MARC National Summit Speakers

The MARC National Summit featured an impressive line-up of speakers, including: 

Jeanette Betancourt, EdD, is the Senior Vice President for U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street. She directs the development and implementation of community and family engagement initiatives making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and their families. These research-based initiatives are designed to impact children’s early learning, health and well-being, and provide strategies and resources to counteract the effects of trauma while fostering the critical connections that adults have on children’s lives. She is a licensed bilingual speech and language pathologist and educational therapist. She participates on several national and local boards and has contributed to the start of charter schools. Dr. Betancourt has a BA and MA in Speech and Language Pathology; an MS in Bilingual Reading/Special Education, and an EdD in Special Education.

David Bornstein is CEO and co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, which works to establish the practice of solutions journalism — rigorous reporting that examines responses to social problems — as an integral part of mainstream news. He has been a newspaper and magazine reporter for 25 years, having started his career working on the metro desk of New York Newsday. Since 2010, he has co-authored, with Tina Rosenberg, the “Fixes” column in The New York Times. He is the author of three books: How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (2003, Oxford University Press), The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank (1996, Simon & Schuster), and Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010, Oxford University Press).

Kanwarpal Dhaliwal, MPH, is one of the co-founders of RYSE and currently acts as the Associate Director. As Associate Director, she supports and guides the implementation and integration of healing-centered practices, grounded in racial justice and liberation, across all of RYSE's program areas. She also develops, promotes, and advocates for policies, investments, practices, and research that enliven healing, justice, and liberation across the fields and sectors in which RYSE works. Kanwarpal believes that the purpose of her work and life is to contribute to movements, communities, and legacies of liberation that honor the ancestors who fought for her existence and survival, and to forge a world that is just and gentle for future generations. Before joining RYSE, Kanwarpal received a Master's Degree in Public Health, and now serves as adjunct faculty at San Francisco State University.

Laura Porter is Co-Founder of ACE Interface, LLC, and has more than a decade of experience leading successful state-wide implementation of ACE Study concepts. Her expertise includes overseeing analysis and dissemination of surveillance and archival data to support decision making, and designing and facilitating processes demonstrated to improve population health, safety and productivity. Laura is committed to developing market forces in the ACE social movement sufficient to sustain the courageous leaders who are using ACE and resilience science and Building Self-Healing Communities. Read more.

Debra Rog, PhD, is a Westat Vice President and President of the Rockville Institute with 30 years of experience in evaluation. She is currently leading the multi-site evaluation of the MARC initiative. She has to her credit numerous publications on evaluation and research methods, as well as homelessness, housing, poverty, and mental health. Dr. Rog co-edited the Handbook of Applied Social Research Methods, and Applied Social Research Methods Series for Sage Publications. She was the 2009 President of the American Evaluation Association, has served twice on its Board of Directors, and is also is a member of the American Psychological Association and the American Public Health Association. Before joining Westat in 2007, Dr. Rog directed the Washington Office of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Evaluation and Program Improvement for 17 years. 

Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, is vice president, Program, for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Schwarz currently leads the Foundation’s efforts to promote healthier, more equitable communities, healthy children, and healthy weight. Dr. Schwarz was formerly Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity and Health Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia where he oversaw the Departments of Human Services, Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, and the Office of Supportive Housing. A board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Schwarz holds an MBA in health care administration from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He received his MD and MPH from Johns Hopkins University and earned his BA in biology from Brown University.

PANELS: Exploring & Supporting In-Sector Transformation

Each session will explore innovative applications of ACEs science in a particular sector — business, education, health, and law enforcement — including the role of cross-sector networks and strategies for engaging peers to adopt a trauma-informed approach.


Melissa T. Merrick, PhD, (Moderator) is a Behavioral Scientist in the Division of Violence Prevention (DVP) at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Merrick serves as the Lead Scientist for the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study in DVP and as a Subject Matter Expert for Child Maltreatment. Dr. Merrick’s research focuses primarily on the etiology, course, and prevention of child maltreatment. Read more.

