Healing: Pathways for Restoration and Renewal

March 9-10, 2022

Keynote Speakers

Testimony: Moving Society Out Of The Shadows Of The Past

9:15 – 10:20 a.m. | March 9

Eamonn Baker, Training Co-ordinator, Towards Understanding and Healing

Maureen Hetherington, Founder and Director, The Junction community and peace-building center in Derry, Northern Ireland

Eamonn Baker was born 1951 and reared in Creggan Estate (Derry) an area once frequently referred to as a Nationalist/Republican ghetto of Northern Ireland. He is training coordinator with Towards Understanding and Healing in his native city; encouraging “deep listening” to the diverse stories arising from the conflict here in these islands. (https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/author/eamonn-baker/)

Publications: Purposeful inquiry: detoxing the poisoned chalice, Untitled Story
City of Culture? Editor Eamonn Baker YES! Publications 2004.
Remembering our Shared Legacy from the First World War Editor Eamonn Baker 2009 YES! Publications.
Burning Issues- A graphic novel- collaborative writing process facilitated by Eamonn Baker 2017. A Towards Understanding and Healing Publication.

Eamonn Baker
Maureen Hetherington

Maureen has an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies and has worked in the field of community relations and peace building for over 25 years. She was responsible for the Community Relations Programme for Derry City Council for ten years before moving to work in the voluntary and community sector. Maureen is the progenitor and Chief Executive Officer of The Junction, a Community Relations and Peace Building Initiative, set up to address the barriers to peace and peace building in the context of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Junction focuses on community education and training and has a local, national and international remit. Maureen is the progenitor of Towards Understanding and Healing: Dealing With The Past Through Storytelling And Positive Encounter Dialogue.

Maureen received the Community Relations Council Northern Ireland Award for Exceptional Achievement in 2015 and the Dr Philip Weiss Award for Storytelling for Peace and Human Rights (Canada) in 2016.

In partnership with Rev Dr Johnston McMaster and Dr Cathy Higgins, Maureen supported the creation of Ethical and Shared Remembering: Remembering a Decade of Change and Violence 1912-1922. This initiative helped to set the tone for commemorating in a new context, to deal with significant 100th anniversaries of key events that shaped the social, political, cultural, economic, physical, landscape of Ireland. The project has seen the evolvement of additional training programmes such as The Liberation from Patriarchy for Gender Justice and Her-Story: A Liberation from Patriarchal Ethics. Currently the Junction is rolling out a programme to mark the 100th Anniversary of the partition of Ireland, Partition: What Did It Do For Us? and a programme that has evolved from the Ethical and Shared Remembering Project, Living With Imperial Legacies: Empires, Racism, Slavery and Colonialism.

Maureen sees the Junction as presenting an opportunity to bridge the gap between the academic world and the wider community and the gap between theory and practice, across the various disciplines. Central to its role is an accessible, approachable and significant contribution to the life of all the people who live and reside here.

“We can begin with the empowerment of civic society, by bringing about participative and deliberative democracy” (panel discussion)

Humanizing Deportation: Research and Care in the Herida Abierta

11:15 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. | March 9

Robert McKee Irwin, Professor of Spanish at UC Davis

Robert McKee Irwin

Robert McKee Irwin is Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Deputy Director of the Global Migration Center at the University of California, Davis. An expert in Mexican and Mexican American cultural studies and gender/sexuality and migration studies, since 2016 he has coordinated the Humanizing Deportation digital storytelling project. The Humanizing Deportation Project: Migrant Feelings, Migrant Knowledge, a collaborative project by members of the its research team, is forthcoming in 2022 from University of Texas Press.

