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Mindy Atwood

Graphic designer


Sorry but she doesn’t know where Mork is ;)

​As a child Mindy loved going to work with her father during school vacations at the print shop that had been in her family for three generations. She loved to play games in the huge bins of scrap paper, run her fingers over the colorful pools of dried up printing ink, and watch the massive printing presses roll large sheets of blank paper over the drums creating wonderful combinations of pictures and words on the page. Mindy entered into the world of graphic design 25 years ago, and has been mentored by art directors while designing for magazines, Internet, promotion and events, and donor recognition walls. Paper and ink is the foundation of her body of work. Today, she continues to play in the scrap bin to explore and learn about the unlimited possibilities of design.

PACEs story: As a young parent Mindy didn’t know what PACEs were, but she knew she didn’t want to repeat the past.

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Natalie Audage

Project Manager and PCEs Consultant

Research disseminator, advocate for children and families, life-long learner.

Natalie joined PACEs Connection in January 2021. As Project Manager and PCEs (positive childhood experiences) Consultant, she develops tools and resources related to prevention, PCEs, healing, and wellness and provides project management support for PACEs Connection initiatives. Natalie’s professional work has focused on preventing violence and advocating for vulnerable populations affected by violence. Before joining PACEs Connection, Natalie was the Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator for the Yolo County Children’s Alliance where she coordinated the Yolo County, CA, Child Abuse Prevention Council and wrote parenting guides on topics such as self-care for parents, resilience, and positive discipline. She has also worked for the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and for Physicians for Human Rights. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton University and a Master's in Public Health in health education from Emory University. She loves reading, walking, and spending time with her husband, two teenage daughters, and two cats, Beezus and Ramona.


PACEs story: Natalie first learned about the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in 2003, when she worked in the Division of Violence Prevention at CDC. Later, as a CDC consultant, she co-wrote a report entitled The Effects of Childhood Stress on Health across the Lifespan to help the violence prevention practitioner community learn more about the ACE Study. She saw and continues to see the ACE Study as evidence that working to prevent PACEs is not only the right thing to do but also an incredibly important investment in promoting health and wellness.
Marianne Avari

Data Science Manager


Data driven thinker. Child advocate. Reality T.V. Enthusiast.

As a data scientist for PACEs Connection, Marianne uses her appreciation for getting data into the hands of community. She began her career in child advocacy when she attended the Johns Hopkins University to pursue a degree in psychology. While at Johns Hopkins, she interned with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and assisted the FBI in child sex trafficking investigations. After graduation, Marianne worked in the Florida Department of Children and Families where she led the recording and distribution of shelter intake information for children suspected to be victims of neglect, abuse, or child sexual exploitation. Her work has also included advocating for a safe harbor law for sexually exploited minors in Pennsylvania. Before joining PACEs Connection, Marianne interned at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and worked as a research associate at the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Marianne holds dual Masters degrees in criminology and public administration from the University of Pennsylvania.


PACEs story: I was first introduced to the ACE Study as an graduate school intern in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the U.S. Department of Justice. I was speaking with a colleague about the abuse I endured as a child and she pointed me to the ACE Study. She thought it could help me articulate my experience. She was right. For the first time in a long time, I felt understood. For the first time in a long time, I felt heard. The ACE Study opened up the conversation about trauma providing the evidence and framework I needed to begin healing my own life. In my professional career, I continue to reference the study to advance trauma-informed care.

Dana Brown

Organizational Liaison

Global Change Agent. Seeker. History Buff. Warrior Spirit.

Dana Brown joined PACEs Connection in March 2013 as the volunteer community manager of San Diego County ACEs Connection. She joined the PACEs Connection staff in September 2015. As organizational liaison, Dana has the opportunity to support organizations, PACEs Connection members and staff behind the scenes, and is community facilitator for PACEs in Criminal Justice System, PACEs in Foster Care, PACEs in Youth Justice, PACEs in Youth Services, and Native Americans communities. Learning about PACEs in 2006 from Dr. Dawn Griffin at Alliant International University, Dana was immediately struck with the power of hope and healing. She sensed then that PACEs has the power to transform systems as well as healing modalities. Now, with PACEs science leading the healing pathways, we have opportunities to heal humanity and transform our world. Dana is weaving relationships, building trust, deepening collaborations with cross-sector and community leaders. Those opportunities include being a global mentor of Somali youth in five continents advocating on behalf of the refugee camps in Ogaden, Somalia; mentoring inner-city families through the San Diego Compassion Project when their loved ones are murdered; and being on the Southern California Warrior Spirit team with indigenous communities.


