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First Responder Mental Health Resilience 2022 Conference Speakers

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Lt. Colonel Thomas Grady, Assistant Deputy Superintendent, Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office

Lt. Colonel Thomas Grady is Chair of the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council and a member of the Western Massachusetts Critical Incident Stress Management team.

Appearance time: Day 1 Opening Remarks (Oct 6, 10:00-10:15 am)

Dr. Stephen Porges, Distinguished University Scientist, Indiana University; Founding Member, Polyvagal Institute

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland.  He served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He is the originator of the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral, mental, and health problems related to traumatic experiences. He is the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™ , which currently is used by more than 1500 therapists to improve spontaneous social engagement, to reduce hearing sensitivities, and to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.

Appearance time: Dr. Stephen Porges and Local First Responders Discuss Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health (Oct 6, 10:15-11:45 am)

Chief Philip Wonkka, Erving Fire Department

Philip Wonkka is a 25-year member of the Erving Fire Department, and currently serves as the Chief of the Department. He also serves on many boards and committees for the betterment of Franklin County. As a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, he had the privilege of being assigned as the Suicide Intervention Officer for his unit. This spurred a quest to bring awareness to suicide awareness among the veteran community. Upon retirement from the army, he pursued avenues to assist in a growing problem that reaches beyond just veterans. He became a member of the Western Massachusetts Critical Debriefing Team in 2020 assisting first responders throughout Western Mass in getting through tough times after tragic events. He brings the knowledge and experience of having responded to tragic and life changing events to assist other first responders work through the events to bring awareness to mental health and resilience.

Appearance time: Dr. Stephen Porges and Local First Responders Discuss Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health (Oct 6, 10:15-11:45 am)

Sgt. James Sullivan has served at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Police Department since 2008. James is a certified instructor in Suicide Prevention, Stress (Stigma & Survival) in Law Enforcement, Police Interactions with Persons with Mental Illness, and Violent Extremism Awareness. Beyond his patrol duties James serves on the UMPD Tactical Arrest and Control Team, Suicide Prevention Training Group, Crisis Intervention Team, Mounted Unit, Emergency Preparedness Unit, Honor Guard, and is a Field Training Supervisor. Additionally, James is a volunteer on the Western Massachusetts Critical Incident Stress Management Team and serves on the IACLEA Domestic Preparedness Committee.

James holds a M.A. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Public Policy and Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Leadership Management. He also holds a B.S. from Westfield State University in Criminal Justice, and a B.A. in Mass Communications.

Appearance time: Dr. Stephen Porges and Local First Responders Discuss Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health (Oct 6, 10:15-11:45 am)

Laurie Lankowski McComb, Paramedic, South County EMS; Adjunct Faculty, Greenfield Community College

Laurie Lankowski McComb has spent her entire professional career serving the public of Western Massachusetts. She attended Rivier College and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. While a special education teacher, McComb pursued interests in public safety, quickly finding her passion serving the community in a new way. Over the last 20 years, she has held roles as professional firefighter, paramedic, police officer and emergency manager. McComb is a full time paramedic for South County EMS, adjunct faculty at Greenfield Community College for the paramedic program and also holds a Master’s degree in Emergency Management.

McComb has been a member for the Western Massachusetts Critical Incident Stress Management Team for several years, helping peers following significant events. She has been an advocate for protecting the mental health of public safety workers by developing department policies, facilitating education and collaborating with local departments to create a peer support team. McComb also volunteers with her therapy dog at debriefings and other requested events. McComb resides in Franklin County with her husband and animals.

Appearance time: Dr. Stephen Porges and Local First Responders Discuss Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health (Oct 6, 10:15-11:45 am)

Nina Barszcz, Dispatch Administrator, Westfield Public Safety

Being in emergency communications for over sixteen years, Nina has filled many roles.  She became a front line 911 dispatcher for the City of Northampton in 2006 and then a certified communications training officer shortly after.  She has held both middle and upper supervisory positions and is currently the Dispatch Director for Westfield Public Safety, where she manages a department of thirteen emergency dispatchers.  Over the past year, she has spearheaded the work toward regionalizing dispatch services for the Town of Southwick into Westfield’s current center.  Nina is also a wife and a mother of two. 

