Statewide Child Abuse Prevention Virtual Conference and ACEs Summit Agenda and Workshop Descriptions

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

10:00 – 11:30      Pre-Conference Session: ACEs 101 – Understanding ACEs

1:00 – 5:30          Film festival
                            1:00-2:30 pm: “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools”
                            3:00-5:30 pm: “Is Your Story Making You Sick?”

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

9:00 – 10:30        Welcome and Opening Keynote: Dr. Melissa Merrick, Prevent Child Abuse America

10:30 – 11:00      Break, exhibitor visiting time & ‘virtual ball pit’

11:00 – 12:00      Workshop Block A

12:00 – 1:00        Lunch break, exhibitor visiting time & ‘virtual ball pit’

1:00 – 2:30          AZ ACEs Consortium Keynote: Dr. Monique W. Morris, Healing Historical Trauma

2:30 – 3:00          Break, exhibitor visiting time & ‘virtual ball pit’

3:00 – 4:00          Workshop Block B

4:00 – 4:30          Break, exhibitor visiting time & ‘virtual ball pit’

4:30 – 5:30          Trivia and networking


Thursday, December 17, 2020

9:00 – 10:30        Welcome and Opening Keynote: Dr. Bob Sege, Positive Childhood Experiences & the HOPE framework

10:30 – 11:00      Break, exhibitor visiting time & ‘virtual ball pit’

11:00 – 12:00      Workshop Block C

12:00 – 1:00        Lunch break, exhibitor visiting time & ‘virtual ball pit’

1:00 – 1:30           Awards ceremony/raffle prizes

1:30 – 2:30           Keynote: Rick Griffin, Community Resilience Initiative   

2:30 – 3:00           Break

3:00 – 4:00           Workshop Block D



Workshop Block A: December 16, 11am – 12pm

 A1 | Igniting Collective Action: Moving Beyond ACEs

Virginia Watahomigie, M.ADM, Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth

Imagine a community in which the effects of childhood trauma are clearly understood, the impact of inequitable experience is acknowledged, and people are aligned toward creating equitable access to assets and protective factors that support positive life outcomes. This training will explore the roadmap to creating change at the community and system level by using the findings of both leadership research and today’s thought leaders. 


A2 | Why Isn’t This Family Interested in What I Have to Offer? How to Engage Resistant Participants

Karin Kline, Family Involvement Center

This interactive workshop is for anyone who has ever wondered why a participant is unwilling to accept the help you know you can provide. Attendees will learn how trauma impacts effective engagement, and how to overcome this barrier by improving communication through the use of open-ended questions, genuineness, and empathy. When families feel respected, they are more likely to feel empowered to make needed changes in their lives.


A3 | Building a Safe and Trauma-Informed Relationship with Youths

Rev. Sanghoon Yoo, MSW, MDiv, The Faithful City, and Shomari Jackson, MPA, Southwest Behavioral Health Services

Experienced workshop leaders will offer the principles and practical toolkits for building a safe, caring and trauma-informed relationship with youths. The presenters have collaborated to build a trauma-informed and healthy living community with schools, behavioral service organizations, and other stakeholders.


A4 | Caring for Children with Developmental Trauma: Regulation and Relationships

Bahney Dedolph and Amy Meyertholen, Arizona Council of Human Service Providers

Using the concepts and tools from the Neurosequential Model in Caregiving, this session will provide information and strategies to better help children who have experienced developmental trauma and overcome adversity.


A5 | Taking Care of Yourself: Why Personal Resilience Matters for Caregivers and Social Workers

Dr. Bryan Harris, Educational Consultant

While a lot of attention has (rightfully) been given in recent years to helping children develop resiliency, adults – especially caregivers, including social workers, health professionals, educators, and law enforcement officials – need to develop resiliency skills, too. This interactive session will offer 17 techniques, methods, and strategies that will help caregivers develop and refine their own resiliency.



Workshop Block B – December 16, 3pm-4pm


B6 | Trauma-Informed Leadership: Creating Low-Barrier Services

Myriah Mhoon, New Life Center

This presentation will look at tangible steps and tools to create a trauma-informed agency. New Life Center’s CEO and COO will share their experience, using real-life cases studies, as well as describing the steps they took in becoming strong leaders within the nonprofit sector.


B7 | Creating Safety: Being a Supportive Adult

Angie Geren, Arizona Recovers

Working with youths who have experienced trauma can be extremely rewarding – and can also test our personal resiliency skills. Becoming a safe, supportive adult is a critical aspect of care. Learn how to recognize the part you play, increase your emotional regulation skills, and identify strategies to create a safe space.


B8 | The Current State of Childcare for Arizona’s Most Vulnerable Families

Lela Wendell, Department of Economic Security, Child Care Administration, and Mike Kulbida, Department of Child Safety

Research has demonstrated that access to stable, high-quality child care can promote school readiness and success for children. Learn what the childcare landscape looks like for Arizona’s most vulnerable families and how child welfare professionals can improve engagement with families and childcare providers to positively impact at-risk children.


B9 | Native Healing and Strengthening Families

Elisia Manuel and Roicia Banks, Three Precious Miracles

Cultural practices are an expression of who Native Americans are, and understanding one’s own culture can restore a sense of self and identity. This interactive presentation will explore the importance of expression of Native American culture through song, dance and more to help in the healing process for young children dealing with trauma.


B10 | From 10 to 2: Interrupting Intergenerational Cycles of Adversity

Jason D. Gillette, Guild Consulting LLC; Rose S. Phillips, MA, LMFT, Southwest Human Development; Angie Geren Burleson, APP, CHt, Arizona Recovers/ACEs Consortium

In this session, storyteller Jason Gillette will share how he was able to break out of an intergenerational cycle of adversity and provide his son a childhood completely different than his own. Jason’s story will be followed by a discussion on how to engage communities in discussions about ACEs in a trauma-informed way.



Workshop Block C- December 17, 11am-12pm


C11 | Dream Big: Café Conversations About a Trauma-Informed Arizona

Sandi Cimino, The Well-Made Bed LLC

Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Utilizing the World Café model, participants will engage in openly dreaming of a truly trauma-informed Arizona and identify small but significant steps that can be taken to create thriving communities.


C12 | Addressing Family Violence and Abuse

Albert M. Pooley, MSW, MPA, Native American Fatherhood and Families Association

When family members have an emotional response to conflict or stressful situations, they may express themselves in harmful and dangerous ways. This presentation explains how individuals can increase their capacity to create positive outcomes in their interactions and discussions with others, helping overcome the cycle of abuse and violence.


C13 | Effects of Trauma in the African-American Community

Dr. Carlian Dawson, Arizona Center of African-American Children

Each year, trauma accounts for 41 million emergency department visits, 2.3 million hospital admissions, and 192,000 deaths across the nation (National Trauma Institute, 2014). Trauma has been identified as a major public health and medical issue. Black males are at a noticeably high risk for trauma exposure, yet this is understudied and not talked about. Understand why people subjected to prolonged, repeated trauma develop an insidious progressive form of post-traumatic stress disorder that invades and erodes the personality.


C14 | Collecting ACEs and PCEs in High-Risk Populations

Shefali Gandhi, PsyD, and Trevor Umphress, Arizona Child and Family Advocacy Network            (ACFAN)

Advocacy centers across Arizona are using the Adverse Childhood Experiences and Positive Childhood Experiences surveys to assess risk and resiliency of adult victims and non-offending caregivers. Data will be presented and discussed, in addition to information on what lessons are being learned, and the correlation to harm reduction research.


C15 | From Stigma to Hope to Healing: A Shift in Perspective on Prenatal Substance Exposure

Clay Jones, M.Ed., IMH-E, Maricopa County Department of Public Health, and Nicole Schuren, MSW, LMSW, Mayo Clinic Hospital

This session will raise participants’ awareness of the scope of the opioid crisis, dispel myths regarding substance use disorder, and describe effects on substance-exposed newborns and their parents.

The importance of early relationships and the harm of separating newborns and mothers will be explored. Recognizing vicarious trauma and the importance of reflective practice for staff will be discussed.