PACEs story: A Midwest farm girl, my protective factors of family, neighbors, and community buffered the impact of complex trauma throughout my childhood. Growing up with the ethic of ‘hard work everywhere, by everyone,’ instilled deep values in me, including respect of the interconnectivity of Mother Earth and all living things. Participating in the movements in the 1960/1970’s framed my lens of the world: Social justice mattered. The spark of advocacy, once deeply rooted, had taken flight. Learning about PACEs in 2006, as well as myriad “aha” moments, brought me understanding, self-compassion, and healing. As more science and research took root, PACEs science was embedded into every aspect of my life, personally, professionally, and spiritually. As I integrate my work with mentoring youth and community leaders, I see that those who have been/are impacted by disparities and social determinants of health are becoming well-informed advocates for sustainable systems change. Just as my journey of transformation is ongoing healing, creating those safe spaces for others’ transformation supports my healing, too.

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Karen Clemmer

Public Health & Health Systems Consultant

A #PHNerd who weaves nursing with PACEs science to nudge systems change for a dreamy future!

As the Consultant on Public Health and Health Systems for PACEs Connection, Karen Clemmer, RN, BSN, MN, PHN, leverages her a deep understanding of regulatory influences on health and social systems to support community capacity building, while ensuring authentic community voice is at the center of all efforts.

Karen provides technical assistance to communities as they explore strategic opportunities for future funding at federal, state, and/or local levels. With administrative and clinical expertise in federal and state regulatory health and fiscal systems including Title V, Title 22, and Medi-Cal, along with over two decades of public health experience in maternal, child, and adolescent health, Karen translates complex regulatory guidance to local PACEs initiatives to enhance their ability to successfully align and leverage support from complex systems. Karen is a graduate of the University of Washington, Tacoma School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership and as a gifted educator, and she utilizes the nursing process to assess and adapt her support to meet the unique needs of each community. Learning about the ACE study transformed her view of many maternal, child, and adolescent priority issues. Throughout her career, she managed, supervised and/or directed Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) programs and priorities, including the comprehensive perinatal services program as well as programs related to perinatal substance misuse, children with special healthcare needs, lead poisoning prevention, and cardiovascular disease in pregnancy and postpartum. She has a deep understanding of the complex laws and regulations which local programs must meet, and she consults at state and national levels on emerging issues impacting the wellbeing of women, children, and families. This knowledge is coupled with her experience providing technical guidance, support, and trainings on topics such as motivational interviewing and trauma-informed care to a wide variety of providers at federally qualified health centers; school-based, rural, and Indian health centers; private health care practices; and social service programs. Karen measures her own success by whether the work she is doing positively impacts the women, children, adolescents, and families who she had the honor of serving in her capacity as a public health nurse for over two decades. When she is not working, Karen enjoys time with her family, gardening, raising chickens, and taking frequent trips to the beach. 


PACEs story: Growing up in a traditional family and having three older brothers, I found it almost incomprehensible when our parents divorced, and my brothers and I experienced parental abduction for three months. The abrupt fracturing of our family continues to impact each of us differently. During that confusing time, I knew things weren’t right and I also knew I was not responsible. Having that inner knowledge helped me develop an internal rudder to keep myself (mostly) on course. Throughout my life, many caring adults helped buffer the toxic stress and modeled positive relationships. Finding peace in nature, I spent many hours riding my horse in the hills and meadows. Nature continues to be my safe place. Today I enjoy spending time with my husband and sons, gardening, tending to my chickens and walking the beach.

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Ingrid Cockhren

Chief Executive Officer


Trauma-Informed Change Agent.  Research Translator. BIG PICTURE Thinker.  Herder of Cats.


Ingrid Cockhren knows first-hand how impactful trauma and toxic stress can be for children and families and has dedicated her professional life to investigating and educating the public about the link between early trauma, early adversity, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), positive childhood experiences and the consequences that occur across the lifespan. Specializing in creating equitable and inclusive environments within organizations, collective impacts and grassroot movements, Cockhren uses her knowledge of stress, trauma, historical trauma, human development, and psychology to translate research concerning diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) and trauma-informed practices into community, workplace, and organizational solutions.  