Humanizing Deportation


Social Media:
This page not only describes the Humanizing Deportation project, but also includes a promotional video produced by the Strategic Communications team of UC Davis: http://humanizandoladeportacion.ucdavis.edu/en/about-the-project/

Trauma-Informed Healing for Individual and Collective Trauma- An Embodied Approach

12:30 – 1:35 p.m. | March 9

Sharon Suh, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University
President, Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women
Board of Directors, The Center for Mindful Eating

Sharon Suh

Sharon A. Suh is Professor of Buddhism in the department of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University. She received her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University and is author of several articles and book chapters on Buddhism, gender, and race. She has published three books: Being Buddhist in a Christian World: Gender and Community (University of Washington Press, 2004); Silver Screen Buddha: Buddhism in Asian and Western Film (Bloomsbury Press, 2015); and Occupy This Body: A Buddhist Memoir (Sumeru Press, 2019).

Her academic work explores the intersections of Buddhism, gender, race, and film. She is particularly interested in exploring trauma from the perspectives of Buddhism and neuroscience, and focuses particularly on experiences of women of color. She emphasizes the importance of trauma-informed embodiment practices such as meditation and yoga that can increase the capacity for resilience.

She is President of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women and serves on the board of directors of The Center for Mindful Eating and most recently served on the board of directors of Yoga Behind Bars. She is a certified Mindful Eating-Conscious Living teacher through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness. She received her 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher training and trained extensively in trauma-informed yoga with Yoga Behind Bars and Y4T (Yoga for Trauma). She currently resides in Seattle, WA (USA).


  • Occupy This Body, A Buddhist Memoir (Sumeru Press, 2019),
  • Being Buddhist in a Christian World: Gender and Community (University of Washington Press, 2004)
  • Silver Screen Buddha: Buddhism in Asian and Western Film (Bloomsbury Press, 2015)



social media links IG:

At the Edge of Wilderness: Healing and Transformation

3:40 – 4:45 p.m. | March 9

The interests of the world’s second largest mining company, the federal government, and a small spiritual community … how can one hold the tension, and find a way forward? What could possibly go right? Finding the intersection of Art, Earth and Spirit on a wilderness boundary in the Cascade Mountains.

Chuck Hoffman, Painter and Designer, Former Associate Creative Director for the Walt Disney Company

Peg Hoffman, Painter, Lettering Artist, Designer, and Workshop Facilitator, Former Creative Director at Hallmark Cards

Peg Hoffman, Chuck Hoffman

Peg Carlson-Hoffman + Chuck Hoffman are the former Executive Directors of Holden Village, a remote wilderness education and renewal community in the wilderness of the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. Chuck received the Art & Innovation Fellowship and the St. Paul Interfaith Scholarship Award from Luther Seminary where he was the artist in residence and competed his MA in Art & Theology.

Edges, boundaries and intersections have been at the heart of our artistic expression for 20 years. We see boundaries and edges not as divisions, but as places that hold tension and allow something new to rise from struggle. Tension is a place where we sense the spirit moving and creating within and through each of us. Through our art and workshops, we create a space for community, spirituality, and social change. In the face of current world issues, and with our planet earth in profound peril, we cultivate places where creativity, dialogue and hospitality can begin to nurture seeds of understanding. Our time spent in places where physical walls divide communities has been particularly formative. Our experience in Belfast, Northern Ireland, over the years is at the core of our inspiration and call to work and live-in community. Most recently, as the former Executive Directors of Holden Village, we lived our life on the boundary of the wilderness frontier. Holden is a remote off-the-grid spiritual community deep within the forest of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Through our experiences we have come to believe deeply in re-formation: re-forming our relationship with the earth, with each other, and with the divine spirit that sustains us all.


Revitalizing Ancestral Foodways

5:45 – 6:50 p.m. | March 9

Valerie Segrest, CEO Tahoma Peak Solutions, Muckleshoot – BSN, MA

Valerie Segrest is an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and cofounder of Tahoma Peak Solutions that has most recently served as NAAF’s Regional Director for Native Food and Knowledge Systems.

