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Welcome to Essential Conversations, a podcast for behavioral health providers in Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, and NE). Join us as we explore topics related to behavioral health and addiction, including stigma, trauma informed care, equity and diversity, leadership, and more.  

This project is produced by the Mid-America Addiction Technology Transfer Center HHS Region 7 (MATTC) and is funded by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The content on this podcast does not necessarily reflect the views of SAMHSA.

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Season 6 Episodes 

  • CRTIC: Fight the Shame and Share the Love- In this episode, we connected with two women uniquely supporting health and well-being in their communities. Raquel Garcia is University Health’s Community Health Education Nurse working in Kansas City, Missouri, and Stacy Jones is a Body Image Coach and Weight Stigma Educator working in California. Both grounded firmly in the principles of trauma informed caring and passionately advocating for equity in healthcare, our guests shared key strategies for combatting stigma and shame, ensuring information and support reaches people most effectively, and utilizing practices of self-awareness in order to embrace your uniqueness and protect your well-being. Get inspired by the wisdom, expertise, and compassion of Raquel and Stacy in this deeply personal and thought-provoking conversation!
  • CRTIC: Be Intentional and Own Your Impact-  Russell Anderson and Jake Pitts lead the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts at University Health in Kansas City, MO. In this deeply self-reflective conversation, they talked with us about their experiences in weaving in the practices of trauma informed caring with educating others on counteracting bias, having difficult conversations, and improving equity and access. Listen in for powerful tips on understanding and managing yourself, engaging authentically with yourself and others, and navigating the intricacies of intent and impact in what we say and do.
  • CRTIC: Humility and Communication- In this episode, our guests Dr. Alli Morton and Dr. Hanna Grandgenett, both from the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute share a variety of insights they have gained, and are still gaining, as they work to integrate Trauma Informed Caring in flexible, individualized ways that honor the inherent dignity, strengths, and life experiences of those they serve. Filled with practical, applicable tips to enhance communication and center humility, this conversation will both challenge and inspire you.
  • CRTIC: The Wisdom of Lived Experience- In this episode, we speak with two women who both have used their own experiences to forge new paths and address inequities for people in their respective communities. Dr. Anitra Warrior, Ph.D., LP, is an American Indian Psychologist from the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, who has dedicated her career to underserved populations throughout the state of Nebraska. Doty Shepard is the Executive Director of Resilient Colorado | Cultivate Resilience, originally founded to serve the southwest Colorado region where she makes her home, and which has now achieved international reach. They shared their wisdom in recognizing and counteracting our biases, gave us insights into trauma-informed communication, and revealed how they are responding to moral injury, each leaving us at the end with one word to consider for our individual practice of trauma informed caring. 


  • CRTIC: Being More “Human” Human Beings- Chandra Green, Director of Alive and Thrive in Wyandotte County, KS, and Clara Sainte, Kansas City social worker, therapist, and adjunct faculty at the University of Kansas joined us for an inspiring and thought-provoking conversation that centered on community, relationships, and allyship. Our guests grounded us in the questions we need to first ask of ourselves as we work to counteract bias and engage in the work of addressing inequity and trauma. This episode gives us all much to consider as well as motivation to stretch ourselves in our collective humanity.manity
  • CRTIC: Pour a Cup of Tea and Sit With It- This episode features Erika Holliday, Substance Use Coordinator for the Unified Government (Kansas City, KS) Public Health Department, and Lauren Ragan Wilkerson, Board-Certified Music Therapist at the University of California-San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. In this conversation, we challenged ourselves with questions that rarely have clear answers, and our guests offered both macro- and micro-level strategies for effecting change and maintaining well-being through it. 

  • CRTIC: Moving Beyond Sage on a Stage - Our guests for this episode are Jesse Kohler, Executive Director of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) in Washington, DC, and Whitney Marris, CTIPP’s Director for Trauma-Informed Practice and System Transformation. Whitney and Jesse remind us that belonging is not automatically experienced, no matter how lofty our goals or mission, and that creating true inclusion for everyone, at every level, IS the work of transformation. What follows is a thought-provoking discussion of mindset shifts and practical actions we all can use to transform our distress over the world-as-it-is into courage and agency to co-create the world as we dream it can be.  
  • CRTIC: Don’t Do This Hard Work Alone -   Join us for Culturally Responsive Trauma Informed Care (CRTIC), our next topic on the Trauma Informed Caring Podcast, a member of the family of “Essential Conversations” podcasts brought to you by the Mid- America Addiction Technology Transfer Center and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In this introductory episode, Roxanne and Andrea highlight several themes from the upcoming season, and they discuss the vital importance of ongoing, authentic connection with others when working to transform systems at the intersection of trauma-informed caring and diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, access, and belonging initiatives.