Somer Gauthier has been a McDonald’s franchisee owner for over 14 years. In her search to provide better services and benefits to her employees, she came into contact with ChildWise Institute and ACEs. Somer lives in Helena, Montana, with her husband of 36 years and their two dogs.

Scott Hall, JD, MBA, is the Senior Vice President for Civic and Community Initiatives at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce where he is engaged in day to day work on the Big 5 initiatives – five big ideas to make Greater Kansas City the best place to live, work, start and grow a business. He also oversees the work on the KC Chamber’s “Healthy KC” project, an initiative in partnership with more than 150 Kansas City area organizations to make Greater Kansas City a destination for healthy living. A Kansas City area native, Scott received his BA from Washington University in St. Louis and his JD and MBA from the University of Kansas. He and his wife Suzy have four children, John, Katie, Mary Jane and Christopher.

Anne Jesko is Vice President of Human Resources with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), where she has been for two years, following more than 13 years in HR with other organizations. She was introduced to the principles of Trauma Informed Care and ACE’s science as part of Wisconsin’s First Lady Tonette Walker’s initiative to raise awareness about how childhood trauma can dramatically shape a person’s life. The initiative has grown into a dynamic collaboration of organizational partners who share a common vision to improve the health and wellbeing of Wisconsin’s children and their families.



Christopher Blodgett, PhD, (Moderator) is a Washington State University faculty member and a licensed clinical psychologist. Chris has been the Principal Investigator for more than three dozen federal and national foundation grants addressing high-risk children and families. He is the Director of the CLEAR Trauma Center at WSU. Trauma informed schools work in the CLEAR model now includes multiple schools in Washington, Oregon, and California. Chris and his team partner with communities and systems to adapt the science of resilience, brain development, and trauma treatment to better address trauma resulting from childhood adversity. Now funded by multiple federal and philanthropic grants, this work documents the profound and immediate consequences of ACEs and tests practical actions to improve child, family, and system outcomes. Read more.

Deanna Beck, MEd, NBCT, is Principal for Northwood ABC Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska. She is also President of the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals, Adjunct Professor for the University of Alaska Anchorage Special Education Program, and Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves. Previously, she taught special education in 1st through 12th grades in Louisiana, Utah, and Alaska. Beck is a U.S. Coast Guard Academy Graduate, obtained her Masters in Special Education and teaching certification from the University of New Orleans, achieved National Board Certification as Exceptional Needs Specialist in 2009, and obtained a Masters in Special Education Administration and Graduate Certification in Education Leadership from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Renée Boynton-Jarrett MD, ScD, is a practicing primary care pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, a social epidemiologist and the founding director of the Vital Village Community Engagement Network. Through the Vital Village Network, she is supporting the development of community-based strategies to promote child well-being in three Boston neighborhoods. She joined the faculty at Boston University School of Medicine in 2007 and is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics. She received her AB from Princeton University, her MD from Yale School of Medicine, ScD in Social Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health, and completed residency in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is a nationally recognized for expertise in the role of early-life adversities as life course social determinants of health. 

Mary Crnobori, PhD, BCBA, is the Coordinator of Trauma-Informed Schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools. She is committed to equipping school professionals with critical knowledge about how past or present adversity can impair neurobiological development, lifelong health, and school success; and offers practical recommendations for building trauma-informed school communities and classrooms that empower, promote resilience, and optimize school success for all students. Dr. Crnobori holds a PhD in Special Education from Vanderbilt University, a M.Ed. in Special Education, and a B.A. in Psychology; and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She is also a co-author of several peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and the book Managing Challenging Behaviors in Schools: Research-Based Strategies that Work. Most importantly, she gets her greatest joy from her role as the parent of two sons who attend public schools. 



