The Power of Research to Inform Policy Summit

On November 16, 2022 our research summit, The Power of Research to Inform Policy, was held at the Conference Center at Mercer in Princeton Junction, New Jersey. We thank you for your support and participation at this event! You can find videos of the panels and keynote speakers below.

Introduction by Tammy Murphy, First Lady of New Jersey

Strengthening Families Initiative by Kristin Curtis

Whole Family Approach in Urban Areas, Dr. Elena Ragusa

Dr. Bruce Perry, Author of What Happened to You? – Keynote Speaker

Building Public/Private Partnerships and Research That Informs Those Strategies

Remedies for the Aftereffects of Childhood Trauma

Keynote Speakers from the Summit

Dr. Bruce Perry

Position: Keynote Speaker
Categories: Speakers

Dr. Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health, College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria Australia.

Over the last thirty years, Dr. Perry has been an active teacher, clinician and researcher in children’s mental health and the neurosciences holding a variety of academic positions. His work on the impact of abuse, neglect and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs and policy across the world. Dr. Perry is the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Dr. Perry’s most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released in 2021.

Dr. Perry was on the faculty of the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago School of Medicine from 1988 to 1991. From 1992 to 2001, Dr. Perry served as the Trammell Research Professor of Child Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. During this time, Dr. Perry was also Chief of Psychiatry for Texas Children’s Hospital and Vice-Chairman for Research within the Department of Psychiatry. From 2001 to 2003, Dr. Perry served as the Medical Director for Provincial Programs in Children’s Mental Health for the Alberta Mental Health Board. He continues to consult with the government of Alberta on children’s issues and serves as a founding member of the Premier’s Council of Alberta’s Promise.

Dr. Perry has conducted both basic neuroscience and clinical research. His neuroscience research has examined the effects of prenatal drug exposure on brain development, the neurobiology of human neuropsychiatric disorders, the neurophysiology of traumatic life events and basic mechanisms related to the development of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. His clinical research and practice has focused on high-risk children. This work has examined the cognitive, behavioral, emotional, social, and physiological effects of neglect and trauma in children, adolescents and adults. This work has been instrumental in describing how childhood experiences, including neglect and traumatic stress, change the biology of the brain – and, thereby, the health of the child.

His clinical research over the last twenty years has been focused on integrating emerging principles of developmental neuroscience into clinical practice. This work has resulted in the development of innovative clinical practices and programs working with maltreated and traumatized children, most prominently the Neurosequential Model©, a developmentally sensitive, neurobiology-informed approach to clinical work (NMT), education (NME) and caregiving (NMC). This approach to clinical problem solving has been integrated into programs at dozens of large public and non-profit organizations serving at-risk children and their families.

His experience as a clinician and a researcher with traumatized children has led many community and governmental agencies to consult Dr. Perry following high-profile incidents involving traumatized children and youth including the Branch Davidian siege in Waco (1993), the Oklahoma City bombing (1995), the Columbine school shootings (1999), the September 11th terrorist attacks (2001), Hurricane Katrina (2005), the FLDS polygamist sect (2008), the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the tsunami in Tohoku Japan (2011), the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings (2012), and the Camp wildfire in California (2018) among many others.

Dr. Perry has published over 500 journal articles, book chapters and scientific proceedings and is the recipient of numerous professional awards and honors, including the T. Berry Brazelton Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award, the Award for Leadership in Public Child Welfare, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the 2014 Kohl Education Prize. He serves on the Board of Directors of multiple organizations including Prevent Child Abuse America and the Ana Grace Project.

He has presented about child maltreatment, children’s mental health, neurodevelopment and youth violence in a variety of venues including policy-making bodies such as the White House Summit on Violence, the California Assembly and U.S. House Committee on Education. Dr. Perry has been featured in a wide range of media including 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC and CBS News and the Oprah Winfrey Show. His work has been featured in documentaries produced by Dateline NBC, 20/20, the BBC, Nightline, CBC, PBS, as well as dozen international documentaries. Many print media have highlighted the clinical and research activities of Dr. Perry including a Pulitzer-prize winning series in the Chicago Tribune, The Sun Magazine, US News and World Report, Time, Newsweek, Forbes ASAP, Washington Post, the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Dr. Perry, a native of Bismarck, North Dakota, was an undergraduate at Stanford University and Amherst College. He attended medical and graduate school at Northwestern University, receiving both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Perry completed a residency in general psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at The University of Chicago.

