Organizational Behavior & Leadership from Troy University, and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Humanities from Auburn University at Montgomery. Vira is currently studying human behavior at Harvard University.

Vira is the developer of the community-based upstream suicide prevention approach that uses evidence-based Mindful-Self Compassion programming. She is a community educator and public speaker on suicide prevention, trauma-informed practices, self-compassion, and resilience and is the 2022 TEDx Savannah presenter.

Vira is driven by her passion for creating compassionate, resilient, and sustainable communities by empowering individuals and organizations with knowledge and skills essential for reaching their full potential. 

Learn more about Vira HERE 

 The Honorable John T. Broderick

A former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, John Broderick has been on a journey to end the stigma surrounding mental health following his son’s long struggle with mental illness that went undiagnosed and unrecognized for years. As shared in his recent book, Backroads and Highways: My Journey to Discovery on Mental Health (Dartmouth Health, 2022), Broderick’s mistakes in failing to identify and treat his son’s challenges have inspired him to embark on a campaign to change the culture, stigma, and shame around mental illness that keeps too many people feeling alone and afraid to step out of the shadows. Broderick is currently Senior Director of External Affairs at Dartmouth Health.

Learn more about Judge Broderick's Campaign to Stop the Stigma HERE