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Continuing Education

9th Annual Liberation-Based Healing Conference Presenters

Keynote Speaker

imageJacqueline Battalora, Ph.D., J.D., is an attorney and professor of
sociology at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, where she teaches courses in law and society having completed graduate work at Northwestern University where her research was shaped by an interest in the social forces that make deep human connections across “race” so difficult to sustain. Her graduate training includes: social ethics, theology, sociology, and law. Battalora’s approach to understanding and teaching is enhanced by employment experience that includes educator, corporate attorney, and Chicago police officer. Her writings explore the enforcement of divisions between people specifically, the making of human difference in law. She is the author of: Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today; “Whiteness: an American ideology”; “Difference by law: the one man one woman marriage requirement and antimiscegenation law”; “’Common knowledge’ and the legal construction of race: Constructions of white people through U.S. expansionism, naturalization and immigration law.” 

Battalora speaks widely on the topic of the invention of white people in law and has been conducting white awareness training sessions since the mid 1990s. She has trained undergraduate and graduate students, teachers as well as lawyers, judges, activists, corporate and law enforcement officials on the legal historical record of white privilege and its implications for work conducted today.

Session Presenters

Rhea V. Almeida, LCSW, Ph.D., founder of Institute for Family Services, is a family therapist, Columbia Graduate and creator of the Cultural Context Model, a Liberation Based Healing Perspective. Dr. Almeida is internationally and nationally acknowledged for her work on Intersectionality, which addresses the matrix of power, privilege and oppression in therapeutic and policy practices. In 2005 she received the American Family Therapy Academy Distinguished Award for Innovative Contributions to Family Therapy. For her cutting edge work in Liberation Based Healing, Dr. Almeida has been invited to expand scholarship in Ecuador, Jamaica, India, Sweden, South Africa and the United States. She has provided consultation and training to educational institutions, human service agencies and businesses.  She has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, CNBC, National Public Radio, USA Today, and Pure Oxygen. She serves on the Council on Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Diversity (CRECD) at Council on Social Work Education and is the author of numerous journal articles and three books: Expansions of Feminist Theory Through DiversityTransformations in Gender and Race: Family and Developmental Perspectives, and co-author of Transformative Family Therapy: Just Families in a Just Society.

Melissa Bennett, M.Div. is a descendant of the Umatilla/Nez Perce/Sac & Fox Nations on the maternal side of her family and the Navajo/Blackfoot Lakota Nations on her paternal side. She currently serves Portland State University as the Program Coordinator for the Native American Student and Community Center. Melissa holds a Master of Divinity degree from Marylhurst University along with graduate certificates in Pastoral Care and Theological Studies. She served for a year as an interfaith chaplain resident at the Oregon State Hospital where she specialized in the spiritual care of indigenous people. Melissa is a writer and emerging storyteller and was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize after her poem “Church of Frida” appeared in Yellow Medicine Review. She is interested in story as medicine, especially its ability to heal historical trauma among indigenous communities. Melissa is a member of the Northwest Indian Storytellers Association, WordCraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and the Portland Inter-Tribal Canoe Club. She is a lifelong Oregonian and currently resides in the Portland area. 

Judy BlueHorse–Skelton, M.Ed. (Nez Perce/Cherokee) has worked with federal and state Indian Education programs throughout the Northwest for 18 years, creating cultural activities focusing on traditional and contemporary uses of native plants for food, medicine, ceremony, and healthy lifeways. Judy is the author of six collections of essays for teachers, including Native America: A Sustainable Culture (1999), and Lewis & Clark Through Native American Eyes (2003); she wrote and recorded 24 segments on Health & Healing and Sacred Landscapes for Wisdom of the Elders radio programs, airing on Public Broadcasting and AIROS (American Indian Radio on Satellite).  As Senior Instructor, Judy is full-time faculty in Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University. She received the Oregon Indian Education Association’s award for Outstanding Indian Educator in 2006 and serves on the boards of the Urban Greenspaces Institute, Portland Parks, and the Native American Community Advisory Council. Judy received an MA in Educational Leadership and Policy’s, Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning program at Portland State University.  Collaborative work includes the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) and Wisdom of the Elders, Inc., integrating permaculture principles with traditional ecological knowledge to address Food Sovereignty/Justice and reclaim the urban forest.

