The Creekers Foundation is hosting an International Women’s Day Conference and Gala on March 8, 2017 with a powerhouse lineup of inspirational speakers and musical guests. The event is being held at the Wingate Hotel conference center with the conference running from 3-6 pm and the gala going from 6-8 pm.
Joan Barlow is a very normal person with a seven-year attention span. A mother of 19 children, (six came without labor pains thanks to Shirlee). She is now enjoying her grandchildren. Joan has had many different careers and experiences over her busy life, but in her heart, she has always been an educator. Known throughout the local schools as Miss Joan, she has taught, in one form or another, about every grade level. However, the majority of her teaching career was spent in El Capitan’s high school, teaching English to 8th thru 12th graders, including some dual-enrollment classes, and a “mini-business” elective class.
Her background is a patchwork quilt of explorations:
- A student, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a second major equivalent in Spanish (and an Art Professor who was determined that she should switch her degree to Art which was preposterous to say the least.)
- A quasi-accountant, meaning she passed the CPA Exam, finished most of her qualifying hours, then decided to go back to college to be a teacher in fear that she would be stuck doing accounting forever and ever
- Managed a custom design cabinet shop, spending every single minute of every single day living in fear and trepidation that the danger of the saws were equivalent to the sounds they made
- Designed and brought to fruition a series of board games, printed with sublimation printing on board-size mouse pads: SPLACM, STACM, BLOCM, and CATCHM
- Built an Academy from the ground up, designed to teach in a hands-on environment
- Written a musical without any music, dabbled in poetry, and started a book never to be finished
- Worked with a drug-free prevention program aimed at educating young to the dangers of drugs
- Worked as a dishwasher, a prep assistant, and an on-line cook in a restaurant for the purpose of instilling in her brain the fact that she was born to be a teacher, not a restaurant anything—other than, perhaps, a customer
Now retired, in theory only, since she never learned how to say, “No,” Joan has found that she cannot relax into those blissfully imagined, quiet, boring days. She is still subbing to keep her pulse rate alive and well, tutoring a college student, dabbling in crafts, tending grandchildren, reading, pretending to write, helping with some accounting, and numerous insignificant activities such as cooking gluten-free meals, attending school basketball home games, and putting together jigsaw puzzles while listening to family debates, fondly thought of as bonding time. In short, she is quite happy!
Rachel Jeffs is the second child of Dan Fischer and Aleena Bateman and is a former FLDS member. She grew up in SLC Utah where she graduated high school from Alta Academy in 1993. In 1997, she married Michael Jeffs. She graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Utah in 1999. She started her career in Salt Lake as an Obstetrics and Level 2 nursery nurse, then moved to Oregon in 2001 where she continued to work in obstetrics and specialize in newborn resuscitation.
She has 18 years experience in women’s services. This includes ongoing training in natural and medicated childbirth, breastfeeding and lactation support, well and sick baby care, as well as caring for the postpartum mother. She has interacted with women from many cultures and in many different and often challenging situations. This has allowed her to learn to problem solve and support them by meeting her patients wherever they are at in their life circumstances.
Rachel has four children and is a devoted mother and wife of 19 years. Her family loves to travel along with enjoying sports and music. She enjoys cooking, sewing, reading and the outdoors. She volunteers weekly by transporting produce from a donor to a food warehouse for the working poor. Rachel has a firm belief that we need to work together in order to improve people’s lives while upholding each other with courage, support and accountability in order to strengthen our community.
Shirlee Draper was born and raised in Colorado City, Arizona, within the sect known as FLDS. She attended all schooling there and graduated with an Associates degree from Mohave Community College. She was married and had four children, two of whom are disabled or have special needs. In 2003, she took her children and left the community, her family, and everything she had ever known to move to St. George. She has a degree in Social Work and is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program, both from the University of Utah. Her passions are helping other parents of disabled children learn to heal their children with whole nutrition and therapy, and helping others who have left the FLDS to learn skills and obtain resources for transitioning to mainstream society. She is the board president for The Learning Center for Families early childhood intervention; board member of the United Effort Plan Trust; and an advocate/case manager for Cherish Families, a nonprofit which offers wraparound services for people in or transitioning from the FLDS. She is also a founding member of the Short Creek Community Alliance, a grassroots citizens group which fosters voter registration and political engagement inside Colorado City and Hildale.
Josie McDonald, also formerly known as “Debbie Black” has always been interested in building up the community and in women’s rights. As a teenager she used to volunteer in the summers to cook lunches for the “work Crew” boys along with her sister. She has played minor roles in some of the community gathering such as “Harvest Festival” where two of her original musical numbers were performed in 1998.
