Leaders in Trauma-Informed Care Share Wisdom at CII Conference

May 3, 2021
Rebecca Hutchinson

CII hosted a national virtual conference on April 13 and 14, featuring a group of prestigious national leaders in trauma-informed care. Former CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone Anne Williams-Isom, and best-selling author Professor Ibram X. Kendi, our keynote speakers, spoke about advancing equity, especially in light of the pandemic and the racial awakening of the past year.

Now its ninth year, CII’s Trauma-Informed Care conference deepens knowledge of trauma-informed practices for professionals in mental health, child welfare, education and related fields.

On opening day, Anne Williams-Isom spoke on Community Approaches to Trauma and Healing, including personal reflections and wisdom from 25 years leading large, complex non-profits. She then facilitated a lively panel with Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Duardo; The Aspen Institute’s Associate Director, Network & Outreach, Ascend, Sarah Haight; and Minneapolis’ Northside Achievement Zone President & CEO Sondra Samuels.

Speaking about racism, Dr. Duardo advised, “Having age-appropriate conversations on race with children should start early on. It’s important to acknowledge there are different colors and cultures and make that a positive thing.” And on healing and leadership, Ms. Samuels cautioned, “If we don’t transform our pain, we transmit it.”

On Day Two, Professor Ibram X. Kendi spoke on Equity & Trauma: Disproportionate Response, highlighting many of his teachings on anti-racism. Recognizing that this year has been particularly challenging for the nearly 500 attendees, Professor Kendi offered encouragement and guidance: “You may not be able to speak to your experiences facing anti-black racism or even trying to navigate the world as a black child or parent, but there are things you can do. You can learn the culture, the history and the experiences. The more you understand the folks you’re serving, the better support you’ll be able to provide.”

Ballmer Group’s Los Angeles Executive Director Nina Revoyr facilitated Professor Kendi’s keynote, which was followed by a panel with Pepperdine University’s Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Graduate School of Education and Psychology Dr, Daryl Rowe, President and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund, The Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, and California Community Foundation Senior Program Officer, Health Dr. Rosemary Veniegas, moderated by CII’s Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Reporting Amina Jones Fields.

Ms. Revoyr put a voice to the pain and frustration felt by providers given the events of the last year while commending their collective positive impact on the community. In closing, as the group turns to day-to-day responsibilities, Dr. Rowe encouraged, “Lean into your village… Lean into the resistance.”

Thank you to our partner and sponsors, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the California Community Foundation.