Valerie Segrest

For more than a decade, Ms. Segrest has dedicated her work in the field of Nutrition and Human Health Science towards the efforts of the food sovereignty movement and catalyzing food security strategies rooted in education, awareness, and overcoming barriers to accessing traditional foods for Tribal communities throughout North America. By utilizing a community-based participatory research approach she has worked to organize tribal community members in grassroots efforts towards strengthening sustainable food systems that are culturally relevant and nutritionally appropriate. Ms. Segrest earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Health Sciences from Bastyr University and her Masters of Arts Degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University. She is currently enrolled at the University of Washington in the Ph.D. program at the College of Built Environment. Over the years she has earned several certifications in advanced herbal studies and has extensively researched the subject of historical and traditional food and medicine systems of the Coast Salish tribes of Western Washington. Her career began as faculty for Northwest Indian College and as a Cooperative Extension Agent for the Traditional Foods and Medicines Program. In 2009, she worked with her community to launch the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, a grassroots effort toward increasing access to traditional foods within the Muckleshoot community by identifying food resources, developing and implementing culturally appropriate curriculum focused on traditional ecological knowledge. Over the span of ten years, Ms. Segrest has co-authored several publications including the books “Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Northwest Coastal Indian Food Culture” and “Feeding Seven Generations: A Salish Cookbook”. She was a Kellogg Food and Community Fellow at the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy. This afforded her the opportunity to share the efforts of the food sovereignty movement with audiences locally, nationally, and globally. Further, she made several important connections to the broader good food movement and key leaders in that arena. In 2019, she was featured in the Women’s Day Magazine, the Food Network Magazine, and the J.Jill “Inspired Women” Campaign. Valerie aims to inspire and enlighten others about the importance of a nutrient-dense diet through a culturally appropriate, common-sense approach to eating.

Healing as Transformative Justice

7:00 – 8:30 p.m. | March 9

Gilda Sheppard, Professor of Sociology, Cultural and Media Studies, The Evergreen State College

PLU only community screening of Since I Been Down is available for viewing through 3/20/22. (PLU ePass must be used to access the page.)

Gilda Sheppard is an award-winning filmmaker who has screened her documentaries throughout the United States, and internationally in Ghana, West Africa, at the Festival Afrique Cannes Film Festival, and in Germany at the International Black Film Festival in Berlin. Sheppard is a 2017 Hedgebrook Fellow for documentary film and a 2019 recipient of an Artist Trust Fellowship.

Gilda Sheppard

Her documentaries include stories of resilience of Liberian women and children refugees in Ghana; stories of three generations of Black families in an urban neighborhood; and a film ethnography of stories from folklore started by Zora Neale Hurston in Alabama’s AfricaTown. For over a decade Sheppard has taught sociology classes in Washington State prisons and is a co-founder and faculty for FEPPS- Freedom Education for Puget Sound an organization offering college credited courses at Washington Correctional Center for Women.

Gilda is a member of the faculty at The Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus.


Social Media:
Vimeo: https://www.vimeo.com/user8993365
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sinceibeendown/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sinceibeendown/

UndocuJoy in Practice: Healing Through Joy, Storytelling, and Therapy

9:55 – 11:40 a.m. | March 10

Elena Calderón, Doctoral Student in Higher Education at the University of Arizona

Elena Calderón

Elena Calderon is a former undocumented individual who continues to be an advocate for undocumented communities. Most recently, Elena has explored the concept of UndocuJoy and what it meant for her having grown up without legal status and what it means now as a permanent legal resident. She was born in Aquila, Michoacan, raised in Mattawa, Washington, and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona. Elena is passionate about education and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health and her Master of Science degree in Communication Studies from Eastern Washington University. Elena was recently accepted to the Ph.D. program in Higher Education at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ and is in her first year of the program. Her goal as a doctoral student is to create an equitable environment in higher education for students regardless of legal status.

UndocuJoy Blog:

Master’s Thesis:


A Mother and Son’s Healing Journey through Gender Transformation

11:50 a.m. – 1:35 p.m. | March 10

Dawn Alger ’95
Rigby Alger ’19

Dawn Alger BSN RN OCN is currently a per-diem RN at Peace Island Medical Center on San Juan Island, working in Oncology, PACU and OR. She moved to San Juan Island to help create the Cancer Center at this Critical Access Hospital that opened in November of 2012. In 2014 Dawn won the prestigious PeaceHealth Spirit of Healing Caregiver Award for Collaboration as the Program Coordinator in Cancer Support for Peacehealth’s Northwest Network. Dawn is a 1995 BSN Graduate from PLU’s School of Nursing and has continued to be active as an Alumni serving on the Nursing Alumni Association Board, Gender Diversity Board, and Guest Speaker in Advocating for Gender Diverse Patients. Dawn’s family inspires her to advocacy. With a homosexual son, a heterosexual son, and a transgender son she hit the jackpot in the gender diversity lottery with her awesome family.