Dr. Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior...

Dr. Bruce Perry

Keynote Speaker

Kristin Curtis

Position: Research Presenter
Categories: Speakers

Kristin Curtis serves as Assistant Director at the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers-Camden and is currently the Principal Investigator for the Strengthening Families Initiative Evaluation, where she leads a team of research staff in highlighting the important research we will hear more about today. She has been with the Institute for over 15 years, leading a multitude of research projects across a variety of content areas, including criminal justice, public health, and health care. In her work, she regularly collaborates with community, government, and non-profit partners across Southern New Jersey and is passionate about highlighting community voice as key to developing sound policy and practice within the region.

Kristin Curtis serves as Assistant Director at the Senator Walter...

Kristin Curtis

Research Presenter

Dr. Elena Ragusa

Position: Research Presenter
Categories: Speakers

Elena Tamanas Ragusa is a consultant and social scientist with extensive experience in quantitative and qualitative research methods, organizational and community psychology, program assessment and systems evaluation.

Before building out the Studio, Elena was the senior executive director of enrollment strategy and analytics for Rutgers University–New Brunswick, where her work focused on using data to design and execute collaborative strategies to enroll, retain, and graduate a diverse and accomplished student body.

Prior to that, she designed, managed, and directed research and evaluation efforts for the University’s college access and K-12 program portfolio.

And before her 10 years at Rutgers, she served as a project manager at OMG Center for Collaborative Learning (now Equal Measure) – a national research and evaluation consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA.

Elena makes the connection between theory and practice in the classroom, working with undergraduate and graduate students and teaching psychology, research methods, program evaluation, community psychology, and organizational psychology.

As a first-generation college student turned advocate for educational access, Elena has also worked as a youth mentor and tutor and as a counselor at a community youth center. Elena has BAs in psychology and sociology, an MA, and a doctorate in organizational psychology from Rutgers University.

Elena Tamanas Ragusa is a consultant and social scientist with...

Dr. Elena Ragusa

Research Presenter

Panel Presentation: Building Public/Private Partnerships and Research That Informs Those Strategies

Christine Norbut Beyer

Position: Commissioner, Department of Children and Families, New Jersey
Categories: Building Partnerships Panel

Christine Norbut Beyer, MSW has been Commissioner of the NJ Department of Children and Families since 2018. She is redefining the agency as a prevention-focused, child and family serving department, with a vision to help keep all New Jerseyans safe, healthy and connected. Some of her initiatives include: preventing maltreatment and promoting strong families; increasing kinship and familiar placements; supporting evidence-based, data-driven contracting; reducing staff safety incidents; evolving the integrated, inclusive system of care for children with behavioral and developmental diagnoses; promoting ACEs prevention, and transforming child welfare.

Years prior to being named Commissioner, Ms. Norbut Beyer was with the NJ Department of Human Services when the child welfare division was elevated to become the first Cabinet-level child-serving state agency. She helped to transition staff and build the new agency’s identity. During that time, she served as Director of the (former) Division of Youth and Family Services, and then as Assistant Commissioner.

During her time away from the Department, Ms. Norbut Beyer served as Senior Director and Strategic Consultant at Casey Family Programs, a national child welfare foundation, during which time she partnered with and supported the efforts of Public Child Welfare Agencies, State Legislatures, the Judiciary and Governors in creating better outcomes for at-risk children. During her tenure at Casey Family Programs, she had the opportunity to delve deeply into the areas of Brain Science, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and Trauma-Informed Care and their intersection with child welfare. These are policy areas she continues to pursue at NJ DCF.

Commissioner Norbut Beyer earned her Bachelor of Science degree in social work from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and her Master of Social Work Administration, Policy and Planning from Rutgers University School of Social Work. She also holds a post-graduate Adoption certificate from Rutgers University Institute for Families, received the 2013 Employee Achievement Award from Casey Family Programs, the 2010 Child Welfare Leadership Award from Rutgers University School of Social Work, and the 2009 Professional Achievement Award from Richard Stockton College, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Most recently, in 2021, she was selected as an Aspen Institute Ascend Leadership Fellow.

