New Alaska statute directs state policy to incorporate principles of brain development

ACEs Connection/Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) Webinar

Friday, Jan. 11, 2019

Webinar starts at 8:00am AK/ 9:00am PT/ 12:00pm Eastern for 60 minutes

New Alaska statute directs state policy to incorporate principles of brain development

In spring of 2018, Alaska’s legislature passed a statute that says the state should “acknowledge and take into account” the principles of brain development and the concepts of early adversity, toxic stress, childhood trauma, and promotion of resilience in developing public policy. The passage of this statewide Trauma-Informed language is the result of years of education by and collaboration among those in the ACEs field in Alaska, the perseverance and creativity of its sponsor, Representative Geran Tarr of East Anchorage, and an organized grassroots and grass tops advocacy effort by the Alaska Resilience Initiative’s policy workgroup.

This webinar described:

  • The history of the work that set the stage for this legislation
  • Details of the successful strategy that included flexible responsiveness as well as relationship and coalition building
  • Strategies to build upon this legislation in a new political season with a brand new administration and new House and Senate compositions.

Our Speakers included:

Laura Norton-Cruz, LMSW, began in 2016 as the Director for the Alaska Resilience Initiative, coordinating a statewide, cross-sector movement of people and organizations working to end child maltreatment, intergenerational and systemic trauma through networking, creating tools such as curriculum and training cohorts, and engaging in policy advocacy. Laura spent the previous 5+ years at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium working on the issues of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), domestic and sexual violence, maternal child health, and health equity, with a focus on healthcare sector application. She has also worked as a researcher, victim advocate, prenatal tobacco cessation counselor, visual artist, and an educator.

Representative Geran Tarr was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 2012 to represent East Anchorage in the state house. As a legislator, Geran has continued a career of work in the non-profit sector as an advocate for Alaska’s children. She also serves on the Anchorage Women’s Commission. In 2018, she was selected as one of four winners of the National Conference of State Legislatures annual Women in Politics Making a Difference Award.
She was the lead sponsor of legislation to direct the state to incorporate principles of brain development into state policy. She sponsored Erin’s Law to require each student in Alaska receives personal body safety information and supported measures to implement restorative justice policies for schools and to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
She was born in Akron, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University in Botany, Environmental Studies and Women’s Studies. Tarr received a MA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in Public Administration with a policy analysis focus.

Our Moderators:

Andrea Blanch, PhD, is an independent consultant with expertise in mental health, trauma-informed approaches and systems change. Her clients include the federal government, state health and human service departments, local municipalities, and a variety of local and statewide agencies and coalitions. She has done significant work for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including writing a number of seminal policy documents. She also staffed the federal Interagency Workgroup on Women and Trauma for eight years. She is currently Acting Director of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP), a national organization promoting trauma-informed public policy.

Elizabeth Prewitt has served as the Policy Analyst for the ACEs Connection since 2013. ACEs Connection uses journalism and social media to increase knowledge about and demand for programs and policies aimed at preventing adverse childhood experiences and building resilience in individuals, systems, families, and communities. Over 26,000 people have joined ACEs Connection to share information, ideas, and strategies to reduce ACEs. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment support the Network.

Previously, she served as Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) from 2006 to 2011 where she worked on health care reform and mental health parity. Before NASMHPD, she was Director of Governmental Affairs for the American College of Physicians.

She served on the legislative staff of several members of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Ms. Prewitt holds a master's degree in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University.

Webinar Recording:

Webinar Slides:



Alaska Resilience Initiative, a network of nonprofit, tribal and state government organizations, schools, faith groups, businesses, community coalitions, and individuals (See Resources section)

ARI Policy Victory: SB 105

Trauma-Informed Brief “Towards a Trauma-Informed, Resilient, and Culturally-Responsive Alaska”

Alaska community on ACEs Alaska Resilience Initiative, Mobilizing Alaska to end child maltreatment, intergenerational and systemic trauma through healing and strategic advocacy articles

“Putting Alaska Native hopes, voices at center of state’s ACEs movement,” May 28, 2017

“Business leaders in the ACEs science and resilience movement: A different kind of bottom line.” Dec. 1, 2016

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) legislative data base on ACEs

NCSL Brief "Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences,” August, 2018

Policy and Advocacy Guides

CTIPP Advocacy Guide, Dec. 2017

Building Community Resilience “Policy and Advocacy Guide,” March 2018

ACEs Connection

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

Resilience USA, Resources, posts, discussions, chats about national efforts to build a trauma-informed, resilience-building nation.

Alaska Resilience Initiative, Mobilizing Alaska to end child maltreatment, intergenerational and systemic trauma through healing and strategic advocacy