Andraé L. Brown, Ph.D., LMFT Professional career highlights include serving as professor at Hunter College, NY and Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. He has also served as the Co-director of Affinity Counseling Group in NJ, a Board member for the Council on Contemporary Families, and as member of several national boards. He currently resides in the Washington, DC area where he operates an independent clinical, research and consulting practice and is an adjunct professor at Howard University. Dr. Brown’s research focuses on the development of treatment models that use the supportive structures of families, schools and communities to address trauma, violence and substance abuse. Research and clinical interests also include resilience in street-life-oriented Black men, the psychosocial development of adolescents living in the urban context, contemporary family structures, impact of infidelity on families, liberation psychology, and cultural equity in service provision. In addition to clinical work, teaching, and training, Dr. Brown’s work includes engaging community members, advocates, mental health providers, municipalities, and various institutions to utilize the resilience that exist within individuals, families and communities to bolster their mental health and wellness. Such efforts include community talks, lectures, organizational trainings, and participatory action research.  Additionally, he co-founded the Liberation Based Healing Conference – an annual conference that brings together community and professional stakeholders to engage in dialogue and inquiry focused on a system of relational healing that embraces critical consciousness, empowerment, and accountability. 

Danica Love Brown is currently working on a research study called “Daughters of the Drum”: Decolonizing Healing for Urban Native American Women. This is a participatory research project utilizing photovoice as a research method. The purpose of this study is to 1) give voice to a community who have been traditionally voiceless; 2) to help us better understand how the experience of being Native women living in an urban environment effects our understanding of health and wellness; 3) how social science researchers can better understand how Native women living in an urban environments understand health and wellness so that we can better develop interventions that integrate this understanding and how we can increase this populations access to care, thus addressing health disparities on a broader context. Specifically, it is our intention to address the health disparities in urban Native American communities, by addressing it from an Indigenous perspective; not looking at illness/disease, but looking at life and action, through traditional values, beliefs and behaviors. Through this project Ms. Brown will also be a researcher/participant and will be addressing specific issues related to her work as a researcher and as a participant. The focus of her presentation will be on her deep qualitative and reflexive process of addressing the ethical and social issues that arise when research is conducted in an environment where is a not only a member of the community but also a participant in the research.

Caitlin Clark, Information coming soon

Grace Dillon, Ph.D. (Anishinaabe) is an Associate Professor in the Indigenous Nations Studies Program at Portland State University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on a range of interests including Native American and Indigenous studies, science fiction, Indigenous cinema, popular culture, race and social justice, and early modern literature. She is the editor of Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (University of Arizona Press, 2012) and Hive of Dreams: Contemporary Science Fiction from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon State University Press, 2003). Her work appears in diverse journals including The Journal of Science Fiction Film and Television; Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction; Extrapolation; The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts; The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television; Science Fiction Studies; and Renaissance Papers

Lisa Dressner, LCSW founded Affinity Counseling Group, a private community-based mental health center, in March 2000, and replicated the Cultural Context Model to work with families impacted by incarceration. She has developed clinical programs for professionals and institutions in the areas of liberation based healing and community organizing, including the Zakee Bowser Foundation and the Raritan Bay YMCA. She has joined Dr. Almeida in presenting nationally and internationally on domestic and community violence, creating therapeutic healing communities, juvenile justice clinical practice and reform, and a presenter at the national White Privilege Conference. She is committed to training students and professionals in the mental health field in the areas of cultural equity, white privilege and integrating social justice in clinical practice. She is Assistant Director at the Institute for Family Services and her publications are in the area of white privilege and interrupting the discourse of cultural competence.

