Office of Adoption and Child Protection
Executive Office of the Governor
Biography: Talethia O. Edwards is Wife to Elder Harold W. Edwards, II and mother to their now eight children since Romel the “community baby” is new to the crew. She spends her days as community and family Advocate. Strategizing ways to as a coalition builder and voice to empower and educate the community in order to change the patterns of poverty and low achievement. She currently serves as the Founder and President of the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association where under her leadership they developed the Neighborhood First plan and were awarded $6.4M to add impact and value to the neighborhood through community revitalization projects. Talethia was named Leon County 2016 Neighbor of the year. She was Tallahassee’s 2019 25 Women You Need To Know, recipient of the Reubin Askew Community Engagement Award, Leadership Tallahassee 2019 Pacesetter Honoree and recipient of ECHO Making A Difference Community Award and current member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 37.
She spends time locally and around the nation speaking about advocacy, leadership and community development. Edwards recently gave a TedTalk on the topic of “Activation of a Grassroots leadership and Community revitalization”. However, she is most proud of her community and board service. She is founder of the Leaping for Literacy a program that incentives youth for meeting their reading goals; which now hosts a city wide book drive that supports literacy at all Leon County Title I schools. She serves as Chair of Economic impact and resident empowerment ,Chair of the Leon County Community Development Block Grant Committee, Chair of the Title I Advisory Council, Vice Chair of the Pregnancy Help and information center, Co-Chair of the Early Childhood Education & Empowerment Taskforce, Tallahassee Lenders Consortium, Tallahassee/ Leon Housing Leadership Council, Kids Incorporated of the Big Bend, Forward Leon Early Education taskforce, ASPIRE Leon Guiding Team, Office of Early Learning Preschool Development Grant, Citizen member of the Guiding team that created City of Tallahassee’s New Mission, Vision and Values. Among all of that she is also a Leon county school mentor and serves on several Schools Advisory Councils. Talethia is also the Family Consultant for Federal grantee Early Childhood comprehensive Systems State of Florida Team.
As if Edwards plate was not already full. She and her brother in law are in the process of creating and producing her podcast called “The Wondering Wonder Woman” where she muses about life as wife, mother, and advocate; this spring she plans to debut a blog by the same title. With all these things going on Edwards still manages to volunteer at her children’s school and take them to all of their extracurricular activities.
Description: This session will help providers and front-line staff understand the depth of addiction and trauma and how it can impact a person's choices, which could lead to a criminal lifestyle and addiction. As a former consumer, she will discuss the battle of a twenty plus years of addiction and severe trauma, the difficulties of being involved with the criminal justice system, the stigma a person encounters and the lack of support when dealing with providers. Additionally, participants will learn how to efficiently and effectively help their consumers cope with trauma and addiction in a healthy manner.
Biography: Carolyn "Freda" King is a Program Supervisor for the DISC Village-L.I.F.T. Program, a re-entry program that partners with the Leon County Detention Facility and she supervises substance abuse education classes in seven counties in the Big Bend Region. Additionally, she volunteers as a facilitator for a female substance abuse group at the Federal Correctional Institute for Women In Tallahassee. In addition, Freda is a motivational speaker and a leadership trainer who travels the state and shares her experiences to help others achieve their goals.
Description: Community Connections RJ Program serves youth 13-17 most of whom have had involvement with the legal system. They enter the program resistant and angry about being there and almost all leave voicing their desire to return as volunteers. Over 30% of the youth do return to volunteer, some for years. This is the same population that most adults and systems find extremely difficult, yet Community Connections elicits a high level of cooperation, consideration, and learning every cycle. The processes they use intentionally minimize the fight, flight, freeze response that is often misread and exacerbated in other systems. Community Connections’ success is replicated each new Cycle by teaching, using, and modeling the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) process. In this session, the presenters will help attendees connect the dots between trauma, connection, emotional safety and NVC and move the, often abstract, concepts of connection and emotional safety to concrete processes that can be used to minimize fight, flight, freeze responses in all environments.
Biography: Cindy Bigbie, Ph.D. is a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Restorative Practices (RP) and has trained individuals throughout the United States in these processes. She has been recognized nationally for her cutting-edge work of combining NVC with RP to address the trauma epidemic which plagues our country. Locally, she runs the Community Connections Restorative Justice program.
Description: Capital Tea will be presenting "The T in LGBTQ+" - We'll lay the foundation with a glossary of the LGBTQ+ common vernacular. After ensuring attendees are on the same page, we will provide current statistical data on the trauma that most trans individuals experience, supplementing with our personal anecdotes. Together we will explore strategies you can use to help mitigate trauma for your transgender clients, ending with a Q&A session. Our goal is to inspire attendees to apply this knowledge in their professional roles and everyday lives.