Wendy Ellis, DrPH(c), MPH, (Moderator) is the Project Director of the Building Community Resilience collaborative at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The Building Community Resilience (BCR) collaborative is testing and implementing a model based on Ms. Ellis’ research in designing a strategic process for child health systems to align resources, programs and initiatives with community based partners to address childhood adversity and reduce the effects of social determinants that culminate in toxic stress. The strengths based approach is aimed at building the infrastructure to promote resilience in vulnerable communities. The BCR model is being tested in five major U.S. cities and is supported in part by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and Nemours. Read more.

Frank Belmonte, DO, MPH, FAACP, is a general pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Chicago. ACH is part of Advocate Health Care, one of the nation’s largest health care systems with eleven acute care hospitals and over 6000 physicians in a clinically integrated network. Prior to his role as CMO, Dr. Belmonte served as Vice President of Pediatric Population Health, pediatric residency program director, director of the division of General Academic Pediatrics and medical director of a school health center. He is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a member of several professional organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Academic Pediatric Association and the Children’s Hospital Association.

Patricia Gerrity, PhD, RN, FAAN, presently serves as Associate Dean for Community Programs at Drexel University’s College of Nursing & Health Professions. She also serves as the Director of the Stephen & Sandra Sheller Eleventh Street Family Health Services of Drexel University, where she has implemented the Sanctuary Model to build a healing organization. Patty is also a member of the Philadelphia ACE Task Force.

Gregg Laiben, MD, is the Vice President of Employer Health Solutions at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC). Working closely with brokers and employers, Dr. Laiben identifies medical and pharmacy insights and opportunities, clinical strategies and wellness solutions to improve the health of Blue KC members. He also has clinical oversight over the A Healthier You™ program. An active and respected leader in the healthcare industry, Dr. Laiben maintained an active clinical practice in internal medicine in the Kansas City area for over 12 years. He is a member of the Kansas City Medical Society, Missouri State Medical Association, American Medical Association and Kansas City Southwest Clinical Society.


Law Enforcement

Kevin Bethel, MS, (Moderator) served in the Philadelphia Police Department for 29 years; in his most recent role as Deputy Police Commissioner, he was responsible for Patrol Operations for the entire city. He has created many successful programs; has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the Police Commissioner’s Crime Strategy for the City; and has been recognized locally and at the state and national levels as a leader in community and trauma-informed policing. He is currently a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow, working with the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab at Drexel University on his project, Expanding the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program.

Becky Haas oversees Community Crime Prevention Programs for the Johnson City Police Department. Hired in 2012 as the Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project (TCCRP) Director to administer an $800,000 grant where under her direction, a collaborative of 35 agencies provided 19 programs to reduce drug related and violent crime. One program was the creation of the Day Reporting Center (DRC), a first probation program of its kind in the state. Upon completion of the grant, the TN Department of Corrections acquired the DRC and is replicating it – by opening five other DRC’s during 2017. In 2014 the TCCRP won national recognition by receiving the “Outstanding Criminal Justice Program of the Year Award” for the southern region from the National Criminal Justice Association. 

Major Darren Ivey was appointed to the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department in September 1992. He has been the Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Commander since 2012 and in partnership with Truman Medical Center’s Behavioral Health, Ivey led a team that developed a 4-hour block of training called “Building Resilience: Surviving Secondary Trauma.” Major Ivey has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Administration from Park University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Additionally, he is the Co-Chair of the Mid-America CIT Council; Chair of the Justice Committee of the Resilient KC Initiative, and is part of the Code 9 Project Team. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP); CIT International; Yoga for First Responders; Healing Pathways, and Pause First Project.

Acting Chief Robert Sears is a 20-year veteran of the Albany Police Department in New York. He has held several positions within the department and spent over ten years as a supervisor in the Detective Division. Acting Chief Sears holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics; a Master’s Degree in Public Administration; and has also attended the Senior Management Institute for Police, presented by the Police Executive Research Forum. He has a wife, Angela, and two children, Morgan and Brady.