Appearance time: Dr. Stephen Porges and Local First Responders Discuss Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health (Oct 6, 10:15-11:45 am)

Deb Dana, LCSW, Rhythm of Regulation; Founding Member, Polyvagal Institute

Deb Dana, LCSW is a clinician and consultant specializing in using the lens of Polyvagal Theory to understand and resolve the impact of trauma and create ways of working that honor the role of the autonomic nervous system. She developed the Rhythm of Regulation Clinical Training Series and lectures internationally on ways Polyvagal Theory informs work with trauma survivors. She is a founding member of the Polyvagal Institute, clinical advisor to Khiron Clinics, and an advisor to Unyte.

Deb’s clinical work published with W.W. Norton includes The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation, Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection: 50 Client Centered Practices, and the Polyvagal Flip Chart. She partners with Sounds True to bring her polyvagal perspective to a general audience through the audio program Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of Polyvagal Theory and her forthcoming print book Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory.

Appearance time: Polyvagal Theory in Practice (Oct 6, 12:00-1:00 pm)

Stephanie D’Angelo, CMT-P, Polyvagal Institute

Stephanie D’Angelo CMT-P has a master’s degree in Mindfulness Studies from Lesley University, where she wrote her thesis on the Polyvagal Informed Embodied Mindfulness program, a program designed for those entering the healthcare field at The College of New Jersey. She is a co-developer and facilitator at the Polyvagal Institute, for the Polyvagal-Informed Certificate for Organizations program. She is a host and moderator for the Rutgers University Heldrich Center for Workforce Development- NJCNJSC platform, implemented to support NJ residents in the unemployment crisis due to the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. She continues to provide weekly Polyvagal-Informed and Trauma-Informed programming through a mobile app. Her goal is to empower all people with skills that support self-regulation so they may experience calm no matter the storm they are facing in real-time.

Ms. D’Angelo is trained as a Certified Trauma Support Specialist, in addition to training in Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness, Somatic Regulation Strategies, Embodiment, Polyvagal Foundations and more. She is certified to teach Mindfulness by UC Berkeley’s Awareness Training Institute and accredited by the International Meditation Teachers Association. A Yoga Alliance Continuing Education (YACEP) provider, and an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (ERYT-200).

Through her body of work, she has pioneered programs in Fortune 500 Corporations, including Bank of America, Dow Jones, Miele International, Wellness Centers, Organizations, Universities and Hospitals in the Princeton and NYC area.

Appearance time: Be the Calm in the Storm: Polyvagal-Informed Embodied Mindfulness (Oct 6, 1:30-2:30 pm)

Chief Jennifer Gunderson, South Hadley Police Department

Police Chief Jennifer Gundersen has been a police officer since 1994. After spending 24 years working in the Town of Amherst as a police officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant and then captain, Chief Gundersen joined the South Hadley Police Department in 2019. Committed to training, community engagement and officer wellness, Chief Gundersen has assisted Amherst Police and South Hadley Police by developing and strengthening their peer support programs. Chief Gundersen has a bachelor’s in political science from Stonehill College, a master’s in Criminal Justice Administration from Western New England University and a master’s in Public Administration from Westfield State University.

Appearance time: Day 2 Opening Remarks (Oct 13, 10:00-10:15 am)

Joanne Barros, LMHC, Statewide Director of Jail and Arrest Diversion Initiatives, Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

Joanne Barros holds her Master of Education degree in Mental Health Counseling with a graduate certificate in Forensic Services. She is an independently licensed mental health clinician. She is currently the Statewide Director of Jail and Arrest Diversion Initiatives for the Department of Mental Health. Joanne has 17 years of experience working in the field in both correctional and community settings. She teaches at Boston College and guest lectures at multiple colleges and universities. She is an MPTC (Municipal Police Training Committee) instructor and certified in multiple areas. Joanne also works with the CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) teams in the Commonwealth to support first responders. She is presently pursuing her PhD in Counseling and Psychology.