Cockhren graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in psychology and from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College with a M.Ed. in child studies specializing in minority and impoverished children. Her research areas are African American parenting styles, positive and adverse childhood experiences, historical trauma, intergenerational trauma, brain development, developmental psychology, and epigenetics. Cockhren’s experience includes juvenile justice, family counseling, early childhood education, professional development, consulting, and community education. She is currently an adjunct professor specializing in Black psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and personality theory at Tennessee State University.



PACEs story:  In 2010, during my second year of graduate school at Vanderbilt University, I began an assistantship at the Peabody Research Institute, which consisted of collecting studies for a meta-analysis of effective interventions addressing recidivism in juvenile offenders. While reviewing hundreds of research articles, I found the ACE Study. The findings were quite compelling and, despite not being able to include the study in the meta-analysis, I was deeply moved. My thesis research focused on African American families and the outcomes associated with racism and poverty, specifically the lack of school readiness. The ACE Study changed the way I viewed trauma, especially intergenerational and historical trauma, and helped me understand that children impacted by racism and poverty are actually traumatized, and often, that trauma has been passed generation to generation. The following year, I graduated and began teaching undergraduate psychology courses, incorporating the ACE Study into my curriculum. Without fail, each semester my students are astounded by the implications of the study.

John Flores

Community Arts Consultant


Central Valley, CA, raised, currently on Chochenyo Ohlone Land. 8/10 ACEs. 


As a Community Arts Consultant for PACEs connection, John brings a wealth of experience as a multi-instrumentalist and freelance artist, as well as extensive experience as a community organizer and mental health practitioner. A professional musician and music educator by trade, John has collaborated and performed with national and international artists such as Marshall Trammell, The Green, Warren G, Baby Bash, the Dirty Heads, Marcy’s Playground, Naim Amor, Marianne Dissard and many others. He has led and curated music events, workshops, and performances throughout California for over 2 decades. John co-created a grassroots organization with international experimental artist Marshall Trammell, called Merced Youth Drum Corps (MYDC) in Merced, California. MYDC has collaborated with organizations in the Merced area offering culturally responsive programming and free drum classes for youth and adults since 2015. MYDC was a 2015 micro-grant recipient of the former Building Healthy Communities Initiative (BHC) funded by the California Endowment. 


In addition to his professional work as a performance artist, John is also a social worker with over a decade of experience working in social services and health providers in the Bay Area and Central San Joaquin Valley. Through his previous positions as a care-giver, outreach worker, direct support staff and case manager, John has extensive experience working with diverse populations and complex behavioral health issues. He is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare with a Masters in Social Welfare, focusing on Macro Social Work. During his time in graduate school he worked with community based organizations like Healthy Richmond, RYSE youth center, Building Blocks for Kids, and East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, California. At East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, John provided crisis services and assisted with dispersing funds to families directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a graduate student he was able to further bridge his skills in organizing, research, anti-oppressive mental health practices, and the performance arts. 


Originally from the Central San Joaquin Valley, John is a trauma survivor and in recovery for 14 years. John is committed to social justice, peer recovery, and identifies as a harm reductionist and prison abolitionist. John’s complex ACEs story includes escaping intergenerational substance use, gang violence, abuse and trauma. His work is also influenced by his experience as a non-traditional college student; going from dropping out of Merced Community College to now being a graduate of UC Berkeley.  During his time completing a bachelor's degree in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at UC Merced, John led a peer recovery group for students, staff, and faculty. One of the most impactful experiences at UC Merced, was when he was accepted into the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) Spain to Italy. Coming from a community and background where there is a lack of access and resources to study abroad, John continues to cherish this experience and loves to travel. In addition to his consultant work with PACEs connection John remains active as an artist in the Bay Area and part-time therapist, he resides in Oakland, California with his partner and their two cats. 

PACEs story: I started my recovery journey in 2008, and never thought I would be where I am today. My recovery story is parallel to my experiences of resilience and success in education, performance arts, and community organizing. I am a proud non-traditional student and essential worker who transferred through community college to complete my BA at UC Merced and an MSW at UC Berkeley. As a social worker who practices anti-oppressive, western and non-western modalities and interventions, I am able to connect deeply and personally to the lived experiences of the communities and individuals I serve.

