2018 Mental Health Summit

2018 Mental Health Summit Agenda

8:30 a.m. Registration 

9:00 a.m. Welcome Remarks - NEARI President Larry Purtill

9:15 a.m. Opening Speaker M. Teresa Paiva Weed, president Hospital Association RI, Campaign to Change Direction

9:30 a.m. Morning Workshops (1 1/2 hours, repeating twice)

  • Trauma-Informed Practices for Schools  
    As educators and school-based professionals we are encountering more students who have experienced trauma, or who experience heightened levels of anxiety on an ongoing basis. Brief exposure to a traumatic event can impact a community, and repeated chronic exposure to trauma both can have lasting impacts on the individual through numerous pathways, including brain-based changes, social factors, and educational performance.  This presentation will explore how trauma and anxiety affects our students, and ourselves, and will provide practical strategies for creating a safe environment for students, helping students regulate their emotions to foster learning, and self-care skills for teachers working with chronically stressed students.  
  • Self-Care Strategies to Prevent Professional Burnout  

    People in the support services sector, such as nurses and teachers, choose these caring roles because they want to help others. It is rewarding but stressful work, often leading to compassion fatigue and professional burnout. Individuals who engage in service work tend to neglect their own needs in order to meet the needs of others. The majority of such workers report having a poor work-life balance, do not use much vacation or sick time, neglect exercise, eat poorly, and do not get enough sleep. This workshop provides an overview of research on the importance of self-care, describes the symptoms of compassion fatigue and how to address it, and provides practical strategies to enhance the work-life balance as well as decrease stress and anxiety. Presenter: Kate Fields
  • Suicide Prevention and Intervention in Schools: QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) QPR Gatekeeper Training for Educators in and out of the Classroom

    Participants will learn: The scope of problem of youth suicide, risk and protective factors, behavioral  and situational queues, common myths and facts, resources and media campaigns available, QPR-How to ask the “S” question, who to refer to in the school and beyond for help
    Presenter: Leigh A. Reposa, MSW, LICSW 
  • Restorative Practices in Schools 
    Schools are continuing to strive to create positive and healthy climates that connect with and improve communication between students, teachers, families, administrators and the local/global community.  Restorative practices are processes that can be applied within the classroom, as well as the school as a whole, to prevent and address conflict.  Educators work to create a safe, nurturing environment through the use of  “Circles” to teach students how to learn from their mistakes, resolve conflict, hold individuals and groups accountable while repairing harm and restoring relationships.  This workshop will outline the various tools and strategies that can be easily brought to the individual class, as well as larger groups--from the school to the district to the community.  Restorative skills go hand-in-hand with social and emotional learning, and can be used together with Self-Regulation Skills programs, Kingian Nonviolence Philosophy, Zones of Regulation and PBIS. 
    Presenters: Christi Saurette, LICSW, ACSW; Susan Casey; Karen Buetens LICSW
  • LGBTQ+ Students, Families, and Faculty: Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment 
    Presenters:  Dr. Susan Brand, Lisa Parker, LICSW
    • Gain an understanding of sex and gender terminology.
    • Become aware of the need for non-binary language.
    • Learn how support for LGBTQ persons can make life-altering, positive impacts.
    • Become aware of how Federal and State law guide our own policies.
    • Learn how to create an inclusive school and classroom.
    • Hear one family’s complex emotional and physical journey to gender affirmation.

12:30 p.m. Lunch (Community Partners join us for the afternoon)

1:15 p.m. Large Group Strategy Session to Create NEARI Mental Health Advocacy Platform with Facilitators:  Sarah Markey, Mary Barden, Pat Crowley, Linda LaClair

1:45 p.m. Closing Speaker: Tom Coderre, senior adviser to Governor Raimondo, national leader in addiction recovery

Presenter Information

Dr. Susan Brand

Dr. Susan Brand

Presenting: Students, Families, and Faculty: Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment

Susan Trostle Brand is a Professor of Early Childhood Education and Social Justice at the University of Rhode Island, located in Kingston, Rhode Island. Throughout her educational pursuits, Susan attended the Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she earned her Bachelor of Science (BS) in Elementary Education, West Virginia University, where she received her Master of Arts (MA) in Reading, with Reading Specialist certification, and Pennsylvania State University, where she obtained her Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction with a minor in Human Development and also Play Therapy and Administrative certifications. 

A former teacher of elementary education, Susan has taught at the University of Rhode Island for the past thirty-three years. An active member within her field, Susan has served on several university-wide committees, including serving as Chairperson for the Curricular Affairs Committee, the Multicultural and Diversity Committees, the President’s Council on LGBTQ and the President’s Council on the Status of Women. 

As a well-respected voice in academia, Susan has co-authored and edited four textbooks and numerous articles and reports on Curriculum, Social Justice, Children’s Play, and Storytelling.
She has presented at over 150 international, national, regional, and local conferences. 

