2023 nORTH aMERICAN CONFERECE

2023 Safe & Together™ Model North American Conference

Join us September 20-22, 2023, in Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Register for the 2023 North American Conference OnlyVirtual Attendance (Thursday + Friday)
Register for the 2023 Safe & Together Model North American Conference (Thursday + Friday) & Pre-Conference (Wednesday)
Register for the 2023 Safe & Together Model North Conference Only (Thursday + Friday)
Register for the Pre-Conference ONLY (Wednesday) 
Take advantage of our special group rates! Click here to register individuals and groups.
Purchase 5 registrations, and get the 6th FREE. Click here.


**Recordings will be available to all registrants for on-demand viewing for 6 months following the live conference**

Embassy Suites by Hilton Albuquerque

  • To book your room at our special group rate, click here.
  • To book your room at our special group rate by phone, call 1-888-728-3025 and let them know you’d like to book your room under group 2023 Safe & Together Model North American Conference.
  • If you are a government employee, you may be eligible for a discounted room rate at our hotel. Please email daniupham@safeandtogetherinstitute.com to inquire about availability and rates. Limited rooms are available at a discounted rate, so act quickly.

Need justification for attending? We’ve got you covered! Click here.

OVW has conditionally approved grantees from Disabilities, State Coalition, STOP and the Underserved programs to attend this conference. Grantees must submit a Grant Award Modification (GAM) requesting approval to use their OVW travel funds to attend this conference. A GAM must be completed before grantees commit or expend any funds related to attending this conference. The reference number for this conference is OVW-2023-MU-055. This number must be used by grantees when requesting approval to attend the conference. This approval and assigned reference number is for this conference only.

Conference Welcome To Country address: Cedric Chavez, President, New Mexico Indian Council On Aging, Pueblo of Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico

MASTERCLASSES

Masterclass: Applying a Perpetrator Pattern-Based Approach in Family Court Context  

David Mandel 

Family courts are charged with balancing child safety with meaningful relationships with both parents. What does this mean in the context of domestic violence? In many instances, courts are not clearly presented with the perpetrators’ patterns and the specifics of the harm it has caused, and emphasis on collaborative parenting can work against the best interests of children in these cases. Drawing on work in family court settings in the United States and Australia, David Mandel, Executive Director and Founder of the Safe & Together Institute, will explore how the Model can be applied in the family court context. This workshop will look at the difference between risk and harm frameworks; the importance of understanding post-separation coercive control and the targeting of professionals and systems as part of perpetrators’ patterns; how to best understand and contextualize protective parenting behaviors; the centrality of a behavioral approach to objectivity and neutrality; and how to increase accountability for perpetrators as parents in the family court context.  (This is not an introductory class. While not required, prior knowledge of the Safe & Together Model is beneficial.)


Masterclass: Using Coaching to Increase Effective Practice and System Change

Heidi Rankin, Associate Director, Safe & Together Institute + Shelly Napoletano Flynn, Trainer Certification Program Manager, Safe & Together Institute

Coaching can dramatically increase individual practitioners’ capacity for applying learned skills and tools in their day-to-day practice, as well as help to create a shared language, framework, and practice across agencies, which promotes systems change. In this workshop specifically designed for Safe & Together Model™ Certified Trainers, participants will learn how to take their expertise in domestic violence-informed practice from the classroom to one-on-one and small-group consultations within their agencies. Participants will learn to promote practitioners’ critical thinking, risk and safety assessment, appropriate case planning recommendations, and overall best practices in domestic violence cases. The workshop will also focus on how Certified Trainers can coach workers in using Safe & Together Model™ tools, such as the Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool and the STIM Protocol, in advancing skill and knowledge development that can be applied across a range of cases as well as support practitioners in complex cases with high levels of trauma and safety issues. (This session is for Safe & Together Model™ Certified Trainers).


Masterclass: An Introduction to the Safe & Together Model

Leah Vejzovic, North American Regional Manager, Safe & Together Institute

In this master class, participants will be introduced to the Principles, Critical Components, and other key aspects of the paradigm-shifting Safe & Together Model. Participants will learn how the Model’s concepts, skills and tools can transform individual practice, agencies’ culture and systems, and cross-sector collaboration.  Learn about partnering with survivors, keeping children safe and intervening with perpetrators as parents. Participants are guaranteed to leave the session with new practices they can implement immediately. (This session is appropriate for professionals from any sector.)

THURSDAY KEYNOTES

KEYNOTES ARE INCLUDED IN THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PACKAGE

KEYNOTE: “Why does she keep choosing him over her children?” How to stop blaming mothers, ignoring fathers and fix the way we keep children safe from domestic violence

David Mandel

We live in a world where, consistently, mothers are still blamed for the harm violent fathers create for children and families. Fathers’ behaviors and choices, positive and negative, and their impact on child and family functioning, are underappreciated or outright ignored. As part of the prelaunch of his forthcoming book, “Why does she keep choosing him over her children?” David Mandel, creator of the Safe & Together Model, will examine some of the professional “myths” that interfere with societal and systemic change and some of the steps to fix the systems charged with keeping children safe from domestic violence.


KEYNOTE: “The Last Drop”: A Sci-Fi Film Designed to Educate Young People About Coercive Control

Adam Joel + Ruth Reymundo Mandel

The Last Drop is a short sci-fi film about relationship abuse inspired by the memories of real survivors. A young woman links minds with her boyfriend to relive their favorite shared memories— but when she spots overlooked signs of abuse, she must escape before he can manipulate her memories in his favor. The film is designed to fill the glaring gap in educational material about coercive control for young people. Ruth Reymundo Mandel, the Safe & Together Institute’s Communication and Strategic Relationship Manager, and writer/director, Adam Joel, discuss the ground-breaking elements of the film, including:

– the power of storytelling to connect and empower survivors. Writer/Director, Adam Joel, will share the communal storytelling method he used to combine his own experience as a survivor with input from other survivors and experts.

– the innovative choice to use science fiction to reach younger audiences and highlight the hidden signs of coercive control.

– the partnership between S&TI (an Executive Producer of The Last Drop) and the filmmakers to distribute this film to the people who need it most.

Join us to learn how The Last Drop could be a powerful learning tool and conversation starter for your work in the field of abuse prevention, education, social work, and more!

FRIDAY KEYNOTES

KEYNOTES ARE INCLUDED IN THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PACKAGE

KEYNOTE: Responding Effectively to Coercive Control

Dr Emma Katz

This Keynote will explore the new, innovative work that is taking place around coercive control. Coercive control is a severe but often hidden form of abuse. It involves situations where a perpetrator subjects their partner or family member to persistent, wide-ranging controlling behaviour over a long period of time and makes it clear that standing up for themselves will be punished. By repeatedly punishing their partner/family member for non-compliance, the perpetrator intends to demoralise and terrorise them into a state of permanent obedience, stripping them of their ability to freely participate in their communities and to make basic choices for themselves. Coercive controllers use multiple tactics of abuse, and every tactic harms the lives of any children in the family as well as the lives of adult victim-survivors. The experiences of adults and children subjected to coercive control are highly similar, and children and adults should be considered co-victims and co-survivors.

After exploring the dynamics and tactics of coercive control and their impacts on victims-survivors, this Keynote will emphasise the following points: it is the abuser, not the relationship, that is the cause of the abuse, and it is the abuser who is responsible for the harms experienced by any children in the family. Perpetrators are making a parenting choice to have their child grow up in a family dominated by coercive control. Responses to domestic abuse by systems and individual professionals must identify the abuser’s pattern of abusive behaviour as the source of the danger and harm. Because separation rarely brings about safety for the adult and child survivors, and most coercive controllers are determined to continue their coercive control post-separation, responses to abusers must focus on meaningfully disrupting and blocking the abuser’s willingness and ability to continue to be abusive. Both adult and child victims and survivors require not only meaningful safety from the abuser but also the freedom, support and resources to make their own choices and to thrive in the aftermath of abuse.


KEYNOTE: The Invalidated Protective Capacity of the Black Woman Survivor: Why don’t her points ever count?

Courageous Fire

Looking at protective capacity from the lens of the Black woman in America to understand:
• Her specific barriers
• Where those barriers historically began
• How those barriers are solid today
• What they mean to her approach to DV
• How educated systems can change that narrative


Keynote: The Four Pillars of “Failure to Protect” Culture

David Mandel, Executive Director, Safe & Together Institute

“Failure to Protect” culture holds mothers responsible for the behaviors of their abusive male partners. These practices are inefficient, ineffective, unfair and unethical. Drawing from his upcoming book “Why does she keep choosing him over her children,” David Mandel outlines “failure to protect culture,” its limitations and impact, and his suggestions for ending the use of “failure to protect” in domestic violence cases.

