State ACEs Action

The State ACEs Action is the go-to location for ACEs activities in U.S. states.

2018 Building Strong Brains Tennessee ACEs Summit


The 2018 Building Strong Brains Tennessee ACEs Summit took place last week in Nashville, TN.  The theme of this year’s summit was “Celebrating Successes and Imagining Possibilities” and there is plenty to celebrate.  Tennessee is one of the most innovative states when it comes to ACEs awareness.  Tennessee understands that childhood trauma is the root cause of its poor health outcomes, high rates of addiction and other ailments. And Tennessee is doing something about it.

Tennessee’s leadership makes all the difference.  Governor Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam have been able to garner tremendous support.  Tennessee has managed to create a multi-sector approach to supporting families that includes the healthcare industry, criminal and juvenile justice, over one hundred non-profit organizations, and eight state agencies.  First Lady Haslam, in particular, has been instrumental in the Tennessee ACEs movement.  See her report here.  Obviously, there is much to celebrate in Tennessee. 

The summit’s inspiration came from the keynote speakers.  When it comes to imagining the possibilities, Tennessee brought the heavy hitters.  Al Race, Chief Knowledge Officer and Deputy Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, discussed resilience science while Donald Schwarz, Senior Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, spoke about the power of cross-sector collaboration.  Schwarz also gave an awesome shout out to many initiatives in the Midwest Region.  He spoke highly of the collective efforts of Hennepin County, MN and the MARC communities in Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin.  Find out more about MARC communities here.

In my opinion, the change agent of the day was keynote speaker Nat Kendall-Taylor.  Kendall-Taylor, the CEO of the Frameworks Institute, discussed the importance of telling better stories.  Crafting a message that not only resonates but leads to action and behavior change is paramount to the ACEs movement.  And as Kendall-Taylor points out, you can be a brilliant scientist but if you can’t craft a message that everyone understands and if you can’t move the masses, then that brilliance will live only in research journals.  Kendall-Taylor’s background is in anthropology and he insists that all messaging when it comes to the ACEs movement must take culture into account and combat fatalism (the problem is too big), individualism (the problem lies in the individual, not the community) and tribalism (those people are the problem).  Find out more about Frameworks here.

The ACEs movement in Tennessee is strong.  If the state can maintain its current level of collaboration and bring in more partners in the realms of private business, real estate, and banking, then Tennessee will be unstoppable.  I’m excited to see what’s next for the Volunteer State.     

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