Detailed Program


Registration, Information Display and Tortoise & Hair™ Conference Walk Check-In | 1:00 pm6:00 pm
Attendees begin their conference experience at registration where they will receive their portfolios with detailed information and name badges that are required to attend sessions. Tortoise & Hair™ Conference Walk participants may also pick up their t-shirts here after submitting their online Donation Page (or Pledge Sheet) or paying an additional fee ($25 per person/$50 per family). 

Exhibitor Displays | 1:00 pm—7:30 pm
NAAF Conference Exhibitors invite you to visit a variety of displays showcasing the many products and supplies available for people with alopecia areata.
Children’s Alopecia Areata Conference Camp (Ages 5-17) | 1:00 pm—7:45 pm
Our Children’s Conference Camp supports children, tweens and teens with alopecia areata by nurturing their self-esteem in a fun, creative and active environment. Dinner is included today.
Meet the Exhibitors | 2:00 pm—4:00 pm | General Track
This is a special time to meet with the exhibitors to discuss and ask questions about their products. Snacks and refreshments will be served.
Community Empowerment Workshops 1-4 | 4:00 pm—5:30 pm

1   It’s OK to Feel Sad | General Track
Are you struggling with alopecia areata? You are not alone. Whether you yourself, your child, or a loved one have been diagnosed with this disease, this support group is for people who are having a hard time coping with the grief and loss associated with alopecia areata. Whether it’s been months or years, it’s okay to feel sad. Just as alopecia areata (and the associated amount and type of hair loss) differs for everyone, so does the grief and loss process surrounding the condition. Workshop leader Fred Wahl is a longtime NAAF Support Group Leader.
2   Ask a Psychologists! | Individuals Track
What questions do you have regarding coping with your alopecia areata? Have you ever wondered what’s normal, or usual, in terms of how AA impacts people? This session is an opportunity to ask your questions of a health psychologist and engage in a rich discussion with others who are working to live their best lives with this disease.  Explore what we know about psychosocial functioning, ways to cope and developing resiliency.  Leading the session will be Dr. Kristina (Kiki) Gorbatenko-Roth, a health psychologist who researches and also lives with alopecia areata.

3   Become an Alopecia Areata Youth Mentor | Young Adults Track
Looking to make a difference? NAAF’s Youth Mentor Program connects children living with alopecia areata and their parents to young adult mentors to form lasting bonds while providing support and guidance. The best role model is someone who is one step ahead. Sharing your personal experience can help other kids and teens live with alopecia areata as well as parents cope with their child’s condition. NAAF’s Communications Director, Gary Sherwood, along with Youth Mentors Ebony Jean and Nell Sanders will facilitate this training workshop. 
4   Child Development and Resiliency | Parents Track
This workshop will help parents understand the phases of a child’s overall growth, how a child with alopecia areata develops his or her concept of self, and how resiliency can be nurtured and supported to empower a child’s efforts to cope. Workshop leader
Dr. Richard Long has worked with NAAF since its inception. He is a mental health consultant and holds a doctorate in counseling from George Washington University.
Veteran & VIP (First-Timer) Welcome Reception | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm | General Track
Reconnect with old friends and greet new ones during the Veteran and VIP Welcome Reception. Don’t be shy! Whether it’s your first conference or your fifteenth, we are all here for the same reason. We encourage all conference Veterans to welcome the VIP attendees (the First-Timers), and we urge all VIPs to introduce themselves! Hearty appetizers will be served, and a cash bar will be available.
Bus To Nowhere - Young Adult Outing | 6:00 pm—9:00 pm | Young Adults Track
First come, first served, for up to 36 young adults (ages 18-30). Hop on the bus, enjoy snacks, and beverages. Make a stop to play Frisbee, kick a soccer ball and just hang out and catch up with old friends and maybe make some new ones