ACEs Connection Network’s Growing Resilient Communities 2.0 and Community Tracker

Jane Ellen Stevens, MA, is founder and publisher of the ACEs Connection Network, comprising ACEsTooHigh.com, a news site for the general public, and its accompanying social network, ACEsConnection.com. The sites focus on adverse childhood experiences science, and how people are implementing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on that science. The network is supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment. Stevens has been a health, science and technology journalist for more than 30 years. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and National Geographic. She began reporting about the ACE Study and related research in 2005. She has lived and worked in Kenya and Indonesia, and has been to Antarctica – in the winter – three times on reporting fellowships. 

Gail Kennedy, MPH, is the Director of Programs at ACEs Connection Network, a national non-profit that connects communities to prevent adverse childhood experiences, heal trauma and build resilience. Gail has a Master’s in Public Health with over 30 years’ experience working in HIV programming, mental health services and child abuse prevention. Prior to joining ACEs Connection Network, Gail spent 10 years at the University of California, San Francisco where she directed international HIV programs, managing multimillion dollar grant programs. Gail has been with ACEs Connection Network since May 2015 and as the program lead, helps create tools, resources and programming to support communities. Gail has an affiliation with UC Davis’s Institute for Population Health Improvement and serves on the Steering Group of the California Essentials for Childhood and the California Campaign to Counter Childhood Adversity.

Samantha Sangenito, MPA, is the Data Science and Sustainability Lead at the ACEs Connection Network. She has been a part of the ACEs Connection Network team since 2013, originally joining as the editor of the Daily Digest and Network Administrator. As the data science lead, Samantha has created tools and interactive data visualizations to help communities plan, execute, and record their progress in becoming trauma-informed. Prior to beginning this work, she received a masters of public administration in May 2017. Samantha is a lecturer in residence at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching topics in data science, program evaluation, and statistics.


Simple Tools to Promote Resilience and Self-Regulation and Transform Trauma

Linda Chamberlain, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist specializing in childhood exposure to violence and brain development, is the founding director of the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project and a consultant for the Family Violence Prevention Fund. Dr. Chamberlain is known internationally for her ability to translate science into practical information with diverse audiences. Her passionate belief that everyone can make a difference conveys a message of hope and opportunity. Dr. Chamberlain holds faculty appointments at the University of Alaska and Johns Hopkins University. She earned her public health degree from Yale School of Medicine and her doctorate from Johns Hopkins. Dr. Chamberlain lives on a rural homestead outside of Homer, Alaska with her husband and dog team. Read more.


Activism and Community Organizing: Tools for Trauma Healing and Resiliency

David Avruch, LCSW-C, worked in public child welfare in Northern California before returning to Baltimore, where he worked for four years as a psychotherapist at Health Care for the Homeless. Currently he practices with The Counseling Center, in Towson, MD. Outside of his clinical practice, he trains mental health providers on how to incorporate political and social justice content into psychotherapy. He is currently engaged in organizing therapists and case managers to connect clients who have histories of trauma to relevant policy change efforts. He resides in Baltimore with his husband and six chickens.

First Responders and Professional Caregivers: Using Film to Promote Staff Resiliency through Programs and Policy 

Vic Compher, producer and director, began his “encore career” in filmmaking about 12 years ago and CAREgivers is his fourth project. All of his documentaries are story-driven, dramatic, personal accounts of real people’s lives. His three previous films addressed progressive and creative aging, war and peacemaking, and intergenerational sharing and legacies. Vic is also a clinical social worker and educator who has worked in child and family services, geriatric counseling, and hospice services in Philadelphia for over 30 years. In a variety of organizational settings, Vic has discovered and witnessed firsthand the “passion and the pain” which dedicated, empathic, professional caregivers experience daily. For 15 years he has conducted workshops that have proven to be very helpful for these professional caregivers. 

Deborah Louise Ortiz co-produced and directed the award winning documentary Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance. The film focuses on the effects of stress and trauma on the job for first responders, which can lead to PTSD and suicide. Deborah is also the co-founder of the national non-profit organization Code 9 Project, whose mission is to provide education, support and viable self-help tools to all Public Safety Personnel and their families for the purpose of managing and reducing the compressive stress effects, such as PTSD and suicide.