THURSDAY WORKSHOPS – SECTION I

Implementation of Safe & Together Beyond the Classroom: New York State’s strategy to transform child welfare practice and broader systems change

THIS SESSION IS INCLUDED IN THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PACKAGE

Candace Calabrese, OCFS Safe & Together Practice Implementation Manager, NYS OCFS + Bethani Whiting, OCFS Safe & Together Practice Implementation Lead, NYS OCFS

In New York State, domestic violence is the highest occurring risk factor identified in our child welfare cases. Adding to its complexity, domestic violence often intersects with substance abuse, mental health issues, housing instability, physical and sexual abuse and other neglect issues. Identifying the urgent need for a shift in our child welfare practice and cross-system collaboration, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) sought to implement a comprehensive practice model and practical tools for the field in its response to families experiencing domestic violence perpetration. Being a state oversight, a locally administered child welfare system of 62 counties would require a great deal of planning, partnership, and support.

Having worked in partnership with the Safe & Together Institute on a multiyear pilot project to support our federally funded CPS/DV Collaborations, OCFS was aware of the Safe & Together model’s success. The overwhelmingly positive feedback and measurable impact on systems collaboration and practice from those who implemented the model is what led OCFS to start implementation of Safe & Together statewide.

In 2020, OCFS became a Partner Agency with the Safe & Together Institute to develop its own certified trainers to deliver the Safe and Together Model training to child welfare staff, domestic violence program staff, and other child-serving systems to build knowledge and capacity for improved domestic violence practice and systems response. This workshop will share our strategies, challenges, lessons learned and feedback from the field to date.


Douglas County, Nebraska’s Journey to Systemic Change

Katie Hansen, Director, Harmony Project

The focus of this presentation will be Douglas County (Omaha), Nebraska’s journey to identify a need for systemic change when working with child welfare cases involving domestic violence. This presentation will show the progression of how Douglas County, Nebraska, identified gaps in services for perpetrators, survivors and their children, brought the Safe & Together CORE Training to Omaha, and how we are currently implementing the Safe & Together Model in our community. We will focus on how we overcame funding barriers and went about getting buy-in from get key stakeholders in order to create this paradigm shift in the way we work with survivors of domestic violence and their children, with the CORE Training being at the center of this shift. This presentation will also highlight how local agencies who completed the CORE Training are now implementing the model in their daily work with perpetrators, survivors and their children. We will conclude the presentation with some potential strategies to complete our goal for statewide implementation of the Model.


Caring Dads: An intervention for child maltreatment and domestic violence. Helping Fathers Value their Children

Sarah Webb, Global Enterprise Manager, Caring Dads

This Caring Dads workshop is an opportunity for professionals to explore best practices when working with fathers who cause harm to their families. This workshop will include an overview of “What is the Caring Dads program” as well as front-line practice tools to learn how to engage abusive fathers to change their behaviors through a domestic violence-informed lens. The Caring Dads program principles align with the Safe & Together Model principles, and this workshop will demonstrate how Caring Dads “pivots towards the perpetrator (dad) while partnering with the survivors (mom and children).” The number one goal of the Caring Dads program is safety to children and helping fathers remember “you can’t be a good father and a disrespectful abusive partner.”


The Safe & Together Book – Interviewing survivors and practitioners

THIS SESSION IS INCLUDED IN THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PACKAGE

Deb Nicholson and David Mandel

When David Mandel first envisioned writing the Safe & Together book – “Stop Blaming Mothers and Ignoring Fathers” – he couldn’t imagine not including the voices of survivors who have been impacted both by perpetrators’ behaviors and the response of systems. Nor could he leave out the voices of practitioners whose work has been transformed by the Safe & Together Model and who are championing its game-changing approach around the world. David believes that the Model is nothing without the practitioners who practice it, nor can its effectiveness be truly measured without hearing from survivors impacted by professionals’ use of the Model. Early in the book’s development, David decided to interview practitioners and survivors to hear their stories and their impressions of the Model. Over a period of three months in 2022, Deb Nicholson interviewed practitioners and survivors from Australia, the UK and the USA. In this workshop, David and Deb discuss the methodology and results of the interviews and what this might mean for the future development of the Model.

THURSDAY WORKSHOPS – SECTION II

Sacred in the System: Skill Development for Professionals Called to Support Children & Families Living with DV

Beth Ann Morhardt, Beth Ann Morhardt Collaborations, LLC

After decades of supporting children & families living with DV and facilitating S&TI professional development for those tasked with providing services for these families, the truest takeaway has been the honor it is to be chosen as the trusted listener. Sacred in the System evolved through showing up authentically for Self & others in ways and with skills that create an environment of true collaboration. This workshop will provide S&TI DV Informed language, along with SITS knowledge, examples & tools to encourage the self-reflection & relational support needed to honor human/spiritual exchanges while holding difficult conversations rooted in dignity & respect. Without honoring the Sacred, we miss the opportunity to support adults & children as they walk their life paths in ways that are safer & allow for more positive well-being. By combining DV Informed Practice with sacred practices, we are able to be more fully present in our work & begin to create a systematic shift that will increase the likelihood of more positive outcomes for those we are fortunate enough to support.


Introducing a 360-degree holistic approach to working with families: prevention, support & healing

Rhonda Dagg, Program Specialist, General CFS Authority + Lisa Schmidt, Program Specialist, General CFS Authority

In this workshop, you will learn about the General Authority’s (GA) new comprehensive multi-year strategy to respond to domestic violence. For the past eight years, the GA has been championing the use of Safe and Together. This model is now embedded as a key component of our overall practice approach. We are encouraged by the increase in staff skill development and confidence in working with families. Based on what we learned, we embarked on a broader strategy to more effectively respond to families affected by domestic violence. The heart of our strategy is to, in partnership with other government branches and community partners, expand the availability of Safe and Together training beyond Child and Family Services (CFS).

We have partnered with Caring Dads since 2017. Our goal is to increase the availability of the program by supporting the development of facilitators within and outside the CFS system. Caring Dads in our communities helps us in our preventive efforts to support dads in their parenting. We are also introducing a therapeutic playgroup, new to Manitoba, for mothers and their children who have experienced trauma. For children an

d youth, we are developing resources and programs.

Come and learn about our comprehensive strategy and how we implemented Safe and Together within our safety-organized practice model, including Family Finding/Seeing and Network Facilitation. Our multi-year strategy is inclusive in that it focuses on all the key people in the family and those that support them: perpetrator, survivor, child, worker, network and community. We are excited to share what we have learned with you.


Using the Web-Based Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool to Embed Safe & Together into Your Agency

THIS SESSION IS INCLUDED IN THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PACKAGE

Heidi Rankin, Associate Director, Safe & Together Institute + Leah Vejzovic, North America Regional Manager, Safe & Together Institute
For years, practitioners have depended on the Safe & Together Institute Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool to change practice and change lives of adult and child domestic violence survivors. In the past, access to the tool required attendance in our CORE training. No longer. After a two-year development process, the Safe & Together Institute has launched a web-based version of the tool that is immediately accessible online to any practitioner. This workshop will provide an overview of the new version of the tool and its applications. The workshop will highlight how key aspects of the tool, including new content; built-in coaching and fidelity checks; and how its use supports the implementation of the Model and systems change. 


Systems Change: Using Implementation Strategy to Create Real Domestic Violence-Informed Change

David Mandel, Executive Director, Safe & Together Institute

More to come!

FRIDAY WORKSHOPS – SECTION III

Moving Beyond Failure to Protect: NM CYFD Protective Services Dona Ana County’s Journey to Transform the Child Welfare & Domestic Violence Response

THIS SESSION IS INCLUDED IN THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PACKAGE

Marianne Hernandez-Jimenez, County Office Manager, New Mexico CYFD + Tommi Fisher, Investigations Supervisor, NM CYFD + Brenda Flores, Investigations Supervisor, NM CYFD + Flor Gonzalez, Director of Support Services, La Casa, Inc + Nubia Martinez, Housing Director, La Casa, Inc
Families dually impacted by domestic violence and child maltreatment deserve a coordinated community response between domestic violence and child protective service providers that keeps children safe and together with the survivor parent whenever possible and intervenes directly with the perpetrating parent to address their harmful behavior. Historically, the opposite has occurred. Through “failure to protect” policies and practices, the child welfare system has held the survivor parent responsible for child safety in the context of the perpetrator’s coercive control. Meanwhile, domestic violence service providers have struggled to effectively intervene to promote child safety, family wellbeing, and rehabilitation for perpetrating parents. With training and technical assistance from the Safe & Together Institute, La Casa, Inc. and CYFD Protective Services in Dona Ana County have embarked on a collaborative partnership to improve health and safety outcomes among children and families experiencing domestic violence and child protective services involvement in southern New Mexico. This session outlines the mission and theory of change based on key tenets of the Safe & Together Model; how key practices within both agencies have improved to better meet the needs of children and families from a strength-based and trauma-informed lens; and implementation and sustainability considerations for communities who are interested in embarking on similar partnerships.



