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Advocates in Parenting

Supporting Children and Caregivers

Together, Partners in Parenting and Advocates in Parenting, bring a unique hybrid model of service delivery to at risk children in the Richmond, Virginia area.  High quality clinical services are provided to families through Partners in Parenting, while the 501c3 recognized nonprofit, Advocates in Parenting, is committed to identifying and evaluating what interventions work best, to training mental health providers, and to advocating for policy reform for children and families. Advocates in Parenting was established in January 2016.


Advocates in Parenting is devoted to influencing care-giving relationship in the child welfare system. Our work focuses on creating partnerships that foster resilience among families and systems, and advocating for changes through policy initiatives and dissemination of best care practices.

Roadmap Speakers Series

The Advocates in Parenting Roadmap Series is back! Our theme for 2023 is Resilience.

May 23: Dr. Anjali Ferguson & Mr. Justin Ferguson, authors of "An Ordinary Day" - How Can Parents Start Early Conversations About Race and Microaggressions?

Dr. Anjali Ferguson is a clinical psychologist with expertise in trauma-informed, culturally responsive care and parenting. Dr. Ferguson is an author, and global resource on social equity and racial trauma. In addition to consulting with organizations of all sizes, Dr. Ferguson's expertise is lent to outlets like Today, Romper, Parents Magazine, Psych Central, and ongoing published medical journals and studies. Her practice has focused on identifying avenues of care for under-resourced and marginalized communities in efforts to reduce barriers to appropriate interventions and alter systems to better meet community needs. In the last several years, Dr. Ferguson has created free resources for children and families including landmark contributions to Blindian (Black x Indian) literature. She is also the founder and president of Parenting Culture. INC, a research-informed, inclusive parenting community.  You can access Dr. Ferguson's social equity content at or join the parenting conversation at



Justin Ferguson is a Commercial Real Estate Broker, Sommelier, and Father. Given Justin’s career, he often finds himself in environments that traditionally have little representation of Black males. He aims to build representation in White dominant spaces, by bridging gaps and building diverse dialogues. Through his personal experiences, he wants other parents to recognize that parenting can look different from one family to the next. He hopes to highlight the diversity in parenting and bring his own fathering lens to the table- a lens he finds very rewarding. He aspires to provide positive representation of fathers of color, while helping children of color feel seen and heard in their complex journeys.

AIP's Roadmap Series provides a wide array of speakers from the community who share their expertise to support parents and professionals. We offer quarterly lunchtime presentations on the 4th Tuesday of the month, and other workshops and lectures throughout the year. While there is no fee required to attend, a suggested $10 donation to Advocates in Parenting is requested.  All proceeds of these programs will support the research and training mission of AIP.

FEBRUARY 28 2023 - Fostering Resilience: Helping Parents and Youth Cope with Anxiety with Dr. Jarrod Leffler

Powerpoint Presentation: click here

Karen-Marie Yust & Ramona Brand

Powerpoint Presentations:

Nurturing Spirituality in Children

Research About Children and Spirituality

5 Ways to Nurture Spirituality

Russell Barkley, Ph.D. 

Powerpoint Presentation:

School Management of ADHD

At Work in Our Community

Entre Dos Mundos/Between Two Worlds

We recently concluded “Entre dos Mundos” [Between Two Worlds], an innovative Psychoeducational parent model presented in Spanish. The groups focused on acculturative stress, the effects on youth’s well-being, and challenges and changes in family dynamics.  The groups were offered to several Richmond area agencies that directly service Spanish speaking populations and were facilitated by Dr. Jadig Garcia

Advocates in Parenting’s Entre dos Mundos program was funded by a grant from Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. RMHF is committed to its mission of fostering an equitable and healthy Richmond Region. 

Loving Hands Parenting Group

Advocates in Parenting partnered with the Richmond City Health Department Resource Mothers Program to provide a 10-week Circle of Security® Parenting group for teen mothers.  The purpose of the group was to provide early intervention to increase external support for young mothers and to enhance their attachment towards their infants. The Circle of Security® is a research-based model that has been used around the world to strengthen the attachment between parent and child and to promote healthy emotional development.  Groups were led by a certified Circle of Security® parent facilitator and two co-leaders.  


In addition, adult mentors from the Resource Mothers Program provided transportation, attended the groups with the teen mothers, provided child care as needed, and reinforced Circle of Security® concepts in on-going home visits with the mothers.  An average of 4 to 5 mothers attended the Loving Hands parenting group each week, and approximately half of the participants each week were Latinx.  The curriculum was provided in both English and Spanish to address the diverse needs of the mothers and was modified to emphasize key topics and to allow more time for hands-on activities.  For example, mothers and infants participated in activities together to promote bonding and mutual enjoyment.  

Advocates in Parenting provided food and craft supplies, materials for mothers in both English and Spanish, and pre and post-test measures.  In addition to these material donations, Advocates in Parenting donated the time of the group co-leaders and research coordinator.  


Leadership that Ignites

Executive Director | Sharon Brenner, Ph.D.

A graduate of Duke University, Dr. Brenner earned her PH.D. in clinical psychology from the University Of Washington in Seattle, and went on to complete postdoctoral training at both Duke University and the Virginia Treatment Center for Children.  Dr. Brenner earned a National Research Service Award, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.  In this position, she was trained in the systematic analysis and evaluation of mental health services and their associated public policy issues, with a specific focus on national survey data of children involved in the child welfare system.  She has gone on to publish numerous professional articles and is a reviewer for prestigious psychology journals including the Journal of Child and Family Studies and the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.  In addition to her active research interests, Dr. Brenner is a practicing psychologist who incorporates attachment and family systems theories, along with cognitive behavioral therapy and emotion-focused therapy techniques. We are fortunate indeed to welcome Dr. Brenner as she brings this wealth of scientific knowledge, research acumen, and clinical skill to her new leadership position as Director of Advocates in Parenting. 

Meet The Board

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Anne Hayes, Treasurer

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Anne earned a BA in English from the University of Virginia and law degree from William and Mary. After clerking for the Supreme Court of Virginia, Anne practiced law for several years at Hirschler, Fleischer, Weinberg, Cox & Allen. While raising two daughters, Anne has enjoyed volunteering with various organizations, including Maggie Walker PTSA Advocacy, Community Tax Law Project, and St Paul’s Episcopal Church.  


Jennine Moritz, Secretary

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Dr. Moritz received her Bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of the South – Sewanee. She completed her graduate training in Clinical Psychology at the University of South Florida, where she received her Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Clinical Psychology, with a minor in Community and Family Public Health. She served as Training Director for the Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC), part of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System for seven years.  She continues to serve as Assistant Clinical Professor in the VCU Department of Psychiatry and teaches and supervises predoctoral psychology interns at VTCC.  


Cheryl Groce-Write,

Board Member

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Cheryl Groce-Wright has held positions in youth programing and development, fund-raising, academic and social science research, substance abuse and family counseling, and college student development.  She earned her undergraduate degree in communications from the State University of NY at Oswego, her master’s degree of education in Psychological Services from the University of Pennsylvania, and her master’s degree of business administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Debbie Blackburn,

Board Member

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Dr. Blackburn received her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia.  She completed her internship at the Medical College of Georgia.  She then returned to Richmond in 1989 joining the psychiatry faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System where she continues to teach and supervise psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows.  

1617 Monument Avenue, Suite 202

Richmond, VA 23220

(804) 442-7192

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