Registration and Tortoise & Hair™ Conference Walk Check-In | 8:00 am—5:30 pm
Children’s Alopecia Areata Conference Camp (Ages 5-17) | 8:15 am—5:45 pm
Lunch is included today.
Exhibitor Displays | 8:30 am—7:00 pm
Orientation Session | 8:30 am—9:30 am | General Track
This session is especially valuable to first-time conference attendees. Veteran emcee Maureen McGettigan, a longtime friend, volunteer, and member of the NAAF Board of Directors, will welcome everyone to get acquainted and provide an overview of what to expect throughout the weekend.  
This session will close with a panel of veteran conference attendees who will share their experiences at past conferences, discuss anxieties related to attending the conference, and provide tips on how to get the most out of your conference experience.
Opening Session | 9:30 am—10:45 am | General Track
This session will open with our first inspirational speaker, Deeann Graham, who is an alopecia life coach, award-winning author, wife, mother and international public speaker. She has published Head-On, Stories of Alopecia, works as a coach for others struggling with their hair loss, and takes every opportunity to advocate & educate in the medical & beauty industries. Whether it’s baby steps or bold moves, Deeann will share how effective having a personalized approach to living with alopecia really is.
Drs. Maria Hordinsky, Leslie Castelo-Soccio and Angela Christiano, leaders of the upcoming Alopecia Areata Doc Talks, will take the stage to share an overview of the information that will be covered in their substantive breakout sessions.
Alopecia Areata Doc Talks 1-3 | 11:00 am—12:00 pm
Select the topic that interests you most from our list of Alopecia Areata Doc Talks led by the corresponding Opening Session speaker. It is okay to change your mind on site, after hearing the overviews. Doc Talks will provide in-depth research presentations followed by substantive Q&A and discussion time.

1   Genetics, Immunology and Targeted Therapies in Alopecia Areata | General Track
Dr. Angela Christiano will provide an update on genetic and immunological studies in alopecia areata. By working to elucidate the genes responsible for alopecia areata, Dr. Christiano’s research has helped clarify the immunologic mechanisms behind the disease. Dr. Christiano is the Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Genetics & Development, and Vice Chair for Basic Science Research in Dermatology at Columbia University.

2   Current Treatments for Adults with Alopecia Areata | Individuals Track
Dr. Maria Hordinsky will provide an in-depth presentation of everything you need to know about alopecia areata, including risks and benefits of current and evolving off-label treatment options. Dr. Hordinsky is Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota and is recognized for her clinical expertise and research in alopecia areata.
3    Pediatric Alopecia Areata: Treatment Options for Children | Parents Track
Dr. Leslie Castelo-Soccio will share key things parents need to know about alopecia areata in children and adolescents, including the major differences between pediatric and adult patients, and the risks and benefits of current and evolving off-label treatment options. Dr. Castelo-Soccio is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Pediatric Dermatology research section at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research focuses on pediatric hair disorders and inherited genetic skin conditions.
Support and Empowerment Sessions A–J | 2:00 pm—3:30 pm
Come as you are to share experiences, advice, support, and personal connections with others who understand. Select the topic that interests you most from our list of sessions focused on personal and/or social issues related to alopecia areata. Sessions will be conducted in a support group–style format with attendees sharing experiences and exchanging information.

A   Parents of Children (Girls) with Alopecia Areata | Parents Track
An exchange of ideas on being a parent of a girl with alopecia areata.
B   Parents of Children (Boys) with Alopecia Areata | Parents Track
An exchange of ideas on being a parent of a boy with alopecia areata.
C   Parents of Preteens with Alopecia Areata | Parents Track
An exchange of ideas on parenting a preteen with alopecia areata.
D   Parents of Teens with Alopecia Areata | Parents Track
An exchange of ideas on parenting a teen with alopecia areata.
E   Exploring Your Identity with Alopecia Areata | Individuals Track
Has your perception of yourself changed since being diagnosed with alopecia areata? Explore thoughts and ideas on how to come to terms with your new look and gain a more positive outlook on life.
F   Mindfulness, Meditation & Confidence | Individuals Track
Through simple meditation techniques, you can tap into mindfulness and your inner confidence anywhere, at any time. During this workshop, we will sample five different types of meditations and discuss how mindfulness and breath work impact the quality of our health and happiness.
G   Revealing or Concealing:  How To Tell Others | Individuals Track
Whether you choose to go bald, wear a wig, scarf or hat it is a personal choice. Perhaps you are thinking of changing your look. This session will explore how to tell others you have alopecia areata and explore good ways of letting those around you understand alopecia areata. You cannot control others, but you can control how and when you inform them
H   Patchy Alopecia Areata | Individuals Track
Having patchy alopecia areata can be very frustrating, trying to cover bald patches, not knowing where the hair will fall out next, the uneven pattern if you choose to shave your head. Come meet and talk with others to share ideas on ways to cope.