Kaila Farrell-Smith, M.F.A. (Klamath Modoc) is a visual artist, arts mentor and instructor based in Portland, Oregon. She works with “Journeys in Creativity,” an American Indian and Indigenous youth art camp and outreach program via Oregon College of Arts and Craft and participates in collaborative art making that perpetuate American Indian cultures through cultivating community creativity. Kaila Farrell-Smith’s painting “After Boarding School: In Mourning” was purchased with funds from the Native American Art Council in 2012 and is on display in the permanent collection at the Portland Art Museum. This piece is frequently highlighted in docent tours through the museum and is used as an example of anti-colonialism and reshaping contemporary portraits of Indigeneity through unveiling stories of survival in Indigenous children who were stolen from their families and tribes and forced into Indian Boarding Schools whose motto was “Kill the Indian: Save the Man.” Kaila Farrell-Smith recently received the ‘Community Engagement’ award from Portland State University and the ‘Best In Show’ award in the 2014 ‘In The Spirit: Contemporary Native Art’ exhibition at the Washington History Museum. Kaila Farrell-Smith received a B.F.A. from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2004 and an M.F.A. in Contemporary Art Practices Studio from Portland State University in 2014.

Marc Fernandes has worked with youth for over fifteen years.  His educational background in Clinical Psychology and Multicultural Counseling, as well as his passion for education, equity, and positive youth development, has provided Marc with the abilities to successfully connect with youth in authentic and honest ways.  Growing up on the east coast, within a multicultural family and community, cross-cultural relationships and social justice issues were always valued highly and influence all the work he does today. On a grassroots level, Marc was a Coalition Organizer and Facilitator for Thurston County Study Circles on Race in Olympia, WA.  For ten years, Marc worked as an educator and reproductive health counselor within the field of adolescent sexuality and teen pregnancy prevention.  He has worked for Planned Parenthood of Western WA as a Community Educator, The Children’s Aid Society in the South Bronx as a Family Life and Sexuality Education Specialist, and as a Street Outreach Coordinator in Quito, Ecuador.  Marc uses both Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre as tools of engagement and empowerment.  For the last five years, Marc has been Youth Development Coordinator for Multnomah County’s Office of Diversity and Equity in Portland, OR.  He has the great privilege to staff the Multnomah Youth Commission, the official youth policy body for the County and City of Portland. He currently lives in Portland with his wife Ivette and sons Luca and Johan. 

Mark will present with with youth from Multnomah Youth Commission.

Ohlaysha Hicks, M.S. is a Spanish language educator in the South Brunswick School District, and has a Master’s Degree from Capella University in Human Services with a specialization in Couple and Family Therapy. She is currently completing her post graduate training at the Institute for Family Services and on the faculty of Progresso en Comunidad.  Her combined knowledge in progressive education as well as therapeutic practices informs her ideas to promote healthy development in families through the collective engagement of larger systems and community-based therapy.  

Rebecca Hyman Information coming soon

Carmen Knudson-Martin, Ph.D., LMFT, is internationally recognized for her work regarding gender, marital equality, and relational health.  She is a founder of Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy, an approach that attends to the micro-processes through which couple interaction, emotion, and socio-cultural context come together in the moment by moment of clinical process. Her book, Couples, Gender, and Power: Creating Change in Intimate Relationships, weaves a link between research and practice as she makes the influence of the larger social context in couple relationships come alive and offers a step by step template to guide clinical work, with an emphasis on the political and ethical implications of therapist actions. She has published over 50 articles articulating the importance of the larger social context on issues such as marital equality, relational development, postpartum depression, women’s health, and couple therapy. Her international research team has conducted over 25 qualitative studies examining the processes through which diverse couples in varying life stages and circumstances respond to the demands of a changing social environment. Carmen is a Professor and Director of the Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy at Lewis and Clark College in Portland OR.  She serves on the Board of directors of the Family Process Institute andthe American Family Therapy Academy is series editor of the Springer Briefs in Family Therapy.

Beth McNamara, Ph.D. candidate, is a social worker with 10 years experience working alongside children and young people who have experienced sexual assault and domestic and family violence. She currently holds a position as a counselor at the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and is undertaking her Ph.D. in social work at The University of Sydney. Her research topic is Contemporary meanings about sexual assault and adolescent boys: approaches taken by service providers. She is committed to research, activism and frontline practice which is politicized and fosters social change and social justice.