Christine Norbut Beyer, MSW has been Commissioner of the NJ Department...

Christine Norbut Beyer

Commissioner, Department of Children and Families, New Jersey

Alfonso Nicholas

Position: ACF Regional Administrator, Region 2
Categories: Building Partnerships Panel

Alfonso Nicholas is the regional administrator for the Administration of Children and Families (ACF) in Region 2. The region includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Tribal Nations. In this capacity, he leads ACF’s strategic initiatives and priorities to promote the economic well-being of children and families in the region.

Prior to joining the Office of Regional Operations, Nicholas served as the ACF Region 2 child welfare regional program manager in Children’s Bureau. In this role, he was responsible for providing oversight and technical assistance to state, tribal and territorial child welfare agencies and was instrumental in reforming the relationships with state and territorial partners.

He aided the State of New York in dealing with challenges related to federal reporting and claims; and helped to establish a training academy for social workers to improve their child welfare workforce. He built relationships with tribes that resulted in the Shinnecock Nation becoming a IV-B agency leading the way for other tribes in the region.  In Puerto Rico, Nicholas maintained strong relationships across three administrations, guiding the agency in establishing a foundation that ensured continuity of work during administration changes, as well as obtaining better resources to sustain the child welfare program. One of his proudest accomplishments was his ability to influence and support the U.S. Virgin Islands with becoming a Title IV-E agency, where he worked closely with agency leadership to complete the process within nine months. Nicholas was recognized by Governor Kenneth Mapp during the state of the territory address for his work and contributions to the territory.

Nicholas’ work and strong relationships with both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have opened the door for other ACF programs to have better communication with the territories. His efforts have also improved collaboration and partnership across the region, as he facilitated connections between states, territories, and organizations to share best practices and promote better service to constituents and stakeholders. Within the regional office, Nicholas has also encouraged collaboration across programs.

Prior to joining ACF in 2014, Nicholas spent 20 years with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), culminating in his leadership of the Department’s Office of Revenue, Financial Reporting, and IV-E Operations. His experience at all levels of DCF has given him insight into the everyday work and challenges that child welfare agencies face, as well a deep understanding of financing of child welfare.   Under his leadership, New Jersey improved from having a 61% error rate in their initial primary Foster Care Eligibility Review, to becoming the first state in the nation to pass a review with no case errors and no payment errors.  The structure and foundation that Nicholas established in New Jersey, combined with his continued support as the regional program manager, has served the state well, as evidenced by their performance in two reviews following his move to ACF.

Nicholas was born in Panama City, Panama to a family of Caribbean descent and came to the United States when his parents were in the U.S. Army and stationed in New Jersey. Nicholas holds a degree in Business Administration, and he is fluent in both Spanish and English languages.

Alfonso Nicholas is the regional administrator for the Administration of...

Alfonso Nicholas

ACF Regional Administrator, Region 2

Pete Weldy

Position: Regional Administrator, Region 9
Categories: Building Partnerships Panel

Mr. Pete Weldy joins the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) with extensive experience working to advance the welfare, health, and happiness of children and families across the country. As the Region 9 regional administrator (RA), Weldy is responsible for leading ACF’s strategic initiatives and priorities in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Prior to joining ACF, Weldy worked at California Strategies, the state’s largest public affairs consulting firm, where he led large-scale communication campaigns and worked with California’s leading business associations and nonprofit organizations to support their engagement with local and state government. He is a skilled communicator, public speaker, and strategic planner who has worked with many community-based organizations, philanthropies, elected officials, and business leaders to impact policymakers on issues relating to early childhood development, K-12 education, affordable housing, homelessness, and transportation.

He also served as the director of public policy at Silicon Valley Community Foundation where he led lobbying, strategic initiatives, policy development, and other public affairs activities for the largest community foundation in the United Sates. Weldy supported the development and implementation of policies designed to address the most pressing community needs, including finding solutions for Silicon Valley’s homelessness crisis.

In addition, Weldy led Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s successful Choose Children 2018 campaign, a multi-million-dollar effort to make young children and families a priority in the 2018 California Governor’s race. He also planned the largest televised debate in California history, watched by more than a million Californians, and hosted in partnership with NBC, KQED, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Weldy is a native Hoosier and served in numerous executive positions in Indiana state government, including as the director of policy and research at the Department of Education and chief legislative aid to the leadership in the House of Representatives.

