Master Trainer Program

Catherine Gutfreund posted:

We utilized ACEs interface organization taught by Dr Robert Anda and others 

35 of us were trained in Santa Rosa Ca - 

it was fabulous   

look at:

Hi, Catherine. I have a question for you. With the 35 people you trained with, were they all from your agency or agencies in your community? Did Dr. Anda come to your area? I am looking into becoming a trainer and this sounds perfect but I'm not sure if this is an option for one individual verses a larger group. Does that make sense?  ~Dawn

Dr Anda did come with 2 other trainers.  The 35 people comprised of many different  practitioners and agencies throughout Sonoma County.    It was a very diverse group ranging from physicians, nurses,  social workers,  therapists, agency leads etc.    Sonoma county public health department put out a notice  about the training and we all had to apply for the program. --hundreds of people applied and only 35 were able to be chosen.   I do not believe this would be a program for just one or a couple people to take. - that would probably be cost prohibitive.  

 Please let me know if you have any other questions   

Kathy Hentcy posted:


In Vermont, we are about to have the Master Train the Trainer program. I would greatly appreciate talking with you about how you are implementing the Self-Healing Communities Model. Could we connect by phone?

Kathy Hentcy


I'd be happy to chat with you, Kathy. Perhaps one day next week? Send me an email with a few alternative days/times and we'll make it happen!


I'm from Sonoma County and was part of a second cohort of persons trained to talk about ACEs. Our group did not directly attend Dr. Anda's ACEs Interface training, but received his slides and materials and some instruction from the persons who did attend his training. After having seen his presentation and the materials, I think you should think carefully about whether the ACEs Interface training is what you want/need.

On the positive side, he has prepared a large assortment of professionally produced slides, with well researched and vetted text to accompany them. If you're starting from scratch, it is certainly helpful to start with a proven program. He is an authoritative figure in the field of ACEs, which adds credibility to the presentation.

However, while the talk works well for him, I feel there are several reasons why it may not work as well for others. First, it is the kind of presentation I expect to see (and have personally delivered) at conferences, hospital grand rounds, and to professional health or human service groups. it has the good and bad points of such presentations: dry, professional, impersonal, logical, comprehensive.

However, these are not necessarily the characteristics that make presentations memorable to a general audience. Personal stories and emotional connection matter. If you could simply add your own material, it would be fine, but if you want to deliver an ACEs Interface presentation, it must be his material. You can rearrange the slides, but not add new content. I think his presentation succeeds in spite of the material, not necessarily because of it.  Compare the Interface materials with the TED Talk of Nadine Burke-Harris and you'll see the difference.

Second, it is fine for an outside expert to fly in and deliver this material, but a local person speaking to local people needs to be knowledgeable about local issues. How does your city or locale compare to the national averages? What are some good local trauma-informed service providers? Where do we stand on local legislation? What can we do locally? If you aren't prepared to answer the obvious questions, it's not a very good presentation. All this needs to be added in at the local level.

Third and most importantly, I believe we need to talk about both ACEs and resilience. There is science behind resilience, but the ACEs Interface materials are very limited in this area. People need a sense that there is hope, and it needs to be more than two slides in your presentation.

I could go on about the need for each presenter to develop good presentation skills, but that's enough for now. Attending the Interface training is a very tempting option for an individual, but it may not be the real solution. 



I am happy to see the discussion about the ACE Interface Master Trainer Program.  With Dr. Rob Anda, I am a founder of ACE Interface, and would like to clarify a couple of things about our Master Trainer Program. 

Rob Anda and I always deliver the training together with a third person.  We train groups of 25 people (sometimes a few more per group) who are hosted by an organization that agrees to support the trainers and maintain fidelity to the science and presentation quality.  Individuals can become trained if they are selected by a host entity to become a Master Trainer. 

The materials are designed to be flexible - not only can the order of slides and information be shaped by the presenter, but we also encourage people to put the presentation into their own voice, add stories that provide illustration and emotion, and deliver the talk everywhere from living rooms to board rooms.

We offer a set of principles and values as guideposts for what can be added or changed.  When the trainer and host organization believe that a proposed addition to the presentation may push the limits set through the principles and values, the host organization contacts me so that Rob and I can discuss and approve.  Only once were we unable to approve a request of this sort. 

We have trainers and speakers in over a dozen states, and a growing number of counties and regions within states are now training people.  It is exciting to see common language develop, speakers become proficient not only in delivering information, but also in facilitating important dialogue.  We have consistently heard from trainers that audiences leave with hope and excitement for resilience promotion and ACE prevention. 