I am committed to racial justice and rights of BIPOC, API and LGBTQIA2S+ communities. I continue to incorporate PACEs science into my practice as social work practitioner in both macro and micro practice spaces. I bridge my lived experiences with recovery and trauma with my skills as a practitioner, organizer, and musician. I feel music, community, altruism and healing are central to my life, recovery and social work practice. 


Porter Jennings-McGarity

Director of Continuous Quality Improvement


Social justice advocate, PACEs champion, social work scholar, & UGA fan. 


Dr. Porter Jennings-McGarity is the Director of Continuous Quality Improvement and trauma-informed criminal justice consultant for PACEs Connection. Porter holds a B.A. of Psychology from Sewanee: The University of the South, an M.S.W. and Ph.D. in Social Work from The University of Georgia. She has developed expertise in the field of trauma through her clinical practice as an L.C.S.W. and her experience in academia as an assistant professor of social work and trauma-informed researcher centered around developing empirical publications in scholarly journals and international peer-reviewed presentations pertaining to trauma. This experience includes providing trauma-informed services in the criminal justice system (CJS) for over a decade, through positions including provision of clinical services to youth, children, and adults involved in the CJS, as well conducting program evaluations to assist court systems acheive their goal of becoming trauma-informed. As Director of CSI, Porter will use her training as a researcher to implemenet program evaluation to help PACEs Connection and its partners meet their goals to promote the PACEs movement through provision of positively impactful trauma-informed initiatives. Additionally, Porter will use her experience working in the criminal justice system to provide education to support the need for trauma-informed criminal justice reform. She currently resides in Athens, Georgia where she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.

PACEs story: I first heard about the concept of “ACEs” one year after graduating with my MSW in my first job as a therapist, where the director of the mental health agency I was working for at the trained all staff on ACEs using Jane Steven’s “ACEs Too High” website. This was a revolutionary insight for me both personally and professionally, and since that time I have dedicated myself to supporting the PACEs movement. To now have the opportunity to work with PACEs Connection, which was so instrumental in my shaping my life and career, feels like coming full circle.

Lara Kain

Educational Consultant

Envisions a future where schools and communities are resilient trauma-responsive ecosystems engaging head and heart in equal measure

As the Educational Consultant for PACEs Connection, Lara brings her deep understanding of the importance of schools as community drivers for change. Lara is an experienced educator and consultant who speaks nationally on implementing trauma-informed practices in schools and building holistic, trauma-responsive systems. Lara brings over two decades of experience at the local, state and national level, including developing programs for integrating trauma-informed practices into community schools in Los Angeles. She worked for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as the state homeless coordinator, and practiced her first love, teaching 'at-risk' youth. Lara has a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MPA from The Evergreen State College. As an example of her understanding of the micro and the macro, Lara’s experience ranges from supporting individual teachers to designing a trauma-informed schools pilot implemented in 20 schools across the country. Lara has worked both as a teacher and administrator putting the science of building resilience into practice. For Lara, who is a trauma survivor and was herself an 'at-risk' youth, this work is deeply personal. She understands what schools can and should look like to benefit ALL children. As the mother of two adopted sons, she understands the effects of developmental trauma and what it takes to overcome it. Born in the Midwest, she lived for over a decade in the Pacific Northwest, and is now a transplant to Southern California, where she lives with her husband and two boys. The beach is her happy place.


PACEs story: Around 2010, my world was completely rocked when, while working at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, I received training on trauma and PACEs science. That ‘aha’ hit me like a bolt of lightning. Finally, there was a language, a science, and a framework that validated all my experiences as both a student in an alternative high school and as a teacher of students who had been pushed out of the system. It explained so much. As a teacher, I knew that before we could dive into the learning, we had to first address our students’ basic needs, and then create a community where safety and belonging are priorities. But I could not articulate why this was, only that it was an undeniable truth. When I began to understand the science of trauma and PACEs, and could use the new language that came with learning about the science, I began to integrate PACEs science into all facets of my work. I was very excited to join PACEs Connection in 2018, as I had come to see that this work cannot be done in any one system alone but takes a community-focused approach involving all sectors.

Gail Kennedy

Operations Lead


Community networker and connector extraordinaire; upstream public health-er;  self-care enthusiast.

