Forgiveness, Survival and Her Journey from Homeless to Harvard: A Discussion with Liz Murray

May 31, 2016
Hosted by Jessica Pirro

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Guest Information

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Episode Description

Liz Murray transformed her life of despair into an inspiring journey of determination, hope and hard-won success. The child of drug-addicted parents who routinely ate from dumpsters and sought refuge at all-night subway stations to survive, Liz was homeless at age 15 and fending for herself. Determined not to be defined by her circumstances, she recognized education as the key to a fresh beginning and a whole new way of living. Tune in for a discussion with Liz Murray and hear about her journey from mere survival to success, and the powerful message she shares to inspire hope and triumph in the face adversity.

The Journey- Stories of Crisis and Hope

Archives Available on VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel

When crisis occurs there is an emotional and physical impact to ones wellbeing. As a crisis first responder I have seen firsthand the impact of not dealing with crisis and trauma can have on a person’s sense of self, purpose and belief in happiness and hope. The Journey- Stories of Crisis and Hope will provide education and real life experiences dealing with various issues including mental health, rape, domestic violence, suicide. We will talk about the signs and symptoms of these types of crisis, how you can help yourself, a friend or loved one in order to save a life and restore a sense of hope. My goal is to have an open and honest dialogue to help you know that you are not alone, empower you to seek help and begin your road to a life you want and not be defined by crises that have occurred to you. We will share information on effective interventions, cutting edge programming and awareness of services that you can reach out to in order begin their process of healing.

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Jessica Pirro

Jessica C. Pirro received her undergraduate degree in Child and Family Studies and her Masters of Social Work from Syracuse University. She is a NYS Licensed Master Social Worker. Ms. Pirro moved to Buffalo in 1997 and worked for Erie County to set up the Domestic Violence Unit, under the direction of the Wellstone/Murray Amendment Family Violence Option. She began working at Crisis Services in 1999 as the Supervising Counselor of the Advocate Program, the NYS Dept. of Health Rape Crisis Center, and a NYS licensed non-residential domestic violence provider. She was promoted to Coordinator in 2001. In 2006, Ms. Pirro was promoted to Associate Director, charged with overseeing all agency clinical operations 24 hours a day.

In September 2014, she was appointed as Chief Executive Officer and leads the agency’s crisis first responders helping those impacted by crisis with specialty areas around suicide prevention, mental health, domestic violence, rape, elder abuse and homelessness. She was recognized as one of Buffalo’s Business First’s 40 under Forty in 2010 and honored as an Advocate for Change by the It Happened to Alexa Foundation in 2008. She is Co-Chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Erie County, serves as the Project Champion for the Millennium Collaborative Care DSRIP Crisis Stabilization project and is a member of the Health Foundation of Central and Western New York’s Fellows Program. She resides in Buffalo, NY with her husband, step-son and 2 fur kids.

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Episode Directory

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

  • 5/31/2016: Forgiveness, Survival and Her Journey from Homeless to Harvard: A Discussion with Liz Murray Listen Now
  • 5/24/2016: Moving from 'What is wrong with you?' to 'What happened to you?' : A Trauma Informed Care Approach Listen Now
  • 5/17/2016: Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge: A Discussion with Kevin Briggs Listen Now
  • 5/10/2016: 'It's not too late for anyone': A Discussion with Interventionist Jeff VanVonderen Listen Now
  • 5/3/2016: Suicide Rates on the Rise: How to Restore Hope and Encourage Help Listen Now

April 2016

March 2016

Kristin Adduci

Kristin Adduci, LMHC, earned her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling in 2006 from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. She has been with Crisis Services, in a variety of roles, since 2007. At the present time, she is the Program Supervisor for the Mobile Outreach Program and also has been acting as the Coordinator of the agency’s Crisis Intervention Team Training Project since 2012, where she coordinates and delivers training to law enforcement officers as they develop CIT teams within their jurisdictions. Kristin is presenting on local CIT initiatives at the CIT International Conference in April 2016. View Guest page

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Colleen Babcock

Colleen Babcock serves as Horizon’s Parent & Family Support Coordinator. Colleen strives to raise awareness about drug abuse in the community-at-large but also to help individuals and families struggling with substance abuse - particularly those with opiate addiction to access treatment and to begin and continue their journey to recovery. Colleen’s personal journey with her own son has provided her with education first hand as to how hard it can be to get help at moments of crisis; making her position crucial in midst of the current prescription drug/heroin epidemic. No family gets a manual on how to deal with addiction. Her focus is primarily on the family providing emotional support, hope, reassurance, information and advocacy to ensure their expedited linkage to treatment and support at their most critical moments. Colleen is also a Narcan administration trainer and has trained thousands of individuals in Western New York. View Guest page

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Amy Bleuel

After overcoming many obstacles in her life including bullying, rejection, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, Amy has found strength and a love for others. Amy struggled with mental illness for 20+ years and has experienced many stigmas associated with it. She now shares her stories around the nation giving hope to others struggling with mental illness. Amy is the founder of Project Semicolon which she began in the Spring of 2013 to honor her father whom she lost to suicide. Through the semicolon symbol many related to the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and their will to continue on. “Project Semicolon” believe that this is not the end but a new beginning. View Guest page

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Lisa Boehringer

Lisa Boehringer, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in City Public Schools in Buffalo, NY. Her expertise is in Crisis Prevention and Response in school settings. Ms. Boehringer is a survivor of suicide by her sister and her aunt. She co-chaired the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide prevention in Buffalo, NY for 4 years. Ms. Boehringer is currently serving on the Western New York board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She received her Master of Social Work from the University at Buffalo. View Guest page

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Kevin Briggs

Kevin Briggs is a retired California Highway Patrol officer. During his 23 year career, he was responsible for patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. In his retirement, he is mapping a movement as he speaks publicly about his suicide prevention and crisis encounters with people on the bridge. He has dedicated his life to promoting mental health awareness across the globe through Pivotal Points, an organization he founded to promote Crisis Management, Suicide Prevention, and Leadership Skills. As a mental health consumer, Briggs suffers from depression related to his highway patrol officer and work leader experiences and is a suicide survivor losing his grandfather to suicide. As an international presenter, Sergeant Kevin Briggs’ story and lived experiences have been featured as a TEDTalk, in numerous magazines, newspapers, radio, and podcasts across the world. His is the author of Guardian of the Golden Gate: Protecting the Line Between Hope and Despair. View Guest page

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Christian Burgess

Christian Burgess, MSW, is Director of the National Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH), a program of the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration administered by the Mental Health Association of New York City providing 24/7 crisis counseling and emotional support for anyone in the U.S./territories struggling with distress or other mental health concerns related to natural or human-caused disasters. Prior to helping launch the DDH in February 2012, Christian served as the Training Coordinator for the Oil Spill Distress Helpline. Christian previously worked for over 10 years in youth violence prevention and trauma intervention, including as Director of School Programs at Safe Horizon, one of the nation's largest service providers for victims of crime and abuse. Christian serves on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) Emotional and Spiritual Care Committee (ESCC) and Health Committee, and co-chaired the New York City VOAD ESCC from 2013-2014. View Guest page

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Tracie Bussi

Tracie Bussi, LMSW, earned her Master’s in Social Work in 1997 from The State University of New York at Buffalo in Buffalo, NY. She has been with Crisis Services providing and overseeing crisis intervention services since that time. At the present time, she is the Program Director for Emergency Mental Health Response Services, which includes the Mobile Outreach Program, the Mobile Transitional Support Program, and the Trauma Response Program. In addition, she has been the Coordinator of Crisis Services’ Police Mental Health Coordination Project since 2011 and assists in the oversight of the agency’s Crisis Intervention Team Training Project. View Guest page

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Meryl Cassidy

Meryl Cassidy, LMSW is currently Executive Director of Response of Suffolk County, Inc., Assistant Professor in the Human Services Program at Suffolk Community College, and Co-Chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Long Island. After receiving her MSW in 1983 from Columbia University, Ms. Cassidy spent the first third of her career developing and managing innovative housing programs for a variety of at-risk populations in Manhattan and Queens. She moved out to Suffolk County where she expanded her focus to include work with at-risk families and youth in clinical and agency settings, school districts, and with the Suffolk County Probation Department. Throughout her career, she has maintained a passion for training other social worker's and human service professionals, and sees this as a vital part of her role as Executive Director of Response. View Guest page

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Jill Dunstan

Jill Dunstan received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from D’Youville College and her Master’s from Medaille College’s Mental Health Counseling Program. She is a licensed chemical dependency counselor and a licensed mental health counselor. Ms. Dunstan has worked in residential facilities for the mentally ill including outpatient and inpatient chemical dependency and mental health programs. In 2010, she started at Lake Shore Behavioral Health in the PROS program focusing on rehabilitation goals for those suffering from severe and persistent mental illness. Jill is now the program director of OnTrack, a new cutting edge evidence based federally funded treatment program supported by the NYS Office of Mental Health. The OnTrack program serves young adults ages 16-30 years old who are experiencing a first episode of psychosis providing outpatient therapy interventions including family support, psychiatry, nursing, substance abuse, and employment/education assistance. View Guest page

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Sarah Duval

Sarah Duval is a staff attorney at Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York. She handles cases dealing with elder exploitation and is a frequent presenter on the topic of elder abuse prevention. Sarah graduated cum laude from SUNY Buffalo Law School in 2012. Sarah is a member of the Council on Elder Abuse, the SPRiNG Alliance for Elder Shelters, and the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section’s Elder Abuse Committee. She has been published in the New York State Elder and Special Needs Law Journal and is the recipient of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, WNY Chapter’s Outstanding New Lawyer of 2015. View Guest page

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Amy Fleischauer, LMSW

Amy Fleischauer is the Director of Survivor Support Services at the International Institute of Buffalo and supervises a team of case managers and advocates working with survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. She has a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and a certificate in Trauma Counseling from the University of Buffalo. Ms. Fleischauer has served as the co-facilitator of the Western District of New York’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force, serves as the Quality Support Specialist for the USCRI Trafficking Victim Assistance Program, and provides training and technical assistance for nearly 200 organizations administering direct care to foreign-born survivors of human trafficking across thirty-four states. She represents the immigrant victim services perspective on the NYS Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team. She serves on the board of Freedom Network USA and is an active member of the New York Anti-Trafficking Network. View Guest page

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Greg Flett

Northeast Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, Project Outreach Coordinator View Guest page

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Holly Franz

Holly Franz is the Coordinator of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program at Crisis Services in Buffalo, NY. The team provides on-site forensic services to rape victims who go to any of the CHS and (adult) Kaleida hospitals for assistance. As a member of Erie County’s Rape Crisis Advisory Committee, Holly is a key resource for law enforcement authorities, district attorney, forensic and toxicology lab directors, crisis counselors, hospital staff and other SAFE programs. Holly’s professional nursing experience is diverse including primary care to consulting and project management, within national and international settings. An avid patient advocate, Holly focuses her work building and implementing systems that strengthen patient care and support. She received her BSN from SUNY/Plattsburgh and was accepted into Sigma Theta Tau. Holly is certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in Massachusetts and New York, and through the International Association of Forensic Nurses. View Guest page

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Tara Hughes, LCSW-R

Tara Hughes is the Project Director for Trafficked Youth at the International Institute of Buffalo. She provides training for all local professionals involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems while also supervising direct intensive case management for identified survivors. She has worked in the mental health field with families and children in crisis in many different capacities for the last 26 years, with a focus on trauma, interpersonal and community violence and has worked with multiple Crisis Intervention programs in schools, agencies and communities. Ms. Huges specializes in work with youth and adults dealing with Posttraumatic Stress reactions, with an emphasis on Posttraumatic growth and resilience. She serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She received her Masters of Social Work degree and Family Therapy Certification from Boston University. View Guest page

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David Mann

David Mann has been a member of the Buffalo Police Department for 30 years, and the Lieutenant in charge of the Department’s Sex Offense Section (SOS) since 1995. The SOS investigates cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, missing persons, and juvenile delinquency that occur in the City of Buffalo. Lieutenant Mann is a SAMSHA certified trainer on Trauma and is a Health Foundation of Central and Western New York Fellow. View Guest page

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Rachel S Morrison

Rachel S. Morrison, a native of Buffalo, NY, earned her Bachelor’s Degree from SUNY at University of Buffalo and her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Medaille College. Rachel has over 20 years experience working with at risk populations including youth, displaced individual & families, trauma, and mental health. Rachel has been at Crisis Services in Buffalo, NY for over 12 years and currently serves as the Program Director of the 24 hour hotline. Rachel has experience as a life coach, therapist and is the owner/CEO of “The Power In WE”, whose mission is to empower and motivate personal growth and change. Rachel sits on the Advisory Board of P.E.A.C.E. Inc. and is an advocate for youth programs and support groups for family members who are victims of homicide. Rachel wrote her first book “Bare Naked Trees” in 2015 and is currently working on the sequel “Bare Naked Trees-Next Season”. She also began working on her first novel “Fine As Wine Eyes”. View Guest page

Episode Listing:

Liz Murray

Liz Murray’s life is a triumph over adversity and a stunning example of the importance of dreaming big. Her life as the child of cocaine-addicted parents was bitterly grim. There was never food in the house, drugs were everywhere, and the welfare checks were spent before they arrived. Murray’s story of survival is exhilarating and inspirational. Lifetime Television produced a movie about Murray’s life story entitled Homeless to Harvard, which was nominated for three Emmy Awards. Murray is the recipient of the White House “Project’s Role Model Award” and Oprah Winfrey’s first-ever “Chutzpah Award”. Her memoir, Breaking Night, landed on the New York Times best seller list within a week of its release and quickly became an international bestseller. Murray received her Bachelor of Science degree from Harvard University. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Psychology at Columbia University and is an inspirational speaker with the Washington Speakers Bureau. View Guest page

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Dr. Gregory J Nayor

Dr. Gregory J. Nayor holds a BA in History and Secondary Education and a Masters in Education from the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Potsdam, as well as an earned doctorate from the University of Virginia in Higher Education administration. He currently serves as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Daemen College responsible for the student life experience including the management and supervision of the areas of student activities, residence life, counseling and health services, dining services, and campus safety. Dr. Nayor has served on various committees and organizations at the state and national level and has placed his professional emphasis on campus safety, crisis management, and compliance with a co-authored chapter in an upcoming NASPA publication, “College in the Crosshairs”. Dr. Nayor co-chairs the Western New York Consortium’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Education and the NASPA Region II Board coordinating corporate relations. View Guest page

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Amanda Nickerson, Ph.D., NCS

Amanda Nickerson is a professor of school psychology and director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at Buffalo-State University of New York. Her research focuses on school violence and bullying, and the critical role of family and peers in preventing violence and building social-emotional strengths of youth. Dr. Nickerson has published more than 70 journal articles, written 4 books, and conducted over 250 professional presentations. She is a licensed psychologist, nationally certified school psychologist, and fellow of the American Psychological Association. She serves on multiple editorial boards, such as School Psychology Review & Journal of School Psychology. She is Coordinator of Research for the National Association of School Psychologists School Safety and Crisis Prevention Committee, an author of the PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention training curriculum and is a member of the executive board of the New York Association. View Guest page

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Caitlin Powalski

Caitlin Powalski serves as the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator at Crisis Services in Buffalo, NY. She joined the Crisis Services team in 2015 and is responsible for a tri-county collaborative focused on the primary prevention of sexual violence with two other Western New York partners in Monroe and Niagara Counties. Previously, Powalski has worked in college health and in research. Her interests include college health, particularly hook up culture and sexual violence prevention through bystander interventions, suicide prevention, help-seeking behaviors following trauma and mentoring. Powalski holds a Bachelors of Arts in History and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Rochester. She is a Buffalo native and when not at the office, can be found hiking with her husband and dogs. View Guest page

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Olivia Retallack

Olivia Retallack earned her MA in 2011 in Thanatology from Hood College in Frederick, MD. She has done counseling work in the fields of domestic violence, substance abuse, and crisis response. Since 2012, she has worked as the Coordinator of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Erie County New York and is a volunteer for the Erie County S.M.A.R.T team. She is a trainer in suicide prevention evidence based models: QPR, SafeTALK, ASIST and the Lifelines Trilogy for schools. View Guest page

Episode Listing:

Josh Rivedal

Josh Rivedal (founder, executive director of The i'Mpossible Project) is an author, actor, playwright, and international public speaker and program specialist on mental health and suicide prevention. His memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah, based on KMBB and published by Skookum Hill in 2013, is on The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s recommended reading list. His most recent book release The i’Mpossible Project: Reengaging with Life, Creating a New You debuted #1 on Amazon in the "suicide" category in January 2016. View Guest page

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Marcy Rose

Marcy Rose, a retired registered nurse, has been a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Buffalo & Erie County for over 15 years serving as President from 2012- 2016. NAMI, a grassroots organization of volunteers, was founded in 1984 and focuses to educate, assist and advocate for those affected by mental illness. She is a NY State Trainer of NAMI’s free Family to Family 12-week course about mental illness and is trained in teaching NAMI’s Homefront, a 6-week course for families of veterans and active military. As a community advocate, she assists with Crisis Services’ Crisis Intervention Training for police officers and first responders, speaking about the family perspective when a mental health crisis occurs. She has given talks to medical students, mental health counselors, and social work students and is an active advocate for legislation to help improve access and provision of mental health care. View Guest page

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Karl Shallowhorn

Karl Shallowhorn is the Director of Community Advocacy for the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer Buffalo. He is a New York State Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor and has worked in both the addictions and mental health fields. Karl is the author of Working on Wellness: A Practical Guide to Mental Health and has written and blogged for BP magazine. Karl is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor for adults, children, veterans, higher education and older adult communities. Karl serves on the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association in New York State, the Erie County Mental Hygiene Community Services Board, the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network and the 4th and Forever Foundation. Karl has a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting and a Master’s Degree in Student Personnel Administration, both from SUNY Buffalo State. View Guest page

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Matthew G. Smith

Matt Smith has been in the field of substance abuse prevention for over 25 years, spending nearly twenty years in various positions with WNY United Against Drug & Alcohol Abuse and over six years as Executive Director of Preventionfocus, Inc. Over his career, Matt has created numerous special events, awareness campaigns, workshops, camps, fundraisers, classroom curriculum packages, informational materials and other prevention tools and strategies. Matt serves as Chairman of the WNY Chemical Dependency Consortium, a collaborative of nearly all of the agencies in the eight-county region of WNY that provide substance abuse treatment, recovery and prevention services. He is also the environmental strategies/awareness chair of Px21, a collaborative of all substance abuse prevention organizations in Erie County and Vice Chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Erie County and is a member of the Erie County Opiate Task Force and the Erie County Anti-Stigma Task Force. View Guest page

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Anna Sotelo-Peryea, MUP

Anna Sotelo-Peryea, MUP, is the Public Health Planner and Violence Prevention Coordinator for the University at Buffalo, and has developed and managed its award-winning Violence Prevention Program for Wellness Education Services over the past 9 years. Her primary areas of focus are health promotion, cultivating student leaders, and engaging in targeted prevention education to create a safer, more welcoming environment for students to flourish. Anna has taught bystander intervention, survivor empathy, media analysis, and community development to students in the allied health field, and has presented in both National and local arenas. Additionally, Anna won the 2015 Outstanding Service Award, 2015 BACCHUS National Outstanding Advisor Award for her work with two Sexual Violence focused Peer Education groups and the Sigma Psi Zeta sorority, and was recognized by the Student Assembly of SUNY as a friend and supporter of the students of the State University of New York. View Guest page

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James Spero

Mr. Spero is currently the Special Agent in Charge at U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and responsible for the Buffalo, New York area. He has direct oversight of all immigration and customs related investigations within the northern and western districts of New York. Mr. Spero supervises over 160 law enforcement officers and support personnel in Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse, Massena, and Rouses Point. Prior to that assignment, Mr. Spero was the Deputy Assistant Director of the ICE Transnational Crime and Public Safety Division. In this position he had programmatic and operational oversight of the human smuggling and trafficking, immigration identity and benefit fraud, worksite enforcement, and commercial fraud and intellectual property rights programs within Homeland Security Investigations. View Guest page

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Rebecca Stevens

Rebecca Stevens is in her 16th year as an employee of Crisis Services Advocate Program. During that time, she has held positions as a Domestic Violence Case Manager, a Volunteer/Community Training Specialist, and a Supervising Counselor. In her current role as Program Supervisor, Ms. Stevens provides daily oversight and supervision for the 24 hour client services of the Rape Crisis Program of Erie County, a Non-Residential Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse provider, and the New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline. Rebecca’s educational background includes a BSW as well as a MS in Human Services Administration both from SUNY College at Buffalo. Ms. Stevens has served as Board President of Action for Mental Health, Inc., a non-profit peer mental health agency, was a member of a federal law enforcement elder abuse training team, and currently is serving as the Communications Chair of the Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence. View Guest page

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Brandi Sutherland

Brandi Sutherland completed her BA in Sociology at SUNY Geneseo. Following graduation she began volunteering as a Hospital Advocate to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse in the Crisis Services Advocate Program in Buffalo, NY. She was then hired by the Advocate Program as a Family Violence Case Manager in 2003, and held that position until becoming the Training Specialist in 2007. As the Training Specialist, Brandi provided community education around the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse and related topics, and coordinated the training and work of volunteers within the Advocate Program. In Ms. Sutherland’s current role as Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist, she works as part of a Sexual Violence Prevention team where she helps to develop strategy, procedure, implementation and evaluation of sexual violence prevention efforts both locally and with partnering Western New York counties. View Guest page

