2021 Cleft Con Session Recordings

Connect. Engage. Share Smiles.

Cleft Con 2021 logo

We are happy to share recorded sessions from our 2021 Virtual Cleft Con. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do! If you would like to request one of these speakers for an upcoming meeting or event, please email cleftcon@smiletrain.org.

Keynote Speaker: Naiomi Glasses

A proud seventh-generation textile artist and weaver, Naiomi is Diné and lives in the northeastern part of the Navajo Nation. In this session she spoke about her personal cleft journey, including the bullying she endured and how she used skateboarding as a tool to build confidence.

Cleft Con Sessions

Cleft Activism: The Power of Social Media in Creating Cleft Community

Cecilia, David, Kimberly, and Andi are passionate cleft activists dedicated to sharing their stories and supporting others through their own cleft journeys. In this session, they speak about their personal experiences with their clefts, the motivations behind starting their online communities, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Cleft Representation in Arts and Entertainment

Representation matters – it can shape how different groups are viewed by society and how we view ourselves. In this powerful session, three talented panelists showcase how they represent the cleft community through their careers, media appearances, and social platforms. They also reflect on what cleft representation in the arts means to them. Viewers will come away inspired to find (or become) their own meaningful representation for the cleft community and larger society.

Awareness Through Art: Katie Manning and the 100 Cleft Portraits Challenge

Katie Manning is an artist and creative coach based in the U.K. After her eldest daughter was born with a cleft, Katie decided to use her art to empower and connect members of the cleft community. Join Katie as she discusses her 100 Cleft Portrait Challenge, a project that aims to educate, spread awareness, raise funds, and create a collection of work that celebrates the beauty in every cleft.

Cleft Stories: Hear from Speakers Who Really “Get It”

While every cleft story is unique, people with clefts have certain experiences that others simply cannot understand. No matter where you are on your cleft journey, it can be incredibly meaningful to hear from someone who has been in your shoes and come out the other side. In this session, Beth Angella, Zeb Carabello, and Lindsay Grenert share their stories and reflect on their cleft experiences.

Empowering Cleft Affected Individuals

Dave Liu is a 30-year veteran of Wall Street and Silicon Valley who has raised $15 billion for hundreds of companies and has had multiple billion-dollar exits as an investor, as well as an author. He was also born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and underwent almost a dozen surgeries. An active philanthropist, Dave has dedicated his life to helping the cleft community. In this session, he shares his story and his mission to create a large-scale mentorship pipeline for cleft affected individuals.

Cleft Perspectives: Teenagers Share their Stories

If you thought being a teenager was hard, just try being a teenager with a cleft. For high school students Hunter Fasse, McKayla Kendall, and Niamh Sosa, this is no hypothetical, it’s the life they live every day. In this important, candid session, these teens open up to discuss their experiences and share why and how they chose to become involved with the cleft community.

Dating, Relationships, and Beauty with a Facial Difference

Join Iva Ballou, Founder of RealSophisticatedJoy and Ashley Barbour, founder of Cleft Love: Learning to Love My Smile as they discuss relationships, online dating, and reimagining conventional standards of beauty.

Reflections on a Life with Cleft

As Cleft Con participants know, life with a cleft is a journey – one that looks different during each stage of life. In this session, join three cleft-affected adults as they look back and reflect on their path to acceptance – both self and communal – and how their relationship to their cleft has evolved over time. Our panelists also discuss how the conversation around clefts has shifted over the past few decades and what that shift means to them.

Legal Disclaimer

The information provided in these recordings is meant to be helpful to you and is for informational purposes only.  The information contained here should not be relied upon for any specific purpose or used as a substitute for medical advice.  While we attempt to thoroughly address specific topics, it is not possible to address every unique situation.  Please consult a professional with any questions you might have.  Although we attempt to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no guarantee to that effect and are not responsible for the content of these resources.  All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of these recordings are hereby disclaimed.  The content is provided “as is” and no representations are made that the content is error-free.