Meet Our Board 

An Advisory Board of internationally recognized leaders in trauma-informed practices in the fields of education, social work, criminal justice, health care, and business has been established to guide I-BRTIP and expand and enhance our impact.  

Shantel D. Crosby, Ph.D., LMSW

Assistant Professor, University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work

Dr. Shantel Crosby’s research focuses on wellbeing and adverse childhood experiences among youth who are court-involved or at risk of court-involvement, with emphasis on youth of color. She examines trauma and behavioral/socio-emotional health among this population and explores trauma-informed responses to maladaptive youth behaviors.

More about Dr. Crosby

Dr. Shantel Crosby is also interested in examining innovative practices and interventions across child-serving systems that address negative youth behavior and trauma symptomatology.

Dr. Crosby is currently an evaluator for the Louisville Trauma Resilient Community (TRC) project, a 5-year grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Louisville TRC is focused on providing culturally-appropriate, trauma-focused, clinical and system-level interventions in West and South Louisville to address community violence and race-based trauma.

Dr. Crosby was previously the principal investigator for a project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, exploring the school experiences of trauma-exposed students. This study examined focus group data from trauma-exposed high school to both understand their lived experiences to improve student well-being. Dr. Crosby has also partnered, as co-principal investigator, with faculty from the College of Education at the University of Louisville to pilot a trauma-informed curriculum for undergraduate teacher candidates to address the paucity of pre-service teacher training on childhood trauma.

Shannon L. Davidson, Ph.D.

Research Associate, NPC Research

Dr. Davidson joined NPC Research as a Research Associate in November 2019. Her background is in education and youth development, and she is experienced in managing research and evaluation studies, conducting analysis, and working in partnership with stakeholders.

More about Dr. Davidson

Dr. Davidson’s projects have spanned topic areas and methodologies, and she particularly values projects that involve social and emotional learning and development, health promotion, and engagement with families and communities.

At NPC Research, Dr. Davidson works on projects related to substance use treatment, community health, and treatment courts. Dr. Davidson is trained and experienced in research design, instrument development, and mixed method data analysis.

A former classroom teacher, Dr. Davidson seeks opportunities to complement research and evaluation work with coaching and technical assistance. She is dedicated to supporting partners to translate data into meaningful action, using research as a tool to promote learning and improvement. Dr. Davidson earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in International and Comparative Education at Stanford University. Her dissertation, funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship, was an investigation of mental health education policies and practices in China. Author of Trauma-Informed Practices for Postsecondary Education: A Guide

Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D.

Lindahl Leadership Professor and Director, Institute for Translational Research in Children's Mental Health, University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development

Dr. Gewirtz's research interests are in trauma, resilience, parenting, and promoting children’s healthy development, with two distinct research foci: (1) the impact of exposure to highly stressful and traumatic events (e.g., homelessness, violence, war) on parenting and child functioning and (2) the development, implementation and evaluation of evidenced-based, family-focused interventions in community settings.

More about Dr. Gewirtz

Her research team is currently working on two major projects: After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT) and Ambit Network. ADAPT, funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is a randomized controlled trial of a parenting intervention aimed at strengthening parenting, child, and couple well-being among veterans following their combat deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan (Gewirtz, et al., 2011). Ambit Network, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, aims to increase access to quality care for traumatized children across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Dr. Gewirtz is well published, the recipient of several grant and career awards. For info about the Institute, which is quite expansive.

Patricia K. Kerig, Ph.D.

Professor, Clinical Psychology, University of Utah

As a developmental psychopathologist, my research focuses on the developmental processes that contribute to risk or resilience across the lifespan. I have long-standing interests in understanding and ameliorating the effects of trauma and violence on child development and family processes. 

More about Dr. Kerig

My interest and understanding include studies of interparental conflict, family violence, maltreatment, parent-child discord, and other forms of trauma exposure. My larger program of research has included investigations of the ways in which risk factors affect relationships among family members, such as in the study of parent-child boundary dissolution, as well as implications of these family processes for youths' own intimate relationships, such as in the study of risk and protective processes in the intersections among family dynamics, personality, and romantic relationships in adolescence and emerging adulthood.

I also have an abiding interest in the study of resilience--uncovering the protective factors that allow children to overcome the risks associated with family stress and trauma will help us to design intervention and prevention programs that are developmentally sensitive and effective in real-world settings.

The main focus of my lab's current program of research concerns the quest to better understand the mechanisms accounting for the link between childhood trauma and adolescent delinquency. We have received a grant from the National Institute of Justice for a 4-year (Jan 2015 – Dec 2019) longitudinal study investigating the emotional, cognitive, interpersonal, and psychophysiological mechanisms underlying the link between various forms of trauma exposure and youth's involvement in the juvenile justice system. This project provides many opportunities for students to be involved in data collection, analyses, and publications. 

Christopher Layne, Ph.D. 

Director of Education in Evidence-Based Practice, UCLS/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress

I am Director of Education in Evidence-Based Practice for the UCLA National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, which oversees the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. My professional activities share the common aim of developing clinically useful theory, assessment tools, interventions, and training curricula relating to psychological, environmental, and biological factors that contribute to the origin, course, consequences, and treatment of post-traumatic and post-bereavement adjustment. 