​Gail has been with PACEs Connection since May 2015, helping to create the tools, resources and programs to start and grow PACEs communities and resilience initiatives. As the operations and strategic partnership lead for PACEs Connection, Gail handles the day-to-day functions of our exclusively virtual office, including supporting staff, managing budget and program needs and developing networking partnerships to expand the PACEs movement. With a Masters of Public Health degree from Columbia University and over 30 years of public health experience, Gail says PACEs Connection combines her passion for community engagement and facilitation with her appreciation of the power of getting data into the hands of communities. Before joining PACEs Connection, Gail worked at the University of California, San Francisco, where she conducted research and managed international HIV collaborative efforts. Gail’s interest in public health started when she worked as an advocate in child abuse prevention and at a rape crisis center. Gail’s work with PACEs and resilience research is like coming back to her roots. With multiple PACEs herself, Gail recognizes how important self care is in her life. A practicing yogi for over 25 years, Gail loves her neighborhood yoga community, home-cooked meals, working in her garden and hanging out with her husband, daughter, dog and cat.

PACEs story:  In 2014, a University of California, Davis, colleague, Pat Conrad, suggested that I should meet her friend, Jane Stevens. She thought I might be interested in Jane’s work. I emailed Jane, who shared the story she wrote about the ACE Study — “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study - the largest most important public health study you never heard of - began  in an obesity clinic” — and it rocked my world! Why hadn’t I heard of PACEs during my public health education or in my work at one of the most respected academic health institutions in the world? The study explained so much about my life and my ongoing healing from my abusive and chaotic childhood. I’m lucky to live just 20 minutes from Jane and remember so vividly meeting her for the first time and peppering her with questions, ideas, stories. Once I saw the world through an PACEs-science-informed lens, I realized PACEs was at the root of the public health issues I had been addressing throughout my career. I was so moved by the implications of the science and the need to share it with the world that I changed the focus of my career exclusively to PACEs science.

Val Krist

Graphic and Web Designer


Artist, mom, carpool driver, school volunteer, shoelace tie-er.

Val is the graphic and web designer for ACEs Connection Network where she finds new ways to make visual content and makes sure runs smoothly. For the past 17 years, Krist has collaborated and created web, print and illustration design projects for the University of California Foundation Plant Services - UCD; the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley; Oceans Foundation; California Department of Fish and Game; Stanford University, University of California, Santa Cruz; Yahoo!; Google; University of California, Davis, Health System, as well as privately owned businesses and corporations. She is currently enjoying her web and design work with the ACEs Connection Network while continuing her most important job -- raising her three young children with her husband, Karl, in Woodland, CA.

ACEs story: I've worked with Jane for years and getting ACEs Connection up and running has been her dream. So of course, I was on board to help. Learning about childhood trauma and how it affects us and the people around us really opened my eyes and changed how I interact in my daily life with strangers, friends, my volunteer work, and my family. It's a life-changer.

Val Krist

Graphic and Web Designer


Artist, mom, carpool driver, school volunteer, shoelace tie-er.

Val is the graphic and web designer for PACEs Connection where she finds new ways to make visual content and makes sure runs smoothly. For the past 17 years, Krist has collaborated and created web, print and illustration design projects for the University of California Foundation Plant Services - UCD; the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley; Oceans Foundation; California Department of Fish and Game; Stanford University, University of California, Santa Cruz; Yahoo!; Google; University of California, Davis, Health System, as well as privately owned businesses and corporations. She is currently enjoying her web and design work with the ACEs Connection while continuing her most important job -- raising her three young children with her husband, Karl, in Woodland, CA.

PACEs story: I've worked with Jane for years and getting PACEs Connection up and running has been her dream. So of course, I was on board to help. Learning about childhood trauma and how it affects us and the people around us really opened my eyes and changed how I interact in my daily life with strangers, friends, my volunteer work, and my family. It's a life-changer.

Rafael Maravilla

Network Manager


Indigenous-rooted, raised in a tiny town, scientific-brained, 9/10 ACEs,  resilient mobilizer.

In his capacity as Network Manager, Rafael uses his decades-long experience working with various types of software to ensure that runs smoothly and has plenty of content. He resolves issues that members have as soon as possible with the least amount of interruption. He drops the Daily Digest and Weekly Roundup in your inbox. For this he scours the internet to make sure members receive relevant and up-to-date information.


Rafael is a single father to an awesome teenager. He is currently an MS candidate at the Institute for Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also indulging in his hobby of learning Data Science online.