Rigby Alger is currently working on his Masters Degree in Art Education at the Art of Education University in Iowa. He received his BA in Special Education K-12 from PLU School of Education in 2019. The welcoming and supportive environment at PLU inspired him to give back to the University through continued LGBTQ+ advocacy.

Tech Innovation for Social Transformation

7:00 – 8:30 p.m. | March 10

Justin Spelhaug, Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies

16th Dale E. Benson Lecture in Business and Economic History

Justin Spelhaug

Mr. Spelhaug’s lecture will explore the role that technology companies are taking in global efforts to fight inequality, eliminate poverty, protect the planet, and transform local communities. Known as “Tech for Social Impact,” these strategies have the potential to expand the capacity of organizations and communities to address and meet social challenges. Universities like PLU have a pivotal role to play in these creative and systemic transformations. The lecture promises to be exciting conclusion to a two-day symposium focused on innovative approaches to “healing” in local, regional, and global contexts.

As the leader for the Tech for Social Impact group at Microsoft, Mr. Spelhaug brings 22 years of professional experience spanning a range of commercial and social businesses. Prior to his current role, Justin served as the Chief Marketing & Operations Officer for Microsoft Asia Pacific, spending seven years working across developed and emerging Asian markets. Justin also helped to launch the Unlimited Potential organization within Microsoft, with a focus on developing new and more affordable computing solutions to close the digital divide for lower-income societies globally.

Mr. Spelhaug began his career in the United States Marine Corps, earning numerous medals as part of his service. His hometown is Seattle, where he graduated from the University of Washington with Honors.




Healing in the Disciplines: PLU Faculty Panel 1

1:45 – 3:30 p.m. | March 9

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Health, Healing, and Religious and Cultural Diversity

Suzanne Crawford O’Brien, Interim Dean of Interdisciplinary Programs, Chair of Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Professor of Religion and Culture

Suzanne Crawford O’Brien

A fourth-generation Oregonian, Suzanne received her BA in History and Religious Studies from Willamette University, her MA in History and Critical Theories of Religion from Vanderbilt, and her PhD in Religious Studies and Women’s Studies from University of California Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on health, wellness, and ecological justice among Native American communities, particularly among Indigenous communities of western Washington.

Suzanne Crawford O’Brien will discuss why an interdisciplinary approach is necessary to understand the intersectionality of health, wellness, and religious and cultural diversity. In particular, she’ll explore the way this has played out in her upper division class by the same title, and in her own work on health and wellness in Coast Salish communities. In this context, “being healthy” is taken to mean the ability to embody one’s working identity within one’s community; and “wellness” means balance and harmony within physical, mental, spiritual, ecological, and social systems.


From Emotions to Ecology: Healing from the Perspective of Tibetan Medicine

Denise Glover, Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Denise M. Glover is a cultural and environmental anthropologist, and an ethnobiologist.

Denise Glover

Her research is centered in Southwest China with doctors and knowledge holders of traditional Tibetan medicine, with a focus on the linkages between place, identity, healing, and medicine production.


Religious History and Mental Health: Strategies in Late Antique and Medieval Texts to support Neurodivergent Health

Brenda Llewellyn Ihssen, Associate Professor of Early and Medieval Christian History

Dr. Llewellyn Ihssen’s scholarship explores themes of social ethics in patristic and Byzantine literature, including economics, healthcare, dying and death, and the function of pain and suffering as a form of religious identity construction in martyr accounts.