Appearance time: Best Practices for Treatment Refusers and Resisters (Oct 13, 10:15-11:15 am)

Dr. Victor Petreca, PhD, DNP, Assistant Professor, Boston College William Connell School of Nursing

Dr. Victor Petreca, PhD, DNP, is an Assistant Professor at the Boston College William Connell School of Nursing. He is a board-certified Advanced Practice Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and currently licensed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. He has extensive experience in forensic psychiatry, correctional healthcare, psychopharmacology and risk assessment. In his clinical work, he has practiced in over seven correctional facilities. He also performs psychiatric evaluations and psychopharmacological management for individuals who are under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as they reintegrate into society. His research centers on the overlap between psychiatry and the law. His research is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to examine jail diversion strategies in cases that involve behavioral crises. Moreover, his program of research explores issues related to victimology, sexual offending and violent behavior. 

Appearance time: Best Practices for Treatment Refusers and Resisters (Oct 13, 10:15-11:15 am)

Jeremy Segall, MA, RDT, LCAT, System Chief Wellness Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals

Jeremy Segall, MA, RDT, LCAT is the System Chief Wellness Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. He oversees wellness from multiple angles including enterprise wellness via staff wellness response efforts, and patient wellness via engagement strategy. He oversees the system’s wellness programming, person-centered certification, and care experience portfolio consisting of the enterprise’s customer service values. He was the coordinator of the Healing Education Resilience and Opportunity for New York’s Frontline Workforce (HERO-NY) Taskforce, bringing together the US Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, USUHS, DOHMH, GNYHA, and FDNY to create a training series addressing trauma, stress, and resilience to be adapted for civilian audiences. The HERO-NY training has now spread to five continents and over 33 countries. A Licensed Creative Arts Therapist in private practice and an executive coach for the past fifteen years he has been a featured speaker at Greater New York Hospital Association, Harvard Kennedy School & Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Modern Healthcare’s Mental Health Virtual Summit, Metro Health & Medical Preparedness Coalition’s Disaster Behavioral Health Conference, Hunter College, the Schwartz Center’s Compassion in Action Series, Vocera Humanize Health Series, and Press Ganey’s Workforce Well-being Collaborative. He has been on faculty at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Weitzman Institute, SUNY Downstate, and the Healthcare Association of New York State’s Quality Bootcamp and Residency programs. An Extended DISC professional, Lean Management facilitator, TeamSTEPPS Advanced Master Trainer, he has won international workplace wellness awards and has published multiple articles on wellness and equity.

Appearance time: Organizational Well-being: Enhancing Internal & External Resilience that Supports a Culture of Workforce Wellness (Oct 13, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm)

Sam Chase, Lead Learning Faculty, RISE Program, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

Sam Chase is the Lead Learning Faculty for Kripalu Center – the nation’s largest yoga and retreat center and home to the RISE program, an evidence-based resilience training that serves those who serve the public good. Through his work with the United Nations, the National Guard, Columbia Medical School, Brooklyn Hospital Center, and the NYC Department of Education, he has shared mind-body tools to promote a flourishing life with thousands. 

Appearance time: Keeping the Body in Mind: Embodied Tools for Resilience (Oct 13, 1:00 – 2:00 pm)

Bruce Arbour, MDiv, HTP, US Navy veteran and former call firefighter, Assistant Chief Chaplain with Mass Corps of Fire Chaplains. member of Western Mass Critical Incident Stress Management Team

Bruce Arbour, MDiv, HTP, is a trauma-informed specialist offering counseling services to those who have experienced trauma, complicated grieving, anxiety related to trauma, and stress management. Bruce is a Certified Havening Practitioner© and is trained in hypnosis and various related-care methodologies. He has served as a fire department chaplain for over 26 years. A US Navy veteran and former call firefighter, Bruce is Assistant Chief Chaplain with the Mass Corps of Fire Chaplains and a member of the Western Mass Critical Incident Stress Management Team. His mission over the past 35 years is to be part of a transformation in how people who experience traumatic situations are treated. His practice also includes teaching various methods of self-care and emotional resiliency. He is committed to being a part of how we change culture in our society to a more open and accepting attitude towards mental health wellness, especially for the first responder community (Police, Fire, Dispatch, and EMS). Bruce’s practice is located in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Appearance time: Day 3 Opening Remarks (Oct 20, 10:00-10:15 am)

Dr. Rollin McCraty, PhD, Director of Research, HeartMath Institute and Research Center

Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., is the Director of Research at the HeartMath Institute and Research Center. As a psycho-physiologist, Dr. McCraty’s research interests include the physiology of emotion, heart-brain communication, and the global interconnectivity between people and the earth’s energetic systems. Findings from this research have been applied to the development of tools and technology to optimize individual and organizational health, performance, and quality of life. Dr. McCraty has acted as Principal Investigator in numerous studies examining the effects of emotions on heart-brain interactions and on autonomic, cardiovascular, hormonal, and immune system function, and outcome studies to determine the benefits of positive emotion-focused interventions and heart rhythm coherence feedback in diverse organizational, educational and various clinical populations.