PACEs Story:  I was born to two Mexican indigenous immigrant parents in a small immigrant ethnic enclave in California's Central Valley. As I was growing up, I faced many types of abuse, torture, and neglect, and knew that I had to get out. So I went to UC Berkeley and UC Merced, but wanted more. So I applied to UCSF. It was at my UCSF interview where I met Dr. Mohsen Malekinejad who introduced me to the world of PACEs science and PACEs Connection. Since then, my passion for PACEs science has grown exponentially.

Donielle Prince

Director of State Initiatives & Community Organizing


 Committed to educating and empowering people to use knowledge about PACEs and trauma to heal their families and communities.

Through contributing to and coordinating the PACEs Connection Creating Resilient Communities Accelerator, Donielle will continue PACEs Connection’s mission to support the growth of both statewide and local community resilience initiatives. Donielle brings to this work over 20 years’ experience as a program evaluator, focused on education, community based youth programming, mental health, and its intersections. Donielle’s core expertise is in understanding those elements of programming and initiatives that present challenges, as well as those that yield the potential for change. Donielle’s signature evaluation projects included youth development studies, trauma informed training evaluations, and educational equity focused program and curriculum evaluations. Donielle’s experience has taught her that evaluation research is above all a communication tool- the ability to examine a program and then organize those findings, a process which helps to bring clarity to a program mission. A well crafted mission then becomes a platform from which to create and sustain tangible change. In the community, Donielle’s experience with research, policy and reform is reflected in her deep commitment to advocating for social justice. This work has included youth mentoring, including first-time offending juveniles and foster youth; as well as community based organizing against state violence, educational inequity, and lack of access to mental health supports, particularly for members of marginalized communities- similar to the community where she was raised, in East Palo Alto, CA, located in the “Silicon Valley”. Currently, Donielle resides in Sacramento, CA. Donielle has studied education, counseling psychology and human development, and race and racism, earning her B.A. at Wellesley College (1995), her MS.Ed. at the University of Pennsylvania (1996), and her Ph.D. at Stanford University (2006). 



PACEs story: Over 10 years ago, I sat down with a family and a school staff member to bridge a misunderstanding. We all got up from that table with a common understanding that a child’s difficult behavior was rooted in something he had no control over — his body’s stress response, connected to trauma he had experienced, and that the school, until that meeting,  neither knew about, nor understood, how to help heal. Their strategies had, in fact, retraumatized the child. After our meeting, the school staff took seriously my suggestions about how to help soothe this child’s fears, and swiftly implemented effective interventions. The difficult behaviors soon subsided.


As a therapist and education researcher, I have learned that like this school, many environments lack an understanding of how humans work. The ACE Study and related research and practice has innovated a simple yet profound way of helping organizations and communities understand how humans work, and how institutional practices can support or hinder healthy growth. Once these connections are made, the work to address the harm that institutions can do becomes clear and urgent.

Sylvia Paull

Media strategist, high-tech liaison, writer.   


Media booster, networker, community organizer, and cycling advocate.

Sylvia helped encourage the former award-winning journalist, teacher, and PACEs visionary Jane Stevens to nurture and give birth to her dream sites long before they emerged as realities. She's invited Jane to speak at the Berkeley Cybersalon, an event she hosted for twenty years bringing together people in high-tech to explore the impact technology has on our culture. Sylvia also founded a networking group for women in high-tech, Gracenet, which featured monthly meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, to support women in these fields. She launched a publicity campaign, the DisGraceful Award in Advertising, to create awareness of sexist advertising in high tech media, and successfully got several large companies, including IBM, to withdraw their ads as a result of media coverage. Since working with Jane on PACEs, she views everyone she meets -- including herself -- with a new perspective and empathy that derives from understanding the early struggles each human has faced and its impact on their behavior, health, and well being.


PACEs Story: My PACEs story starts when PACEs Connection was still being conceived in 2011. Jane Stevens, whom I’ve known for decades, told me about the science and why she was launching the organization. Once I got involved with PACEs Connection and heard people's stories, whether online or at the first California PACEs Summit in 2014, I began to see everyone I knew with a completely different perspective. All their destructive behaviors — whether self-destructive or inflicted on others — made sense. So, I began to ask my friends about their childhoods, and sometimes I already knew about their childhoods but hadn't connected their traumas to their behaviors, such as excessive drinking or verbal abuse, that hurt them and often others as well. When I was 19 and a college student, I tutored math in a state prison in eastern Oregon. The warden told me that all the prisoners were sociopaths, because they felt no regret and compassion when harming others. Looking back, I realize that all the prisoners I tutored told me they had had terrible childhoods: a parent in jail, an alcoholic or drug-dependent parent, and/or had experienced physical abuse. What I heard was that none of them had been loved as children. Now, with an understanding of PACEs science, I realize that none of these prisoners, all men, knew how to love because they themselves had not been loved. One day, I hope this prison and all prisons integrate PACEs science to help those inside develop the ability to love and adapt to a meaningful life inside develop the ability to love and adapt to a meaningful life.