She has since invested many hours at The Doctor’s Volunteer Clinic and The Huntsman Senior World Games, both in St. George UT where she volunteered.
Josie is a Registered Nurse and has clinical exposure to many different fields of nursing from long term care, to acute care (on the hospital floor), to the operating room where she currently works. She holds an Associates of Science Degree and an Associates of Nursing Degree along with various other educational accomplishments she has earned and is working on achieving.
Her focus has always been building up others in whatever way she can and always strives to deliver encouragement, education, self-confidence and success strategies to those around her.
Leona Bateman is a not only the founder of the Creekers Foundation but is a mother, who loves being a Mom. She is also a business owner, coworker, homeschooler, humanitarian, woman’s advocate for FLDS and ex-FLDS women and others. When she gets the opportunity she loves doing anything outdoors, especially biking and hiking. She identifies herself as a coffee drinker, people watcher, music lover, photography lover, bike rider, cook, gardener and life enjoyer. And, she feels lucky in love!
She feels deeply, is unguarded and is passionate about the things she loves. Leona is highly self-sufficient, does not submit easily and finds great satisfaction in service. She trusts easily and is curious about everything. She warns others to not study her as they will not graduate!
Leona was born and raised in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Mormon Church. She left the church and became a women’s advocate for other women leaving so they could thrive in the world.
She is driven with a fiery passion that is very dear and personal to her heart. She feels it is in some manner a penitence for the death of her oldest son who was kicked out of the church. At the age of 15, he was abandoned by his family and hometown. She serves in the memory of all those who have suffered from the abuse many have experienced with the way of life that was once a way of life and taken as gospel. When she left the church, in 2013, she took many young boys with her and realized that she could make a difference. She realized other FLDS women needed help so they could help themselves, their families and others. Realizing she could not help herself or others without the tools and resources so desperately needed–she began building the foundation to make it possible.
Elissa Wall has many titles in life, but her favorites include Mom (of two great kids), Fashion and Makeup Optimist, Business Development Enthusiast, Author, Speaker, Human Rights Activist and Advocate for the abused and dis-empowered.
Elissa was born into a polygamous family within the religious culture of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints), a turbulent start to what has turned into an extraordinary life. As a young 14 year old, Elissa was forced into an arranged marriage to her adult first cousin, and began the typical life of an FLDS child-bride. After years of brainwashing and abuse, she managed to escape–sheltered, naive, but ready to start a new chapter in her life. She was only 18 at the time.
In 2007, in a brave bid to help others avoid going through the same abuses she suffered, Elissa testified against Warren Jeffs. This led to his conviction and imprisonment, helping prevent future crimes against children and adults in the FLDS community.
Overcoming immense childhood obstacles and grief, she now works to assist and mentor other victims. Elissa has written a memoir entitled “Stolen Innocence’, detailing her experiences with the FLDS and her journey breaking free from its bonds.
During the last decade of her freedom and real-world integration, she has developed a true passion for self-discovery and concentrates on the continual pursuit of personal and professional growth. Ellissa now serves as an Entrepreneur and motivational speaker, helping change lives as she has changed her own.
Known for her riveting tales of transformation, Bridget Cook-Burch is a New York Times Bestselling Author, a Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author & Transformational Speaker/Trainer, and Human Potential Expert.
Her books have been showcased on Oprah, Dateline, Good Morning America, The Today Show, People Magazine and many others. As a single mother, she owned and operated several successful businesses throughout Utah and Colorado, including PR, publishing and trucking companies. As an advocate and human rights activist, Bridget is a founding member and director of SHEROES United, a non-profit organization that highlights the stories of female super-role models (those who give back to their community).
Bridget creates powerful trainings, from three-hour workshops up to multiple-day or week-long retreats. She loves to individualize trainings for personal, business, corporation and organizational needs. Her gift is her courage to bring light into the darkest places of humanity, and illuminating paths that awaken readers to their own magnificent journey.
On March 8, 2017, the Creekers Foundation is hosting its first ever conference and gala. They chose the date to coincide with International Women’s Day to show their unity with women across the globe as the first publicly inclusive event. The event is being held at the Wingate Hotel Conference Room from 3-6 pm with the gala to follow from 6-8 pm.
“We invite the public to join us in reaching out and supporting others–everyone is invited, shared Leona Bateman, Creeker Foundation. “Please, join us and be inspired by these amazing women. All of them are amazing women and speakers. We will also have homegrown live entertainment by local women. There is no limit to growth and progress, when humans are allowed and supported to follow their dreams.”