Brenda Llewellyn Ihssen

Additionally, she has published articles on Lutheran Higher Education, on teaching religion and healthcare, and ability/disability identity in the classroom. She is the author of John Moschos’ Spiritual Meadow: Authority and Autonomy at the End of the Antique World (Ashgate Publishing, Surrey, UK. ISBN: 978-1409435167. 2014) and “They Who Give From Evil”; the Response of the Eastern Church to Moneylending in the Early Christian Era (Wipf and Stock. ISBN: 978-0227173985. 2012).

Restoring Community Wellbeing: Ecology, Gender, and Solidarity in Valuing Lives, Healing Earth

Sarah E. Robinson, Resident Assistant Professor of Religion & Environment

Sarah E. Robinson

Dr. Robinson currently serves as chair of the Ecology and Religion Unit of the Western Regional American Academy of Religion, and is on the steering committee for the Religion and Food Unit at the American Academy of Religion. She specializes in environment, food, and religious studies, highlighting comparative religious environmental ethics for Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists, with a particular research focus on sustainable agriculture and climate concerns in diverse religious contexts. Her dissertation was a study of how three religious communities, one Buddhist, one Christian, and one Muslim, sought to address environmental degradation, economic inequality, and stability of food supplies through their practice and support of sustainable agricultural practices.

Before coming PLU, she was Adjunct Lecturer in the Religious Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies and Sciences Departments at Santa Clara University. There, she taught Experiential Learning for Social Justice and Religious Studies, particularly religion and ecology, Buddhism, comparative religion, and service learning, while also serving as a Sustainability Guide, Sustainability Liaison, and Sustainability Pathway course designer.

Southern Cone, State Terrorism and the Question of Healing

Giovanna Urdangarain, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies

Dr. Urdangarain received her Ph.D. in Hispanic Literature with a minor in Portuguese from Indiana University at Bloomington.

Her teaching and research focus on contemporary Latin American narrative with a special emphasis on Southern Cone post-dictatorial cultural production and Memory and Trauma Studies. Her work on violence, representation and gender in the Southern Cone has been published in the US and in two essay anthologies in Chile.


Healing in the Professions: PLU Faculty Panel 2

1:45 – 3:30 p.m. | March 10

Topic: How Older Adults Understand the Term “Allow Natural Death”

Jodi Erickson, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

Jodi Erickson, PhD RN CNL, has been a nurse for ten years with a background in ICU and end-of-life decision making.

Jodi Erickson

Prior to becoming a nurse, Jodi worked with the geriatric population for nearly two decades running Alzheimer’s facilities and then running a volunteer program for older adults. Jodi has earned a BA in Linguistics from the University of Washington and an MSN from Pacific Lutheran University. She earned her PhD in Nursing at Villanova University where she conducted research on end-of-life terminology. She teaches at Pacific Lutheran University in the BSN and ELMSN programs and works at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup as a Hospital Supervisor. In addition to having a great passion for being a nurse, Jodi loves to knit and hike as well as spend time with her family.


  • “Bedside Nurse Involvement in End-of-Life Decision Making: A Brief Review of the Literature”
  • Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, Volume 32, Issue 2, March/April 2013
  • Erickson, J. (2020). Horizontal leadership. In King, CR & Gerard, SO Clinical Nurse Leader: Certification Review 3rd ed. New York: Springe

Topic: Dyadic Decision Making Regarding End of Life Preferences

Barbara Habermann, Dean & Professor of Nursing

Barbara Habermann, PhD, RN, FAAN joined the School of Nursing at PLU in July 2019 as Dean and Professor.

Barbara Habermann

Prior to PLU, she served as the Interim Senior Associate Dean of Nursing at the University of Delaware. In addition at UD, she held a number of roles including the Nannie Longfellow Professor of Nursing, the Associate Dean for Translational Research and PhD Program Director in the School of Nursing. She received her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco in Nursing Science, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington, MN from the University of Washington, and BSN from the University of San Francisco. Dr. Habermann has over 25 years of experience as an educator in baccalaureate, masters, and DNP and PhD programs in nursing.