He has been featured in many documentary films such as I Am, The Truth, The Joy of Sox Movie, The Power of the Heart, Solar Revolution, and The Living Matrix, among many others.

Appearance time: Maintaining your Composure in the Midst of Chaos and Confusion (Oct 20, 10:15-11:15 am)

Jennifer Hart, Senior Probation Officer, Wellness & Peer Support Coordinator, San Diego County Probation Department

Jen has passion for people, exudes vitality and loves motivating and inspiring others to be the best version of themselves. Jen is dedicated to enhancing officer wellness and resilience and providing her team with continued opportunities for personal growth and development. She is a certified HeartMath trainer and a master instructor for Blue Courage. Jen is an avid Toastmaster, gardener, and home cook and maintains her commitment to wellness through yoga and mindfulness.

Appearance time: Creating Calm in Chaos (Oct 20, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm)

Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Rel.M, M.A., Ph.D., Senior Vice-President and Director of Shay Moral Injury Center, Volunteers of America

Rita Nakashima Brock, Rel. M., M.A., Ph.D., has been Senior Vice President and Director of the Shay Moral Injury Center at Volunteers of America since 2017. She is the co-author of one of the first books written on moral injury, Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War (Beacon 2012) and has been educating the public about moral injury since 2010. In June 2020, the Shay Center created an online, one-hour, peer-facilitated, small-group program for moral distress in frontline workers, which is free and open to the public (www.voa.org/ReST). It was built from strategies used in a Shay Center evidence-based moral injury program for military veterans. In July 2022, the program was expanded to include First Responders.

Appearance time: Recognizing and Addressing Moral Distress and Moral Injury in First Responders (Oct 20, 1:00-2:30 pm)

Chief Michael Wynn, Pittsfield Police Department

Chief Wynn has been a member of the Pittsfield Police Department for twenty-seven years. Prior to joining the department, Mike worked as a liaison between the police and the community as the first Director of the Westside Neighborhood Resource Center. Since joining the department, Mike has served in a variety of assignments, including Community Policing, Bicycle Patrol, Narcotics, Special Operations (SWAT), Training, Patrol Supervisor, Shift Commander and Bureau Commander. Mike has been the Department’s Chief Executive since December 2007.

In addition to his enforcement duties, Mike has served as an instructor at the Western Massachusetts Police Academy, teaching topics ranging from defensive tactics and firearms to cultural diversity and bias crimes. From 2003 to 2004, Mike served as a Leadership Fellow at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Mike is currently an Adjunct Instructor at the Justice System Training and Research Institute located at Roger Williams University, as well as an instructor for the Municipal Police Institute. He currently serves as the President of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Council (B-LEC).

Mike is active on several local community boards.

In 2013, Chief Wynn was selected to represent Massachusetts law enforcement as a participant in the Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) Northeast Counter-terrorism seminar in Israel.

Chief Wynn is the author of Rising Through the Ranks: Leadership Tools and Techniques for Law Enforcement.

He resides in Pittsfield, with his wife, Christina, their rescue dog, Gypsy, and their kitten, Twitch. They also share custody of the PD’s Comfort Dog, Winston, with Officer Derby.

Appearance time: Day 4 Opening Remarks (Oct 27, 10:00-10:15 am)

Tom Greenhalgh, LICSW, Co-founder and Executive Director, National Public Safety Solutions Inc., Quantum Wellness Concepts, Inc