Biography: Janel Diaz, Lucas Gauna, and Jacob Black came together to form Capital Tea, a transgender-led organization whose mission is to support the LGBTQ+ community through education, advocacy, and empowerment. Janel, Jacob, and Lucas have been involved in social justice work in the Tallahassee area for the past seven years. They are committed to fostering safety, inclusion, and equity for all LGBTQ+ people.
Description: Are you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted? Or, maybe you are feeling cynical and unmotivated? Compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, and burnout are all terms currently used in our society to describe the “overload” employees in helping professions experience. Although their meaning may differ, each results in unhealthy, unhappy employees, and decreased employee satisfaction. Addressing these issues for our helpers has yet to become a priority in our society, and most organizations/employers do not provide the support and space employees need. It's time to help the helpers! Join me as I discuss grief and burnout in our helping professions, the essential need for intentional self care, and finding hope and meaning in our work again.
Biography: Melanie Pelc, Founder and President of The Living Room, lives in Tallahassee with her husband, son and menagerie of pets. She has years of experience working in the healthcare system, providing support at end of life for humans and animals, and providing grief education and counseling to individuals, groups and businesses. Melanie is also an Adjunct Professor in the College of Social Work at Florida State University.
Biography: Micheal Barhour RN, MSN attended Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he earned his Baccalaureate and Master’s degrees in Nursing. He has over 38 years of nursing experience in clinical, education and leadership roles. Mike’s broad range of experience includes inpatient care, critical care, long-term care, outpatient care and mental health.
Prior to joining the team at Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital, Mike was a professor in the RN to BSN Program at Florida State University, Panama City Campus. After the closure of that program, Mike made the decision to switch focus and return to what he is most passionate about: working with children and adolescents.
Mike became part of the Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital family in the spring of 2012, where he serves as Assistant Administrator. Mike has been hugely influential in the implementation of improved programming, processes and training opportunities at our hospital.
Description: From the somatic perspective, trauma is the residue left in the body when all available coping mechanisms have been fully exhausted. This residue manifests in all sorts of psychosomatic symptoms ranging from chronic illnesses to maladaptive relationship patterns. During this presentation, you will learn the somatic clues that point to unresolved trauma, how somatic work fits into the realm of trauma healing and will be presented a case study of a client, Chris, to walk you through a somatically focused healing path.
Description: It is difficult to expect someone to put the pieces of their life back together without having safe, affordable and sustainable housing; one of our most basic needs. This session will focus on trends among those experiencing homelessness and the previous trauma they have endured as well as the trauma that can occur while experiencing homelessness. We will look at realistic expectations for someone who has experienced trauma and homelessness to best help them move to a place of stability and resiliency. This is done through using the Housing First model and understanding basic impacts of trauma and how it affects our brain and decision making capabilities. We will review resources within our local community that can help our neighbors experiencing a housing crisis so that we can be supportive in helping them reach their housing goals.
Biography: Amanda Wander has worked in the homelessness and housing non-profit service sector for 15+years, right here in Tallahassee. Through working with our neighbors experiencing homelessness she has noticed trends and patterns that directly relate to previous trauma someone has experienced. She and her team at Big Bend Continuum of Care lead housing and service efforts across Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Liberty, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison and Taylor Counties and promote Trauma Informed practices among their contracted service providers funded through state and HUD funds. Her career focus has been supporting service providers to ensure that we have the most efficient and responsive system to end homelessness in the 8 county coverage area and can truly address the evolving needs of our neighbors living without homes.
Description: Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) and trauma are often tied together. This presentation will review the disease model of SUDs and how it effects the brain. We will then look at how substance use can be used to self medicate against trauma and how this can often lead to more trauma. We will close by discussing trauma informed care and how to incorporate awareness in interactions with those who might have trauma.
Biography: Walter Castle has over 20 years as a social worker. He has worked as a subject matter expert for Substance Use Disorders at both state and federal levels. He currently has a private practice that includes counseling and consulting services in Tallahassee, FL.
Description: The Skills fOr Life Adjustment and Resilience (SOLAR) is a five-session program aimed to support adjustment following a traumatic experience, such as a natural disaster. It was developed by Dr. Meaghan O'Donnell and other researchers at Phoenix Australia to create a standardized, yet unique and sustainable model of natural disaster response, with local individuals trained to improve adjustment and resiliency within their own community. The program includes arousal/affect management, promotion of healthy lifestyle and sleep, worry/rumination management, emotional processing of trauma, promotion of healthy relationships, and behavioral activation and engagement. SOLAR is specifically designed to be delivered by individuals who are not mental health professionals, but rather members of the affected community. These laypeople are referred to as “coaches.” Coaches are trained in using a manual with example scripts and justifications for each section of the intervention. Participants are given a highly structured workbook with activities to be completed in-session and at home. SOLAR is appropriate for individuals who are experiencing mild-to-moderate distress or impairment as a result of trauma exposure without meeting criteria for a formal diagnosis. SOLAR is an evidence-informed intervention and has been demonstrated to be acceptable, feasible, and safe to deliver.