Dr. Habermann is an established researcher in the areas of aging, neurologic chronic illness and family caregiving. She has been funded by NIA and NINR as well as by private foundations. Primarily her research utilizes mixed-methods designs and has been at the descriptive and interventional levels. Dr. Habermann’s research has been widely disseminated including over 90 data based articles.

Dr. Habermann also has received federal funding to support training in graduate nursing education. This includes institutional funding through NINR to support predoctoral and postdoctoral training as nurse scientists and HRSA funding to support advanced practice nurse training.

Topic: Reimagining the End-of-Life Process: Healing Before Passing

Mark Mulder, Dean & Associate Professor of the School of Business

Dr. Mark Mulder has an MBA in Technology & Innovation Management, Pacific Lutheran University and a Ph.D. in Marketing & Consumer Behavior, Washington State University. He also completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University.

Mark Mulder

Dr. Mulder is an active researcher in the area of Transformative Consumer Research. TCR is a focal area of the Association of Consumer Research, and Mark has been an active research participant, and research track leader, in specialized research around transformative services, effective branding and storytelling by social impact organizations, effective relationships in the area of poverty alleviation, redesigning microfinance for indigenous communities, and reimagining the end-of-life journey to help it be even more fulfilling and impactful. 

In this most recent project, Dr. Mulder is working collaboratively with executives, thought leaders and other researchers to explore a behavioral lens via marketing for this important topic. This builds on research at PLU in the area including student projects around the “Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death” (or, Death Over Dinner) movement, and a mentored student research project around communication and emerging personas in the event of a terminal illness. Through personal experience with family members who have passed, he is inspired to help alleviate the stigma around end-of-life journeys that focus as much on the LIFE part of the journey as the eventual passing.


  • Cornell-Maier, S. & Mulder, M.R.* (2019). Understanding Communication Surrounding Terminal Illness. Proceedings of the American Marketing Association Marketing and Public Policy Conference, Washington, DC.  *Undergraduate Student Mentoring Research Project
  • Weaver, T., Mulder, M.R., Koppenhafer, L., Liu, R., & Scott, K. (2019). Diving In Together or Toes In the Water: The Interplay of Community and Nonprofit Engagement in Poverty Alleviation. Journal of Business Research, 100, 431-440. [Journal ABDC Rank: A]
  • Bublitz, M.G., Peracchio, L.A., Escalas, J.E., Furchheim, P., Grau, S.L., Hamby, A., Kay, M.J., Mulder, M.R., & Scott, A. (2016). Transformative Stories: A Framework for Crafting Stories for Social Impact Organizations. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 35 (2), 237-248. [Journal ABDC Rank: A]

Collective Resilience: Addressing Community Violence through Cross System Collaboration

3:40 – 5:25 p.m. | March 10

Christopher Mannino, Police Chief, Park Forest Police Department in Chicago

In his 25th year in law enforcement, Christopher Mannino serves as Chief of Police of the Park Forest Police Department in suburban Chicago. Throughout his roles in senior leadership positions, he has worked to transform the juvenile justice processes of his agency to focus on providing resources to at-risk youth and diverting juvenile offenders from the formal criminal justice system wherever possible. Due in large part to that work, he serves on the International Association of Chiefs of Police Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Committee. 

He is also a nationally recognized instructor and consultant on public relations and crisis communications with Julie Parker Communications.

Christopher Mannino holds a Master’s Degree in Political and Justice Studies from Governors State University and is a graduate of the 237th session of the FBI National Academy, an international executive police leadership course where he was chosen by his classmates as a section representative.  He is also a Certified Police Chief through the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. 


