Speaker Announcements for Trauma-Informed Awareness Day - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Speaker Announcements for Trauma-Informed Awareness Day

May 19, 2023

Please join the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative on May 25, 2023 day of virtual events focused on community-driven solutions for building a healing-centered future in Illinois. Learn more and register here.

We are pleased to announce that Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton will provide a keynote address at this year’s Trauma-Informed Awareness Day opening session. Lieutenant Governor Stratton will share why and how she is making trauma-informed and healing-centered policy and systems change in Illinois a priority. 

Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton is excited to serve Illinois as the state’s 48th Lieutenant Governor. In this role, her portfolio includes leading the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative, and chairing the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, the Military Economic Development Council and the Illinois River Coordinating Council. Lieutenant Governor Stratton currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Lieutenant Governors Association as the Treasurer. Previously, she represented the 5th District in the Illinois House of Representatives and her first elected office was serving as Chair of the Kenwood Academy Local School Council.

Lieutenant Governor Stratton’s entire career has focused on bringing people together, building consensus, and solving problems. She started her own consulting firm focused on alternative dispute resolution and served as a mediator, arbitrator and administrative law judge for several government agencies. Lieutenant Governor Stratton previously served as Director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Executive Director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council, and as a Deputy Hearing Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection, all with a focus on improving public safety and building stronger communities.

As a lifelong advocate for youth and creating safe spaces for our young people, Lieutenant Governor Stratton is a restorative justice practitioner and trained peace circle keeper. She was also a founding board member of the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center and served on the Board of Directors of the Juvenile Protective Association.

Lieutenant Governor Stratton was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. She is the proud graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and DePaul University’s College of Law. She and her husband Bryan live in the Bronzeville community and have four daughters. And when she can find a bit of free time, she enjoys going to concerts, a good documentary, and training for marathons and triathlons.

In the afternoon, the Collaborative will host interactive breakout sessions in the areas of health, education and youth, the criminal-legal system, and community. Attendees will have the opportunity to share their vision and ideas for solutions to address trauma and build a healing-centered future for Illinois.   Sessions will be facilitated by Bridget Gavaghan, Director of the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group; Gita Krishnaswamy, Deputy Director, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group; Dr. Elena Quintana, Executive Director of the Institute on Public Safety & Social Justice at Adler University; and Marlita White, Director of the Office of Violence Prevention and Behavioral Health at the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Bridget Gavaghan leads the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative, a cross-sector movement to prevent trauma and promote thriving across the lifespan while placing childhood adversity at the forefront of the equity agenda in Illinois. Prior to joining Health & Medicine, Bridget led a national initiative to build stronger support for human services through evidence-based communications strategies. Previously, Bridget was director of Prevent Child Abuse America’s public policy program and a member of the public policy team at United Way of America. Bridget graduated from the College of William and Mary, where she studied history and classical singing. Bridget lives in Chicago with her husband and two cats. She still enjoys singing, and always tries to make time for runs on the lakeshore path, annual hiking trips to national parks, and long walk-and-talks with her friends.

Gita Krishnaswamy joined Health & Medicine as Deputy Director in 2022. In this role, she is responsible for the oversight of day-to-day operations, working with program directors and staff to ensure alignment with our mission, vision, and values.  Gita began her professional career as a K-12 classroom teacher and has worked with students from ages 5 to 65 in a variety of settings. During her MPH studies, Gita created the College-Going Culture Index, a compact instrument to measure and evaluate quantifiable academic, social, and psychological factors that influence high school students’ pathways to post-secondary education. As a public health professional, she continued to work with school districts and nonprofit organizations interested in policy development to support health equity and lifelong health for students. She has given invited presentations on education as a determinant of health and consulted with educational leaders on health policy, classroom culture, and anti-racist pedagogy. She is also a trained problem-based learning designer and facilitator, valuing student-centered pedagogy as one way to foster self-efficacy in youth and young adults. Just before joining Health & Medicine, Gita was the Acting Director of the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice program at the University of Washington in Seattle where she also taught courses on the social determinants of health, community health assessment, and participatory evaluation. She is passionate about building equitable community partnerships and views a strong anti-racist organizational culture as essential to this work. Originally from Illinois, Gita earned a B.A. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Northwestern University, a M.Ed. from DePaul University, and MPH from the University of Washington. Outside of work, you can find Gita in the kitchen, yoga studio, forest preserve, or vying for the attention of aloof cats everywhere.

Elena Quintana is the Executive Director of the Institute on Public Safety & Social Justice at Adler University. She has dedicated her career to community violence prevention initiatives, meaningful justice reform, building trauma-responsive systems, and contributing to racial equity efforts.  Dr. Quintana has served as an appointee to numerous violence prevention advisory boards for the City of Chicago, the Illinois Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission, and as a Preckwinkle appointee to provide oversight to the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.  Dr. Quintana works to address trauma in Illinois Department of Correction for correctional staff and for prisoners.  She dedicates herself to expanding restorative justice alternatives to detention, and to building community capacity to address trauma and stop criminalization of communities of color.

Marlita White is the director for the Office of Violence at the Chicago Department of Public Health where she oversees violence prevention and response initiatives. She participates on multiple “trauma-informed transformation” related initiatives reaching across Chicago and the broader state. Her public health experience includes designing and funding prevention and response programs, directing multi-year/multi-site federal demonstration projects, collaborating on program evaluation and community engagement efforts, and participating in strategic and quality improvement planning. She provides community and professional education on topics including adult and childhood exposure to violence and trauma, teen dating violence prevention, and violence prevention-focused community engagement. Marlita is a trained crisis responder with experience in conflict mediation, psycho-spiritual bereavement counseling, and peace circle facilitation. She is a child and family therapist and has served children/adolescents, couples, and families to reduce the persistent crises and household stressors that fracture family life. Marlita welcomes blending her clinical, public health and urban planning/community development training to deconstruct the structural barriers that burden vulnerable communities and frequently marginalized populations.