Resilience Summit and Symposium brings together innovators with real world experience
In September, the National Resilience Institute hosted its 5th Annual Resilience Summit and its first International Resilience Symposium in Chicago. Watch Dr. Mollie Marti’s Summit Opening Comments. Below are some gratitudes and insights.
Thank you to Dr. Niranjan Karnik and Rush University Medical College for being wonderful hosts. As Dr. Karnik reflected in response to one session, “A resilient community is a learning community.” With the assistance of Rush, we created a space that was welcoming, safe and conducive to showing up authentically, with minds and hearts open to learning, teaching, and exploring. Thank you also to Wounded Warrior Project, our event sponsor for a third year in a row.
John Cimino, a veteran opera singer and our master emcee from Creative Leaps, International, not only kept us on task and on time, but also treated us to reflective insights, humor and song along the way. John’s presence was a reminder: Have arts in your life as a means to resilience, happiness, and wellbeing — and support the unique expression of others.
Cindy Bergeman, PhD, Professor of Psychology & Associate Vice President for Research, University of Notre Dame, shared at the Symposium that resilience is a norm and explored how we can communicate and promote this norm, supported by interventions and skills building. She also delivered a compelling session on Self-Care at the Summit, with plenty of humor…
Lisa Cherry, an international trauma and resilience trainer, said, “being ‘trauma-informed’ is about human connection, compassion, kindness, curiosity….a values based approach to how we work with other human beings.” She highlighted how education can serve as an optimal catalyst to healing trauma and growing resilience. Lisa can pack a lot of wisdom into small spaces, as she did in this recent tweet in response to a push for “mental health checks” for all UK students:
“Routine mental health checks for every schoolchild misses the point. It’s not a ‘check’, it’s a culture, a society, a community. It is the opposite of all that sits behind the ideology of ‘austerity.’ It is the opposite of current ed policy. It is time, connection, relationships.” — Lisa Cherry
Brenda Eheart, PhD, Founder of Hope Meadows and Generations of Hope, shared the backstory of how her mission to support children in the foster care system led to an intergenerational neighborhood where youth and seniors use their strengths to serve each other’s needs. We met attendees who direct other projects who have replicated this Intentional Neighboring model to address the needs of Veterans, adults with developmental disabilities, and seniors. Talk about creating ripples…
Dylan Tete, Founder of the Bastion Community of Resilience, shared how he is using the Intentional Neighboring model to support Veterans in New Orleans. He talked about the power of answering core questions of identity (Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I belong?)…in community. He also talked about leading the community centered on the belief that, “Good leadership gives the leadership back to the people.”
Jonathan Goldner, PhD, Director of Psychology Training at the Road Home Program, brought to life the statistics behind the issues faced by Active Duty Military, Reserves and Veterans. In exploring effective interventions, he focused on helping people in transition or in times of great challenge deepen their identity and purpose, given and forged.
Wrenetha Julion, PhD, Chair of the Department of Women, Children and Family Nursing at Rush University, spoke about designing inclusive and diverse communities. She shared her Building Bridges to Fatherhood programming that supports vulnerable fathers and families as a path toward improving well-being and relationships. She also explored the broader goal of healing intergenerational trauma.
Brian Klassen, PhD, Clinical Psychologist at the Road Home Program, opened the curtain on the program’s intensive trauma-focused programming for Veterans, as well as exploring issues of aftercare and family support. He demonstrated the power of being able to hold space for people who have experienced trauma to safely feel and express their innermost thoughts and emotions.
John Lyons, PhD, Senior Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall, University of Chicago, shared his collaborative, person-centered approach to strengthening others. He talked about nurturing dynamic, resilience-building relationships, reminding us: “The least powerful relationships are paid relationships.” The most powerful and sustainable relationships are those that come from natural networks – and these can be intentionally shaped and cultivated.
Chuck Peters, JD, Board Chair of Folience, shared his process of sensing and responding, again and again, within the essential framework that “every child matters and can be successful, and every child has an authentic voice.” With this student-centered approach, the focus is no longer about modifying behavior. When you engage young people and they feel that they belong and matter, negative behaviors go away.
John Richardson-Lauve, LCSW, Director of Mental Health at the nonprofit Child Savers, joined Lisa Cherry for a discussion on trauma-informed resilience building in youth. He highlighted good work being done across the country, such as a school that starts each morning with a 5 minute meditation over the intercom and incorporates mindfulness and meditation throughout the day. The school refers discipline issues to a mindfulness coach in a specially designed calm room to help students re-regulate their emotions before discussing the behavioral issues.
David Richmond, CBE, an experienced military and service leader with a leadership position in the Heads Together campaign in the UK, talked about “going back to the future”, meaning pay attention to the basics and simplicity. He discussed normalizing mental wellness and cautioned us not to therapize everything (e.g., art therapy, play therapy, music therapy), supporting those who need therapy but not lumping in basic human enrichment activities that we all regularly need to thrive. David took us to the heart of connecting with and strengthening others.
“It is very hard to believe in yourself unless someone else believes in you.” — David Richmond
David Schonfeld, MD, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, shared perspectives from his deep experience in helping schools and communities respond to major crises and disruptions. He reminded us: Trauma and loss can change us, but do not necessarily damage us. He showed us powerful examples of the importance of being guided by those experiencing loss…it is like a dance…they lead, we follow. NRI is a proud member of the national Coalition to Support Grieving Students and the resources offered via GrievingStudents.org.
Paula Stephens, MA, a Gold Star Mom and Founder of Crazy Good Grief, talked about the power of curiosity (having a “not knowing mindset”) and empathy (bearing witness to the experience of others). As she walked us through a mind, body, heart check-in, she wisely observed, “Sometimes we check in and realize we’ve checked out.” In sharing self-care rituals, she emphasized consistency over intensity. “We wait to feel bad, to feel good. Don’t do this.” Be consistent, persistent, and regular as you set aside daily time for self-care rituals that rejuvenate and refuel you.
Richard Webster, Reporter at the Times-Picaynne, New Orleans and co-author of “The Children of Central City” Series, showed the Central City documentary that resulted from the series. He talked about recognizing that behavioral disruptions often are related to untreated trauma and how to address these behaviors by getting to the core issues. As one professor he interviewed summarized, “Trauma is the underbelly of violence.”
Thank you to Katie Foy and Alaina Marti, Justice and Peace students from the University of St. Thomas, who spoke at the Symposium and inspired us with work being done by young people toward a better future. Thanks also to Emma Healy, NRI’s Research Fellow from Loyola University Chicago, for documenting the Symposium conversations.
We had an exciting addition to this year’s Summit with videography and live streaming by John Beyer and his colleague Chris Carey. We appreciate that they not only were pros at all times, but also were a strong positive presence at the events. Their work not only helped us expand this year’s educational reach, but it also means… that you will have access to Summit educational presentations as we load them into the NRI Store!
Finally, thank you to our Board members who attended, including our Board Chair, April Smith, who presented a wonderful introduction to our work at the National Resilience Institute.