  • Presenter for the International Association of Chiefs of Police IACPlearn, On-Line, 2021
  • Presenter for the International Law Enforcement Training Summit, On-line, 2020
  • Keynote Panel Presenter at the 2019 Supporting High Risk Youth in Puerto Rico Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Guest Speaker at the 2019 League of Women Voters Issues Briefing, Chicago, Illinois
  • Keynote speaker at the 2018 Illinois Tactical Officers Association Conference Banquet, Oak Brook, Illinois
  • Presenter at the 2018 Building-A-Trauma Informed Illinois VOCA Conference, Springfield, Illinois
  • Presenter at the 2018 Women In Criminal Justice Conference, Bloomington, Illinois

Tobara Richardson, Counsel to the Illinois Attorney General on Social Justice and Equity

Bio: Attorney Tobara Richardson is Counsel to the Illinois Attorney General on Social Justice and Equity. For over a decade, Attorney Richardson has fought for fairness, justice, and results for those who need it most. She previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney and as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Chicago and her Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.

Tobara Richardson photo

During her career, Attorney Richardson has worked to help convicted felons successfully reenter society and not recidivate. She has also developed creative solutions to address and solve community crime-related problems. Outside of serving the residents of Illinois, she enjoys volunteering at Holy Sanctuary Community Church and mentoring young lawyers who aspire to follow in her footsteps.

Attorney Richardson’s prior presentations include:
“Diversity Panel,” (panelist) Intensive Trial Practice Workshop, the
University of Chicago Law School (September 2021)
“Drafting: Criminal Law,” (guest lecturer) DePaul College of Law
(September 2021) (October 2019)
“Demonstration: Foundations,” (faculty presenter) Intensive Trial Practice
Workshop, the University of Chicago Law School (September 2021)
(September 2019)

Liza Suarez, Co-director of the Urban Youth Trauma Center (UYTC)

Liza Suarez, PhD, Urban Youth Trauma Center, University of Illinois at Chicago. Liza Suarez, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Liza Suarez

She is the co-director of the Urban Youth Trauma Center, a SAMHSA funded Treatment Service Adaptation Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network aiming to address the needs of youth impacted by community violence. Dr. Suarez is also the director of the Pediatric Stress and Anxiety Disorders Clinic, a Community Treatment Service Center, also funded by SAMHSA and part of the NCTSN. Trained as a clinical child psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Suarez has over 20 years of experience working with trauma-related services for diverse urban youth and families. Dr. Suarez has directed the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of assessment, prevention and intervention protocols and programs to address violence exposure, traumatic stress, anxiety and substance abuse. Dr. Suarez blends research and practice in academic, clinic and community settings. She develops and evaluates research and clinical programs for youth impacted by trauma and adversity, tailoring treatment approaches to families of diverse ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds experiencing community violence, substance abuse problems. She is the project director of the Total Access Collaborative for Trauma Informed Care, a cross systems collaborative partnership funded by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority which brings together law enforcement, schools and mental health services in order to improve the workforces’ ability to recognize, identify, connect and provide services to children and adolescents impacted by trauma and violence.


  • Suárez, L., Polo, A. J., & Chen, C., & Alegría, M. (2009). The prevalence, course, and correlates of childhood-onset anxiety disorders among Latinos and Non-Latino whites in the United States. Psicología Conductual, 17, 90-109.
  • Suárez, L., Barlow, D., Bennett, S., & Golsdstein, C. (2008) Understanding anxiety disorders from a “triple vulnerability” framework. In M. M. Anthony and M.B. Stein (Eds.), Oxford handbook of anxiety and related disorders. Oxford University Press, New York.


Rachel Wax, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Village of Park Forest, Consultant with the Urban Youth Trauma Center

Rachel Wax serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Park Forest Police Department.

Rachel Wax

Rachel is the lead developer, trainer, and implementer of the Urban Youth Trauma Centers Youth Violence Prevention Engagement Curriculum (YVPE), a multi-tiered violence prevention program that applies evidence based practices to address the needs of communities impacted by violence, low socioeconomic status, and insufficient access to critical resources. The YVPE curriculum was developed to be facilitated in partnership with Law Enforcement to provide alternatives to traditional punishments for offending youth and to assist in the facilitation of connecting youth and families to resources through cross system collaborative efforts. YVPE has additionally been adapted for implementation in school-based settings. Ms. Wax is a Certified Forensic Interviewer and co-developer of the Adverse Childhood Critical Events and Safety Screener (ACCESS) and referral protocols.