Teresa McDowell, Ed.D. is a professor and chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology in the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. Teresa’s scholarship centers the integration of critical social theory in the practice of family therapy.  She has written about race, social class, gender, sexual orientation, and national identity using critical race, neo-Marxist, feminist, queer and decolonizing frameworks.   Much of her work focuses on international family therapy in our contemporary world where economic, political and social systems routinely contribute to increasing global inequity.  As an educator and clinical supervisor, Teresa encourages recognizing and challenging power inequities that are foundational to mental health and relational problems. 

Gita Mehrohtra holds a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Washington and will be joining the faculty of Portland State University’s School of Social Work in September 2014. She has been involved with anti-violence work for over 15 years in a variety of capacities including: direct service, education/training, and program and organizational development, with a focus on Asian and South Asian women and LGBTQ communities of color. Her current research, activism, and teaching interests include: queer people of color identities and wellness, diversity and social justice education, domestic violence in marginalized communities, and critical, anti-oppressive, and feminist theories and methodologies for social work.  

Diana Meléndez, M.S.W. is supervisor of emergency psychiatric services at a large Northeast Hospital. Diana is a graduate of the MSW program at the Silver School of Social Work at NYU, following her dual degree in Social Work and Psychology from Seton Hall University. Diana has served on the Board and committees of her professional organization and has experience working within the education system, child welfare system, and juvenile justice system. She is also a member and organizer with the Women of Color Collective in NYC and the Anti-Racist Alliance of northern New Jersey as a graduate of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond “Undoing Racism- Community Organizing” Workshop. She is currently completing her post-graduate training at the Institute for Family Services where she is faculty on the Progresando en Comunidad program through liberation-based therapy with families. Her interests focus on the authentic incorporation of social justice and equity theories and strategies into social work practice, with an emphasis on examining the dynamics of power, privilege and oppression through an intersectionality lens.

Vanessa Micale is the Anti Poverty Program Manager for Catholic Charities El Programa Hispano. For over a decade she has dedicated herself to social services and worked with traditionally under-served communities. She grew up bilingual and bi-cultural as a Uruguayan-American.  As a child she lived in Peru where she witnessed third world poverty while growing up in a small fishing village. This began her life long concern with the issues of disparity and social justice.  She graduated with Cum Laude honors with a Bachelor’s Degree from San Francisco State University in 2002. She dedicated her initial years as a social worker to domestic violence shelters in San Francisco and Los Angeles. She was a Creative Writing teacher for incarcerated youth in Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, through InsideOUT Writers. Upon relocating to Oregon, she was hired by Catholic Charities El Programa Hispano: Proyecto UNICA, where she was out-stationed for one year at the Portland Police Bureau with  DVERT (Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team), working in a collaborative inter-agency team on the highest lethality domestic violence cases in Multnomah County. Within Catholic Charities, she transitioned to the HUD Housing program, before being offered a leadership role in the Anti-Poverty program. Vanessa Micale sees the world through a trauma-informed lens, and carries a deep knowledge of the intersect between poverty and violence, and the cycles which perpetuate them. Her ground level experiences have culminated in a holistic, macro level orientation to client service.

Dr. Angela Nusom is the Facilitator of Strategic Partnerships for College & Career Readiness at Roosevelt High School. She believes that youth engagement, empowerment, and activism for education will be the catalyst for dismantling inequitable systems that perpetuate the achievement gap. Her educational background includes an undergraduate focus on psychology, sociology-anthropology, a Masters in Social Work (MSW), and a doctorate in Education Leadership. She earned her Bachelors and Doctorate degrees from Lewis & Clark College and her MSW from Portland State University. Her doctoral work utilizes a participatory, grounded theory methodology to highlight the process through which young people once alienated from education transformed into activists for college access. Her professional experience spans from early intervention mental health services to alternative education in Zimbabwe, Africa and the Centennial School District to educational reform at Roosevelt High School. Angela’s spirited, innovative work to transform a comprehensive high school’s college and career preparatory system draws upon the belief that education is a Civil Right, and therefore all efforts to improve college success must be grounded in the movement for social justice. As a leading advocate for college access and success in Oregon, her work to transform the system from the inside out has been recognized by community leaders, policy makers, and professionals in higher education. She currently leads the College Advocacy Project, a program that integrates Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy interns into the school system to provide liberation-based, culturally responsive therapy to students and families.