More about Dr. Layne

I am Director of Education in Evidence-Based Practice for the UCLA National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, which oversees the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. My professional activities share the common aim of developing clinically useful theory, assessment tools, interventions, and training curricula relating to psychological, environmental, and biological factors that contribute to the origin, course, consequences, and treatment of posttraumatic and post-bereavement adjustment. 

Dr. Layne will be an important connection to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) which is based at Duke and UCLS. Info on Evidence-Based Practice: The Education in Evidence-Based Practice Program seeks to promote the implementation of core principles, methods, and values of evidence-based practice throughout the NCTSN. By evidence-based practice, the Program means a way of professional life that comprises essential competencies, practices, values, and aspects of professional comportment. Evidence-based practice strives to provide clients with “best practice” care by employing the best empirical evidence; using valid and reliable assessment instruments and methods; considering each client’s strengths, needs, life circumstances, and informed wishes; and drawing on one’s professional clinical knowledge, reasoning skills, and judgment.

The Program’s Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma strengthens foundational clinical knowledge, reasoning skills, and other competencies required to work effectively with traumatized youth, families, and communities. Implemented throughout the NCTSN and in graduate schools and community agencies across the US, the Core Curriculum has online resources available through the NCTSN Learning Center. The Program also offers NCTSN Intervention Fact Sheets (both general and culture-specific), which describe trauma-focused, manualized treatment and/or intervention protocols developed or implemented by various NCTSN sites.

Jill Levenson, Ph.D., LCSW

Professor of Social Work at Barry University

Dr. Levenson is a SAMHSA-trained internationally recognized expert in trauma-informed care. She has published over 100 articles (cited over 7,000 times) about policies and clinical interventions designed to prevent sexual abuse, including projects funded by the National Institutes of Justice and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

More about Dr. Levenson

Dr. Levenson's groundbreaking research on the link between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and sexually abusive behavior has paved the way for innovations in treatment programs that now utilize a trauma-informed approach. She has also been a practicing clinical social worker for over 30 years, using a scientist-practitioner model to inform her research and her work with survivors, offenders, and families impacted by sexual abuse. 

In 2020, Dr. Levenson was honored to receive the Social Worker of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-FL) Miami-Dade Chapter. In 2020 she was also inducted to the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, an honor society of distinguished scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence in the field through high impact work that advances social justice and the public good.

In 2019 Dr. Levenson was named by the Journal of Social Service Research as being among the top 100 most influential contemporary social work faculty by the H-Index. According to the journal, “the top 100 most influential contemporary social work faculty were identified, resulting in a listing of individuals who have published relatively large numbers of scholarly works, which themselves have been subsequently highly cited.” In 2017 Jill Levenson was the recipient of Barry's Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Award! 

Dr. Levenson has been invited to present as a keynote speaker about trauma-informed care in clinical, correctional, and forensic settings in over 20 states, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. She has co-authored five books about the treatment of sexual abuse, including these recently released books, both published by Safer Society Press: Trauma Informed Care: Transforming treatment for people who have sexually abused, co-authored with Gwenda Willis and David Prescott. Healing from Sexual Violence: The case for vicarious restorative justice, co-authored with Dr. Alissa Ackerman.


Henrika McCoy, Ph.D., LCSW

Associate Professor and the Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services, Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois Chicago

Dr. McCoy’s research has predominately focused on strengthening the screening of mental health needs for justice-involved youth; examining the intersection of mental health and juvenile delinquency, particularly for African American males; and the impact of violence on young Black men ages 18 to 24.

More about Dr. McCoy

Dr. McCoy received her PhD from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, her Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, and her Master of Jurisprudence from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

She recently served as the principal investigator of SURVIVE, a $1.5 million nationwide study funded by the National Institute of Justice focused on creating an instrument to be used with young Black males ages 18 to 24 to identify their violent victimization experiences, related coping strategies, resulting needs, and supports employed. Her research is influenced by her experience as a clinician working with children, youth and their families who were experiencing a myriad of challenges including struggling with mental health concerns while also negotiating multiple systems including special education, child welfare, and juvenile justice.

She has been funded by diverse sources, including: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. She currently serves as a Director-at-Large for the Society for Social Work and Research, as an Executive Counselor for the Division of on People of Color and Crime for the American Society and Criminology, and on the Editorial Board for the Child and Adolescent Social Work. 

Mary Jane Pearson, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Dr. Pearson has been involved in teacher education for more than 30 years. Dr. Pearson is the principal academic advisor for Versidi and has been training and educating teachers in trauma and resilience for over a decade.

More about Dr. Pearson

Dr. Pearson's unique credentials as a teacher educator include chairing the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), the largest educator licensing agency in the U.S.

During her nine-year tenure as a commissioner, she co-authored the research on beginning teacher support and assessment that has become the worldwide standard for the support of new teachers, the Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment Induction Program (BTSA). In addition, she was appointed by the U.S. President to serve as the regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education. In recognition of her service to education, Mary Jane was named California Teacher Educator of the Year. Dr. Pearson started her career as a classroom teacher in general and special education.