Safe & Healthy Families Court: Nebraska’s Framework for DV-Informed Practice Incorporating Safe & Together Principles

Pamela Jordan, Program Evaluator, Center or Children, Families & the Law + Elizabeth Buhr, Children & Family Services Administrator, Children & Family Services + Elise White, Judge, Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County + Lindsey Turner, Program Services Director, Voices of Hope

Nebraska child welfare stakeholders come together to showcase the development of the “Safe and Healthy Families Court” team (SHFC) in Lancaster County, Nebraska. SHFC and this multi-disciplinary team are creating and experiencing a paradigm shift in how child welfare cases involving domestic violence are approached in their county utilizing the Safe and Together (S&T) model/practices. The presentation will first analyze the history of the project and how S&T principles support and enhance the work. Secondly, we justify the application of a Problem-Solving Court framework to domestic violence child welfare cases that complement the S&T model’s focus on community partnership. Thirdly, we propose strategies for engaging key stakeholders through training in the S & T Model so the whole team of court professionals involved shares the vision and mission for change. Finally, we share evaluation data from SHFC and two comparison groups that demonstrate positive changes for families that are part of SHFC.


Self Care for Practitioners: Using the Concept of Partnering with Survivors to Promote Worker Health and Well-Being 

David Mandel and Ruth Reymundo Mandel

Working with domestic violence means professionals come into contact daily with complex & challenging trauma. The Safe & Together Model’s concept of Partnering with Survivors offers an efficient, effective, ethical and safe way to engage protective parents. Working with domestic violence survivors may confront professionals with their own prior experiences, uncover where their strengths or needs were not acknowledged and can even trigger their own experiences of trauma. 

In this workshop, participants will: 

  • Learn the six steps of Partnering 
  • Discuss the following questions:
    • What is my experience with being partnered with in my own life?   
    • What are the values, practices and personal responsibilities associated with partnering? 
    • What strengths do I bring to the partnering process?  
    • What judgments do I have that get in the way of partnering?   
    • What beliefs and experiences have I had that make it hard for me to partner with survivors? 
    • What do I need to change in my attitudes and beliefs so I can most effectively partner with survivors? 

As a result of this workshop, participants will be better prepared to partner with survivors and also learn how the partnering process can support the healing and nourishment for practitioners & workers as well. 


From Parent-Centered to Child-Centered – Engaging Incarcerated Fathers in Conversations Towards Accountability

Michael Bautista, Manager, Fathering for the Future, Families Matter Society of Calgary

The need for parenting support for those that identify as fathers or male caregivers is an important factor when looking through the scope of promoting child well-being and positive family functioning. This is especially so for fathers that have engaged in behaviors that have put the needs of their children at risk.

Date

Sep 20 - 22 2023
Expired!

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Sep 20 - 22 2023

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Speakers

  • Tommi Fisher
    Tommi Fisher

    Tommi Fisher received her Bachelor of Criminal Justice from New Mexico State University in 2009. She has been with Children’s Youth and Families Department since 2015. She currently is in the role of Investigations Supervisor and held positions of Senior Investigator, Investigator and Foster and Adoption Recruiter. Previously Ms. Fisher worked as a Crime Victim Advocate with Las Cruces Police Department from 2010-2015. She has attended numerous seminars related to Child Abuse and Victim Advocacy throughout her career and is Credentialed Victim Advocate through the National Organization for Victim Assistance. She participated in the first NM Safe and Together Kickstarter Project for Protective Services and La Casa, Inc. in 2022. Along with her peers at PS and La Casa, Inc. leadership, Ms. Fisher presented on the Project at the 2023 NM Children’s Law Institute and the 2023 NM NASW Conference.

  • Michael Bautista
    Michael Bautista

    Michael Bautista (he/him) is the Manager of the Fathering for the Future program with Families Matter Society of Calgary. This specific portfolio is dedicated to work and engagement with those that identify as fathers/male caregivers. With a Degree in Child Studies from Mount Royal University, Michael has been with the agency for 16 years. He has worked in various capacities including early childhood education, youth programming, one-to-one home visitation and group facilitation.

  • Lisa Schmidt
    Lisa Schmidt
    Program Specialist at the General Authority Child and Family

    Lisa has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Manitoba. She began her career as an abuse investigator with Child and Family Services starting in 1996. Throughout the years, she has worked in front line child protection, worked with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence and has been a Program Specialist at the General Authority Child and Family since 2009. As part of this role, Lisa has been able to participate in the development and support of new and innovative child welfare practice approaches and values working with agencies to improve service delivery to Manitoba families.

  • Sarah Webb MSW RSW
    Sarah Webb MSW RSW

    Sarah Webb MSW RSW currently works with Caring Dads as the Global Enterprise Manager as well as the Trainer for North America. Previously, Sarah worked 15 years in the Child Welfare system as a Child Protection Worker. While working in child welfare Sarah worked on a specialized Domestic Violence Team conducting child protection investigations and worked closely with the Violence Against Women sector.

  • Rhonda Dagg
    Rhonda Dagg

    Rhonda Dagg, born and raised in Manitoba, obtained her Bachelors of Science (1995) and Bachelors of Social Work (1997) degrees from the United States of America. For 25 years, she has worked for the Government of Manitoba in a variety of roles including front line worker, supervisor, business analyst and Leading Practice Specialist. In 2019, Rhonda was thrilled to join the Safe and Together Institute as a faculty member.

    Rhonda loves having the opportunity to think outside the box and to create training and educational material for staff and the community that is fun, thought provoking and inspiring. Rhonda is an advocate for families affected by domestic violence, and a strong supporter of staff who work with these families. Due to her passion of supporting children affected by domestic abuse she became a published author on the topic and attends classrooms and conferences to speak about relationships.

  • Lindsey Turner
    Lindsey Turner
    Associate Executive Director at Voices of Hope

    Lindsey Turner is the Associate Executive Director at Voices of Hope, a crisis center for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, stalking and other forms of abuse in Lincoln, NE. Lindsey has been with Voices of Hope for over 6 years, previously serving at the Children’s Services Coordinator in which she supported survivors who were also involved in the child welfare system. Lindsey was an active member of the Through the Eyes of the Child Domestic Violence Subcommittee and assisted in developing the Safe and Healthy Families Initiative (SAHFI) which supported the Safe and Healthy Families Court (SAHFC). Lindsey supervises three advocates who work directly with survivors and participate in SAHFC team meetings and case mappings. Lindsey also serves on the SAHFI Management Team. Lindsey is a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner and has experience working with youth experiencing mental and behavioral health challenges as well as the child welfare field. Lindsey received her MA in Counseling Psychology through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

  • Hon. Elise M .W. White
    Hon. Elise M .W. White

    Hon. Elise M .W. White has served as Judge of the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska since April of 2020. Prior to her judicial appointment, Judge White ran a small firm for 14 years, specializing in family, juvenile and elder law as well as mediation services;serving as parents attorney and Guardian ad Litem in a variety of juvenile and domestic relations cases. She is currently the lead judge for the Lancaster County Safe and Healthy Families Problem Solving Court, the child welfare lead judge for the Lancaster County Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative and serves on a wide variety of Nebraska Supreme Court committees and commissions. She is a 2006 graduate of the Nebraska College of Law.

  • Elizabeth Buhr
    Elizabeth Buhr

    Beth has been with the Department of Health and Human Services since 2012 beginning her career there supervising 7 southeastern rural counties in the division of Children Family Services. She transitioned into her role as a CFS Administrator serving Lancaster County in 2017. In this role she created the first Southeast Service Area domestic violence specialized team. Beth started her work in Child Welfare in 2009 during privatization as a service coordinator, she then became a trainer until her she transitioned to HHS. Beth has her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Relations and a Master’s of Arts with an Emphasis in Management, both achieved from Doane University. Beth is trained in the Safe & Together Model CORE program.

  • Dr. Pamela Jordan
    Dr. Pamela Jordan
    Program evaluator with the University of Nebraska's Center on Children, Families, & the Law

    Dr. Pamela Jordan, a program evaluator with the University of Nebraska’s Center on Children, Families, & the Law, oversees evaluation of our Safe & Healthy Families Court activities including the Safe & Together training provided to court professionals and our implementation of S & T principles in the problem-solving court. Pam holds a Ph.D. in Community Psychology and has worked in the domestic violence field for more than 20 years, helping programs measure the difference they make in survivors’ lives.