  • CRTIC: Powerful Practices to Care, Share, & Heal-  In this episode, we share an inspiring discussion with Akeem Curns, Vice President of Camp Fire Heartland, and Dr. Marvia Jones, Director of the Kansas City Missouri Health Department, that highlights the far-reaching impact of seeing and responding to everyone with a trauma-informed lens (no exceptions), communicating with understanding, consistently offering grace, and the transformative power of a strengths-based approach. Our guests offer us a variety of practical, proven, powerful practices that open doors to healing, connection, and hope. You won’t want to miss a minute of this conversation!

  • CRTIC: Each One Reach One- You won’t want to miss a minute of this bold, broad, bravely-honest, bias-busting conversation. Eva Santiago is a former police officer turned certified Bikram Yoga Instructor, community activist, personal nutritionist, and self-described “healthy life fanatic” who currently serves as Program Coordinator for Plaza Comunitaria in Kansas City Public Schools where she advocates for the needs of the Latinx community, Dreamers, DACA recipients, and our undocumented sisters and brothers. Bernadette Spooner Thompson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and certified K-12 school counselor who works in urban school settings where she regularly facilitates uncomfortable yet important conversations, especially across racial lines, and shares on the YouTube channel, Woman to Woman: Conversations in Black and White. Both Bernadette and Eva remind us that trauma-informed practices are not currently synonymous with creating diverse, equitable, inclusive environments, and they share practical, powerful ways we can do better, from fostering mental health in ALL our students, to responding to bias in ourselves and others, to engaging in truly trauma-informed self-care. 

Season 5 Episodes 

  • TIC: What's In Your Soil?: The Power of One - Open your mind and your heart for this candid discussion with our guest, Mindy Davidson, as we explore the power of one caring adult to mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences, trauma-sensitive ways foster parents can empower biological parents and support family reunification, the magic that can happen when you simply do the next right thing, how to fuel your giving with gratitude, and what compassion satisfaction, gritty hope, and vicarious resilience look like in real life.
  • TIC: What's In Your Soil?: The Power of Community -  Join us for a heart-felt, wide-ranging discussion with our guest, Kim Shaw-Ellis, and get inspired by the power of being seen, valued, and connected, the power of intentional focus on goodness and ways we get that which we seek, and the power of collaborating to solve problems that impact our communities and each other in ways that transform pain into joy and healing.
  • TIC: What's In Your Soil? - Stewards of Hope  In this engaging conversation with our guest, Imam Jamal Shakur, we discuss the importance of knowing and understanding what is happening to you in order to find paths for healing, being relational and intentional about supporting resilience in the face of vicarious trauma, and the power of providing positive childhood and community experiences to sustain hope and well-being both now and for future generations.
  • TIC: What's In Your Soil? Powerful Resources- , with guest Tom Young This vulnerable and authentic conversation with our guest, Tom Young, explores several powerful external and internal resources that foster resilience in the midst of the pains of life, from the joy of a purple house to community engagement to tears and forgiveness.
  • TIC: What's In your Soil? - Join us for our next topic on the Trauma Informed Caring Podcast, a member of the family of “Essential Conversations” podcasts brought to you by the Mid-America Addiction Technology Transfer Center and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In this introductory episode, Roxanne and Andrea discuss goals and hopes for upcoming episodes, as well as some personal insights as they reflect on the theme for this season, Ways We Cultivate Resilience

Season 4 Episodes 

  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership – We Don’t Need Another Hero- Leaders Vladimir Sainte, Clinical Director of Counseling and Family Support Services at The Children’s Place, and Andy Campbell, Principal at Summit Ridge Academy, have surprising insights to share in this discussion that explores the power and effectiveness of leading collaboratively, caring for people before tasks, coaching for compassion versus compliance, communicating the why, seeing challenging individuals as kind teachers, and taking time to celebrate along the way. 