In addition, Susan has served as counselor of the Kappa Delta Pi International Education Honor Society for the past twenty-six years. In recognition of her professional excellence, Susan has received numerous awards and has been named in various publications. In 2013, she received a Multicultural Center Award for her service and leadership in diversity at URI and in the community. She received the national Lucinda Rose Counselor Award in 2007. 

In 2017, Susan was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Lifetime Achievement Award; she is one of 100 living recipients to earn this award.

Karen Buetens, LICSW

Karen Buetens LICSW

Presenting Restorative Justice

Karen Buetens LICSW, is currently a Family and Community and Community Engagement Coordinator for the South Kingstown School Department. Ms. Buetens has an extensive clinical background as well as expertise in program development, community organizing and creating social justice initiatives. 

Susan Casey

Susan Casey

Presenting Restorative Justice

Susan Casey, is a School Psychologist in South Kingstown where she has worked for the past 26 years.  Susan holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in School Psychology as well as a Ph.D. in Education with a focus in school psychology.   

Kate Fields

Kate Fields

Presenting: Self-Care Strategies to Prevent Professional Burnout

Kate Field was a history teacher for 18 years and a school administrator for three before taking a position as the Teacher Development Specialist at the Connecticut Educational Association in 2015, where she specializes in professional learning, new teacher induction and support, and teacher evaluation. A 2007 finalist for CT Teacher of the Year, she was also recognized as UCONN’s 2015 ECE Outstanding Educator of the Year. A two-time Fulbright scholar, Dr. Field has visited schools around the world, including South Africa, Japan, China, Hungary, and Germany. She has presented for numerous national organizations, including: ASCD, Learning Forward, National Council for Social Studies, National Association of Biology Teachers, and the College Board.

Dana Osowiecki, Ph.D.

Dana Osowiecki, Ph.D.

Presenter: Trauma-Informed Schools

Dana Osowiecki, Ph.D.  is a clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in working with students of all ages and supporting schools in understanding the needs of diverse learners and students with a variety of challenges that impact learning.  She has worked in Rhode Island ever since coming to Brown University in 1996 to complete her Internship and Post-Doctoral studies in neuropsychology and has expanded her evaluation and consultation services through the Center for Psychology and Learning, with additional staff who share the same approach to problem solving and interventions.  She has a particular interest in anxiety and executive functioning, factors that play a role in student success across diagnostic categories.  She works from a strengths-based model and is always exploring how to make connections between neuropsychology and everyday life. 

Lisa Parker, LICSW

Lisa Parker, LICSW

Presenting: LGBTQ+ Students, Families, and Faculty: Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment

As an elementary school teacher in Long Beach, CA, Lisa Parker found that she was more interested in helping students become ready to learn than teaching academics. She returned to school to earn a Masters in Social Work at UCLA, and returned to Long Beach Unified to open their first one-room schoolhouse for homeless youth housed in a family shelter. 

She has continued to work as a school social worker in several school districts in Rhode Island including Woonsocket, Smithfield, and North Smithfield. Lisa also spent almost a decade running a private practice, Solutions Counseling LLC.

Lisa currently works at Cumberland High School. Four years ago, Cumberland became the first district in RI to have a policy for students who identify as Transgender or Gender Non-Conforming. Lisa was and continues to be an advocate for all students including those who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum by working collaboratively with both staff and administration to ensure that the policy is supporting students as intended. She helped to establish Cumberland’s first middle school Gay-Straight Alliance and currently co-advises the high school GSA.

Lisa is deeply passionate about social justice and equity, and this passion drives her work in making meaningful connections with students and helping to maintain an  inclusive and supportive learning environment.

Leigh A. Reposa, MSW, LICSW


Christi Saurette, LICSW, ACSW

Christi Saurette, LICSW, ACSW

Presenting: Restorative Justice

Christi Saurette has been a school social worker in South Kingstown for over 16 years. She has work experience as a Student Assistance Counselor as well as a substance abuse counselor.  Christi received her MSW from Rhode Island College, and is a Certified Yoga Instructor.  

M. Teresa Paiva Weed

M. Teresa Paiva Weed

Opening Speaker 

Teresa Paiva Weed is the president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. Prior to her role at HARI, Teresa was president of the Rhode Island Senate for eight years. Teresa was first elected to the Rhode Island Senate in 1992. During her time as a legislator, she was a major developer of the RIteCare program, lead sponsor of legislation creating CurrentCare, and played a key role in several important public health bills including mental health, substance abuse, and lead poisoning. She is also an independent legal practitioner.

Teresa received a juris doctor degree from Catholic University – Columbus School of Law and bachelor’s degree from Providence College. She has been recognized by the National Association of Social Workers, Rhode Island Center for Hispanic Policy and Advocacy, Rhode Island Council of Community Health Centers, Community Provider Network, The United Way, American Heart Association and the Rhode Island Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.


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