I   Young Adults & Alopecia Areata | Young Adults Track
Come join your peers, make new friends, share your experiences with alopecia areata and learn about ways to get involved.
J   Support for Family and Friends of Those with Alopecia Areata | Individuals Track
Ideas on how to help your friend, sibling or family member who has alopecia areata.
Community Empowerment Workshops 5-6 | 4:00 pm—5:30 pm

5   Cosmetic Demonstration Workshop | Individuals Track
Empower yourself by embracing your inner beauty and letting  your outer beauty shine. This workshop will be an opportunity to explore make-up, hairpieces, and accessories to keep you looking your best! Attendees may work their way through four demonstration stations and observe skilled volunteers working with wigs, scarves, eye makeup, eyebrows, and shaving.
6   Awareness & Advocacy Workshop | General Track
Let your voice be heard! Learn from others about how to organize events, raise awareness and educate your local community about alopecia areata. Learn from Legislative Liaisons about how to educate your congressional representatives about alopecia areata and important issues related to our cause.


Registration and Information Display | 7:00 am—5:00 pm

Tortoise & Hair™ Conference Walk | 7:00 am—9:00 am 
This year’s Tortoise & Hair™ Conference Walk will follow a three-mile route bordering Lake Washington through Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. You and your family can raise awareness for alopecia areata and funds to support NAAF as we continue to provide awareness, support, and research for the alopecia areata community. Start your day with energy, beautiful scenery, and camaraderie while supporting others affected by alopecia areata. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget to wear your Tortoise & Hair™ t-shirt!
Exhibitor Displays | 9:00 am—7:30 pm
Children’s Alopecia Areata Conference Camp (Ages 5–17) | 9:45 am—5:15 pm
Lunch included today.
General Session | 10:00 am—12:00 pm | General Track
Dr. Natasha Mesinkovska, NAAF’s Chief Scientific Officer, will share the latest progress from NAAF’s Treatment Development Program, our efforts to build a stronger patient-centered research community, and how your involvement is critical to developing treatments for alopecia areata. Dr. Mesinkovska is Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, Irvine.
NAAF President & CEO Dory Kranz will share key accomplishments and opportunities for you to take action.
Legislative Liaisons (and good friends) Kate Ekman and Anamarie Tan will share their experiences as a two-person advocacy dynamo! Their energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and they just may inspire you and a friend to become advocates as well!
And a panel of biopharmaceutical industry experts will discuss findings from recent clinical trials, including challenges and opportunities in drug development for alopecia areata. Learn and provide feedback to become empowered in your involvement in this exciting research.
Ask the Experts | 1:30 pm—3:30 pm | General Track
This panel of medical and research experts from a variety of fields will answer your questions about different aspects of alopecia areata, including treatment, heritability, related conditions, emotional effects, environmental triggers, clinical trials, ongoing research, and more. Please submit your questions in advance via email to so the experts can fully prepare for this popular session.
Young Adult Perspectives | 4:00 pm—5:00 pm | Parents & Young Adults Track
A panel of young adults will share their experiences growing up with alopecia areata and answer questions about situations other children may eventually face. They will also introduce the Youth Mentor Program (designed and led by young adults) and share this opportunity to add another level of support for our children.
Music that Made the Movies Dance Party| 8:00 pm—Midnight | General Track
From Grease and Saturday Night Fever to Flashdance and Footloose and Mamma Mia! — as well as the newest version of A Star Is Born — you’ll be dancing to all the great hits that made these movies classics from 8 p.m. straight ’til midnight while enjoying ice cream or a drink at the no-host bar. Prepare for the paparazzi and come dressed as your favorite movie character! And the adults-only private lounge is the perfect place to chill and unwind. But don’t rest too long ’cause once again we’re going to be looking for the best dancers to honor at the next day’s Closing Ceremony.