Tom Greenhalgh, LICSW, has been involved in the Public Safety field since 1982. He retired from full-time public safety work after just shy of 35 years as a Police Lt./NRP. A former full-time Firefighter/Paramedic, he has been involved in Public Safety Diving for over 30 years as a team leader and trainer of a regional volunteer dive rescue team, a Corporate Trainer for Dive Rescue Int’l, and as an author/technical advisor on educational programs in this field. Tom is the Co- Director for the Greater Lowell CISM Team in Massachusetts (MA), an ICISF Faculty member and approved trainer in multiple disciplines, co-author of the From Battlefield to Street: One Uniform to Another program, and is a Peer/Staff clinician at the On-Site Academy in Westminster, MA. Tom also serves as the Director of Education for the MA State Peer Support Network, the Clinical Director for the MA State Police EAU/Peer Support Team, a Wellness Advisor for the Fire Chiefs’ Association of MA, and as an advisor to various other local through international agencies. He continues to author, train others, and contribute to publications on various programs in these fields. Tom serves as the co-founder and Executive Director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit agency National Public Safety Solutions Inc. and serves clients through his clinical/life-coaching service Quantum Wellness Concepts, Inc. Currently pursuing a Doctorate in Natural Medicine, he holds both a MACJ and a MSW with an emphasis on public safety, hospital/medical, and military issues such as critical incident stress, PTSD, addictions, resiliency, and overall wellness.

Appearance times: Peer Support and Emerging Sciences: Blending the New with the Traditional for Enhanced Wellness and Resiliency (Oct 27, 10:15-11:15 am) and Enhancing My Professional Skills for Enhanced Wellness and Resiliency (Oct 27, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm)

Robin Carnes, MBA, WAET, Certified Yoga Therapist, Certified YOQI Qigong Flow Associate Instructor, Certified iRest Meditation Instructor

Robin is a leading pioneer in bringing effective mind-body approaches into the mainstream. From 2006-2012 Robin was yoga and iRest® meditation instructor for a Defense Department acute PTSD treatment program at Walter Reed Medical Center. Out of this work, she co-founded Warriors at Ease (WAE), which has trained over 1500 yoga teachers to teach safely and effectively in military communities. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, Woman’s Day Magazine, Huffington Post, and Army Magazine, as well as the award-winning documentary, Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare. Robin was honored by the Smithsonian Institute in 2013 for her innovative work with the US military.

Appearance time: Healthy Sleep: Your #1 Resilience Skill (Oct 27, 1:00-2:00 pm)

Lillian Lennox, LMHC, C-iRest, ERYT 500, WRHSAC Project Consultant

Lillian Lennox is a Program Consultant for the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) and has worked closely with Raine Brown and the Council for several years on projects to bring resilience-based programs, training, and events to the western Massachusetts first responder community. Lillian is also a member of the Western Massachusetts CISM Team.

Born in Leicester, England, Lillian’s work draws twenty years in psychological stress injury prevention including seven years on the Acute/Crisis Care Team in an ER setting. With an MA in Counseling Psychology, and a graduate of the International Trauma Studies Program, Columbia University, Lillian is trained in multiple modalities to enhance the natural resilience and coping capacities of individuals, families, and communities that have endured or are threatened by traumatic events.

Lillian created and facilitates LifeBreath Resiliency Training for First Responders, as well as Health and Safety Professionals, a resilience-based stress management training program that has been delivered to organizations including an Air Force Bomb Squad, veterans, first responders, frontline healthcare workers, and at-risk youth groups. LifeBreath is rooted in the deep belief that we are here to help and learn from each other, as well as from the natural world.

Lillian is a Certified iRest® Yoga Nidra Teacher, a Sivananda Advanced Yoga Teacher E-RYT500, and a Certified Level II EMDR practitioner.

Appearance times: moderator for Dr. Stephen Porges and Local First Responders Discuss Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health (Oct 6, 10:15-11:45 am); Closing Remarks (Oct 27, 2:00-2:15 pm)

Raine Brown, Homeland Security Program Manager, Franklin Regional Council of Governments

Raine Brown is Program Manager for the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC). WRHSAC is responsible for the allocation of the State Homeland Security Program for the four counties of western Massachusetts. Raine oversees and implements all WRHSAC projects and programs. During her time with WRHSAC, Raine has become recognized as strong resource for emergency preparedness and all-hazard response planning and training in western Massachusetts. WRHSAC is committed to building relationships across disciplines and jurisdictions to enhance the resiliency of the region. Raine is proud to be an integral part of this commitment. Raine is a Master Program Manager, holds a MA from Salve Regina University and is a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. She has worked in state and local government for more than 15 years.