  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership –Turning the Tide of Turnover- This engaging conversation with Tiffany Sturdivant of University Health Behavioral Health and Lisa Charlson of University Health Human Resources naturally coalesced around leadership practices that help organizations retain a dedicated, healthy workforce. Listen in as they talk about strengths-focused, collaborative leadership based in the wisdom of lived experience, establishing a culture of safety and caring long before any crisis hits, modeling vulnerability alongside grace with a goal of always learning and improving, and infusing trauma-informed practices into leadership training and coaching.
  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership –Funders Can Be Trauma Informed, Too- Listen in to our fascinating and inspiring conversation with Cathy Harding and Randy Lopez of Wyandotte Health Foundation in Kansas City, Kansas, a mission-driven organization that has sought to improve the health of Wyandotte County residents for the past quarter of a century. Over the past few years, the Foundation has shifted the way they fund and support their mission, demonstrating innovation in trauma informed caring in leadership as a philanthropic organization. Deeply trusting and collaborating alongside their community partners, both mindsets and practices are changing, and the resulting outcomes -though at times surprising -are positively impacting the health and well-being of individuals and the larger community, both now and in ways that promise to benefit future generations.
  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership – Lessons from the Forefront- Grab your favorite beverage, pen, and paper, and settle in; you won’t want to miss a minute of this impassioned, enlightening discussion with two seasoned leaders who are changing systems at the intersection of trauma informed caring and diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion. Marsha Morgan, Founder of Resilience Builders and early adopter of leading with Trauma Informed Care in healthcare, and Susan Woodford, Executive Director of First Resources Corporation, pull no punches as they share experiences (both successes and failures) and thoughts about the most important practices to implement (hint: it’s not screening for ACEs) in order to transform organizational culture and truly support all the people you impact.
  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership –Abandon All Hope of Fruition-   Julianna Stuart of Preservation of Affordable Housing and Dena Sneed of the Center for Trauma Informed Innovation lead through relationship, transparency, vulnerability, shared power, and emotional intelligence to nudge cultures in the direction of trauma informed caring. In this episode, they discussed impactful strategies and mindsets that have transformed not only their team cultures, but themselves personally.
  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership -Modeling a Life of Recovery, Well-Being, and Hope: Join us for a heartfelt conversation with Mirna Herrera and Shalise Williams, both with University Health Behavioral Health, who are forging new pathways in the trauma-informed practice of peer support in community health. In light of their personal experiences of trauma, recovery, and ongoing commitment to being well, they share leadership practices that foster resilience and offer concrete examples and outcomes of trauma-informed supervision.
  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership- Make Time for What's Most Important: In this episode, we talk with Angelique Nedved and Juan Rangel from SchoolSmartKC about trauma informed caring in educational settings. Hear what they have to say about collaboration, taking time, valuing joy, and prioritizing safety for everyone in a school community.
  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership -Living the Change You Wish to See: What do a Level 1 Trauma Center Emergency Department and a local church have in common? Join us for this episode and find out! In an authentic, vulnerable, and courageous conversation, our guests, Dr. Michael Moncure and Pastor Michael Brooks, share stories of their own experiences of both personal and professional growth as they skillfully lead teams to compassionately support people facing some of the most difficult and painful experiences of life.
  • Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership: Join us for a new and timely topic on the Trauma Informed Caring Podcast, a member of the family of “Essential Conversations” podcasts brought to you by the Mid-America Addiction Technology Transfer Center and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In this introductory episode, Roxanne and Andrea discuss goals and hopes for upcoming episodes, as well as some personal insights as they reflect on the theme for this season, Trauma Informed Caring in Leadership.