Mathew Portell

Director of Communities


An unapologetic disrupter through the use of current PACEs science.

Mathew Portell has dedicated a decade and a half to education in his role as a teacher, instructional coach, teacher mentor, and school administrator before joining PACES Connection as the director of communities in March 2022. He spent seven years as principal of Fall-Hamilton Elementary, an internationally recognized innovative model school for trauma-informed practices in Metro Nashville Public Schools. The school's work has been featured on National Public Radio, the local documentary Enough, PBS, and Edutopia, one of the world's top educational practices websites funded by the George Lucas Foundation, which resulted in over 7,000,000 views. Portell has had the honor of presenting Fall-Hamilton's work nationally, internationally, within private organizations, and to state and federal policy creators and decision-makers. In September 2019, he founded the Trauma Informed Educators Network on Facebook, with over 29,000 educators. He also hosts a weekly podcast, the Trauma-Informed Educators Network Podcast, which has featured 50+ guests, including Dr. Bruce Perry, Ingrid Cockhren, Dr. Mona Delahooke, Zaretta Hammond, and many more. In 2020-2021, Mathew was chosen as the Elementary School Principal of the Year by 74 fellow elementary school principals in Metro Nashville Public Schools.


Portell’s work extends past his educational experience. As a classroom teacher in 2008, he combined his passion for literacy and cycling and founded the double award-winning national non-profit Ride for Reading. The organization promoted literacy and healthy living by distributing books via bicycle to underserved children. Ride for Reading has donated over 500,000 books to children nationally.


Portell holds a B.S in elementary education and an M.Ed in curriculum from Tennessee State University and completed his administration requirements at Trevecca Nazarene University. In 2019, Portell completed the level 1 certification in Trauma and Resilience at Florida State University.


PACEs Story:

I started teaching 4th grade English learners in 2006 and knew immediately that relationships were the foundation of learning for all students and people. That theory was the foundation of my career until I became principal in 2015. At that time, I used traditional approaches to student social and emotional struggles, which did not feel ethical. Fortunately, during the middle of my first year, I attended a lecture at Vanderbilt University that introduced me to PACEs science. I clearly remember the emotional response I had when I learned about ACEs. I was asked to join a small group for a question and answer with the speakers after the talk, and I could not hold back my tears. I broke emotionally. In reflection, I had shied away from having

relationships as the driver with children and was focusing on student compliance. Through this lecture and the science, I realized what I was doing to children—the standard disciplinary practices—was not what I should have been doing with and for children.

The impact was immediate in all aspects of my life. It propelled my work into reimaging and implementing practices that reflected what we know about adversity and the positive effects of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments. It became a priority for me to promote the development of self-regulation skills and support the build of co-regulation skills amongst the whole school community. Fall-Hamilton Elementary became an internationally recognized school for trauma-informed practices, not because the school had everything figured out, but because we unapologetically started our journey and had measured success. Since then, I have found myself an unapologetic disrupter of systems that are designed to counter PACEs science.

Jenna Quinn

Program Coordinator, Environmental Justice Consultant


Climate activist, globalist, and typically over caffeinated

Jenna received her undergraduate degree in Health Sciences from Boston University in January of 2019, then continued her studies at the Boston University School of Public Health. Jenna graduated with a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Environmental Health in January of 2020. Jenna is passionate about the well being of our planet and the well being of all the populations that inhabit it. In her free time, Jenna enjoys baking, yoga, group fitness classes, and spending time outside. 


PACEs Story: I first heard about the idea of PACEs after watching the Nadine Burke Harris Ted Talk in one of my courses at Boston University. I was blown away at the idea of something being so prevalent in our society, yet having never heard of it.  Looking at the world through with an understanding of PACEs science allowed me to see the relationship between one's childhood and your future overall health. I am passionate about PACEs becoming a more well known public health problem. 