At the Indiana Department of Education, he served on the Superintendent’s executive cabinet and worked to draft Indiana’s State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act. He also worked closely with the Superintendent to craft a new strategic plan for the Department, administered a $70 million grant distributed as bonuses to teachers, and drafted legislation for Indiana to build a universal system of support for young children. He also has an intimate knowledge of longitudinal data systems and FERPA.

Weldy is a former teacher and received his BA in Music and Education from Butler University in Indianapolis. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Karla.

Mr. Pete Weldy joins the Department of Health and Human...

Pete Weldy

Regional Administrator, Region 9

Carlis V. Williams

Position: ACF Director, Office of Regional Operations (ORO)
Categories: Building Partnerships Panel

Carlis V. Williams serves as the director for ACF’s Office of Regional Operations for the Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in Atlanta, Georgia. She also serves as senior advisor to ACF Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs. ACF provides 60+ comprehensive and supportive programs for vulnerable children and families which include Head Start, Child Welfare, Foster Care Adoption, Child Care, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Child Support, and Runaway and Homeless Youth. As regional administrator, Williams provides leadership, communication and coordination for Administration for Children and Families (ACF) staff in the region and partners with other HHS operating divisions, federal agencies, states, tribes, territories, cities, and communities. Williams ensures program integration and implements high priority, results-based strategic initiatives to support ACF priorities and state, local, and tribal efforts. Williams promotes collaboration on behalf of the ACF for cross-cutting program issues, emergency preparedness and response, Human Trafficking, Economic Upward Mobility and prevention initiatives, Equity, and Whole Family approaches to family delivery including issues concerning children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. Williams’ work contributes to the achievement of ACF’s overarching goal: To promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities.

She co-founded and led the ACF National Healthy Marriage and Relationship Initiatives. Williams has also served as a senior policy advisor for Program Integration and Corporate Initiatives for the ACF Assistant Secretary in Washington, DC. Before assuming her present position, Williams served as the executive assistant to the Governor for Health and Human Services in the State of Indiana. She was the Governor’s chief policy advisor in these areas and had responsibility for five major agencies: Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the State Department of Health, the Governor’s Council on Disabilities, the Governor’s Council on Protection and Advocacy and the Governor’s Council on Sports and Fitness. Under her leadership, Indiana registered over 120,000 children during the first year of their Children’s Health Insurance Program, Hoosier Healthwise. She has served as deputy director for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Division of Family and Children, and was responsible for programs related to family resources: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Food Stamps, Medicaid, JOBS, Housing and Community Services, and had lead responsibility for the design and implementation of Welfare Reform in the state.

Among her many achievements, Williams received the “Points of Light” Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama and the Corporation for National and Community Service in recognition of her commitment to building a stronger nation through her lifelong commitment to volunteerism. She received the prestigious Governor of Indiana Council of the Sagamores of the Wabash Award for service to the citizens of Indiana. She is also recipient of: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service and the Hurricane Disaster Response Team Award; Georgia State University’s National Center on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Award for untiring efforts in support of grandparent-headed families; Spelman College Innovation Award for the professional development of Head Start and Child Care Teachers in Region IV; Jackson State University College of Public Service, School of Social Work Public Service Award; National Partnership for Community Leadership; Judge David Gray Ross Award for Strengthening Families and Father Involvement in the Public Sector; Clark Atlanta University Dean’s Public Sector Award in recognition of her extraordinary achievements for the well-being of children and families in the southeast community; Administration for Children and Families African American Healthy Marriage Initiative Award for Excellence; the Mayor of the City of Atlanta Georgia Phoenix Award, and the Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia Award for Commitment to the Children & Youth of the City.

Williams is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Master of Art Degrees in Social Psychology and in Counseling and Guidance. She is a mother and grandmother and loves reading, music and the theater. If asked her philosophy of life, she will say, “Giving is better than receiving…if we all give, everyone wins!”

Carlis V. Williams serves as the director for ACF’s Office...

