Brother A. Roger Merrill – Keynote Speaker
Brother and Sister Merrill completed their three-year assignment as president and matron of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple on November 1st, 2015. Brother Merrill previously served as a missionary in the Texas mission, bishop, high councilor, stake president, member of the Melchizedek Priesthood General Committee, Area Seventy, and Sunday School general president. He is currently serving as a gospel doctrine teacher and a sealer in the St. George temple.
Brother Merrill was born in Salt Lake City and raised in the Monterey Bay area of California. Professionally, he is an author and consultant in the area of leadership development. He and Sister Merrill have co-authored several books on personal and organizational leadership.
Brother and Sister Merrill have seven children, twenty-seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. They love being with their family, writing together, doing family history work, serving in the temple, and participating in a variety of outdoor and cultural activities.
Jonathan Decker – Keynote Speaker and Workshop: Red Flags in Dating
Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist and clinical director of Your Family Expert. He has presented at BYU’s Education Week and writes a weekly relationship column for LDS Living. He has been featured in Patheos, BeliefNet, MormonHub, and Meridian Magazine. Jonathan knows the pain of mourning and the struggles of blending families. He lives in St. George with his wife and five children.
Tiffany Coughran – The Grief Cycle/ Healing the Grief Wound
Since 2002 Tiffany has been consulting individuals and families struggling with addiction, abuse, and loss. Her clinical chaplaincy work began in 2010 as she addressed her own grief as a new widow. Unpacking over 400 bereavement case studies, Tiffany began to see patterns in grief and sequential steps to healing.
Taylor Orton – Finding Light When all we Want is Darkness
In 2016, Taylor lost his beautiful wife Alisa and unborn child Ellis in a tragic accident. He’s in his fourth year of medical school in Reno, Nevada. He has a bright, happy daughter named Emmeline who has her mom’s personality.
Shara Olgive – Complicated Grief
Shara Mitchell Ogilvie is a Mental Health Counselor from St. George, Utah where she runs a private counseling practice. Shara started her work as a counselor with LDS Family Services and has practiced in a large variety of settings since then including working with grief and loss, women’s issues, Autism, and LGBT concerns. In her free time, Shara enjoys reading, playing piano, exercising, and studying the gospel. She has four children ages 12-20.
Amanda Jensen – A Lyrical Light
Amanda Joyce was raised on her grandfather’s ranch in Inkom, Idaho. She was a caregiver for her husband as he fought an aggressive form of leukemia for 4 years from the age of 27 to 31. She has a 7 year old son who holds her heart. She studies Bioethics (Medical Ethics) at Loyola University Chicago and loves to sing, play the guitar, be outdoors, teach, and learn. She loves math and science and encouraging children and women in STEM education.
J.J. Morales – Finding Light Through Fun, Getting to Know You
J.J. Morales, MBA and BA from Brigham Young University. He grew up in central California as the oldest of 5 kids and served a full-time mission for the Church in Rome, Italy. JJ met his sweetheart, Haley Jo, in college and married her in the Portland, Oregon temple. Haley and JJ have 5 kids; Claire, Thomas, Benjamin, Olivia and Sam. Haley passed away unexpectedly in November 2011 while the family was living in New Jersey. Currently, JJ teaches business classes at Providence Hall High School in Herriman, UT and is the head varsity baseball coach
Brother Paul Graf and Sister Virginia Graf – Dating and Remarriage
Ginny Strader Graf, widowed in 1988, raised her five children in Fruit Heights, Utah. During her marriage, Ginny taught elementary school. Widowed, she certified to work with students who were hearing impaired. She worked with the hearing impaired in the Davis School District for 15 years before retiring in 2010.
Paul Graf raised his family of five in Santa Clara, Utah. He is a member of the Utah State Bar. Paul became a widower in 2010.
In May 2012 Ginny and Paul met in Venice, Italy. In October 2012 they were married in the St. George Temple. Paul retired in 2015 and since then they served a mission in the Africa Southeast Area Office in Johannesburg, South Africa. They live in Santa Clara, Utah.
Brother Lavell Christensen and Sister Allyson Christensen – Sealing Covenant
Lavell Christensen was born on April 17, 1952, in Logan, Utah. I grew up in Trenton, Utah, attended Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah, and Utah State University in Logan, where he received two degrees in business, including an MBA. He taught seminary in South and West Jordan, Utah, before becoming the recorder in the Logan Utah Temple. He served there for 12 years, and then served as an area manager in the Temple Department in Salt Lake City for almost 6 years, before moving to St. George in late 1995, where he has served as the recorder in the St. George Utah Temple until now. He has served in several bishoprics and with the youth for most of his adult life. He is currently serving as the bishop of the Green Valley Young Single Adult Ward.
Allyson grew up in Logan, and met Lavell in a Logan Institute audition choir while they both attended USU. They have been married for 41 years. Allyson is the mother to their 6 wonderful children, and grandmother to 17 beautiful grandchildren. During their married life, Allyson has served in most of the women’s organizations at both the ward and stake levels. She is also an accomplished pianist, a fancy quilter and a computer-assisted scrapbook maker. Allyson is the best mother and grandmother ever!