Season 3 Episodes 

  • Trauma Informed Caring: Join us for an introduction to the Trauma Informed Caring Podcast, a member of the family of “Essential Conversations” podcasts brought to you by the Mid-America Addiction Technology Transfer Center and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In this episode, you will meet the hosts and learn about our vision for the podcast, how this will be different from other Trauma Informed Care information, and how each episode will flow. Together, as we explore varied perspectives, let us nurture knowledge and inspire courage for practical, transformative action that is “trauma-informed caring” in real life!
  • This Changes Everything: In this episode, we have an enlightening conversation with Starla Brennan of Amethyst Place about the ways trauma-informed caring changes how we see and respond to so-called “bad” behaviors in those we serve, in our colleagues, in our loved ones, and in ourselves; the importance of maintaining curiosity; and compassionate, effective ways to remove barriers of fear and shame to build trust and deepen our relationships.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Rose, Thorn, and Seed: Our conversation with Doug Burgess and Kreasha Williams, both of University Health Behavioral Health, centers on personal practices that allow us to both connect with others and care for ourselves in trauma informed ways, and important reminders that our work to integrate trauma informed caring is an ongoing learning process.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Connecting with Your Square Squad: Jennifer Manuleleua and Merideth Rose, both of Community Services League, share with us how trauma informed caring has transformed not only their work, but their lives and their community through genuine connection with other people.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Make a Longer Table: This episode features a conversation with Jennifer Manuleleua and Merideth Rose. We had so much great conversation that we let the recording run to capture more of their insights into the journey of building trauma informed communities. We went deeper into how we roll with resistance and bring others into the work, while also tending to yourself with self-compassion as you, yourself, are transformed.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Put a Vest Around Your Brain: Our guests, Sean Hess of the Kansas City Police Department and Aaron Knipmeyer of the Lafayette County C-1 School District, discuss their experiences navigating various obstacles in implementing trauma informed caring in their settings, from managing crises and resistance to change, challenging long-held cultural beliefs, and overcoming reluctance to seek help.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: All Hands on Deck- In this episode, we are joined by Kim Colegrove, who teaches meditation and mindfulness for first responders, and Jessica Welch of Phoenix Family. This sometimes-emotional and inspiring conversation centered around how the biggest obstacles to overcome in implementing trauma informed practices are often within ourselves: resistance to seeking help, shame, and overwhelm. 
  • Trauma Informed Caring: We are ALL Human Beings-  Kelvin Owens and James Stout, both in the Public Safety department at University Health, join us for a conversation about preparing your mindset for the ongoing journey of trauma informed caring. We talked about seeing humanity, checking in with each other, and showing appreciation and celebrating the successes along the way.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: The Cycle of Compassion- This episode captures our deeply connected conversation with Keithia Roberts of Talbert House and Sarah Corlett of Design Impact, both located in Cincinatti, OH. We dove into matters such as creating space for fellow human beings to be seen and heard without judgment, how fatigue is normal because trauma informed caring is counter-cultural, and the cyclical nature of nurturing compassion
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Roundtable Conversation #1- Join us for an engaging discussion with some of our previous guests from Season 3 of Essential Conversations! In this roundtable, we dive even deeper into the practices of trauma informed caring in real life. Listen in as we talk with Keithia Roberts, Jessica Welch, Sarah Corlett, and Starla Brennan to hear their tips and insights for all of us who are implementing trauma informed caring.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Roundtable Conversation #2-  Join us for yet another engaging discussion featuring more of our previous guests from Season 3 of Essential Conversations! In this second roundtable, we continue to dive even deeper into the practices of trauma informed caring in the real world. Listen once more as we talk with Jennifer Manuleleua, Kreasha Williams, and Aaron Knipmeyer, and consider their tips and insights for all of us who are implementing trauma informed caring.

Season 2 Episodes

Season 1 Episodes

  • Self-Care: In the 1st episode we discuss the importance of self-care for behavioral health leaders with Dena Sneed, the Director of the Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, MO
  • Race & COVID-19: During this episode, we discuss how to have a conversation about race in the workplace. Our guests' Marla Smith, a Behavioral Health Coach at Heartland Family Service in Iowa and Vladimir Sainte, a Team Leader from Truman Medical Centers in MO, share important considerations and tips for behavioral health leaders who are navigating these conversations.
  • The Importance of Housing & Employment: During this episode we discuss social determinants of health and the importance of employment and housing with Suzanne Watson from Southwest IA Mental Health and Disability Services, and Bill Baerentzen from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska and Mid-America Mental Health Technology Transfer Center. Our guests' share stories that speak to power of social factors in people's mental health a recovery, how funding mechanisms have shifted during COVID-19, and future planning recommendations for behavioral health providers.
  • Psychiatrists' View of Supporting Recovery in 2020 & Beyond: During this episode we discuss Psychiatrists' View of Supporting Recovery with Dr. Melissa O'Dell from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE, and Dr. Doug Burgess from Truman Medical Centers and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in Kansas City, MO. During this episode, our guests' share:
    • What they are seeing in depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. 
    • Misconceptions about medication for depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders
    • Advice for those who may be experiencing issues with depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders for the first time
  • Post Pandemic Trends in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder: During this episode we discuss post pandemic trends in mental health and substance use disorder. We are joined by Susan Whitmore, the President and CEO of First Call in Kansas City, MO and Topher Hansen, the President and CEO of CenterPointe in Lincoln, NE. Our guests' share their perspectives on positive outcomes in BH due to COVID-19 and their hopes for the field in the next 20-years.


*Season 1 was a collaboration by the Mid-America Addiction and Mental Health Technology Transfer Centers and is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Although funded by SAMHSA, the content on this podcast does not necessarily reflect the views of SAMHSA