Carlis V. Williams

ACF Director, Office of Regional Operations (ORO)

Benita Miller, Moderator

Position: Executive Director, Powerful Families, Powerful Communities NJ
Categories: Building Partnerships Panel
Role: Moderator

Benita R. Miller is currently the Executive Director of Powerful Families Powerful Communities – Department of Children and Families overseeing a five-year demonstration project created to re-imagine New Jersey’s child welfare system through a human-centered design process that leverages the voice of community members as co-designers. She previously served as the President and CEO of Children’s Aid and Family Services in New Jersey. Prior to her work in New Jersey, Miller served as the Executive Director of Brooklyn Kindergarten Society where she expanded the agency’s early childhood education footprint from five to seven centers as well as building the first sensory gym co-located in New York City Housing Authority development.

Additionally, Miller was the founding Executive Director of the NYC Children’s Cabinet in the Office of the Mayor as well as served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Family Permanency Services in the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). During her tenure with the Children’s Cabinet, Miller developed the City’s policy framework titled “Growing Up NYC” and digital platforms – Growing Up NYC and Generation NYC. She also created the NYC Baby Showers Series, coordinated the development of the city’s Unity Project focused on providing coordinated and enhanced services to LGBTQ youth and has been instrumental in improving policies for children and families impacted by incarceration. Additionally, she helped develop the City’s “Parent Engagement Project” which was a Performance Pilot Partnership federal grant focused on connecting young parents to educational opportunities as well as their children to high-quality childcare. Last, she secured a Robin Hood grant to improve policies and programs for children ages 0-3 years old by creating the Early Childhood Roundtable.

While at ACS, she led initiatives and operations related to ensuring the safety, wellbeing and permanency of all children receiving foster care services as well as caseload reductions and trauma assessment tools in family foster care. Miller developed the Housing Academy Collaborative to better prepare youth transitioning from foster care to supportive housing and NYCHA developments. She also strengthened services being provided to expectant and parenting youth and secured support from the Center for the Study of Social Policy to develop policies and programming for young fathers who are in foster care.

She created the Office of Older Youth Services and Residential Care Monitoring and oversaw the third phase of residential care reduction for ACS and also facilitated the co-location of ACS staff at Riker’s Island to ensure that youth who are in foster care were being appropriately served while awaiting the disposition of criminal matters. Miller also developed the Case Monitoring and Compliance Unit to enhance safety and risk assessments of children and youth being reunified with their families.

Before joining ACS, Miller served as Director of Scholarships at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where among other responsibilities she implemented programs for undergraduate and law student scholars. She is the founder and former executive director of the Brooklyn Young Mother’s Collective and is the recipient of the Union Square Award and Petra Fellowship on behalf of her advocacy work with young parents. She was also recognized by the American Civil Liberties Union as one of the top nine advocates to influence Title IX implementation. She previously represented children and young people in child protective, delinquency and PINS proceedings in Brooklyn Family Court as a staff lawyer with the Legal Aid Society. Miller earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Print Journalism from Wayne State University where she was a Rosa Parks Scholar at The Detroit News. She earned her law degree from Syracuse University in 1996 and is a member of the Board of Advisors. She serves as a board member for many nonprofit organizations including the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, Alex House Project and Strategies for Youth and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

Benita R. Miller is currently the Executive Director of Powerful...

Benita Miller, Moderator

Executive Director, Powerful Families, Powerful Communities NJ

Panel Presentation: Remedies for the Aftereffects of Childhood Trauma: The Whole Family Approach

Christina D. Bethell, PhD, MPH, MBA

Position: Director, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative at Johns Hopkins University
Categories: Child Experts Panel

Christina Bethell is a national leader in the development of policy, practice and research applications of population health and systems performance measurement.

Dr. Bethell has built her work and career around an intentional goal to catalyze health care and public health transformation at the policy, systems and practice levels. This has been driven by an unwavering focus on advancing a whole-person, whole-family and whole-community model of care that engages patients and the public, is transparent, continuously learning and collaborative. Dr. Bethell has been a national leader in the development of policy, practice and research applications of population health and systems performance measurement and family and community centered improvement methods. As founding director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) and the National Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health (, a project supported through HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, she has initiated and led the collaborative development, validation and national, state and local implementation and IT based public reporting of child, family and community health and health systems performance and outcomes.

Christina Bethell is a national leader in the development of...