  • Flor Gonzalez
    Flor Gonzalez
    Director of Support Services at La Casa

    Flor Gonzalez is the Director of Support Services at La Casa in Las Cruces, New Mexico where she works to serve victims of domestic violence and their families. As the Director of Support Services, she oversees the case management, children and youth program, transitional housing, battering intervention program, legal advocacy department, and the crisis advocacy and intake department at the main office in Las Cruces and the satellite office located in Anthony. Flor is certified as a National Community Crisis Response Team Member through the National Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA) and is specifically trained to provide trauma mitigation, education, and emotional first aid in the aftermath of a critical incident, either small-scale or mass-casualty. She is a Crisis Prevention Institute Certified Instructor (CPI) in non-violent crisis intervention and has completed the Coaching Boys Into Men advocate Certification and is prepared to facilitate Coaches Clinics in her community. She was selected to participate in the 2022 Leadership Education and Advancement for Professionals (LEAP) Cohort 8 Academy through ValorUS and the U.S Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. The LEAP Project is designed to provide intensive, interactive, training and practicum for leaders of color in the anti-violence field.

    Prior to taking this position, she was the Prevention Education Coordinator at La Pinon Sexual Assault Recovery Services of Southern New Mexico for the last 11 years. During her time at La Pinon, Flor was a leading voice in sexual violence prevention efforts throughout the State of New Mexico. She was involved in the development of the It Starts With Us Communications campaign from start to finish which stresses the importance of understanding that we all play a role in ending sexual violence. In 2014, Flor was selected to participate in the development of the Statewide Strategic Plan for Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence and it was published in December of 2015.

    Her life mission has been to end disparity against marginalized communities by working with communities of color, immigrant populations, poverty, older adults, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and working with diverse women and youth. In the 28 years that Flor has worked with these marginalized communities, she has been able to develop and implement curriculum as a tool that focuses on the importance of consent, respect, and empathy, challenging rigid gender roles and promoting social norms that protect against violence.

    Along with her lifelong commitment to ending gender-based violence she has a passion for working with youth. She is in her 29th year as an assistant volleyball coach at Las Cruces High School. She uses the opportunity not only to teach the game but also to teach life skills that will forever be instilled in these youth.

  • Brenda Flores
    Brenda Flores

    Brenda Flores is an Investigations Supervisor for Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD). She received her Bachelor of Social Work from New Mexico State University in 2012. She started her career with CYFD in 2012 as a Backlog Worker in Investigations and has held positions of Senior Investigator, Investigator and Family Centered Meeting Facilitator. Ms. Flores has been trained in Safe and Together since 2018. She participated in the first NM Safe and Together Kickstarter Project for Protective Services and La Casa, Inc. in 2022. Along with her peers at PS and La Casa, Inc. leadership, Ms. Flores presented on the Project at the 2023 NM Children’s Law Institute and the 2023 NM NASW Conference. Ms. Flores has always found a passion for domestic violence investigations and has always looked for ways to better partner with survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for their behavior, including being a part of several domestic violence trainings throughout her career.

  • Marianne Hernandez-Jimenez
    Marianne Hernandez-Jimenez
    CYFD Protective Services

    Marianne Hernandez-Jimenez, LMSW obtained a Master of Social Work Degree in 1998 from NMSU. She has been employed with CYFD Protective Services for over 24 years and supervised the In-Home Services Unit in Dona Ana County for 12 years. Ms. Hernandez-Jimenez was also a PS Trainer/Coach for Region 5. She is now the County Office Manager for Dona Ana County and oversees Investigations and In-Home Services. She has served on several CYFD workgroups, including the Safety Assessment and Safety Organized Practice Implementation. Ms. Hernandez-Jimenez is a member of the In-Home Services Family Connections and Supervisory Practice Framework Leadership Teams. She trains new supervisors and managers utilizing the Supervisory Practice Framework. She participated in the first NM Safe and Together Kickstarter Project for Protective Services and La Casa, Inc. in 2021. Along with her peers at PS and La Casa, Inc. leadership, Ms. Hernandez-Jimenez presented on the Project at the 2023 NM Children’s Law Institute and the 2023 NM NASW Conference. Ms. Hernandez-Jimenez serves as a board member on the Dona Ana County Juvenile Justice Continuum Board and the LC3 Local Behavioral Health Collaborative. She is a Certified Parent Educator for Circle of Security Parenting Program. Ms. Hernandez-Jimenez has been an adjunct instructor at NMSU and has also served as a Field Liaison and Field Instructor for BSW and MSW Student Interns.

  • Katie Hansen
    Katie Hansen
    Child and Family Services Specialist Supervisor- Domestic Violence unit

    Kaitlin Hahn is a supervisor of the domestic violence unit with DHHS, Child and Family Services. Kaitlin supervises a team who assess allegations of domestic violence when children are present. Kaitlin has been with DHHS since 2013 and has had a passion for working domestic violence cases and partnering with survivors. Kaitlin assists in training OPD, school social workers and other professions about how domestic violence affects children. Kaitlin is trained the domestic violence Safe and Together model and has implemented in her unit for DHHS. Kaitlin founded the SODV fundraising foundation that raises funding and awareness for domestic violence survivors and surrounding advocacy center. SODV hosts yearly golf tournaments, volleyball tournaments and silent auctions. In her free time she is often playing volleyball, watching movies or hanging out with her dog.

  • Bethani Whiting
    Bethani Whiting

    Bethani has spent over a decade working with children and families. Her work has included conducting child protection investigations, long term preventive services and supervising a team of on the ground field workers. Since leaving this work, she joined the Domestic Violence Bureau at NYS Office of Children and Family Services to continue her child welfare work and advocacy for the women and children experiencing domestic violence in New York. Bethani hopes to continue to make real, lasting change for our families and be a part of the efforts to help improve DV informed child welfare practice. Bethani completed the Train the Trainer program through Safe & Together in 2021 and since has been working on implementing this practice across NYS to child welfare and DV agencies. Bethani believes that together we can shift our practice in NYS across all systems, hoping to be a model for others. She has a MS Degree in Applied Family Science with a national certification as a Family Life Educator (CFLE).

  • Candace Calabrese
    Candace Calabrese

    Candace has been working in the fields of child welfare and domestic violence since 2001. Prior to her work at NYS Office of Children and Family Services, Candace spent a number of years in the field as a child protective worker and unit supervisor for a local district in New York, she was a trainer for child welfare workers at the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. Candace started her work at OCFS at the Albany Regional Office as a county lead providing oversight, practice improvement, and program support to the local districts in the region. During that time, she had the opportunity to assess local child welfare practice through state reviews and the federal Child and Family Service Review (CFSR). She joined the Bureau of Domestic Violence Prevention and Victim Support at OCFS in 2017 as the Program Manager for CPS/DV Collaborations throughout the state, which is where she was first introduced to the Safe & Together Model. This introduction to the model and awareness of the benefits it provided the collaborations lead to years of advocating for more comprehensive training, tools and support for the field statewide. Candace completed the Train Certification Program through Safe & Together Institute in 2021 and has been working with her team to facilitate implementation of the Safe & Together Model across the state in hopes of creating more domestic violence informed systems and better outcomes for children and families.

  • Beth Ann Morhardt
    Beth Ann Morhardt
    Beth Ann Morhardt Collaborations, LLC

    Safe & Together Institute Faculty with extensive experience in DV & CPS sectors, both as a direct service & professional development provider. Founder of Beth Ann Morhardt Collaborations, LLC, a holistic professional development practice designed to support the sacred work within systems.

  • Courageous Fire
    Courageous Fire
    Courageous Fire, LLC

    Courageous Fire is a Black woman who came to understand just how crushing the disparities of being a Black woman escaping domestic violence are. Not just because of being a woman, or being Black, but because she was both. As she continued to research after she achieved a more comfortable measure of “safety” from the abuser, she found out that she shared this truth with her sisters across the entire country. She wanted to know why.

    One of the biggest factors was the historical context of who America had decided she and her Black sisters were – aggressive, hypersexual, provocative, angry, violent, malicious, sneaky, incapable of or highly tolerant of pain, strong, and loved to serve others to the point of self-sacrifice. This America was incapable of hosting safe spaces to provide services to her and her sisters during crises. This America could not be trusted to meet the needs of her and the children she would be left to raise alone. Courageous wanted to #changethenarrative.

