12th Annual Conference & Celebration

May 19, 2023

2023 Conference

Sponsored by:

Conference Presentations

Keynote Address

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Through the World of Children’s Mental Health!

Elizabeth Sweet M.Ed. 

Liz has worked for SAMHSA for the past 25 years as a Federal Health Advisor in the Center for Mental Health Services, focused on the issues families face while raising children with mental health challenges and the systems that serve them.  As a mom, who with her husband, raised a son with mental health challenges, Liz knows what it is like to try and find appropriate services in a rural part of the country where appropriate resources were scarce.  Liz is the Gold Star Mother of Sgt. Thomas J. Sweet II of the Big Red One, 1st of the 5th Field Artillery Unit out of Ft. Riley, Kansas who died November 27, 2003, in Iraq as a result of suicide.   

She now serves as a Public Health Advisor in the Office of Recovery where she continues to focus on issues of family involvement across the lifespan and all of behavioral health. Her keynote address will be followed by a Q&A session.

Conference Workshop Presentations: Morning

Marisol Garcia, Esq.

Just Say "NO" to CRAs!

Marisol Garcia, Esq.
Deputy Director
Health Law Advocates

This session will discuss community based mental health treatment as an alternative to the CRA process for children with mental health needs. The presentation will illustrate how accessing community-based services from schools and state agencies improves outcomes for kids and their families.

Timothy Wilens, MD

Marijuana And The Adolescent Brain

Timothy Wilens, MD  
Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Mass General Hospital
Professor, Harvard Medical School

This workshop will focus on the impact of marijuana use on the developing brain in adolescents and young adults. Marijuana use, and use disorders frequently onsets in childhood, and treatment strategies for adolescent cannabis use disorders will be presented.

Michele Lee

Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention

Michele Lee
Programs Manager, Massachusetts, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

This presentation will cover the general scope of suicide, the research on prevention, and what people can do to fight suicide. Participants will leave with a clear understanding of this leading cause of death, including the most up-to-date research on suicide prevention, and what they can do in their communities to save lives.

When Autism and Mental Health Intersect

Featuring A Panel Of Families With Lived Experience

This workshop will feature a panel of parents raising children with mental health and autism diagnoses. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 78% of children with autism have diagnosable mental health needs. Join us for a discussion about the unique needs of our kids at this crossroads, as well as strategies and resources for helping them.

Cas Ford Martin

Supporting Mental Health and Well-Being of LGBTQ+ Students

Cas Ford Martin
MPPA Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students, Massachusetts Commission for LGBTQ Youth

This session will provide strategies and best practices for supporting the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ students. What can we do to create safer school climates, and provide direct support to LGBTQ+ students facing mental health challenges? This workshop will provide a thorough introduction to the laws, policies, resources, and best practices for supporting LGBTQ+ students. It will emphasize strategies for fostering resilience and improving school climate, particularly for students at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. Cas Ford Martin (he/they) is a trans and queer activist, educator, and nonprofit leader based in Western Massachusetts.

Amy Brewis and Krista Gordon

Outside The Box: Calming The Chaos

Amy Brewis
Brain FUNdamentals
Krista Gordon
Tranquil Little One

Emotional regulation starts in the body. When our brain and body feel safe and grounded, we are better able to control our emotions. In this presentation, you will learn how movement and our interaction with the world builds the brain from the bottom up. Techniques to assist with self-regulation and co-regulation will be taught. The techniques are comprised of simple, intentional movements and mindfulness strategies that can be used right away! Amy Brewis is a licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant and the owner of Brain FUNdamentals LLC in Westborough, MA.

Conference Workshop Presentations: Afternoon

Ally Emig

Caring For Our Children: A Conversation Around Eating Disorders, Body Image, and Self-Esteem

Ally Emig
LCSM, RYT National Alliance on Eating Disorders (NAED)

This presentation will provide an overview of eating disorder signs and symptoms in children and adolescents. We will discuss diet culture, weight-based language, Health at Every Size framework, and Intuitive Eating. The presentation will also review how families and caregivers can help to improve their child’s body image, self-esteem, and overall mental health.

Dr. Gayl Crump Swaby, Ed.D.

5 Steps To Letting Go Of The Past And Moving Forward In Your Life

Dr. Gayl Crump Swaby, Ed.D.
President at New Generation Consultants & Associates Associate Professor, Springfield College

In this workshop, we will discuss how to let go of the past- trauma, failures, and disappointments in order to live a full and complete life in the future. Hanging on to pain, bitterness, and disappointment eats away at your self-esteem and destroys any possibility of a life free from pain. Dr. Crump Swaby will present 5 steps you can adopt to ensure that your future is not a repetition of your past.

Tavo Sastre

Yes, I Am Here

Tavo Sastre
Executive Director, Reach Family Services, Inc. Phoenix, Arizona

We have a choice to learn from our past traumas, negative thoughts, and discouraging words from others. The stories we tell ourselves are the most powerful stories we will ever hear in our lives. We have the power to choose what to take away from our life stories. Learn how to show up fully empowered in your life and say, “Yes, I am here!”

Samantha Moe

Parenting An Intense Child

Samantha Moe
Certified Parent Coach and Speaker, Samantha Moe and Associates, Minnesota

Parents of emotionally intense kids often feel “nothing is easy” with their child. Strategies that seem to work for other families don’t work for theirs. They wonder, “Am I doing something wrong? Is my child going to be ok? Will it ever get easier?” In this class, participants will learn practical, brain-based parenting tools that are specifically designed to calm intense kids and create more peace at home!

Jenn Turner

Cultivating Embodied Resilience in Youth

Jenn Turner, LMHC, TCTSY-F
Co-Director, Center for Trauma and Embodiment Justice Resource Institute (JRI)

Adverse Childhood Experiences can have a profound impact on almost every aspect of development. Offering body-focused interventions that center on healing the impacts of trauma can help children grow resilience. In this workshop we will explore original research and models for body-based healing created by the Center for Trauma and Embodiment. Jenn Turner has had the honor of working with survivors of trauma for all of her career.

AMPLIFY YOUR VOICE: Legislative Advocacy

Nancy Scannell
Executive Director, MSPCC
Courtney Chelo
Assistant Director for Government Relations, MSPCC

In this session we will cover the who, when, how, what, and why of using your voice and telling your story to create legislative and policy change.