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Pepperdine | Boone Center for the Family

Bert Ballard, Ph.D. and Sarah Ballard, M.A., NCC

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Bert Ballard, PhD, is an associate professor in the Communication Division at Seaver College for Pepperdine University where he researches intercountry adoption, adoptee identity, and adoptive family communication along with communication ethics. He has authored books on interpersonal communication and international adoption and has been published in a variety of scholarly journals including the Journal of Family Communication, Qualitative Inquiry, the International Review of Qualitative Research, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and New Directions for Teaching and Learning. He has co-founded two adoptee-led organizations, is an advisor and cast member on the recently released Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam (www.thebabylift.com), co-written a comic on adoption (http://www.adoptedthecomic.com), and is editor of Pieces of Me: Who do I Want to Be? (EMK Press, 2009, www.emkpress.com/teenbook.html), an edited collected of voices for and by adopted teenagers from around the world.

He was part of the planning team for the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Nootbaar Institute's 2013 conference on intercountry adoption and is a frequent speaker around the world at scholarly and professional adoption conferences, adoption family "culture" camps, adoption trainings, adoptive parent events, and adoptee-only gatherings. He also brings a background facilitating dialogues on controversial topics as well as in museum or exhibit settings. His presentations and workshops are high energy and interactive.

He is an adoptee from Vietnam evacuated during Operation Babylift in 1975, and an adoptive parent to a son from Vietnam. Bert has a certificate from Denver Seminary in theology along with a PhD from the University of Denver. He taught during the 2014-15 academic year with the Pepperdine University Shanghai, China International Program.

Sarah Ballard, M.A. Prior to her visiting professorship in the Communication Division and her adjunct faculty position at California State Channel Islands, Mrs. Ballard had a successful counseling practice specializing in international and transracial adoption. She is the author of Xpress Yourself!, a play therapy based curriculum for international and transracial adoptee groups. She has led a variety of adoption workshops, is a sought after adoption speaker and trainer, and has presented at a variety of professional adoption conferences, adoption family culture camps, adoptive family trainings, and adoptee-only gatherings for the past 12 years. She has also taught for Pepperdine's Graduate School of Education and Psychology. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Ventura County Dispute Settlement Center.

She has four adopted siblings from Korea and is an adoptive parent to a 6-year old son from Vietnam. She has taught courses on public speaking, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, family communication, conflict management, cross-cultural counseling, and interpersonal skills and group therapy. Sarah earned her master's in counseling from Denver Seminary. She brings skills in mediation, negotiation, dispute resolution, child and teen groups, parent-child communication workshops, and artistic/creative sessions.

Presentation Topics


  • International adoption trends, culture, family communication, parenting, and identity
  • Adoption, the Bible, and Christian theology
  • Church ministry and international adoption
  • Prospective parent adoption education

Operation Babylift

  • Transracial/interracial marriages, parenting, and adoption


  • Family communication and identity
  • Parenting and communication
  • Intercultural communication
  • Culture shock, intercultural personhood, and identity
  • Social media
  • Narratives, stories, and identities
  • Sexual communication in marriages

Mediation, Negotiation, Dispute Settlement, and Conflict Management


Workshops and presentations can be tailored for a variety of audiences. The Ballards can present together or separately. Short, one-hour presentations, keynotes, multi-day presentations, and dialogue facilitations are available.

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