    She began Courageous Fire, LLC nearly 4 years ago to educate with a concentration on two distinct groups – Centers of Trust and Centers of Must – to increase the spaces where Black women can be treated with dignity, compassion, and stop being refused services or having services terminated for showing up fully as a Black woman during crisis. Courageous has always known her work would need to broaden to mitigate the harm of systems holding Black women accountable for the perpetrator’s violence against them and their children. That’s why she is moving toward those state-operated systems in her collaborative work with organizations such as Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, Children and Families of Iowa, and Safe and Together Institute to make that happen.

    Courageous is a consultant, trainer, and women’s empowerment speaker who comes with 11+ years of curriculum development and delivery experience, 5+ years as a motivational speaker, and 4+ years of independent studies in historical and systemic racial impact on Black women in DV. She often says her approach is never “shame on you!” which closes people down, but instead it is one of “did you know?” to give people a safe place for consideration. Courageous is aware that there is a temptation to assume how a Black woman will “teach”, but experience has shown her that knowledge, authenticity, and comfort with who she is creates a safe for her audience to be comfortable with themselves while they learn, question, seek, discard, relearn, and grow. She comes ready to invite everyone that attends that level of #permission.

  • Leah Vejzovic
    Leah Vejzovic
    North America Regional Manager, Safe & Together Institute

    Leah has been working as a social worker in the fields of child welfare and domestic violence victim advocacy since 2007. She has experience as a child welfare services provider, a domestic and sexual assault victim advocate, a therapist specializing in work with adult and child survivors and perpetrators, a men’s behavior change program facilitator and as the coordinator of domestic violence training and response for the Department of Human Services in her home state of Iowa. Leah also had the opportunity to sit on local and statewide boards related to domestic and sexual violence prevention and services and continues to be a part of the Iowa Domestic Abuse Death Review team. Leah first became connected to the Safe & Together Institute during her tenure as state coordinator when she helped facilitate implementation of the Safe & Together Model across the state. She now serves as a Resource Development Specialist for the Institute, developing training and resources. Having worked in both direct service with families and in systems change, Leah is passionate about equipping professionals with the tools they need to do effective work with families and to engage in larger agency and systems change.

  • Shelly Napoletano Flynn
    Shelly Napoletano Flynn
    Trainer Certification Program Manager, Safe & Together Institute

    Shelly Napoletano Flynn, MSW began at Safe & Together Institute in July 2018 as the Trainer Certification Program Manager overseeing the Institute’s Certified Trainer Expansion. Shelly’s professional career includes over twenty years of experience in the field of child welfare with a dual focus on direct practice with children and families and systems-level social work practice. With the focus on children birth through age eight and their families, her career included direct service, case management and administration which included intersections with statutory child protection, juvenile and family courts, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and local crisis response teams.

    Shelly’s experience in systems-level practice involved projects such as the evaluation and development of a community’s local capacity to holistically serve its at-risk population of children and families. Additionally, she evaluated and reported on the state-wide supervision practices of Connecticut Certified School Social Workers. As a result of this research, Shelly served on the State of Connecticut Department of Education’s Task Force to develop and implement properly aligned and discipline-specific evaluation standards for school-based social workers in the State of Connecticut. Additionally, her work in systems practice led to the honor of being invited to present on local capacity development of a Birth through Age Eight Children and Family Initiative to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Washington DC.

  • Dr Emma Katz
    Dr Emma Katz
    Associate Professor in Sociology, Durham University

    Dr Emma Katz, Ph.D., is an internationally-renowned expert in domestic abuse and coercive control, whose work has influenced legislation in the UK and overseas. Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse where perpetrators use a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimation to control and dominate their partner and children, depriving them of independence and isolating them from support. Because coercive control does not always involve physical violence, it has often been under-reported and under-recognised. It was recognised as a criminal offence in England and Wales in 2015.

    Emma’s research with mothers and children who have survived coercive control has transformed understandings of domestic abuse. Children’s experiences of coercive control were largely invisible prior to Emma’s work, which found that children were affected by many forms of abuse beyond physical violence against their mother, including imprisonment, deprivation of resources, and isolation from the outside world. Emma’s research findings on children and coercive control have been used to train professionals internationally.

    Her book, Coercive Control in Children’s and Mothers’ Lives (2022, Oxford University Press) is described as a ‘pioneering work’ that ‘will change how we understand and response to children’s experience of domestic abuse’ (Evan Stark, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University).

    Dr Emma Katz gained her Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham, UK and is currently a Senior Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, UK.

  • Adam Joel - Last Drop
    Adam Joel - Last Drop
    Filmmaker, co-founder of Aggressively Compassionate production company

    Adam Joel is a survivor of relationship abuse and an impact-driven filmmaker. He is the Writer and Director of The Last Drop a short sci-fi film about relationship abuse inspired by the memories of real survivors. Adam is leading an international campaign using this revolutionary film to help people identify and react to the lesser known forms of abuse that tend to occur BEFORE a relationship turns violent. To make this project as useful as possible, The Safe & Together Institute designed a Course around the film on their website with a “Professional Ally Guide” to accompany it. Together, Adam and S&TI are providing this project as a tool to help professionals like you lead meaningful conversations about relationship safety all over the world.

  • David Mandel
    David Mandel
    CEO, Founder, Owner, Safe & Together Institute

    With over almost 30 years’ experience in the domestic violence field, David’s international training and consulting focuses on improving systems’ responses to domestic violence when children are involved. Through years of work with child welfare systems, David has developed the Safe & Together™ Model to improve case practice and cross-system collaboration in domestic violence cases involving children. He has also identified how a perpetrator pattern-based approach can improve our ability to help families and promote the development of domestic violence-informed child welfare systems.

    David and the Safe & Together Institute’s staff and faculty have consulted to United States’ child welfare systems in a number of states including New York, Louisiana, New Jersey, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Oregon and Ohio. In the last five years, their work has expanded outside the United States with research, training and consultation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and other countries. The Safe & Together Institute works closely with domestic violence advocates, in the United States and abroad, to help them more effectively work with child protection systems and better advocate for child welfare-involved adult and child domestic violence survivors. David has written and published online courses which has launched a new Safe & Together Model Certified Trainer initiative that will increase the Institute’s ability to support sustainable implementation of domestic violence-informed practice in the US and abroad.

    David has written or co-written journal articles on batterer’s perceptions of their children’s exposure to domestic violence, domestic violence case reading tools, and the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare practice. His chapter on “Batterers and the Lives of Their Children” was published in the Praeger Series Violence Against Women in Families and Relationships.

With over 15 years of business operations, strategy, and partnership experience, Kat has led teams and consulted for global organizations, including Amazon, Procter & Gamble, American Express, and Microsoft. She joined S&TI to accelerate the mission and vision by enabling individuals and teams to find more powerful, efficient ways to deliver results for our expanding global community.

Kat’s business expertise spans sales, finance, engineering, product, marketing, HR, legal, and PR. She is an entrepreneur with previous consulting and career coaching business leadership. Kat received her MBA from the Yale School of Management in Sustainability (inclusive of Social Enterprise) and her BFA in Art from New York University.

Christine leads the Finance Team for Safe & Together since her joining in 2023. She has over 20 years of cumulative experience in the areas of finance and business, and change management. Christine is a certified Executive Coach from the Institute of Leadership at United Kingdom. She brings her experience of working in leadership coaching, management training and human resources to her work practice, along with her passion for a mindfulness-based approach.  Having qualified in Computer Studies, she also has a wide-ranging experience of technology gained during her tenure in the technology arena.

 

 

Jackie Wruck

Jackie Wruck has been a Certified Trainer with the Safe & Together Institute in Australia since 2017 and joins the Safe & Together Institute as the Asia Pacific Regional Manager! Jackie lives in Queensland, AU, and has been working within the community sector for over 20 years. This included working within Government and Non-Government agencies that worked with vulnerable individuals and families in Australia. Jackie has worked in the fields of Child Protection and Domestic Violence as a frontline practitioner in both advocating and crisis support of families. She has also worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations as a DV Specialist and would consult on cases that involved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Jackie has the lived experience, knowledge and understanding of the issue of DFV in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and was the cultural lead for the Walking With Dad’s program, which is grounded in the Safe & Together Model.  Jackie has assisted in bringing both Safe & Together and the Child Protection Child Placement Principles framework together to enhance the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Australia to assist in keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children out of the Child Protection system.  In addition to training on the Safe & Together Model, Jackie continued to use the Safe & Together Model directly with families as a child protection professional, coaching and consulting on cases with domestic violence. She continues to be committed to the safety and well-being of children and families through practice changes through the Safe & Together Model. Jackie will be representing, assisting and supporting Safe & Together Institute in the development and implementation of the model across Australia and Asia Pacific regions.