Biography: Samantha Nagy is a Project Coordinator working under Dr. Scott Pickett, a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor at Florida State University’s College of Medicine. She received her MS in Psychology with a focus in Behavioral Health from Oakland University in Rochester, MI and is currently assisting Dr. Pickett in trauma, sleep, and health research in the Center for Translational Behavioral Science under Dr. Sylvie Naar.
Description: From a broken childhood, a life-changing moment at the age of 10, and a near-death experience at the age of 21. Sean will take you on a journey of a young man who discovers the perception from his childhood was not the reality of what his life was meant to become. Sean will share his adversities and how he learned to change them into opportunities. Finally, Sean will share how he is working to change the culture in the Public Safety Profession today to help save lives and reduce suicides.
Biography: Two times bestselling author Sean Wyman shares how he survived the trauma in an abusive childhood, a near-death experience in the military, and a self-destructive start in his law enforcement profession. Sean talks about his adverse childhood experiences that carried into his adult life, the resilience he gained through the Movement Process that he used to escape it. Finally, Sean shares how his adversities from his past helped to improve him as a law enforcement officer over the last 20 years and inspired him to create his own mental health training program focused on mental fitness for Public Safety Professionals.
Description: In life, there is no way to avoid traumatic experiences. However, you can determine how you recover from them. Learn more about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the types of treatments that are proven to be useful in the recovery process and improving the quality of life. This presentation will provide a general overview of PTSD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Participants should expect to learn common symptom presentation of PTSD, possible differentiating or co-occurring diagnoses, how traumatic events impact the brain and body functioning, and recovery based modalities that are best suited to treat PTSD. This presentation is in no way meant to replace evidenced-based training, clinical experience, and direct supervision needed when caring for individuals who may have PTSD.
Biography: As a two-time alumna of Florida State University, Mrs. Daria Wells has been in the field of social work for over eleven years working in child welfare, private practice, academia, and with the federal government serving veterans. While Mrs. Wells has extensive training in a variety of areas, trauma has been her passion since early childhood, which led to her career in social work. During her downtime from her three jobs, you will find her cooking Japanese cuisine, engaging in emotional and physical self-care, and spending time with her wonderful partner of nearly 17 years and their 7-year-old Great Dane named Granite.
Description: Inpatient voluntary hospitalization, although an often necessary part of the treatment process, may bring with it inherent trauma for the client. Many clients who have been through involuntary hospitalization describe feeling "traumatized" by it even as they appreciate the need for this process. How can we better understand the aspects of the experience that are traumatizing and work toward creating a more humane experience that will benefit both clients and practitioners over the long term?
Biography: David Steingart is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is currently the lead therapist at the Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization Program at Capital Regional Medical Center. He is trauma informed and trained in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
Description: How can we recognize and respond to a possible human trafficking situation? How can we as professionals, neighbors, businesses, family, advocates, judges, law enforcement and as members of the community ensure that survivors of sex and labor trafficking are helped and not retraumatized? How can we understand the traumas that survivors have faced as we bring traffickers to justice? How can we work to build a response to human trafficking that is survivor-centered and that actively works to restore victims and helps them to rebuild their lives? How can we build strength, empathy, and resilience for ourselves and survivors throughout our world? These questions and more will be the focus of this program.
Biography: Robin Hassler Thompson, M.A., J.D., is the Executive Director of the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center (STAC), a non-profit agency she co-founded in 2015 to assist survivors of human trafficking. In 2001, she traveled to Bangladesh as a part of a U.S. State Department mission, which included a site visit to a trafficking rescue shelter in Dhaka – this trip inspired her work to help build awareness about human trafficking. She also is an active member and co-chairs the Social Services Committee for the Big Bend Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Description: The CAT model is an example of a comprehensive service approach allowing young people with mental illnesses who are at risk or at risk for out-of-home placements to remain in the community with their caregivers and it also promotes recovery and resiliency. To promote positive development and prevent problem behavior, it is necessary to address the factors that predict these outcomes by measuring these risk and protective factors, specific factors that are elevated, can be prioritized in the community.
Biographies: Robyn Gast is the Statewide Coordinator of the Community Action Teams at the Department of Children and Families Substance Abuse and Mental Health program office. Robyn holds a master's degree in social work from Florida State University. She is presently pursuing licensure and completing her client contact hours at Tallahassee Memorial Behavioral Health Center. Walesca Marrero is the State National Prevention Network and the Medical/Health Care Program Analyst for Substance Abuse Prevention at the Department of Children and Families Substance Abuse and Mental Health program office. Walesca holds a master's degree in education from Fairmont State University.