Carey Smith Sipp

Director of Strategic Partnerships


Disrupter of multi-generational cycles of trauma and addiction. Just one generation of trauma-free humans can end poverty.

Carey Sipp, Director of Strategic Partnerships for PACEs Connection, helps decision makers at organizations and coalitions realize the benefits of partnership in the PACEs (positive and adverse childhood experiences) movement to prevent and heal childhood trauma and create positive childhood experiences. She is gifted in identifying potential partnerships and connecting organizations, grantees, funders, communities, and corporations that share similar or complementary missions and values, helping them connect the dots between, for example, creating trauma-informed work and school environments and seeing improvements in attendance and outcomes. She is also skilled at building relationships and making available the connections, learning, and data to accelerate and expand the movement and to track and share positive outcomes of the work. 

Carey synergizes four decades of experience as an award-winning writer, marketer, fundraiser, and campaigner. Formerly the SE regional Community Facilitator for PACEs Connection, Carey supported initiatives in 11 states in forming, finding resources, and leveraging opportunities to implement trauma-informed practices. She still serves as the PACEs Connection lead in communications and social media to build awareness of PACEs science across all sectors.


The author of a book on breaking multi-generational cycles of addiction and abuse, Carey was writing about the health implications of what she called “toxic intensity” before learning, in 2000, about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).  A lifelong student of the sciences, Carey is drawn to learn daily about brain development, health and leadership. With all humility, she calls herself a cautionary tale and a success story in what positive and adverse childhood experiences can do to a human. She is an avid believer in post-traumatic growth, big ideas, and the power of good people working to change the world. She also believes that to disrupt toxic systems, we as adults must learn and share about PACEs science, examine and heal our own trauma, and view every child as being our own. 


Carey is the mother of an adventurous son and daughter living in Montana and is restored by spending time with her children and their partners when Montana is warm, and reading a good book in a shady spot at the beach when at home in coastal North Carolina.

PACEs story: I grew up in addiction and abuse. When I had children, I vowed they would have a saner, calmer childhood than my own, so I joined a recovery group for family and friends of alcoholics, immersed myself in parenting education, and quit drinking, just in case. Somehow I knew children’s brains are wired for peace and calm or for agitation and addiction. In 1996, when I started working on a book about breaking cycles of addiction and abuse, I called the National Association for Children of Alcoholics for resources. In 2000, one of the pieces of information they sent was the ACE Study. I read it and wept. My score explained my health issues; my prognosis was grim. Instinctively, I delved deeper into recovery, spirituality, parenting, exercise, nutrition. A few years later, hope came when advances in brain science showed the brain has plasticity, the body wants to heal. In 2008 I started contributing articles about PACEs science to a medical information website. Five years later I met Jane Stevens, and five years after that, I was hired at PACEs Connection. My work comes full circle as I write about how PACEs lead to addiction and addiction leads to PACEs, and that PACEs science and trauma-informed communities hold solutions to preventing multi-generational cycles of addiction and abuse.

Jane Stevens

Founder, publisher


Inspirer of safe change and solutions, ace connector, a steward of planet Earth, cat lady.

Jane Ellen Stevens is founder and publisher of PACEs Connection, comprising the social network and the news site Stevens has been a health, science and technology journalist for more than 35 years. She worked for newspapers, magazines and TV stations. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and National Geographic. She began reporting about the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and the other four parts of PACEs science in 2005. She has lived and worked in Kenya and Indonesia, and has been to Antarctica — in the winter — three times on reporting fellowships.


PACEs story: In 2004, I noticed a short story in the local Davis (CA) Enterprise about an upcoming child sexual abuse conference that was being hosted by the Incest Survivors Speakers Bureau. Curiosity (and my own history) led me to the small organization’s leader, Connie Valentine. During our conversation, she said, “Have you heard about the ACE Study?” I said no, tell me more. She did, and I was stunned. It explained so much — all the world’s health, violence, social, and economic ills. It also explained my life. The first article I wrote about the ACE Study was published as the main Sunday feature in 2005 in the Sacramento Bee, and eventually led to me launching PACEs Connection in 2012.


PACEs Connection is a social network that recognizes the impact of a wide variety of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and that promotes trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all families, organizations, systems and communities.

We support communities to accelerate the science of positive and adverse childhood experiences to solve our most intractable problems.

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