The Schlenskers

Welcome back! I’m so excited to be working with the wonderful people at Southern Virginia University to bring you the second annual Mothers’ Retreat!

This year, our theme is, “The Errand of Angels,” and we have another amazing lineup of talented, accomplished presenters to entertain and inspire you. As a mother, YOU are on the errand of angels daily. President Russell M. Nelson said, “The highest and noblest work in life is that of a mother.” Though seemingly thankless and mundane at times, the work you are doing in your home will influence generations to come. Now, more than ever, the world needs strong, righteous women! As a mom, you have the power to change the world – one child and one family at a time.

Come get away and recharge in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley! Join us for a weekend of inspirational speakers, delicious food, amazing music and unparalleled sisterhood, as we celebrate our role as women, mothers, and daughters of God.

Megan Knight Schlensker


Friday, June 1, 2018
3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Check-In
5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Dinner
7:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Evening Session

Hank Smith

8:30 – 10:00 p.m. Ice Cream Social
Saturday, June 2, 2018
7:00 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Morning Session

Justin Knight

Laura Welch

Kelli Houghton

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon Session

Heidi Swinton

Sandra Turley


Kelli Houghton

Development Manager, Operation Underground Railroad

Kelli Houghton has a master’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She has been actively involved in the international community for the past eighteen years developing programs and advocating for policies related to preserving families and protecting children.

She has served as the director of several international programs, as a hospital administrator, and currently as the Development Manager for Operation Underground Railroad.

Kelli has also presented at international conferences including Global Health Conference and various United Nations conferences. Kelli and her husband Carl have four adult children and two daughters-in-law.

Justin Knight

CEO, Apple Hospitality REIT

Justin Knight has served as President of Apple Hospitality REIT since its inception and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in May 2014. He also served as President of Apple REIT Ten from its inception until its merger with Apple Hospitality REIT in September 2016, and President of Apple REIT Seven and Apple REIT Eight until their mergers with Apple Hospitality REIT in March 2014. He served as President of Apple Hospitality Two until it was sold in May 2007, President of Apple Hospitality Five until it was sold in October 2007, and President of Apple REIT Six until it was sold in May 2013. He joined the Apple REIT Companies in 2000.

Mr. Knight currently serves on the Marriott Owners Advisory Council, the Residence Inn Association Board, the American Hotel and Lodging Association Board of Directors and Executive Committee of such board, and is the Co-chair of the American Hotel and Lodging Association Owners Council. Mr. Knight also serves as a member of the National Advisory Council for the Marriott School at Brigham Young University, the Board of Trustees for Southern Virginia University, the Board of Trustees for The Valentine Museum, and the Board of Directors for Venture Richmond.

Mr. Knight holds a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Corporate Strategy and Finance from the Marriott School at Brigham Young University and a Bachelor of Arts degree, Cum Laude, in Political Science from Brigham Young University. Mr. Knight has been a member of Apple Hospitality REIT’s Board of Directors since January 2015.

Hank Smith

Author & Instructor

Dr. Henry “Hank” Smith grew up the son of a golf professional in sunny St. George, Utah. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Dixie State University, Hank earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Utah State University and a PhD in Educational Leadership from Brigham Young University where he now works as an instructor.

In addition to his work corporate training and education consulting, Hank enjoys speaking at assemblies for elementary, junior high, and high schools around the country.

Hank has been published in journals and books around the world. His article, “Trust at Ground Zero: Trust and Collaboration within the Professional Learning Community” was recently featured in the bestselling international book, “Trust and School Life.” Hank has also authored many books and “Audio CDs” with Deseret Book and Covenant Communications and speaks for tens of thousands of youth and adults each year.

Hank enjoys running marathons and eating lots of ice cream, which is why he runs marathons.

Hank, his wife Sara, and their 5 adorable children currently live in Mapleton, Utah.

Heidi Swinton


Heidi S. Swinton is the author of President Thomas S. Monson’s official biography To the Rescue. For that book, Deseret Book presented her with the “Excellence in Writing Award” for 2010. She also received that award in 2000 for her biography Joseph Smith American Prophet. She has authored the award-winning books and five PBS documentaries including Sweetwater Rescue, the Willie and Martin Handcart Story; America’s Choir: A Portrait of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; Sacred Stone: Temple on the Mississippi; American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith; and Trail of Hope: The Story of the Mormon Trail. She has served on LDS Curriculum Writing Committees for Teachings of the Presidents of the Church for 7 years and as a gospel doctrine teacher for 11 years.

She writes for Music and the Spoken Word, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s blog and website and has conducted interviews for “Conversations” on the Mormon Channel. She serves on the board of Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and was recognized in 2014 by her alma mater, University of Utah, with the Merit of Honor Award.

Heidi is a former member of the Relief Society General Board, member of the BYU Women’s Conference Committee, and served a mission in Great Britain (2006-2009) where her husband Jeffrey C. Swinton, a former Area Seventy in the Fifth Quorum, presided over the England London South Mission. She recently returned from a mission in Laie, Hawaii where her husband directed the Temple Visitors’ Center with 42 missionaries.

They have five sons (four living) and twelve grandchildren.

Sandra Turley

Actress & Musical Artist

Sandra Turley performed the role of Cosette in Les Miserables on Broadway in New York City and was part of the original closing cast. Sandra was invited to perform the role of Cosette in the Shanghai, China premiere of Les Miserables alongside Broadway star, Colm Wilkinson. She received her BFA from Brigham Young University with a major in Music, Dance and Theater. Among her favorite performances are singing for Steve Young’s Forever Young Foundation events, performing as Ariel in Disney World’s stage production of The Little Mermaid and giving concerts at BYU Education Week and Women’s Conferences.

Sandra is a recording artist for Shadow Mountain Records having released two albums “Sandra Turley: On Broadway” (produced by Tyler Castleton, 2012) and “Inside My Soul” (produced by Kurt Bestor, 2014). Sandra performed across the country as a presenter for Deseret Book’s popular Time Out for Women and Time Out for Girls events (2012-2016).

Most importantly, Sandra and her wonderful husband, Josh, reside outside of Washington D.C. where they are raising four incredible children.

Laura Welch

Comedian & Speaker

Laura Welch is a comedian, storyteller, professional, speaker, founder, and mother. She participated in Divine Comedy, a sketch comedy troupe. She filmed a movie with D.C pro tour distributed by Deseret Book. She received first place at speech and debate college nationals for Programmed Oral Interpretation, a monologue incorporating ten characters. Laura is a singer-dancer-actress and loves the arts. She continues to pursue roles in acting and comedy. Her love of performing and storytelling lead her into the speaking world.

After going through the LDS Church Educational program at BYU, she taught Seminary at Pleasant Grove High School and taught Institute at Berkeley College of Music. For the past 13 years, she has spoken for Especially For Youth speaking on faith and values. She travels all over the country speaking to women, faith groups, and LDS teenagers at EFY, youth conferences, and firesides. She founded an organization for families at Harvard Business School and now is a regular speaker at Harvard Business School speaking on motherhood and family.

In addition, she started and continues to mentor a parenting speaking series at HBS which has received praise from PBS for being a wonderful tool to help families. She is a regular speaker at Harvard speaking on motherhood. She was the founder of female heroes speaking series in Boston during her time serving in the LDS stake Relief Society. Most importantly Laura is the ringleader/Mother of a circus called the Welch Family. She loves nurturing her four children Rowan, Porter, Lillian, and Quinn. She spends her spare time playing pranks with her husband and having dance parties with her family.