NAAF Information | 9:00 am—1:00 pm
Gather informative materials for your personal use and to raise awareness in your local area.
Children’s Alopecia Areata Conference Camp (ages 5-17) | 9:15 am—11:15 am
Support and Empowerment Sessions K-T | 9:30 am—11:00 am
Come as you are to share experiences, advice, support, and personal connections with others who understand. Select the topic that interests you most from our list of sessions focused on personal and/or social issues related to alopecia areata. Sessions will be support group–style with attendees sharing experiences and exchanging information.

K   Enriching the Elementary School Experience for Your Child (Girl) with Alopecia Areata | Parents Track
An exchange of ideas on how to make elementary school a positive experience for your girl.
L   Enriching the Elementary School Experience for Your Child (Boy) with Alopecia Areata | Parents Track
An exchange of ideas on how to make elementary school a positive experience for your boy.
M   Making the Most Out of Junior High for Your Tween with Alopecia Areata | Parents Track
An exchange of ideas on how to make junior high a positive experience for your tween.
N   Making the Most Out of High School for Your Teen with Alopecia Areata |Parents Track  
An exchange of ideas on how to make high school a positive experience for your teen.
O   Help Yourself in Daily Life | Individuals Track
An exchange of ideas to help improve your health and make your life more fulfilling and meaningful. When you have an autoimmune disease there’s so much that feels disempowering—let’s discuss how to reclaim your power and well-being through simple daily actions. Come find and provide inspiration!
P   Women & Young Adult Women & Alopecia Areata | Individuals Track
An honest discussion on being a woman with alopecia areata. This session will be divided by age with those 30 and under meeting in their own circle.
Q   Men's Issues with Alopecia Areata in Daily Life & Every Day | Individuals Track
An honest discussion for men about living with and supporting those with alopecia areata. Come give and get support.
R   Alopecia Areata in the Workplace | Individuals Track
For those dealing with career challenges such as: job interviews, communication to fellow workers and employer and revealing your alopecia areata.
S   Living the Active Life with Alopecia Areata | Individuals Track
For those who have changed their active lifestyle because of alopecia areata. Join in an honest discussion about how to feel comfortable and gain confidence to still do the activities you love.
T  Alopecia and the LGBTQ+ Experience | Individuals Track
Join others from the LGBTQ+ alopecia community and their loved ones for an open-ended conversation about the unique experiences that our diverse community has within the larger alopecia areata family.
Hotel Check-Out | 11:00 am – 11:30 am
Closing Session | 11:30 am—1:00 pm | General Track
This year, as the conference comes to a close competitive swimmer and Sports Illustrated Kids’ 2018 Sportskid of the Year
Leah Hayes will share her experience and what she does to stay positive and motivated in a talk that is sure to benefit attendees of all ages.  Then our closing guest speaker, Joshua Dobbs, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will discuss being a professional athlete with alopecia areata.  Clearly, alopecia areata did not keep Joshua from making his dream of a career in the NFL come true, and he’ll inspire all attendees to feel the same sense that they can do anything without alopecia areata slowing them down. Emotions are high the entire weekend and Sunday provides a moving farewell, a time for bonding as a group, and a time for closure. Be sure you are in attendance to cheer for the winners of the dance party and Tortoise & Hair™ Conference Walk fundraising challenge as they are announced.
Good-bye Gathering | 1:00 pm—2:00 pm | General Track
Join your new and old friends before departing to the airport or beginning your long drive home. Be sure to exchange contact information with new friends to keep in touch throughout the year. Snacks and refreshments will be served.