Donna Dukes

Donna joined the Safe & Together Institute in December 2022 as a Coordinator for the Trainer Certification Program. She comes to us with a combination of both corporate and non-profit experiences. Previously, Donna held training coordinator positions in the financial sector with The Vanguard Group and Training The Street. In the non-profit sector, she was dedicated to community service, both professionally and personally. As the Training Manager for United Way of Central Carolinas, she managed a leadership development program. Volunteering in her spare time, she became an integral part of domestic violence awareness, advocacy and training. Appointed by the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners, she previously served two years as the Chair of the Domestic Violence Advisory Board in Charlotte, NC.

Donna holds a Masters Degree in Health and Human Performance and a Bachelors Degree in Organizational Communications. Donna has received the “Volunteer of The Year” award from United Family Services, a Commendation Award from the chief of the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Police Department and has had several appearances on local television. Academically, she consistently made the Dean’s List; was inducted into Lambda Pi Eta, The National Communication Association Honor Society; and was recognized by the North Carolina State Senate for her academic achievements. With a sense of humor and a lot of inspiration, Donna loves bringing joy and hope to others.

Nicola Douglas

Nicola Douglas has eighteen years of experience in the field of domestic abuse. Her passion for the issue began when she was an undergraduate, volunteering in a homeless hostel and working with women made homeless as they fled abuse. She went on to work as a front-line practitioner in a range of settings, including refuge, outreach (as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor – IDVA) and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA). Nicola’s interest lies in systems change and she moved into strategic roles, successfully implementing programmes to improve domestic abuse outcomes within social care, police and the ambulance service. Nicola spent four years at Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse in the UK, with and alongside partners, to improve the way that systems respond to domestic abuse. This included leading a team of coordinators working in healthcare and child protection settings, as well as developing a health-based accreditation scheme. Most recently, Nicola completed her MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice, achieving a Distinction and award for best dissertation which focused on the impact of the Domestic Abuse Act on strategic partnerships in the UK.
Nicola joins the Safe & Together Institute as the European Training Delivery Specialist, working with the EU Lead.

Kay Stevenson


Coming off of an employment history of managing several small businesses in Connecticut and enjoying the growth and expansion process, Kay is a founding employee of Safe & Together Institute, having started with David in 2006. Now overseeing finance, human resources and technology, Kay balances her commitment to the company’s growth with hobbies of gardening and novel writing.

Mandy Rousselle


Mandy joined the Safe and Together Institute in February 2022 as a bookkeeper. She studied Early Childhood Develop at the University of Maryland European Division in Germany. Prior to working for Safe & Together, Mandy did bookkeeping, customer service coaching, admin support, and managed a transportation charity in Canada for several years.

Janet Penza


Janet joined the Safe & Together Institute in 2022. She has a long history of supporting executives to achieve their goals.

Kim Jurgens


Kim started at Safe & Together Institute in November of 2021. She holds a Diploma in Business (Australia) and Hotel Management (South Africa). She began her working career in South Africa working for a leading hotel chain in Event Management, Food and Beverage. She has lived and worked in South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Oman and the USA and has worked in both the private sector on large-scale events globally – including Hong Kong, Malacca, Zambia, Mozambique, and the USA and then working in a project management capacity for the not-for-profit sector in Australia (Australian Institute of Management). As the Training Delivery Project Administrator, Kim provides logistic support to the UK, USA and AU client leads.  She maintains the training calendar, is a point of contact for clients and faculty alike and is responsible for client correspondence
once training dates have been confirmed. Kim has a strong commitment to her community and has volunteered in suicide prevention in Australia and animal welfare in both South Africa and the USA.

Dorothy Striker

Dorothy Striker has over 25 years of professional experience in the field of child welfare and domestic violence. In a career that has spanned frontline casework to policy and program development, Dorothy has been involved in major family violence and differential response initiatives. Her areas of expertise include individual and family assessment, structured decision making and risk assessment, CAPTA related policy, practice model development and quality assurance case reviews. Dorothy has also participated in various levels of all three of the federal Child and Family Services Reviews in Ohio. Certified Safe & Together™ Model Trainer since 2010, she has provided multi-day training and case consultations in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Casie Burke, MSEd, PC

Casie Burke, MSEd, PC, has been a trainer of the Safe & Together™ Model since 2012. She has experience training and working with child welfare agencies, as well as other community partners who support child welfare agencies (schools, domestic violence advocates, law enforcement, mental health/substance abuse counselors). She has over 10 years of experience working directly in child welfare, holding various positions including intake and assessment, visitation, parent education, and supervisor. Casie has provided consultation services within agencies surrounding the Safe & Together Model to staff, casework staff, and management. She participated in the National Quality Improvement Center on Child Welfare Involved Families Experiencing Domestic Violence Listening Tour, where she could voice the current state of conditions and challenges, and the potential direction for future research, investments and interventions. Casie is committed to providing training and support to professionals working with families and children surrounding the intersection of child welfare and domestic violence.

Beth Ann Morhardt

With over 20 years of experience in the domestic violence field, Beth Ann Morhardt has worked with both child and adult victims/survivors in many roles including Child Advocate, Children’s Community Educator, Adult Advocate, Shelter Services Director and Associate Director. After years of working in direct services Ms. Morhardt transitioned into a consultant role, serving as the Domestic Violence Consultant to Connecticut’s Department of Children & Families. In that role, she was able to build and maintain solid collaborations rooted in mutual respect, which resulted in the growth and development of Domestic Violence-Informed practice and skills to better support victims/survivors of domestic violence and their children. Within this role, working directly with perpetrators of coercive control became a focal point and passion within her work. Since 2016 Beth Ann has been a key member of the Faculty with the Safe & Together Institute, where she traveled throughout the US and internationally, collaborating with child protection workers and other community services professionals to increase their proficiency in Domestic Violence-Informed Case Practice. Currently, she works as the Associate Director at a domestic and family violence agency, overseeing shelter, housing, counseling, education and court advocacy services, while also serving as faculty with Safe & Together Institute. Inspired by the current social climate, Ms. Morhardt has returned to a more independent and multi-purposed career with a broader focus on social & racial justice & personal healing.

Beth Ann Morhardt

With over 20 years of experience in the domestic violence field, Beth Ann Morhardt has worked with both child and adult victims/survivors in many roles including Child Advocate, Children’s Community Educator, Adult Advocate, Shelter Services Director and Associate Director. After years of working in direct services Ms. Morhardt transitioned into a consultant role, serving as the Domestic Violence Consultant to Connecticut’s Department of Children & Families. In that role, she was able to build and maintain solid collaborations rooted in mutual respect, which resulted in the growth and development of Domestic Violence-Informed practice and skills to better support victims/survivors of domestic violence and their children. Within this role, working directly with perpetrators of coercive control became a focal point and passion within her work. Since 2016 Beth Ann has been a key member of the Faculty with the Safe & Together Institute, where she traveled throughout the US and internationally, collaborating with child protection workers and other community services professionals to increase their proficiency in Domestic Violence-Informed Case Practice. Currently, she works as the Associate Director at a domestic and family violence agency, overseeing shelter, housing, counseling, education and court advocacy services, while also serving as faculty with Safe & Together Institute. Inspired by the current social climate, Ms. Morhardt has returned to a more independent and multi-purposed career with a broader focus on social & racial justice & personal healing.

Danielle Martin, MSW

Danielle Martin has more than 20 years of experience working with children and families within child welfare, early childhood development and domestic violence settings. Her work with at-risk children and families has involved direct service provision, management and administration. She initiated her career in the field of domestic violence creating new programming, advocating for additional services and creating improved collaboration at a local level. She served on the Governor’s Task Force in Michigan for the prevention of child sexual abuse as a departmental representative. She has trained the Safe & Together™ Model in Michigan and beyond since 2015. Danielle has a Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on child welfare. Danielle’s focus has been on the provision of trauma-informed care for families and children experiencing child welfare intervention. She has worked closely with community partners to integrate trauma information and practices into schools, mental health, child welfare and residential communities. Danielle has received the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services “best practice award” for her leadership in the development of local child trauma assessment programming.

Sarah L. Heuser

Sarah Heuser, MS, has nearly 25 years of experience working in the domestic and sexual violence field. Her roots are in direct service work with survivors in grassroots service agencies focused on crisis intervention, counseling-advocacy, outreach, support and program development. She also has substantial experience in training, prevention and awareness efforts and has worked with a broad spectrum of groups ranging from high school and college students to athletes, DV advocates, child welfare, law enforcement and the judiciary. Sarah has also served on multiple task forces and workgroups in Michigan to address policy issues. A substantial focus of Sarah’s work has been on the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare. Sarah was a strong early advocate for integrating the Safe & Together™ Model to Michigan and became a certified trainer for the Safe & Together Institute in 2015. Sarah has trained on the Model across the US and in Scotland.