Rodney Whittenberg is an Emmy Award-winning modern “renaissance man.” His interests and professional endeavors are broad ranging from full-length film production to music composition. He is fascinated by discovering what makes things tick and how to creatively intersect with them, whether it is the inner vision of his clients or new ways to use the latest technological advances. His most recent passion project is as co-producer of the feature-length documentary CAREgivers: Their Passion, Their Pain, which was recently featured on Radio Times and written up in The Guardian.  CAREgivers begins airing on American Public Television in December 2017.  


Using Evaluation to Inform, Support and Sustain Your Trauma and Resilience Work

Tamara Daley, PhD, is a Senior Study Director at Westat, working out of the Durham, NC office. She is a clinical psychologist by training and has 18 years of experience conducting research and evaluation on health, mental health issues, social and educational topics. Dr. Daley has particular background in program evaluation, design and analysis of qualitative and mixed-methods studies, survey design, and evaluability assessment. Topically, Dr. Daley’s work has spanned programs serving vulnerable populations that include runaway and homeless youth; at-risk men and boys of color; individuals who have been trafficked; immigrant and refugee populations in the United States, and youth with disabilities and their families. Dr. Daley received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA.

Nanmathi Manian, PhD, is a Senior Study Director at Westat. She is a developmental psychologist by training and has 15 years of experience in research design and implementation, focusing on children and families. Her area of expertise is in early childhood development including child psychosocial development, family mental health, parenting practices, and early childcare experience. At Westat, Dr. Manian conducts national and international evaluation studies that focus on Orphans and Vulnerable Children. At National Institutes of Health, she served as principal investigator for a longitudinal study of maternal depression and early childhood outcomes, and has several publications in this field. Her methodological expertise is in mixed-methods approaches to data analyses. Dr. Manian received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Building Resilient Communities through Policy and Advocacy: The Vital Role of Cross-Sector, Community-Based Networks

Daniel S. Press, JD, Partner at Van Ness Feldman, LLP, has provided legal and Washington representation assistance for more than 40 years to Indian tribes, Indian organizations, and companies doing business with tribes. Dan assists tribes with strengthening their tribal governments by helping them develop and implement ordinances that exercise the tribe’s sovereign authority in such areas as employment rights and labor relations. Mr. Press serves as pro bono general counsel for two national organizations, the Roundtable on Native American Trauma-Informed Initiatives and the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice, that assist communities apply the science on the causes and effects of historical and childhood trauma to address social and health problems in their communities. Mr. Press is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

Elizabeth Prewitt, MA, is the Policy Analyst for the ACEs Connection Network that uses journalism and social media to increase knowledge about and demand for programs and policies aimed at preventing adverse childhood experiences and building resilience in individuals, systems, families, and communities. Previously, she served as Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) from 2006 to 2011 where she worked on health care reform and mental health parity. Before NASMHPD, she was Director of Governmental Affairs for the American College of Physicians. She served on the legislative staff of several members of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Ms. Prewitt holds a master's degree in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University.


Using the ACEs/Trauma/Resilience Frame in Building Community Coalitions: Observations from the Field

Andrea Blanch, PhD, is Co-Chair of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice and an independent consultant with expertise in mental health, trauma-informed approaches and systems change. She also directs a non-profit organization, the Center for Religious Tolerance, which supports interfaith peace building and women’s empowerment across the globe. She has published widely on women’s mental health, empowerment, social change, and trauma-informed approaches.

David Shern, PhD, is a Senior Advisor at both Mental Health America, and the National Association of State Mental Health Directors and a Senior Associate in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Formerly, he served for 7 years as President and CEO of Mental Health America. Prior that he was Dean and Professor at the University of South Florida’s Mental Health Institute. He is a founding board member of the Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice.