Meet the Speakers

Denise Moody
Founder & Director, Resilience Impact
Denise Moody, MSW, LICSW is the founder and executive director of Resilience Impact, LLC. She has been working in educational settings for fifteen years, working with early childhood through high school age students primarily at the district level. Ms. Moody has special interest in the area of trauma-informed systems of care, school-based mental health and multi-tiered systems of support. She has been an adjunct professor at Winona State University in the Department of Social Work since 2006 and has a small private practice providing psychotherapy to adolescents and adults. Ms. Moody holds a bachelor’s degree from Winona State University in Social Work and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas/College of St. Catherine in Social Work. She has also completed post graduate work in the area of Educational Leadership with the University of Minnesota and is licensed as a Director of Special Education and as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
James Moffett
Keynote: "Self-Care is Selfless & Mental Health is Mandatory"
James Moffett is an elementary school principal who has created, implemented, and helped others create and implement trauma-informed practices in their schools. Throughout his career, he has taught various demographic groups, observing the differences and similarities in effective instructional and behavioral strategies. Ultimately, James realized what we all know, meaningful relationships enhance behavior and academic success. He often threw around the words “grit” and “perseverance”, but after viewing Paper Tigers, it came full circle. James started his trauma informed work as the principal of Derby Hills Elementary School in Derby, Kansas, which became a fully functioning trauma informed school. During his time at Derby Hills Elementary, he implemented a number of different SEL and trauma-informed practices such as safe spots, mindfulness, self-regulation and teaching an explicit SEL curriculum. In 2019 James resigned his position as principal to take on full time consulting work. He launched JM Educational Consulting in April of 2019 and traveled across the country sharing the trauma-informed message and practices. This year, James is back in a building, serving as principal at Faris Elementary in Hutchinson, KS, where he has already put his trauma-informed practices into place to better serve the needs of students. He continues to do trauma-informed consulting as well in order to help others reach all students to the best of their ability.
Karen Treisman
Keynote: "Creative & Expressive Ways to Get to Know the Unique Child"
Dr Karen Treisman, MBE, is a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist who has worked in the National Health System and children’s services for several years. Karen has worked cross-culturally in both Africa and Asia with groups ranging from former child soldiers to survivors of the Rwandan Genocide. She is the author of 12 books, including the bestselling book, “The Therapeutic Treasure Box”, 4 sets of therapeutic card decks, and 6 therapeutic soft cuddly toys. Karen has extensive experience in the areas of trauma, parenting, adversity (ACE’s) and attachment, and works clinically using a range of therapeutic approaches with families, systems, and children in or on the edge of care, unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people, and adopted children. Karen specializes in supporting organizations and systems to move towards becoming and sustaining adversity,culturally and, trauma-informed, infused, and responsive practice. This work focuses on creating meaningful and multi-layered cultural and paradigm shift across whole systems.
Matthew Portell
Keynote: "In the Midst of Opportunity: A Paradigm Shift"
Mathew Portell has dedicated a decade and a half to education in his role as a teacher, instructional coach, teacher mentor, and school administrator in all three tiers of elementary, middle, and high school. In his sixth year as principal of Fall-Hamilton Elementary, he is an internationally recognized innovative model school for trauma-informed practices in Metro Nashville Public Schools. The school’s work has been featured on National Public Radio, PBS, the documentary “#Enough,” and the Edutopia website, with over 7 million views. He is the founder of the Trauma Informed Educators Network, with an active Facebook group and a podcast where educators and practitioners from around the globe share their own trauma-informed journeys, including some of the world’s top experts, including Dr. Bruce Perry, Dr. Ross Greene, Dr. Mona Delahooke and many more. Mr. Portell has appeared at national and international conferences, acting as a featured speaker, expert panelist, keynote speaker, and facilitator. Just this year, he was named the Nashville Public School’s Elementary Principal of the Year! Mr. Portell holds a B.S. in elementary education and an M.Ed in curriculum from Tennessee State University, and completed his administration requirements at Trevecca Nazarene University.
Jessica Pfeiffer
Keynote: "Generating Healthy Educators"
Jessica Pfeiffer, LCSW, SSW, is a ChildTrauma Academy Education Fellow. She has provided trainings, consultations, coaching, and observations to educational systems around the world. She provides trainings rooted in the Neurosequential Model of TherapeuticsTM (NMT). Jessica focuses on embedding a neurobiological lens in the school setting and providing recommendations and interventions that are developmentally relevant for students. She partners with school districts, day treatment facilities, public and charter schools, early learning centers, and state education entities to create customized engaging trainings and supports. Jessica is co-host of the podcast Education Suspended, which focuses on engaging those in conversation who are passionate about evolving our educational system. She is currently a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, working towards a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology in School Psychology. She completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. She received her Master of Social Work degree and Animal Assisted Social Work Certificate from the University of Denver.
Alex Winninghoff
Keynote: "Re-conceptualizing Trauma: The Eugenic Logic of the ACE Campaign and the Systemic Oppression of 'Resilience' Education"
Alex Winninghoff is a doctoral candidate in the department of Education Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) campaign and its consequences as a contemporary eugenic system of thought. She advocates against the adoption of trauma-informed frameworks that prioritize ACE science and promote individual ACE screening practices. Through her critique of the ACE campaign, Alex calls for approaches that reject deficiency-based perspectives of individuals and instead attend to the systemic production of adversity and trauma.
Lisa Cherry
Breakout Session: "Creating Relationships That Make THE Difference"
Lisa Cherry is an author and a leading international trainer and consultant, specializing in assisting those in Education, Social Care and Adoption and Fostering to understand trauma, recovery and resilience for vulnerable children, young people and their families. Lisa has over 30 years of experience in this field and combines academic knowledge and research with professional skills and personal experience. Lisa's MA research looked at the impact on education and employment for care experienced adults who experienced school exclusion as children in the 1970's and 1980's. Currently, Lisa is undertaking her DPhil studies at The University of Oxford in the Department of Education, asking the research question "How do care-experienced adults understand being excluded from school in relation to 'belonging?"
Zina Rutkin
Breakout Session: "Reflective Groups for Educators: A Tool for Cultivating Trauma-Sensitive Schools"
Zina Rutkin, Ph.D. co-directs NYC's Ackerman Institute for the Family’s Competent Kids, Caring Communities program (CKCC), a school-based CASEL “SELect” social-emotional learning program (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning). Dr. Rutkin holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and a master’s degree in special education. She has decades of experience working with and on behalf of children and families, including providing professional development and therapeutic, educational, and consultative services for schools and social service organizations. She is especially interested in the interface between education and mental health and the development of foundational skills leading to success in learning and in life. Dr. Rutkin is part of Ackerman's Reflective Group Project team, having worked on fine-tuning the model for Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child’s Frontiers of Innovation portfolio.
Dinah S. Taylor
Breakout Session: "The Impact of Intergenerational Trauma on Marginalized Students"
Dinah S. Taylor was born in a small town in Georgetown County called Andrews. She graduated from SC State University with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education. She has spent the last sixteen years working with district leaders, principals, teachers, and community stakeholders in developing behavioral systems that are effective and sustainable, which ultimately means keeping students in school and equipping educators with the right tools, while traditional methods result in students being suspended and/or expelled. Dinah currently is a Behavior Specialist with Richland School District & a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Associate at her private practice, Village Hills Counseling, where her work centers around healing millennial families that are ready to do the work to dismantle and disrupt generational trauma and oppression. Dinah presents to agencies, school districts, and churches on effectively meeting the needs of students through a trauma informed lens.
Jen Goepfert
Breakout Session: "Introducing a Tiered Approach to Educator Well-Being"
Jen Goepfert has been an educator for 20 years. She has been leading professional development for teachers for more than ten years. She provides responsive educational coaching and professional development for a number of districts around Minnesota, bridging the gap between practice and outcomes in a number of settings: rural and urban, public and charter.
Tonya Wilhelm
Breakout Session: "Introducing a Tiered Approach to Educator Well-Being"
Tonya Wilhelm, LICSW, is a therapist and consultant specializing in treatment of individual and systemic trauma and burnout.She has 28 years experience working with people and systems that experience trauma and burnout related to work.
Christina Reese
Breakout Session: Creating Felt Safety in the Classroom"
Dr. Christina Reese has been working with children impacted by trauma and their families for the last 20 years in Baltimore, Maryland. She has worked with a variety of traumas impacting children, providing in home and in school therapy to children in Baltimore. She has been the Director of a Mental Health Clinic and for eight years she was the case manager of a Cold Weather Shelter, working with homeless individuals and families. She is a licensed clinical professional counselor in Maine, Maryland and Pennsylvania and is a licensed clinical supervisor. She travels internationally with PESI, a continuing education provider, training mental health professionals in creating Trauma-Informed Schools, working with Mental Health in the Classroom and Attachment and Trauma in Children. She is a TBRI practitioner and owns Felicity Counseling Services in Pennsylvania. Dr. Reese authored the books “Attachment: 60 Trauma-Informed Assessment and Treatment Interventions Across the Lifespan,” “Puzzle Pieces,” “The Attachment Connection” and “The Healing Trauma Workbook: 175 Attachment-Based Interventions to Heal Trauma (released winter 2020).”
Jen Alexander
Breakout Session: Reflecting on COVID-19: Where Are We? Where Do We Go From Here?"
As an experienced educator, trauma expert, author, and professional development facilitator, Jen Alexander believes that trauma-sensitive educators can make a positive difference in the lives of students, one relationship at a time. That’s why she’s a passionate leader in the movement to build trauma-sensitive schools. Her books include the bestseller Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools and Supporting Students After Staff After COVID-19. Known by children and adults alike as “Ms. Jen,” she loves helping kids—and giving others what they need to help kids, too.
Alexandra Newson
Breakout Session: STAC - Collaboration between Educators and Service Providers
Alex Newson is a Special Education PhD student at the University of Oregon. Alex is a special education teacher and former para-educator in Oregon and Washington. She is the recipient of the OSEP funded leadership grant Project CO-LEAD which focuses on autism, collaboration and equity. Alongside Karen Zuniga Zyskind, Alex seeks to transform systems relating to educator and related services training, collaboration between educators and service providers, and to create more equitable educational practices for students with intersecting identities by centering trauma-informed pedagogy.
Karen Zuniga Zyskind
Breakout Session: STAC - Collaboration between Educators and Service Providers
Karen Zuniga Zyskind is a Special Education PhD student at the University of Oregon. Karen is a bi-lingual speech language pathologist licensed in Oregon and California. She is the recipient of the OSEP funded leadership grant Project I-LEAD which focuses on leadership, education and diversity. Alongside Alex Newson, Karen seeks to transform systems relating to educator and related services training, collaboration between educators and service providers, and create more equitable educational practices for students with intersecting identities by centering trauma-informed pedagogy.
Matthew Vasquez
Breakout Session: "Building Safety within a Trauma-Informed Classroom"
Dr. Vasquez is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Northern Iowa, and teaches mainly in the trauma-informed MSW program. His current area of research focuses on the effects of body-based interventions (e.g., Tai Chi, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga) on trauma and mental health, along with the evaluation of affiliative, body-based interventions in school settings (e.g., Rainbowdance and Kinnect). His other research interests include examining the benefits of infusing trauma-informed care practices in residential treatment facilities, in-patient mental health units, and school-based curricula, along with how to effectively educate social workers on the salient brain-based neurological aspects of trauma and trauma-informed care. As a clinician, Dr. Vasquez uses an integrated approach to the treatment of trauma that utilizes approaches from body-centered and sensorimotor psychotherapy, somatic experiencing, EMDR, and other body-based modalities. Dr. Vasquez currently serves as a consultant for the Child Welfare Training Academy of Iowa, Midwest Trauma Services Network of Hubbard Nebraska, The Health and Human Services Commission of Texas, and the International Trauma Center of Boston, Massachusetts.
Carlos Alvarez
Breakout Session: "The Neurobiology of Restorative Practices"
Mr. Alvarez is a pioneer of Right Brain Restorative practices which focus on the individual’s right brain hemispheric neurobiological and Psychological capacity, these brain regions influence the valence of a transgression, self-regulation, and motivation. Mr. Alvarez has developed a Right Brain Relationship Quadrant model that highlights an individual’s somatic, cognitive, and self-regulation during conflicts and or restorative encounters. His Right Brain Quadrant model is being used to help Restorative Practitioners around the world understand how to influence change and healing while being sensitive to their antecedent experiences that shaped their brains. Mr. Alvarez is also the Founder of the Los Angeles Institute for Restorative Practices
Candice Dagnino
Breakout Session: "The Neurobiology of Restorative Practices"
Candice Dagnino is a dedicated ​​and dynamic school leader committed to building equity schools and leading public schools in large, K-12 charter, and private networks serving underrepresented communities. She attended the University of Arizona, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science and Portuguese. She continued her education and graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching from The Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Education in School leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Candice began and continues her career in serving historically excluded schools and communities. Her passion for teaching Spanish and Math using a right-brain trauma-responsive approach evolved into leading school and school leaders grounded in her proven approach to SEL and culturally responsive teaching. As a Fulbright Scholar, Candice expanded the impact of her practice developing teachers at the Federal University of Belen, Para in Brazil, She coached and developed teachers of English as a foreign language in their ability to cultivate and leverage student autonomy by way of incorporating Social-Emotional-Learning strategies in their practice. Candice now holds a VP researcher and trainer role for the Los Angeles Institute for Restorative Practices LAIRP (Southwest Region) while simultaneously leading a fully certified Right-Brain high school in South Los Angeles. Her school has earned recognition as a California Distinguished School and named a Los Angeles County Top Public High School for low-income Latinx students by the USC Price Center for Social Innovation. Her work with LAIRP is focused on building elite, right-brain school leaders by defining and communicate roles, systems, structures, and proven practices that yield positive outcomes for students and their school culture. Candice strategically selects and deploys principal supervisors matching skills and expertise to the needs of each individual school.