José Miguel Paez, M.S.W., LCSW, is currently a full-time lecturer at California State University, Northridge in the Department of Social Work. He has been a member of the faculty for 5 years. He has taught courses in policy analysis, advocacy, clinical and macro practice, human behavior, trauma, and social justice. He teaches from an intersectionality lens incorporating critical race theory, decolonial analysis, liberation based healing interventions, environmental and animal rights. He was awarded ‘Social Worker of the Year’ in 2013 by the San Fernando Valley Chapter of NASW. He began his social work career interning with the labor and worker’s rights organization Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). After earning his M.S.W. in 2001, he practiced as a bilingual outpatient clinician for a community mental health agency in Pacoima that served predominately low income families of color stressed by multi-generational trauma, severe and chronic mental illness, discrimination and stigma. Following this he went on to work with the University of Southern California School of Social Work in developing a collaborative first-year field placement with the Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI). He served as the director of the social work services provided at NAI for 3 years, including community engagement through socio-education, field instruction, supervision, and family and group therapy. He has a background in improv theatre, spoken word, and was also a basketball coach at grade school to high school levels for over 10 years.

Cornel Pewewardy, D.Ed., is Comanche-Kiowa and an enrolled member in the Comanche Nation. Dr. Pewewardy is Associate Professor of Native American Studies at Portland State University. Prior to joining Portland State University, Cornel was an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Leadership and Center for Indigenous Nations Studies at the University of Kansas as well as adjunct faculty in American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations University. 

Raven Sinclair, M.S.W., Ph.D., is a member of Gordon’s First Nation (Cree/Assinniboine) of the Treaty #4 area of southern Saskatchewan, Canada. She has a B.A. in Psychology, a Certificate and Bachelor’s degree in Indian Social Work, an M.S.W. (Toronto), and a Ph.D. in social work through the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Raven’s areas of expertise and interest include Indigenous social work, Indigenous research and ethics, Indigenous child welfare and youth suicide, transracial adoption and cultural identity, Cross-cultural, interpersonal and non-violent communication, lateral violence intervention, and group process and facilitation. Raven has a nine year old daughter who keeps her on her toes.

Alma M.O. Trinidad, Ph.D., M.S.W. is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Portland State University. Dr. Trinidad is a macro social worker by training, and brings an array of work and scholarship in community organizing, health and mental health promotion, and education among diverse communities. Her research, scholarly activism, and teaching focus on community youth participation, critical Indigenous pedagogy of place, and community epistemology as venues for empowerment, sociopolitical development, collective consciousness, and promotion of health, wellness, and social sustainability.  

Jeri Williams is a Native Oregonian and a member of the Klamath tribe. She dedicates her free time to work with survivors of human trafficking, community organizing and environmental justice.  Jeri has been managing the Diversity and Civic Leadership Program for more than seven years at the Office of Neighborhood Involvement for the City of Portland. She is a passionate public speaker for many causes and uses her voice to speak truth to power. Before joining the City of Portland in 2006, Jeri was the Director of the Environmental Justice Action Group, a member-driven organization that defeated the expansion of the I-5 freeway through Northeast Portland. Jeri was introduced to environmental justice issues in 1994 while working as a hotel worker exposed to toxic chemicals. From there, she became an organizer and has worked in that field for over 20 years developing leadership in people of color to use their own voices to speak for themselves. In 2001, Jeri co-founded the Urban Workers Union, a union for parking lot attendants who had their election and became a union all in one year. She is a survivor of human trafficking, gangs and addiction and in 2010 she also co-founded Survivor to Survivor (S2S) which is a sisterhood of trafficking survivors that started locally and is now a part of a national network.