Christina D. Bethell, PhD, MPH, MBA

Director, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative at Johns Hopkins University

Stacie LeBlanc, JD, Med

Position: Former President of American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
Categories: Child Experts Panel

Stacie Schrieffer LeBlanc, MEd, JD, is the immediate past president of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), the co-founder of The UP Institute, the Executive Director of Up For Champions, and a CAST instructor at Tulane University. Stacie is the Chair of the National No Hit Zone Committee, and she serves on the Executive Committee of the National Initiative to End Corporal Punishment. Stacie has been working in the child maltreatment field for more than 32 years and spent 10 years leading a child abuse felony prosecution program that reached a 94% conviction rate. She also worked for Children’s Hospital in New Orleans for 19 years, providing legal advocacy and community education, and led the Audrey Hepburn Children at Risk Evaluation (CARE) Center and the New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center. Stacie has been instrumental in passing many legislative amendments for the protection of children, designs and evaluates prevention programs, and provides training at the local, national, and international levels.

Stacie Schrieffer LeBlanc, MEd, JD, is the immediate past president...

Stacie LeBlanc, JD, Med

Former President of American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children

Allison Stephens, PhD, Med

Position: Director of Networks, Communications and Policy, Center for Community-Engaged Medicine at HOPE: Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences
Categories: Child Experts Panel

Allison Stephens uses her extensive experience in family and community engagement, including family peer support and systems advocacy, to support the relevance of the HOPE framework for diverse families and communities. Her background spans over 20 years and includes defining clinical treatment protocols, public policy and leadership, K-12/higher education, and children’s mental health. Additionally, Dr. Stephens’ longstanding involvement in social justice activism, advocacy, and policy are especially relevant to HOPE’s commitment to anti-racism, anti-bias, and equity. Since joining HOPE, Dr. Stephens has expanded meaningful community outreach through the National Advisory Board, the new FACEs (Family and Community Experts) Advisory Council, and the HOPE Innovation Network.

Allison Stephens uses her extensive experience in family and community...

Allison Stephens, PhD, Med

Director of Networks, Communications and Policy, Center for Community-Engaged Medicine at HOPE: Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences

Rev. Floyd Thompkins, Jr.

Position: Former Associate Dean of Memorial Church at Stanford University
Categories: Child Experts Panel

Rev. Thompkins is CEO of the Justice and Peace Foundation – an organization continuing the tradition of building the beloved community. As CEO of the JPF organization Rev. Thompkins launched initiatives in the areas of African American Spirituality and Mental Health, advanced the dialogue surrounding the reform and reimagining of policing in the US, and initiated the Talk Truth Project that conducts non-partisan training of political parties, non-profit organizations and individual citizens on how to deescalate high conflict conversations with the goals of increasing political efficacy in the United States. JPF is currently conducting a national community participatory research project among African American Churches in the areas of grief, trauma, and ministry. Additionally, Rev. Thompkins is leading a congregation, located in Marin City Ca, in efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy and hosting mobile vaccination units to get his community vaccinated. Rev. Thompkins has authored several books, academic papers, and is often called upon to offer his perspectives and opinions on race, health care and spirituality.

As a Dean of Religious Life, Rev. Thompkins has served at two world-class institutions, Stanford University and Princeton University. While at serving as a dean, Rev. Thompkins was asked to serve as Interim Pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Palo Alto, California. As a Leader in the community, he has developed unique, highly effective programs to empower underserved teenage youth and young adults in urban and rural areas—in East Palo Alto, CA and rural South Georgia. As a Pastor, he pastored Antioch Baptist Church, the second oldest African American Church west of the Mississippi and Covenant Christian Church in Douglas, GA. Currently he is the Pastor of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City California. This congregation has contributed in historically significant ways to the national conversation concerning race and social justice in the Presbyterian Church USA.

Rev. Thompkins one of the national faith leaders to participate in The Ethics of Reciprocity: A United Nations Historic Interfaith Dialogue event. He is also on the task force for the development of Spiritual Guidelines of the American Psychological Society.

Rev. Thompkins is CEO of the Justice and Peace Foundation...

Rev. Floyd Thompkins, Jr.