Congratulations to all of you who are doing this work - you are amazing!  I hope you are not having trouble reaching us through our website.  If so, I apologize.  We'll redouble our efforts to keep up with communication that comes to us through ACE

Laura, thank you for posting.  I am really having a difficult time communicating with you through ACE    I am really interested  in bringing this training to Northwest Indiana (very near Chicago).  Gary, Indiana where I live and practice is an urban area, with lots of poverty and crime and families who are living lives often filled with trauma.  I will be anxious to hear from you.  I will try to contact you through ACE again.

As a Certified Master Trainer myself, and my organization ( having been an ACE Interface client for almost 3 years now, I can attest to the value of their presentation materials. Through ChildWise, we have 18 Master Trainers and 70 ACE Presenters all across our state,  and we have trained about 9,000 people from all walks of life over 2 1/2 years. Included in our list of Master Trainers are 3 Trainers that are embedded in the Department of Health & Human Services. This was a very intentional strategy and partnership to create positive change throughout the state. They are well on their way to training all 3,000+ employees in ACEs and resilience. While I understand Mr. Nishikawa's points that he raises above, I don't necessarily agree with him. As Laura Porter has stated, we do have flexibility in adding and rearranging slides. And of course, personal stories are invaluable to any presentation of any kind, as Mr. Nishikawa pointed out. All of our Trainers make it personal and share stories. I have personally trained thousands of people in all parts of our state (Montana), which has very different cultures in every area. So, to Mr. Nishikawa's point - it's as if I am "flying in" because I am not a "local." However, I have never experienced any push-back because of this. We always make our presentations "local" by engaging the audience in exercises that make it personal to them and their community. This is where we also incorporate training and engagement with the audience on resilience and becoming trauma-informed... starting with "what does that mean?" There are many definitions of "trauma-informed," so we address that up front in the early part of our presentations. In fact, we take the audience through an exercise up front where they choose the definitions (in a multiple choice format) of trauma, resilience, adverse childhood experiences, and trauma-informed -- this gets everyone on the same page. I once was training 25 mental health specialists and asked for the definition of "trauma." I got 5 different definitions! That's why we started this exercise.

Lastly, Mr. Nishikawa expresses his opinion that the ACE Interface training is a tempting option, but not be the real solution. Is there a "real solution" Mr. Nishikawa? In my opinion, there is no"solution," only a variety of strategies, approaches, ideas, and actions. As an aside, we often hear that people want or need "evidenced-based" solutions. In fact, it is sometimes a required part of a presenters contract. Yes, there are some evidence-based practices out there that address trauma. But I tell my audience that we are at a very interesting and exciting point in time as it relates to ACEs, trauma, and resilience. I remind them that "evidenced-based" practices were NOT evidenced-based when they started! We need to be bold, visionary, and creative in how we respond to this science of ACEs and toxic stress. This always seems to free up the minds of our audience, and you can visibly see the energy and excitement level increase right before your eyes. Some of what they come up with will eventually be the new evidenced-based practices!

We have trained numerous schools and school districts throughout the state using the ACE Interface materials, and we get requests from more and more schools every week. In May this year, we presented Jim Sporleder's very first The Trauma-Informed School workshop. We had 64 schools send Leadership Teams and have begun the journey of becoming a trauma-informed school/system. We are already planning additional workshops over the next 12 month. 

We have found the ACE Interface materials and program to be the single most helpful tool to advance awareness, accelerate knowledge, and advocate for positive change in our state. Using this program has opened SO MANY doors and SO MANY minds for us, allowing the conversation and work to accelerate at a speed we would not have accomplished otherwise. 

I'd like to thank Mr. Garrison for his comments. As he says, I understand his position, but do not necessarily agree with all his points.

First, let me agree that Laura Porter adds a lot of value to the ACEs Interface training.  The portions of the training that I suspect she developed were the parts that most humanized the curriculum for me. 

Second, if the Interface approach works for you, great! It obviously has worked for you and many others. And for those who are newcomers to public speaking and/or ACEs, I imagine it's probably really comforting to start with a prepared script, professional slides and the backing of a larger group. 

What I feel is the most valuable part about this discussion is that all of us who are trying to spread the word about ACEs need to find the method, presentation, and personal voice that works for them. For me, concerns about those matters surfaced early in the process. For others, it might take a few months, a year or perhaps may never be a concern.

After decades of working in the health and human service field, I always seem to find myself asking, "Okay, maybe that works for 90% of the folks, but what about the others? What do they need?" In this case, I'm the one offering an alternate perspective.

Sounds like you're doing really great work in your state, Todd. Best of luck to you and all your presenters.


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Karen Clemmer (ACEs Connection Staff)