Lisa Fleischer, MSW, LSW

Lisa began her career in child welfare in 2003. She has served in the role of caseworker and supervisor, working long-term with families as well as supervising an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)/Alternative Response (AR) Unit. Lisa has also been training on the Safe & Together™ Model since 2010.

Lisa previously worked as a Social Worker in an emergency room at a local hospital and a Community Instructor at the Ohio State University College of Social Work. She has a Master of Social Work and is a licensed Social Worker.

Lórien Castelle

Lórien Castelle has been an activist and advocate for social justice focusing on ending gender-based violence for over two decades. She has had the honor of working with several national organizations across the United States including work as a trainer for the National Center on Domestic Violence, a prevention consultant to the National Resource Center on Domestics Violence, a trainer and consultant for Major League Baseball (MLB) and currently for the Safe & Together Institute.

While working as the Director of Prevention for the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, she was responsible for promoting best practices for preventing and responding to domestic violence and coordinating diverse stakeholders to design and implement community, regional and state-level initiatives. She also worked with the Pennsylvanian Coalition Against Domestic Violence to launch a statewide prevention initiative in Pennsylvania.

Ms. Castelle brings a wealth of experience with coaching, support and training to both domestic violence programs and allies. She has specialized experience with community organizing, organizational development and prevention strategies. In addition, Ms. Castelle has served on numerous national, statewide and regional committees and is a much sought-after trainer, meeting facilitator and keynote speaker.

Rhonda Dagg BSc, BSW

Rhonda Dagg has over 20 years of experience working in the child welfare field in a variety of roles including front line worker, supervisor and business analyst. In her current role as a CFS Program and Leading Practice Specialist, Rhonda is a passionate advocate for families affected by domestic violence and a strong supporter of staff who work with these families. She is also the media consultant for federally funded systems change project created to reduce gender-based violence and improve outcomes for children and families.

Rhonda has utilized the Safe & Together™ Model in her work since 2014, writing policies, coaching and mentoring staff and trains internationally for the S&T Institute.  In her personal time, she also creates educational material and videos for the community on gender-based violence and prevention.

Kristi Burre, MA

Kristi Burre began her professional career over 22 years ago in local and state government, community partnerships, and system transformation. Most recently, she served as the Director of Children’s Initiatives for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, focusing on child well-being and driving improvements with communication and coordination across all state agencies providing services to children and families. In this role, she prioritized system enhancements and advancing policy with early childhood education, early intervention and prevention services, maternal and infant health, child physical and mental health, and children services. Kristi has vast experience collaborating with local, state, federal, and private sector partners to align efforts and investments to have the largest possible impact on improving outcomes for children, families, and communities.

Kristi has worked extensively in the child protection and foster care system in the capacities of caseworker, supervisor, manager, and director. In addition to her public service work, she has held various roles teaching, training, and coaching for the last 22 years, to include roles as a social and behavioral sciences adjunct instructor at Columbus State Community College, and a trainer and executive coach with the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program.

Kristi has been a Safe & Together Institute Senior Faculty and certified trainer since 2011 and is committed to guiding child and family serving agencies to become more domestic violence informed. She has trained professionals in North America, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom from various disciplines, to include child protection, domestic violence advocacy, law enforcement, education, behavioral health, juvenile justice, health care, and the legal community. She also coaches and mentors professionals from across the world involved with the trainer certification program and observes training sessions for evaluation, feedback, and approval for certification.

Additional leadership roles have included chairing the Ohio Governor’s Children Services Transformation Advisory Council and Eliminating Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force. Kristi has also held leadership positions and appointments for many other state and local entities committed to protecting children and strengthening families, including the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Board, Ohio Children’s Trust Fund Regional Prevention Council, Ohio Intimate Partner Violence Collaborative, and Ohio Early Childhood Advisory Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, criminology and psychology from Capital University and a master’s degree in sociology from Ohio University.

Ashley Bowers, MSW, LSW

Ashley Bowers, MSW/LSW, has been a Trainer with the Safe & Together Institute since 2012. She facilitates training and consultation services around the Safe & Together™ Model for child welfare professionals. Ashley is a licensed social worker who has worked throughout the child welfare field for over eleven years. She has worked as a Child Welfare Intake Supervisor in both intake and ongoing departments. In addition to training on the Safe & Together Model, Ashley has utilized the Safe & Together Model directly with families as a child welfare professional, coaching and consulting on cases with domestic violence. She continues to be committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and families through practice changes through the Safe & Together Model.

Kari Akins

Kari Akins is the Assistant Deputy Director of the Office of Families and Children at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services responsible for state level administration and oversight of child and adult protective services.  Prior to this position, Kari was appointed to the Office of Children Services Transformation leading children services and foster care efforts in Ohio. With 20 years’ experience in the child welfare system, Kari has served in multiple capacities including screening, intake and assessment for direct service, and community response and outreach at an administrative level. In addition, Kari’s work has emphasized community collaboration and education regarding child maltreatment and trauma, the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare practice, and coaching/supervision in child welfare. In 2010, Kari began her work with the Safe & Together™ Model as part of a pilot county in a statewide rollout of the Model, allowing her to be at the forefront of this practice in her state. Kari has served as an advocate on numerous local and state-level workgroups to address best practice policy around Intimate Partner Violence while providing education and training at the state and national level as Faculty for the Safe & Together Institute.

Alison Simari

Alison joined the Safe & Together Institute in August 2021 as an Administrative Assistant for the Trainer Certification Program. Prior to this, she provided almost a decade of support to the Certified Trainer community at the Center for Nonviolent Communication in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Alison thrives in an environment where she can support the work of those positively impacting the world for the greater good. She is thrilled to be part of Safe & Together’s mission to be an agent of systemic change in the domestic violence field.

Minh-Chau Truong

Minh-Chau has been with the Safe & Together Institute since June of 2021 as the Virtual Academy Customer Experience Specialist. Her time with eLearning in the non-profit sector, with patients experiencing chronic pain and illness, and 15 years of customer service, back her lifelong goal of helping individuals pursue personal sustainability. Her goal at the Institute is to make the online learning process as easy as possible so that learners can focus on what matters most: maintaining themselves and peace at home.

Colleen Jameson

Colleen has 20 years of experience working at the intersection of mental health, domestic violence, and education. She has worked as an educator and advocate in DV shelters, teen safe houses, residential programs for at-risk youth, and programs for adults with disabilities. For the past 10 years, Colleen has worked in rural Mississippi with children and families impacted by mental health. She serves on the inaugural Board of the domestic violence shelter in Oxford, Mississippi. In 2010, she authored a curriculum that was awarded an Iowa Women’s Foundation grant for implementation state-wide. Colleen is passionate about making tools that equip individuals to be agents of positive change in the systems where they work and live.

Lindberg Chambliss

Lindberg joined Safe & Together Institute in June 2021 as Events Logistics Administrator. His  professional career includes over fifteen years of experience in live music event coordination and marketing, artist management, and tour logistics. As an activist with a focus on equity for youth and equity through education, he volunteers with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and participates in projects that advocate for systemic and equitable policy change in K-12 education. Lindberg is passionate about social justice, personal growth, love, art, and adventure.

Jacob Linzenbold

Jacob Linzenbold has been with the Safe & Together Institute Staff since March, 2021 and currently holds the title of Resource Development, Events & Evaluation Administrator. He works across the organization with each department to ensure that each team is on the same page and best serving survivors and advocates. Jacob graduated from Penn State University and has been involved with several start up companies, giving him the skill set necessary to help with the different aspects of the organization. Jacob excels in providing mentorship and advice to prospective business founders and enjoys teaching students. In his spare time, he enjoys going on adventures and exploring nature with his fiancé and their dog.

Dana Schmersal, MSW – Resource Development Specialist

Dana Schmersal has been involved in child and family policy and programs for nine years, most recently managing Safe & Together trainings for child welfare staff across the state of Ohio. She has worked directly with families impacted by the juvenile justice system, provided training for child support staff working with families impacted by domestic violence, advocated for women’s reproductive rights, and served as communications director for a state and federal child advocacy organization and taught as an adjunct professor for the Interdisciplinary Child Welfare Institute at Capital University Law School. Currently, she is a member of the Institute’s Resource Development Team and coordinates the certified trainer mentoring program. She has completed both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work as well as a B.A. in criminal justice and has made advocacy for vulnerable populations and improvements in community and system responses the focus of her macro practice.