Former Associate Dean of Memorial Church at Stanford University

Viola Vaughan-Eden, PhD, MJ, LCSW

Position: Professor, Norfolk State University School of Social Work
Categories: Child Experts Panel

Viola Vaughan-Eden is a Professor and the PhD Program Director with the Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work at Norfolk State University in Southeastern Virginia. She is also the President and CEO of UP For Champions, a non-profit in partnership with The UP Institute, a think tank for upstream child abuse solutions. As a clinical and forensic social worker, she serves as a consultant and expert witness in child maltreatment cases – principally sexual abuse. Dr. Vaughan-Eden is President Emerita of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, President Emerita of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence, and Past-President of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work. She lectures nationally and internationally on child and family welfare to multidisciplinary groups of professionals. Dr. Vaughan-Eden serves on the editorial board of several peer-reviewed journals. She is an editors-in-chief of the six-volume 2022 NPEIV Handbook on Interpersonal Violence. Dr. Vaughan-Eden was a panelist on two congressional briefings – 2015 Spare the Rod, Protect the Child: A Reconsideration of Corporal Punishment of Children in Homes and Schools and 2016 Protecting Child Safety in Family Court. She is the recipient of several honors including the 2020 NOFSW Sol Gothard Lifetime Achievement Award, a 2019 Council of Social Work Education Leadership Scholar, and the 2012 National Association of Social Workers-Virginia Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award. See

Viola Vaughan-Eden is a Professor and the PhD Program Director...

Viola Vaughan-Eden, PhD, MJ, LCSW

Professor, Norfolk State University School of Social Work

Rev. Darrell Armstrong, MDiv, EdS, DD, Moderator

Position: Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church (Trenton, NJ), Founder, FAAITH Global Network; Former Director, NJ Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships
Categories: Child Experts Panel
Moderator: Moderator

The Rev. Darrell LaRue Armstrong is only the 3rd Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church (Trenton, NJ) in the last 111 years! (ref. Shiloh (and its community development corporation) is a thriving community of faith rooted in the African American worship tradition, with a budget of nearly $3M serving nearly 600 families in the Greater Trenton Community and around the world.

The father of two wonderful teenage children, the Reverend Darrell L. Armstrong is committed to the notion that strengthening families is a strategy for preventing child abuse and neglect. Having spent most of his childhood in foster and kinship care in South Central Los Angeles, he knows all too well the effects of family disruption and dysfunction.

His professional and personal experiences illustrate his commitment to cross-sector engagement. In his 20th year of service to his congregation, he is only the third pastor of the historic Shiloh Baptist Church, (Trenton, NJ), in the last 115 years! His visionary leadership has propelled Shiloh to create a “Spiritual Family Empowerment Zone,” a large-scale neighborhood revitalization and community development effort which projects $50M in urban investments.

From 2006 to 2009, he served as the director of the Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships for the NJ Department of Children & Families, where he oversaw a budget of $100M-plus of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention programs. 

He is an entrepreneur, having founded the Institute for Clergy Training, a research and training agency, which partners with multi-sector agencies on a variety of topics related to leadership, child and social welfare. 

Currently, he serves as a consultant to or board member on several non-profit organizations which promotes safe, stable, and nurturing families and communities. This list is inclusive of, but not limited to the following organizations: 

=> Princeton Theological Seminary, where he made history by being the first non-Presbyterian appointed to the board in the school’s 200-plus year history. 

=> Prevent Child Abuse America, the oldest and most widely-networked child welfare and family advocacy agency in the United States; 

=> Baptist World Alliance, for which he was appointed the Chief Administrative Officer to the United Nations, representing his denomination as a global ambassador on various child and family related issues. 

The Rev. Armstrong’s policy training at Stanford University, theological training at Princeton Theological Seminary, and therapeutic and clinical training at the College of New Jersey, have uniquely situated him as a respected voice and leader in the national and international child welfare and family strengthening communities.

One of his greatest honors was carrying the Olympic torch in December 2001 in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, which were held in Salt Lake City, UT, a run he dedicated to America’s children in foster care. 

The Rev. Darrell LaRue Armstrong is only the 3rd Pastor...

Rev. Darrell Armstrong, MDiv, EdS, DD, Moderator

Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church (Trenton, NJ), Founder, FAAITH Global Network; Former Director, NJ Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships