Dr. Gamaliel Baer joined Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) in 2008 and has served as the Health and Wellness Coordinator since 2018. He currently leads the Peer Fitness Program, the Peer Support Program, and teaches health and wellness in the fire academy. He spent five years at the busiest engine company and five years with Special Operations Division before going to headquarters. From 2012 – 2018 Dr. Baer served as a Coast Guard Reservist, first as an enlisted Intelligence Specialist and later as a Liaison Officer to FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC). He has served as a state advocate for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation since 2017. Dr. Baer holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Maryland, College Park, an M.S. in Management from Johns Hopkins University, and an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California.
Gamaliel Baer, EdD., MSM
Health and Wellness Coordinator, Bureau of Occupational Safety & Health, Howard County Fire and Rescue
George Bonanno, Ph.D.
Professor of Clinical Psychology Chair, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology Teachers College, Columbia University
George A. Bonanno is a Professor of Clinical Psychology, Director of the Loss, Trauma, and Emotion Lab, and Director of the Resilience Center for Veterans and Families at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1991. His research interests center on the question of how human beings cope with loss, trauma and other forms of extreme adversity, with an emphasis on resilience and the salutary role of flexible regulatory processes. He has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He recently authored The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Can Tell Us about Life after Loss (Basic Books), and was honored with the James McKeen Cattell award from the Association for Psychological Science “for a lifetime of intellectual achievements in applied psychological research and their impact on a critical problem in society at large.”
April Borkman, MA
Program Coordinator, Center for Firefighter Behavioral Health (CFFBH), Medical University of South Carolina
April Borkman, MA is a Program Coordinator with the Center for Firefighter Behavioral Health (CFFBH) at the Medical University of South Carolina. She obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from The Citadel Military College of South Carolina. April is committed to improving the well-being of individuals who have experienced emotional and behavioral problems as a result of major life stressors, including occupational stressors. She possesses an exceedingly versatile background that ranges from health education, to victim advocacy, to coordinating and executing research studies for Veterans experiencing PTSD. She has been with CFFBH since 2013 where she has played an integral role in the design and development of multiple technology based self-help resources for fire service professionals and their families as well as for behavioral health providers. She regularly participates in local, regional, and national firefighter events and conferences in order to disseminate CFFBH resources to relevant audiences. CFFBH is led by faculty and staff within the College of Nursing and the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. These resources were created in partnership with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and with funding support from the Department of Homeland Security via the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).
Lieutenant , FDNY Rescue Company 2
Major, U.S. Marine Corps
Founder, Leadership Under Fire
Jason Brezler calls upon his extensive operational experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and New York City as he prepares leaders from public safety organizations, private industry and military units across North America to perform at their best in high-risk environments. Jason is a Lieutenant in the FDNY and was a firefighter in Rescue Company 2 in Brooklyn, NY. He is the principal architect of the FDNY’s Mental Performance Initiative – a strategic initiative that proactively addresses the critical role of human performance at fires and emergencies, namely the psychological, physiological and cognitive aspects. He has collaborated with Ivy League academicians to design and operationalize real-world research that measures the impacts of operational stress on cognition and performance at fires and emergencies. Prior to joining the FDNY, Jason began his career as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has led Marines on several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan where he was decorated for his combat service and continues to serve as a Major in the Marine Corps Reserves. Jason is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he played baseball for the Midshipmen. He holds a second Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Science from Oklahoma State University. Jason is the Founder of Leadership Under Fire, an organization that since its inception in 2012 has hosted an annual national summit that explores risk and resilience from diverse intellectual and operational perspectives.
G. Keith Bryant
Fire Administrator, United States Fire Administration
Keith Bryant was appointed by President Donald J. Trump on May 18, 2017 and sworn in on August 4, 2017 as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration. He is responsible for managing the United States Fire Administration, the programs and training activities at the National Emergency Training Center.
Prior to his Presidential appointment he was the Chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD) appointed in 2005 by City Manager Jim Couch. He joined the OCFD in 1982 after serving 4 years in the US Army as a Military Structural/Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) firefighter. During his 35 years with Oklahoma City, Chief Bryant served as an Emergency Medical Technician, Hazardous Materials Technician, Underwater Rescue and Recovery Team member and Critical Incident Stress Peer Counselor. During his career he also responded to many significant incidents including the bombing of the Alfred P. Murray Federal Building in 1995 and two EF-5 tornados in 1999 and 2013. He was promoted to district/battalion chief in 1997, served as chief training officer from 1999 to 2001 and promoted to deputy chief of operations in 2004.
He is the past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, past president of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, and past president of the Oklahoma Fire Chiefs Association (OFCA). He also served as a member of the National Fire Protection Association and is an ex-officio board member of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Chief Bryant has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career. The Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association designated him as the 2014 Fire Chief of the Year and the President’s Award of Distinction in 2016. The OFCA selected him as the recipient of the 2010 J. Ray Pence Chief Officer Leadership Award, and he received the OCFD Chief Officer of the Year Award in 2001.
Director - Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training
Eriks Gabliks is the Director of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). He has served with DPSST since 1991 and has had the honor and privilege to serve as the Director since 2010 overseeing a staff of more than 450 employees. He is the first employee in DPSST’s history to have ascended to the position from the internal ranks. During his tenure at the agency he has served in a number of roles including 9-1-1 Program Coordinator, Regional Fire and Law Enforcement Services Manager, State Fire Training Director, Training Division Director and Deputy Director.
DPSST is the state’s centralized public safety training academy operating the 235-acre campus that serves more than 41,000 constituents around the state. On an annual basis DPSST provides training to more than 25,000 participants through programs offered at the Oregon Public Safety Academy and on a regional basis. Oregon’s basic training programs and certification standards are created in partnership with the 24-member, Governor appointed and senate confirmed, Board on Public Safety Standards and Training (BPSST).
Eriks began his public safety career in 1980 with the Monmouth County (NJ) Sheriff’s Department. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Service Administration from Western Oregon University and a Master’s with Honors in Public Policy and Administration from the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. He has also completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland and the Executive Development Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He is active in several state and national organizations and has served as President of the North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD), representing state and provincial fire training organizations in the United States and Canada, from 2009-2013.
Richard Gist, Ph.D.
Deputy Director/Principal Assistant to the Fire Chief - Kansas City (Missouri) Fire Department
Dr. Richard Gist is Principal Assistant to the Director of the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department. His responsibilities include strategic planning, organizational development, and serving as liaison between the Fire Department and a wide range of agencies with whom we interact in the provision of our services. He is widely recognized in emergency services venues for development and execution of innovative projects, programs, and service initiatives to enhance the impact of fire and rescue services for communities and their citizens in both daily missions and catastrophic events.
Dr. Gist is a public health educator trained in behavioral epidemiology, community education, and analysis/evaluation of service delivery systems. He has held teaching and research appointments at a number of colleges and universities worldwide, and has been an invited lecturer in a wide range of settings here and abroad. He has provided consultation and assistance to disaster response agencies, service organizations, and major corporations in preparing for and responding to disaster and emergency. Widely known author and speaker, he has published a wide range of refereed articles, text chapters, and edited books. He has also created a number of innovative, award winning community partnership programs to improve the health and safety of our community.
Editor-in-Chief, Fire Engineering Magazine
Bobby Halton has experience as a firefighter with the US Forest Service, The Albuquerque Fire Department, Coppell and several volunteer fire departments. Bobby currently works for Fire Engineering, Fire Apparatus and Emergency Equipment and The Journal of Emergency Medical Services magazines, FDIC and EMSTODAY. Bobby has worked for the US Department of State, he speaks and writes on the American Fire Service.
Jessica Harmon, Psy.D.
Mental Performance and Resilience Specialist, 02X
Dr. Jess Harmon, Psy.D. is an O2X Mental Performance and Resilience Specialist. She has a foundation in clinical psychology and works as an operational psychologist in the United States Army. She specializes in personnel selection, advanced behavioral consultation and resilience and mental performance training for special operation forces.
She has provided individual and organizational consultation for military personnel in both training and deployed environments. Her trainings focus on a resilience-based model of performance enhancement in high stress, fast-paced environments to prevent and mitigate the impacts of work and familial related stressors in these settings. Her work focuses on education, self-awareness, and advanced resilience training, for individuals and teams, in order to build and foster a culture well-being for continued peak performance over time in high stress environments.
Dr. Harmon has been working with the military for the past seven years. She has multiple combat deployments and has spent over 24 months in combat environments providing psychological support, including traumatic event management to individuals and teams in both Afghanistan and Iraq. She works with service members and their families to provide preventative stress management training as well as teaching individuals how to develop and maintain resiliency and growth in the after math of trauma and loss. Her interests expand to working with those in demanding environments to develop and maintain peak psychological performance over the course of their career and beyond retirement or job transition.
She was born and raised in Colorado currently lives in Tennessee where she continues to work with service members and their families.
Lt. Drew Kane
Program Director, FDNY-CSU Addiction Treatment Program
Drew Kane is a 24-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department. For 12 years, Lieutenant Kane was assigned as a firefighter to Engine Company 37 in Harlem, and on September 11, 2001, Lt. Kane responded to the World Trade Center site and continued to participate in search and rescue efforts for many months following the event. His experience as a First Responder, especially his response to 9/11, provided him with the desire and passion to assist other fire fighters, as well as family members, who struggle with SUD and other mental health issues.
In 2004, Lt. Kane was assigned to the New York City Fire Department’s Counseling Service Unit (FDNY-CSU) as a peer/substance abuse counselor, and in 2009, he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work. He holds a License in Social Work from New York State as well a Credentialed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CASAC).
Lt. Kane was soon promoted to Program Director of the FDNY-CSU Addiction Treatment Program (ATP) and currently holds this position. As Program Director, Lt. Kane oversees the daily operations of this unit and supervises a staff of licensed mental health professionals. He is responsible for managing clinical interventions for firefighters and their families, as well as group and individual counseling. He has lectured not only to the first responder populations, but to the professional community at large, covering topics such as substance abuse within the first responder populations, PTSD, trauma, crisis intervention, family issues and more. As an educational instructor for LaGuardia Community College, Lt. Kane educates individuals who are pursuing careers as Certified Alcohol Substance Abuse Counselors (CASAC). He is also a Master Instructor for the International Association of Firefighters and was instrumental in the development of the IAFF Peer Training Curriculum.
Utilizing his skills as a clinician and experienced first responder, Lt. Kane continues to respond to line of duty deaths, fatal fires, multiple casualty incidents and natural disasters within the FDNY, across the country and abroad. In 2013, Lt. Kane was honored by the Caron Foundation with the Uniformed Public Service Award.
Lt. Kane has lectured on Motivational Interview, Cultural Competency and Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and has been trained as a provider for the’’ SMART” Stress Management and Resiliency Training Program from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in conjunction with Harvard Medical School.
Nathan Kimbrel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine
My primary areas of interest include the etiology, assessment, and treatment of PTSD, depression, suicide, and non-suicidal self-injury. I primarily work with veterans, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel due to their high levels of occupational exposure to traumatic stress. I also have long-standing interests in genetics, epigenetics, GxE research, personality, smoking, comorbidity, and statistical modeling procedures, such as CFA, SEM, and mixture modeling.
Lauren Kosc, MA, LCPC
Behavioral Health Specialist, IAFF
Prior to joining the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) as a Behavioral Health Specialist, Ms. Kosc worked as licensed psychotherapist for 10 years in variety of outpatient, inpatient, and hospital based psychiatric and substance abuse treatment settings. Ms. Kosc started her career as a substance abuse clinician with John Hopkins Medicine, prior to transitioning to MedStar Health, where she worked as group psychotherapist in PHP and IOP levels of behavioral health care. Ms. Kosc has also worked as Clinical Interviewer for Center of the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD. Since joining the IAFF, Ms. Kosc is responsible for clinical oversight, ongoing consultation, and treatment outcome monitoring for the IAFF Center for Excellence in Treatment and Behavioral Health. Ms. Kosc oversees the IAFF Peer Support Training and the IAFF Resiliency Training, while providing daily behavioral health technical assistance to member affiliates. Ms. Kosc has led critical revisions to emerging behavioral health standards in NFPA 1500 and 1582. In addition to her role at the IAFF, Ms. Kosc continues to work as Crisis Intervention Therapist at Medstar Health, where she conducts diagnostic assessments and psychiatric consults.
Captain Frank Leto
Deputy Director FDNY Counseling Service Unit
Captain Frank Leto is a 35-year veteran of the FDNY and the Deputy Director of its Counseling Service Unit (CSU). His association with the CSU began over 20 years ago as a Crisis Counselor for incidents such as line of duty deaths and mass casualty events. On September 11th, 2001 he responded to the World Trade Center as an officer in charge of a rescue team. Since 9/11, Captain Leto has developed innovative outreach, counseling and education programs for firefighters and their families who have experienced potentially traumatic events. In addition to his work as Deputy Director of the CSU and its staff of ninety, he has worked closely with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) to develop behavioral health protocols and to aid departments nationwide after major incidents. Captain Leto has also traveled internationally to share his experiences with fire departments in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and to Okinawa Japan to aid Military Fire Fighters. He has assisted the London Fire Brigade after the transit bombings in 2005, and the Urban Search and Rescue Teams following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Through his work with the IAFF and NFFF, he has supported numerous departments including those on the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Charleston, SC and Aurora, Colorado after the theater shooting and more recently Boston following the Marathon Bombing. Frank was one the first graduates of the West Point – FDNY Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program and also is a Certified Employees Assistance Professional.
Critical Incident Response Risk Management Program Specialist - US Forest Service
The South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain claimed the lives of fourteen wildland firefighters in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in 1994. Kimberly Lightley is a surviving crewmember of the US Forest Service, Prineville Interagency Hotshot Crew, from the July 6th, 1994 tragedy. A future dedicated to advocacy for firefighter safety and behavioral health ensued. As an educator, Kimberly has spoken in venues across the nation and internationally, delivering mechanisms of coping and mental health well-being in preparation and mitigation of the stress associated with the firefighting occupation. She has acquired training with the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Duke University of Integrative Medicine and the Mind Fitness Training Institute. As a fire peer, she has responded to numerous critical incidents, providing on-site peer counseling.
Kimberly is employed as a Risk Management Program Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management, Washington Office.
Chief Ernest Mitchell, Jr.
Chairman of the Board, FIrst Respoonder Center for Excellence
Ernest Mitchell, Jr. was the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration. He began his tenure on December 5, 2011 and was responsible for managing the United States Fire Administration, the programs and training activities at the National Emergency Training Center.
Chief Mitchell retired as the Fire Chief and Assistant Director of Disaster Emergency Services for the City of Pasadena, California Fire Department after 33 years in the fire service. Chief Mitchell is an active member and former officer of the IAFC. During his last year in Pasadena he was also President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where he continued until the completion of his term. He served in Pasadena from 1998 until 2004. Prior to becoming Fire Chief in Pasadena, Chief Mitchell served as Fire Chief and Deputy City Manager in the City of Monrovia, California for seven years. He began his career as a fire fighter with the City of Compton, California. He served there for twenty years in various ranks until leaving to become Fire Chief in the City of Monrovia.
His most recent professional affiliations include serving as a member of the International Fire Service Training Association Executive Board, the International Association of Firefighters Hazardous Materials Advisory Board, the IAFC President’s Council, the IAFC Foundation Board, and the IAFC/IAFF Labor/Management Initiative Facilitator Team.
In previous years he has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee; on numerous committees and task forces of the IAFC; and presided over several fire service organizations, including: the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association; the League of California Cities Fire Chiefs and the Foothill Fire Chiefs. He has also been an Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighters’ Everyone Goes Home ® Program, an adjunct instructor for the National Fire Academy and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Fire Chief Magazine.
Chief Mitchell has an Associate of Science Degree in Fire Science from Long Beach City College; a Bachelor Degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco; and a Master of Public Administration Degree from California State University at Northridge.
During his career Chief Mitchell has either chaired or been a member of many working committees that contributed to the progress and development of communities as well as local, state and national fire and emergency services. He is a past recipient of the IAFC President’s Award for Service and has received several community awards for service.
He is a past recipient of numerous community and organizational honors, including: the IAFC President’s Award for Service, designation as a City of Compton Hometown Hero, and selection to the Long Beach City College Alumni Hall of Fame.
Lori Moore-Merrell, DrPH, MPH
President & CEO, International Public Safety Data Institute
Dr. Moore-Merrell is the President and CEO of the International Public Safety Data Institute. Lori began this role in 2019 after serving 26 years as a senior executive in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), responsible for frontline interaction with elected officers, executive board members, state, provincial and local chapter leaders and individual organization members throughout the U.S. and Canada. Lori is considered an expert in executive leadership, emergency response system evaluation, public safety resource deployment, community risk assessment, data collection and analysis, strategic planning, costs and benefits analysis, advocacy, consensus building, policy development and implementation and generational differences in the workplace.
Dr. Moore-Merrell serves on National and International Boards of Directors and advises elected officials, as well as chief executives at the national level and in local metropolitan jurisdictions in areas of her expertise while providing them scientific data to make fact-based decisions. She was recently awarded Honorary Membership in the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association for her expertise in areas of Fire Prevention, Fire Suppression, or other related disciplines. Lori is only the 4th individual to be presented this honor in the 54-year history of the organization.
Dr. Moore-Merrell is an international speaker, presenter and author. She has also been awarded the James O. Page Achievement award by the EMS Section of the IAFC (2001), the IAFC President’s Award for commitment to Firefighter Safety (2009), the Dr. John Granito Award for Excellence in Fire Leadership and Management Research (2010), and the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs President’s Award of Distinction (2013). Lori served nine years as a Commissioner to the Commission for Fire Service Accreditation (CFAI) and three terms as a board member for the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE). Dr. Moore-Merrell is a member of the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) Executive Board, as well as the UL Fire Council. She has completed four terms as a gubernatorial appointee to the Commonwealth of Virginia EMS Advisory Board and has served on the Public Safety Committee of the Transition Teams for both the Mayor of New York City (2013) and the Mayor of the District of Columbia (2015).
During her 26 years at the IAFF, Lori spent more than 15 years leading a research team made up of international fire service organizations and other partners including the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Underwriters Laboratory (UL), the Urban Institute, the University of Texas, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. As principal investigator and senior project manager on projects funded by FEMA/ Assistance to Firefighters Grants totaling more than $22 Million, she led the team to produce landmark reports and other tools to improve Residential and High-Rise Fireground Operations, Community Risk Assessment, Fire and EMS Resource Deployment, and ‘Big Data Analytics’… all to help drive executive decision-making. These reports and other resources have changed the face of fire and EMS deployment in countries throughout the world.
Dr. Moore-Merrell has also managed emergency response system evaluation project teams, including secure data procurement, geographic information systems (GIS) analysis, and workload analysis in hundreds of fire departments throughout North America.
Dr. Moore-Merrell, along with a small group of fire service leaders recently founded the International Public Safety Data Institute (IPSDI) with a mission to assure that every local public safety agency can show their response capability, reliability, and operational performance using their own local data. www.i-psdi.org
Assistant to the General President for Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine - IAFF
Patrick Morrison is the assistant to the general president for occupational health, safety and medicine at the International Association of Fire Fighters. Morrison’s expertise is in the design and implementation of health, safety and wellness programs to improve firefighters’ overall physical and mental health, address their medical needs and increase protections from the hazardous elements of firefighting. Prior to joining the IAFF, Morrison was a career firefighter for 21 years with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Fairfax, VA.
Chief John Oates
East Hartford (Connecticut) Fire Department
Chief John Oates was appointed in October 2008 to lead the East Hartford Fire Department. He is responsible for overall strategic leadership to ensure the department is well positioned to provide the best service to the citizens and visitors of the community. To accomplish this the Chief leads 130 members providing a broad range of fire and emergency services to the community. Prior to East Hartford, Chief Oates attained a broad base of experience while working as a Battalion Chief in West Hartford, Connecticut, as the Fire Marshal in Granby, Connecticut, and as an Adjunct Instructor for the Connecticut Fire Academy. He is currently one of two Commanders for the Capital Region Incident Management. Chief Oates has spent a considerable portion of his career focused on improving health, wellness, and safety within the fire service community. Through his work with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and First Responder Center for Excellence (FRCE), he has brought an increased focus on wellness, fitness, behavioral health, and overall safety to the department. His participation in these areas lead to the overhaul of the department’s wellness effort and the creation of a behavioral health program that includes the Peer Support Team. Chief Oates has a BS from Franklin Pierce University, a MS from Oklahoma State University, is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and holds numerous professional certifications.
Kerry Ramella, Ph.D., LPC
Public Safety Crisis Solutions
Kerry Ramella obtained her Ph.D. in Psychology from Northcentral University. Her doctorate research focused on the area of Creating Resiliency in the Fire Service. Dr. Ramella is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Arizona as well as a National Certified Counselor. Dr. Ramella has worked in and with public safety employees for over 30 years. She created her own business, Public Safety Crisis Solutions, LLC. to address the specific needs of public safety personnel and their families by offering consultation, training, EAP/BHAP Coordination, peer support development and Behavioral Heath oversight. Dr Ramella is a Behavioral Health Consultant for the International Association of Fire Fighters.
President of Cranston Firefighters, Local 1363
Vice President of the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters (RISAFF)
Scott has been a firefighter for 24 years. He is an IAFF Peer Support Instructor. Currently, he is the President of Cranston Firefighters, Local 1363, Vice President of the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters (RISAFF) and a firefighter with the Cranston Fire Department. After responding mutual aid to the Station Nightclub Fire in West Warwick, RI in 2003, he worked within his local union to develop a peer driven, union run assistance program where he was the Chairman for 15 years. There he designed an assistance program for active and retired members, as well as their families, with resources for access to substance abuse and alcohol programs, family services, financial hardship, suicide prevention and established a Crisis Response Team within the Fire Department. Scott recently took this design and established the RISAFF Members Assistance Program (MAP). This program shall be available to all Union Firefighters, active and retired, throughout RI, as well as their families. He was published in 2018 in Fire Rescue Magazine for an article on administrative betrayal in the fire service. He also has presented on topics of assistance including peer support, EAP legal issues, establishing EAP prevention programs, and others nationally as well as for Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work.
Fire Chief Eric Tade
Denver (Colorado) Fire Department
Fire Chief Eric C. Tade is a second-generation fire fighter who is currently in his 20th year of service with the Denver Fire Department. Fire Chief Tade was first appointed to position of Fire Chief by Mayor Hickenlooper in 2010 and was most recently reappointed by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2011.
Fire Chief Tade has risen through the ranks of the Denver Fire Department, serving in a variety of assignments which include the Operations Division, Dispatch, DIA/ARFF, and the Administration Division. Fire Chief Tade has previously served for ten years as the Director of Governmental Affairs for Local 858, helping to improve communications between the Union, the Department Administration, and elected officials. Fire Chief Tade also serves as a member of the National League of Cities’ Public Safety and Crime Prevention Steering Committee.
Fire Chief Tade has a degree in Fire Science and has served as an instructor at various fire leadership conferences. Fire Chief Tade is a graduate of the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Officers Leadership Program. Fire Chief Tade has become a recognized leader in regionalism and intergovernmental agreements relating to fire protection services.
Vickie Taylor, LCSW
Director - Prince William County Public Safety Resilience Center
Vickie H. Taylor, LCSW, is the Director of the Prince William County Public Safety Resilience Center, a counseling unit created and funded by Prince William County government to serve police officers, firefighters, paramedics and 9-1-1 telecommunicators. Prior to assuming this position, Ms. Taylor worked in community behavioral health for 36 years at Prince William County Community Services. In 1985, she began providing behavioral health consultation to the public safety agencies in Prince William County, VA. She also works on a contract basis with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation as a trainer, behavioral health consultant, and the coordinator of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend Family Day. She is a co-author and trainer of Stress First Aid for Firefighters and Emergency Medical Personnel and Stress.
Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., MNM
Public Safety Crisis Solutions
Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas sees issues of suicide prevention and mental health promotion from a host of perspectives. Clinical psychologist. Mental health advocate. Faculty member. Researcher. And suicide loss survivor.
She has earned an international reputation as an entrepreneur and innovator in social change. Along the way, she’s helped establish many large-scale, gap-filling mental health efforts, including Man Therapy (www.ManTherapy.org) and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
She has held leadership roles with the International Association of Suicide Prevention, the American Association of Suicidology, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, United Suicide Survivors International, and the Carson J Spencer Foundation. In 2016, she was invited to speak at the White House on men’s mental health.
She has won multiple awards for her advocacy including the 2015 Farberow Award from the International Association of Suicide Prevention, the 2014 Survivor of the Year from the American Association of Suicidology, the 2014 Invisible Disabilities Association Impact Honors Award, and the 2012 Alumni Master Scholar from the University of Denver
She received her undergraduate degree in psychology and studio art from Bowdoin College, her Masters in Nonprofit Management from Regis University and her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver.
Lisa DeMarco Tilley, LPC
Prince William County Public Safety Resilience Center
Lisa DeMarco Tilley, LPC is a Behavioral Health Specialist with the Prince William County Public Safety Resilience Center who has provided behavioral health services for the members of the Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue (DFR) for 10 years. In addition, Ms. Tilley serves as the behavioral health consultant for the DFR Peer Support Team. Ms. Tilley has more than 20 years of experience providing individual, couples, family and group therapy in community and private counseling settings. In addition to her current position, she is also an Auricular Acupuncture Detox Specialist. She has been providing adjunct holistic care for public safety personnel for more than 10 years guided by the practices of the National Acupuncture and Detoxification Association. Additionally, she has worked as a facilitator with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Memorial Weekend Family Day for more than 15 years. Ms. Tilley is certified as a national trainer for SFA through the Center for First Responder Excellence. She provides training to the PWC Department of Fire & Rescue, PWC Police Department and Public Safety Communications, as well as other fire-rescue departments around the country.
Anka Vujanovic, Ph.D.
Director of the Trauma and Stress Studies Center (TaSSC), University of Houston
Dr. Anka Vujanovic is an Associate Professor of Psychology, licensed clinical psychologist, and Director of the Trauma and Stress Studies Center (TaSSC) at the University of Houston. Dr. Vujanovic holds concurrent appointments as Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), and Research Psychologist (WOC) at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.
Dr. Vujanovic has over ten years of experience in research and treatment relevant to PTSD and high-risk behaviors, including substance use and suicidal ideation or behavior. Her research program is focused on: (1) investigation of etiological and maintenance processes related to PTSD; (2) exploration of clinically significant correlates of trauma exposure and PTSD (e.g., suicidal ideation and behavior); and (3) examination of biopsychosocial mechanisms underlying the comorbidity of PTSD and substance use disorders. The overarching aim of this program of work is to inform novel treatment development and refine evidence-based clinical practice. Across both clinical and research contexts, Dr. Vujanovic has expertise in the application of cognitive-behavioral approaches for the treatment of PTSD and related conditions. Her work has utilized various methodological approaches, including clinical trials, health services research, and experimental laboratory paradigms with a focus on various populations exposed to trauma, including community residents, psychiatric inpatients, military veterans, and first responders. Dr. Vujanovic serves on the editorial boards of several journals and has authored over 140 publications, including journal articles, books, and book chapters.
Liz Walker, BS, CAS
Marketing and Business Development, Geisinger-Marworth Treatment Center
For more than 3 decades, Elizabeth Walker has managed the business development for notable alcohol and drug treatment providers including national chains. Since her career began in 1985, she has dedicated her life to working with addicts and their families in helping to restore lives. Over the years, she has established solid relationships within the referral community and has built her career on her honesty and integrity. She is passionate about Ethics in our industry and has coordinated numerous successful educational seminars. In addition, she has served on various committee boards including Employee Assistance Professional Association, National Council on Alcoholism, and currently serves on the Board as Secretary for the Connecticut Alliance of Recovery Residences. Liz received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services from Springfield College and is a Certified Addictions Specialist. For the past 17 years, Liz has successfully managed the marketing/business development in the Northeast Region for Geisinger-Marworth, a well-known treatment provider in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As the daughter of a life-long law enforcement professional, she has always had a passion for helping the first responder communities who struggle with substance use disorders and is proud to represent an institution that has treated this population for many years. She continues to speak candidly and openly about Ethics in our industry and preserving the integrity of our profession. In 2018, Liz was the recipient of Caron Foundation’s Community Leadership Award.
Patricia Watson, Ph.D.
Senior Educational Specialist, National Center for PTSD
Dr. Patricia Watson, PhD has been a senior educational specialist for the National Center for PTSD since 1998. Prior to joining the National Center for PTSD in 1998, Dr. Watson was an active duty Navy psychologist for eight years, working with adults for four years, and children and families for four years. Her education includes a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Catholic University, and a postgraduate fellowship in pediatric psychology at Harvard Medical School.
In the course of her work at NCPTSD, Dr. Watson has:
• Collaborated with federal working groups to create publications for public and mental health interventions following terrorism, disaster, and pandemic flu. In collaboration with authors from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and National Center for PTSD, she has co-authored the Psychological First Aid (PFA) Field Guide and the Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) Manual, designed to intervene in the immediate and intermediate phases after disasters and terrorism. She participated on a recent multi-national collaboration to create InterPar, a disaster recovery intervention, as well as a methodology to trial its effectiveness.
• Co-edited three books on disaster behavioral health interventions, and numerous articles, guidance documents, courses, and chapters on disaster mental health, combat and operational stress, military culture, early intervention, and resilience.
• Collaborated with authors from the Department of Defense and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, to co-author of the Combat Operational Stress First Aid (COSFA) peer support intervention, and Stress First Aid for Firefighters and Emergency Services Personnel and Curbside Manner (a public facing version of Stress First Aid), as well as creating versions of Stress First Aid for law enforcement professionals, forest firefighters, nurses, and rail workers.
• Served as project manager and co-author of toolkits and courses related to burnout and secondary traumatic stress, provider resilience, disaster mental health, police, chaplains, assessment of PTSD, military culture, anger management, and sleep management courses.
Dr. Watson serves as Vice President and Secretary of Mobility Without Barriers Foundation (MBWF). She is co-chair of the Early Intervention special interest group of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. She served as assistant director of terrorism and disaster programs for the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress from 2007 to 2010, and as an assistant professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School from 1999 to 2010.