Peju Thompson

Peju Thompson has been with Safe & Together Institute since July 2020 providing international accounting support for Safe & Together Institute’s business overseas.  Peju holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rutgers University and a Master of Science Degree in Accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Prior to working for Safe & Together, Peju was a staff accountant for both a mid-size CPA firm and in city-government. In addition to her diverse professional experience, she enjoys working with people and endeavors to always positively impact others.

Leah K. Vejzović, LMSW

Leah has been working as a social worker in the fields of child welfare and domestic violence victim advocacy since 2007. She has experience as a child welfare services provider, a domestic and sexual assault victim advocate, a therapist specializing in work with adult and child survivors and perpetrators, a men’s behavior change program facilitator and the coordinator of domestic violence training and response for the Department of Human Services in Iowa. Leah first became connected to the Safe & Together Institute during her tenure as state coordinator when she helped facilitate the implementation of the Safe & Together Model across the state. She came on board in 2020 as a Resource Development Specialist, creating DV-informed curriculum, eLearning and practice tools. She also worked to coordinate programming for our Events. Leah is passionate about equipping professionals with the tools they need to do effective work with families and engage in larger agency and systems change.

Ingryd Flores

Ingryd began at Safe & Together Institute in June of 2019. Ingryd holds a degree in Social Behavioral Science. She expanded her educational background to include a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in History from the University of California, Irvine. She fluently speaks, writes and reads Spanish.

Ingryd’s career began when she worked for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), a national leadership program that assists and trains Latino elected and appointed officials on issues important to the Latino population. Here she became inspired to help motivate the Latino community to become naturalized US citizens and engage in civic life. Ingryd simultaneously went to school and also earned a Paralegal diploma.  She then served as a Criminal and Immigration Law Paralegal where she was responsible for researching case law for deportation, domestic violence, child and family cases.

Ingryd believes education gives knowledge and knowledge is important for building informed opinions. She strongly believes educators can make a strong impact on a student’s life. For this reason, she teaches as a Per Diem Substitute Teacher where she encourages a positive learning environment and develops students’ ability and aspiration to learn.

As the TCP and Technology Administrator, Ingryd provides high-level technology assistance and utilizes superior tact and diplomacy when coordinating and changing event registrations, or pre-and post-event evaluations.  It is important to her to address our learners and participants in the right manner as well as stay connected with them until navigating the online courses becomes comfortable and events are finalized.

Shelly Napoletano Flynn, MSW

Shelly Napoletano Flynn, MSW began at Safe & Together Institute in July 2018 as the Trainer Certification Program Manager overseeing the Institute’s Certified Trainer Expansion. Shelly’s professional career includes over twenty years of experience in the field of child welfare with a dual focus on direct practice with children and families and systems-level social work practice. With the focus on children birth through age eight and their families, her career included direct service, case management and administration which included intersections with statutory child protection, juvenile and family courts, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and local crisis response teams.

Shelly’s experience in systems-level practice involved projects such as the evaluation and development of a community’s local capacity to holistically serve its at-risk population of children and families. Additionally, she evaluated and reported on the state-wide supervision practices of Connecticut Certified School Social Workers. As a result of this research, Shelly served on the State of Connecticut Department of Education’s Task Force to develop and implement properly aligned and discipline-specific evaluation standards for school-based social workers in the State of Connecticut. Additionally, her work in systems practice led to the honor of being invited to present on local capacity development of a Birth through Age Eight Children and Family Initiative to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Washington DC.

Anna Mitchell, Safe & Together United Kingdom Lead

Anna Mitchell’s interest in women’s issues began when she studied a degree in Geography with Gender Studies at Edinburgh University in 1996. After working in various women’s organisations she went on to gain her Social Work Masters and began to think about the importance of engaging with men who abuse in order to increase the safety of women and children. She worked as a Women’s Service Worker with the Caledonian System; an integrated approach to addressing domestic abuse combining a court-ordered programme for men, aimed at changing their behaviour, with support services for women and children. Anna co-authored the Caledonian System Women’s Service Manual and was seconded to the Equality Unit in the Scottish Government as a Professional Advisor to support the roll-out of this innovative system across Scotland. Since 2012, she has been employed as Domestic Abuse Lead Officer for Edinburgh’s Public Protection Partnership with the remit to help coordinate domestic abuse services across the council, police, health and the voluntary sector. Anna has completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Services Leadership and led a number of initiatives in Edinburgh to improve systemic responses, not only to adult and child victims but to domestic abuse perpetrators; including the development of auditing tools, improvement plans, service pathways, policies and training. In her current role, she is representing the Safe & Together Institute in the UK and is supporting the development and implementation of the Model across Great Britain.

Ruth Reymundo Mandel, Communications and E-Learning Manager

Ruth has been in training and implementation since 1995. Her career began as a middle school teacher in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. As a teacher in a developing, post-war country she became dedicated to issues surrounding social justice and violence. She later transitioned to higher education and worked at the Bryman School and at The Art Institute of Phoenix as an Assistant Director of Admissions. Her responsibilities included vetting prospective students and identifying barriers to enrollment and to matriculation.

After taking a break to raise her three children, she began working as a trainer and technical support for a national professional line nutritional company and an international professional line herbal company which trained medical professionals in alternative therapies.

In her role, she trained doctors and medical professionals in clinical application and was an ongoing support for successful implementation through patient outcomes. She developed systems for practice management, patient support, managed, created and promoted cyclical education events for clinical success. She developed training strategies to respond to a variety of real-time field challenges.

Ruth also worked as a professional business coach specializing in systems and practice management. Her dedication to understanding root challenges, institutional, structural and personal impediments that keep people from applying their skills and knowledge in a targeted and successful way helped many of her clients increase their business success.

Aside from her professional accomplishments, Ruth is a published poet, writer and public speaker. Ruth has worked with clients using various energy medicine and body-centric coaching techniques for trauma recovery. Drawing on her childhood experiences growing up in an abusive, religious cult and as a survivor, she is a fierce advocate for those who have experienced abuse. She is dedicated to helping survivors and allies understand behavioral coping mechanisms arising out of trauma and mitigating societal and personal judgments surrounding common human responses to violence and harm. This transformative approach helps those who have experienced violence and their allies better understand how to support, nurture and nourish survivors in a common-sense manner and without blame.

Brittany DiBella, MSW, DVS

Brittany DiBella has been with the Safe & Together Institute since 2015. Brittany has extensive experience developing curricula, e-learning content, and resources, as well as with providing consultation and training facilitation on the Safe & Together™ Model for a wide range of family-serving professionals. Brittany has over 10 years of experience in the field of domestic violence work including research and evaluation of New Jersey’s co-located advocate program; educating advocates, child welfare professionals and social work students on issues related to violence against women and children; direct-practice experience with survivors of trauma and interpersonal violence and work with adolescents impacted by violence. Brittany also served on New Jersey’s Child Fatality Review Board in 2017, is certified in Violence Against Women & Children from Rutgers University School of Social Work and is certified in New Jersey as a Domestic Violence Specialist.

Heidi Rankin, MPA – Associate Director

Heidi has over 30 years of experience in the sexual and domestic violence fields and social justice. She has worked in crisis counseling, program and policy development and advocacy in both the United States and Canada. Heidi received a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in domestic violence from the University of Colorado at Denver, the only program of its kind in the country. In her current role as Associate Director and North American Lead, she helps agencies navigate plans for systems change and supports efforts to build capacity through training and collaboration.  Heidi also oversees the Institute training staff, faculty and mentors, manages training for Certified Trainers and presents nationally and internationally.

David Mandel, MA, LPC – Executive Director

With over 30 years of experience in the domestic violence field, David’s international training and consulting focuses on improving systems’ responses to domestic violence when children are involved. Through years of work with child welfare systems, David has developed the Safe & Together™ Model to improve case practice and cross-system collaboration in domestic violence cases involving children. He has also identified how a perpetrator pattern-based approach can improve our ability to help families and promote the development of domestic violence-informed child welfare systems.

David and the Safe & Together Institute’s staff and faculty have consulted to United States’ child welfare systems in a number of states, including New York, Louisiana, New Jersey, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Oregon and Ohio.  In the last five years, their work has expanded outside the United States with research, training and consultation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and other countries. The Safe & Together Institute works closely with domestic violence advocates, in the United States and abroad, to help them more effectively work with child protection systems and better advocate for child welfare-involved adult and child domestic violence survivors.  David has written and published online courses which has launched a new Safe & Together Model Certified Trainer initiative that will increase the Institute’s ability to support sustainable implementation of domestic violence-informed practice in the US and abroad.

David has written or co-written journal articles on batterer’s perceptions of their children’s exposure to domestic violence, domestic violence case reading tools, and the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare practice. His chapter on “Batterers and the Lives of Their Children” was published in the Praeger Series Violence Against Women in Families and Relationships.