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Judy Tejada

Judy Tejada has been with the Horizon Corporation for 16 years. She has served in several clinical positions and currently is their Chief Clinical Officer. Ms. Tejada oversees clinical programming for Horizon Health Services & Horizon. As the head of the Clinical Services Department she oversees Horizon University, which provides in house clinical and non-clinical training for the corporation. Ms. Tejada also is a co-facilitator of Horizon’s Leadership Training. Prior to working with Horizon, Ms. Tejada held several positions in college student personnel administration. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from The College of Wooster, a Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration from The Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Counselor Education from Canisius College. Ms. Tejada is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor as well as a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor. View Guest page

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Jeff VanVonderen

Jeff VanVonderen is a highly sought after speaker and consultant both nationally and internationally. For over 35 years, individuals, families, and organizations have benefited from his skills and understanding in the areas of addiction, family systems, and recovery. Jeff was one of the featured interventionists on the A&E Network’s Emmy-winning documentary series about intervention. The show has won two Emmy’s: Outstanding Reality Program and Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming. He is the author of six books: Good News for the Chemically Dependent, Families Where Grace is in Place, When God’s People Let You Down, Tired of Trying to Measure Up, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse and Soul Repair: Rebuilding a Spiritual Life. View Guest page

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Frank Warren

Frank Warren is the creator of the The PostSecret Project, a collection of intimately personal and artistic postcards mailed anonymously from individuals worldwide, sharing personal secrets, private hopes, desires and fears. The PostSecret website has become a phenomenon earning over 700 million views, the world’s largest advertisement-free blog. The popularity of the project and its impact has earned Warren recognition as one of the top five influential people on the internet by Forbes. Warren’s books have become bestsellers including the New York Times bestseller, PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, and his work has been featured on USA Today, The Today Show, 20/20, CNN and MSNBC. He has delivered keynote addresses around the world at colleges, universities, mental health conferences and PostSecret postcards have been exhibited at the renowned Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Smithsonian Postal Museum and the Visionary Art Museum in Maryland. View Guest page

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Robyn Wiktorski-Reynolds, LMSW

Ms. Wiktorski-Reynolds received her undergraduate degree in English & Women’s Studies from the SUNY College at Buffalo and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. In Austin she supervised the Family Advocacy Program at SafePlace. Upon returning to Buffalo she worked as a Clinical Therapist at the Lee Gross Anthone’s Child Advocacy Center serving children who had been sexually abused/severely physically abused. She joined Crisis Services in 2003 as a Supervising Counselor in the Advocate Program. In 2005 she had a brief tenure at SBI, a non-profit on the University at Buffalo as Director of their Health Education & Human Services. Robyn returned to Crisis Services in 2006 as the Advocate Program Director running the NYS DOH designated Rape Crisis Center, a NYS approved nonresidential domestic violence provider and oversees the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program. Robyn lives in Buffalo with her husband and two daughters. View Guest page

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Rachel Wilson

Rachel Wilson graduated from the University at Buffalo with a dual Master’s degree in Social Work & Public Health. Her undergraduate work was in Global Gender Studies & Sociology. Rachel’s work experience includes working at Crisis Services as a Domestic Violence Case Manager and a Hotline Counselor for the NYS Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline. She also worked for 5 years as an Assistant Field Coordinator for the Western New York Area Labor Federation. As part of her graduate work, she work at the University at Buffalo Institute on Trauma & Trauma Informed Care assisting with coordinating community wide training and education, strategic planning and helped develop an Adverse Childhood Experience study for Erie County. She currently serves as Secretary for the Coalition for Economic Justice Board of Directors and was awarded the University at Buffalo Graduate Student Employee of the Year and is a member of the Phi Alpha Social Work Honors Society, Rho Kappa Chapter. View Guest page

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Joanne Zannoni

Joanne Zannoni, MSW, LICSW, is currently executive director of New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA). Her professional experience in the violence against women field began in 1992 and has included a variety of positions in sexual assault and domestic violence prevention and intervention—from direct services to administration. Immediately prior to coming to NYSCASA, she was associate director of the state sexual assault coalition in Connecticut, where she worked for a decade. In addition to providing fiscal and programmatic oversight, Ms. Zannoni possesses significant expertise in grant development, primary prevention of sexual violence, and victims’ privacy. She has developed materials and trained others in the field nationally on two key topics: protecting sexual assault victims’ privacy; and implementing sexual violence primary prevention strategies. Ms. Zannoni is a graduate of Saint Joseph College and Boston College. View Guest page

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