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ACEs Science Champions

Denise Presnell scores high on developing community resilience to ACEs

Denise Presnell had been a social worker for public schools in North Carolina for many years before she found out about ACEs. She first learned about adverse childhood experiences during an internship while earning her master’s degree in social work. The experience, she says, was like “those moments of clarity in therapy when the earth moves and the light bulbs turn on.” At first, “I really didn’t want to know my ACE score,” she said. But once she did assess her score – a 9 -- at the request...

ACEs science transformed David Magallon’s life, now he’s a parent educator

Learning about ACEs science changed David Magallon’s life in a profound way — and now he’s made it part of his mission to share that knowledge with other parents who really need it. Since 2017, Magallon has served as a court referral programs manager at the Child Parent Institute (CPI) in Santa Rosa, California. The non-profit agency offers child therapy, parent education, and other resources for families throughout Sonoma County. Magallon works with families in a probation program mandated...

ACEs Champion: Rafael A. Maravilla merges his past with his love for science

Rafael Maravilla has what seems the ideal academic background for his job as ACEsConnection network manager and community facilitator for central California. Not only does he have a B.S. in neurobiology from University of California, Berkeley, but he also has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Merced, thus combining an understanding of human biology with insights into human behavior. He also has an ACE score of 9. The eldest child of a Mexican farmworker who was an alcoholic and not...

Vanessa Lohf integrates ACEs science throughout Kansas communities, organizations and systems

A Kansas-licensed social worker, Vanessa Lohf was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, where she still lives and works in public health by facilitating the Trauma-Informed Systems of Care Initiatives (TISC) team at the Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute. She also manages the Kansas ACEsConnection network , where she regularly posts about news and resources for communities and organizations throughout the state. Lohf says that Wichita is known as the “Aircraft Capital of...

Ann Penn-Charles casts a wide net to reduce generational trauma in Washington State coastal tribes

You could say that Ann Penn-Charles, a native of La Push, Washington, was a natural resilience builder even before there was an ACE Study. La Push is a Native American reservation on the western edge of Olympic National Park, where the Quileute Nation ancestors of “Miss Ann”, as she is known, have lived for generations. Although she faced hardships growing up on the reservation, including having her first child when she was a junior in high school, she was able to graduate with the support...

ACEs Champion Dana Kwitnicki — An ACEs Tale of Two Counties

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, Dana Kwitnicki, a physician assistant, says she always wanted to be in health care. Her dad is a dentist, her mother a teacher, and she grew up with several other family members also in medicine. Kwitnicki learned about becoming a PA while attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA, where she earned a degree in health sciences. After undergraduate school, she earned a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies at Philadelphia University through a vigorous...

Linda Grabbe: Helping her communities develop resilience through the Community Resilience Model

Grabbe searched for models that would help her homeless and addicted patients. “There are good body-based models for psychotherapy, which may be the most effective approach for trauma,” she says, “but hardly any of my patients were receiving any kind of therapy. There are thousands of people in our communities who have high ACE scores who will never get the years of psychotherapy they deserve. CRM is a self-mental wellness care tool and is exquisitely trauma-sensitive—so it can help enormously.”

ACEs Champion Danette Glass says COVID-19 increases the need for trauma-informed communities

Glass’s mission has always been to protect and foster the practice of nurturing children. That’s because she herself experienced at least five types of adverse childhood experiences, as measured in the original CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study). If the scale could account for childhood adversity such as structural racism and community violence that’s more likely to occur in communities of color, her burden of ACEs is higher.

ACEs Champion Julie Kurtz Gives Every Child (and Adult) a Voice

Julie Kurtz hasn’t stopped creating ways to build and promote resilience in herself and others who have experienced trauma since she left her family home for college at age 18. Although she experienced four types of adversity during her childhood, the CEO of the Center for Optimal Brain Integration has traveled a complex journey to mitigate those adversities by recognizing her own internal resilience, building skills to buffer her toxic and traumatic stress, uncovering her voice through...

Heyman Oo integrates ACEs science as foundation of pediatric care

Dr. Heyman Oo, a 34-year-old primary care pediatrician, first learned about the science of adverse childhood experiences in medical school at a grand rounds held around 2012 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, which she attended from 2009 to 2014. The presenter was none other than Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician who went on to become California’s first Surgeon General. The founder and former director of the Center for Youth Wellness drew millions of views for her TED talk on...

ACEs Science Champion Series: Dr. Angela Bymaster: This Faith-Based Physician Integrates ACEs Science with Healing Arts

Dr. Angela Bymaster, a family physician at Washington Elementary School in San Jose, CA, operates her clinic in a portable unit on the school property. Because the unit faces students as they are dropped off by their families, she gets to “pick up the kids” before they are sent to the clinic, practicing “upstream medicine.”

ACEs Science Champions Series: Because of Andres Perez, 10,000+ Latinx parents in Northern California embrace trauma-informed parenting

Andres Perez immigrated to San Jose, Calif., from Mexico in 1990. He was 24 years old, undocumented, knew little English, lacked job skills, and had a pregnant wife to support. He hit the ground running by completing an ESL program in San Jose City College, and, while working days at any job he could find, at night he earned an associate of science degree with specialization in electronics and computers in 2002. Fortunately for thousands of Latinx parents and their children, he never worked...

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