She then went on to become a Professor at the University of Texas Pan American (now UT Rio Grande Valley), a tenured Full Professor of Special Education at California State University for nearly two decades, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco for 15 years.  She was the founding Chief Academic Officer for Community Education Partners, based in Houston, Texas, a school for at-risk students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, which served more than 80,000 students nationwide.  In that role, she authored state-mandated core courses for at-risk, low performing and special education students in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Science/History for grades 6-12. 

As Chief Academic Advisor for Versidi, Dr. Pearson led the development of a highly-sought-after master’s degree that featured a concentration in trauma-informed practices and fostering resilience in children who have experienced trauma and in teachers who have experienced both trauma and Secondary Traumatic Stress. 

Dr. Pearson serves as the Chair for the nation-wide Resilience Coalition composed of leading professional groups, experts and thought leaders committed to addressing trauma and developing resilience and self-care training and inspiration for teachers, children, families and communities.

Joel (Joe) M. Ristuccia

Lead instructor/mentor, Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity (LIFTS)

Mr. Ristuccia has played a central role as instructor, mentor, and recruiter in LIFTS since its inception in 2010. At the same time, Joel has been a staff member of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a key LIFTS partner.

More about Mr. Ristuccia

Mr. Ristuccia is co-author of Helping Traumatized Children Learn; Creating and Advocating for Trauma Sensitive Schools (Volumes 1 and 2). Joel has been an adjunct instructor at Lesley University’s Graduate School of Education, as well as at Babson College and Regis College. He has a private practice focused on program design and supports for students with challenging behavior and social/emotional disabilities. Joel has served as staff and/or consultant to a number of Massachusetts school districts, and has conducted trainings in many locations across the U.S. 

Joe has multiple values: not only as a part of Lesley’s Institute for Trauma Sensitivity, but even more important, the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI). Joel M. Ristuccia is a certified School Psychologist with over twenty-five years experience working in the public schools. Over the last twenty years he has worked with students at risk for failure due to social, emotional and behavioral difficulties. He continues to assist schools and school districts in addressing the needs of these students. Mr. Ristuccia has served as a consultant on the impact of trauma on student learning to the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) and is a co-author of “Helping Traumatized Children Learn”.

Additionally he has consulted to the Department of School Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, presented program model research findings at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), presented for the Departments of Education in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Washington as well as the University of Wisconsin on topics related to the impact of trauma on learning and on the role of trauma in student behaviors that can lead to punitive discipline and school failure.

Mr. Ristuccia is an Adjunct Professor at Lesley University teaching courses in developing trauma sensitive school wide, classroom and individual interventions to support all students to be successful in the general education curriculum. Mr. Ristuccia holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Yale University. Joe will be very valuable in helping to implement this component of our mission statement “to advocate for trauma-informed practices as an important and proven strategy to address issues of social justice at the state and national level.” Read more about TLPI.

Dr. Gregory Williams, M.D. 

Senior Administrative Team Member, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor University School of Medicine

Author of Shattered by the Darkness, the memoir describes Williams’ life at the hands of an abusive father, Dr. Williams has presented at NAEYC and appeared on numerous podcasts, radio shows, including his own program, TV shows, and lectures across the country.

More about Dr. Williams

Greg has touched tens of thousands of lives through his book and presentations. A sample of his media presence include coverage by the Texas Medical Center, Houston Public Media, and Healing Place Podcast.

Jennifer Wolff, MSW  LISW, CP(S), CTS

Owner, JJ Wolff Counseling Services

Ms. Wolff brings 33 years of administrative and clinical experience in the mental health field working in both the private and public sector.  She has served as the Senior Crisis Consultant for national companies, conducts threat assessments (workplace violence) statewide and nationally, serves in the behavioral health field for the SC Army and Air National Guard and has been conducting critical incident stress debriefings for the past 22 years. 

More about Ms. Wolff

Ms. Wolff has worked actively with law enforcement, first responders and military personnel in the aftermath of exposure to traumatic events and played an active role assisting in national tragedies such as the Boston Marathon Bombing, Aurora/Lafayette theatre shootings, and the Charleston Church Shooting.  Jennifer serves on several EAP provider networks, has worked globally in the area of domestic terrorism, and has served on several speaker panels such as 'Suicide In The Workplace" and "Military Sexual Trauma".  

A board-approved supervisor for LISW licensure, Jennifer has also served as an adjunct instructor (graduate level) at the University of South Carolina, and is a Certified Traumatic Stress Specialist and sponsor under the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists. 

Areas of specialty include PTSD/trauma recovery, disaster management, grief/loss, child/adolescent behavior disorders, divorce/custody co-parenting, EMDR, and life coaching. She has qualified as an expert witness throughout the state in domestic violence, sexual assault and PTSD/combat stress and is a frequent guest interviewer on local TV newscast such as WLTX and WIS.  Jennifer is a highly sought after counselor in the Columbia, SC area.