Workshop Block D- December 17, 3:00 – 4:00pm


D16 | Top 10 Ways to Build Relationships with and Resilience in Kids in 90 Days

Nichola Henry, Henry Education Services

How can I build relationship with a child in a way that’s authentic? How can I teach resilience in a safe and strategic manner? Participants will learn evidence-based strategies that answer these questions and more; engage in a number of scenarios with scripts; and leave with tools that empower them to take action with results in 90 days.


D17 | ACEs and Interpersonal Communication Practices

Laura Serna and Susan Martin-Warren, Healthy Families, Southwest Human Development

Join us as we discuss the role early childhood trauma has in impacting interpersonal communication and an individual’s ability to connect and build relationships with others. Attendees will learn about crucial skills such as assertive communication, active listening, and constructive response to feedback.


D18 | Developing Resilient Living in Children and Adults

Helena Valenzuela, PhD, Arizona Department of Corrections

Research data gathered from children of the incarcerated, as well as from informal interviews with children and parents, will be presented in an interesting format that will show how to communicate and connect with children and adults to build resiliency. Parenting strategies, including parenting from prison, will be demonstrated.


D19 | ACEs, Trauma and Toxic Stress in the Medical Home

Amy Shoptaugh, MD, FAAP, and LaDon Dieu, RN, Center for Resiliency and Well-Being at Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can have devastating consequences. In order to reduce both acute and chronic physical, behavioral and mental health problems, medical providers must address how a child’s and caregiver’s life events affect the whole person. Learn how stress can affect the brain and body, and how to screen for ACEs.


D20 | Integrating Trauma-Informed Practices in Schools

Laura Wiggins, MA, LMSW; Jon Bowen, MA; Laura Anderson PsyS; Brad Snyder; Marisol Diaz, JD. Moderated by Rebecca Leimkuehler.

Being trauma-informed is not an activity, but a lens that informs how educators approach all of their activities. This session will explore how to integrate trauma informed practices into activities ranging from academics to Social Emotional Learning to support services to community outreach.


Keynote Bios

Melissa Merrick, PhD, is President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, the nation’s oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. She has nearly 20 years of clinical, research, and leadership experience related to the etiology, course, and prevention of child abuse and neglect. Previously, Dr. Merrick was a senior epidemiologist at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and served as the lead scientist for the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study at CDC for 8 years. Dr. Merrick leverages her clinical and research experiences to communicate the critical importance of preventing early adversity to key stakeholders with diverse priorities, backgrounds, and knowledge.

Monique W. Morris, Ed.D., is an award-winning author with three decades of experience in the areas of education, civil rights, and juvenile and social justice. Dr. Morris is the author of “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools,” which explores how exclusionary discipline impacts Black girls in the United States. Additionally, Dr. Morris has written dozens of articles and other publications on social justice issues and lectured widely on research, policies, and practices associated with improving juvenile justice, educational, and socioeconomic conditions for Black girls, women, and their families.

Robert Sege, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, where he directs the new Center for Community-Engaged Medicine. Dr. Sege is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, is part of the Leadership Action Team for Massachusetts Essentials for Childhood Team, and serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust and Prevent Child Abuse America. He has served on national committees for the American Academy of Pediatrics and has been lead author on several important AAP policies. His extensive speaking and publication list include contributions to the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment and youth violence. He is a graduate of Yale College, and received his PhD in Biology from MIT and his MD from Harvard Medical School.

Rick Griffin, a board member of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, is the Director of Training and Curriculum Development with Community Resilience Initiative (CRI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a citizenry conversant in trauma and resilience. Rick has committed his life to the education of others. After completing his master’s degree in education, Rick became a founding member and executive director of Jubilee Leadership Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for struggling teens. Rick’s vision to educate people about the impact of trauma inspired him to establish a national trauma and resilience conference that is held annually in Washington state. He is currently working on his latest passion, Purpose-Driven Play, a series of games designed to equip individuals with the skills to overcome adversity.


Register at

Early registration (Oct.1-31): $130

Regular registration (Nov. 1-30): $150

Late registration (Dec. 1-15): $180

Registration includes a free ACEs Consortium one-year membership.

Recordings of all the workshops will be available exclusively to registrants after the conference through January 15, 2021! Your link will be emailed to you at the end of the event.