Map of city with people and trees. Text says, Positive Change Virtual Conference. 2023 Rebuilding Connection: Creating Resilience. March 22 & 23, 2023.

Positive Change Virtual Conference Speakers

Darigg C. Brown, PHD, MPH, Program Manager of Substance Use, Prevention, and Evaluation Research, RTI International

Darigg C. Brown is a behavioral scientist skilled in qualitative research methods, as well as program evaluation and capacity building efforts.  Dr. Brown has a diverse set of work experiences in community, state, and federal, and international health settings conducting research and programmatic activities in areas such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, diabetes, workplace health promotion, mental health, positive youth development, and health equity. His expertise in these areas includes using qualitative methods to coordinate and conduct community-level evaluations on program effectiveness and capacity building, as well as providing training and technical assistance to stakeholders.

Dr. Brown has worked with foundations, community-based organizations, and local governments, and has provided content-specific expertise on federally funded projects from the CDC, SAMHSA, NIH, and FDA. He currently leads the evaluation of several evidence-based prevention initiatives. Additionally, his global health experience includes culturally appropriate quality assessment, technical assistance, and intervention development activities to eliminate health disparities in various international settings.

Stephanie Diez-Morel, PhD, LCSW, MCAP, Founder & President, Reboot & Recover

Dr. Stephanie Diez-Morel (pronouns: she/her) is an author, trainer, and speaker on the topics of gaming and technology wellness. Dr. Diez-Morel has authored many scientific journal articles and presentations, as well as appeared in the media on a variety of radio, podcasts, and news outlets to discuss the topic of gaming disorder and other technology-based addictions.

In 2013, Dr. Diez-Morel founded Reboot & Recover, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education, prevention, treatment, and research on technology-based addictions. She earned her PhD from Florida International University where she was awarded a fellowship in Health Disparities Research, offered through the Center for Research on US Latinos (CRUSADA) and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As a licensed clinical social worker, she has worked within nonprofit community organizations and in community hospitals providing direct clinical services to children, families, and adults experiencing addiction.

Dr. Diez-Morel utilizes her expertise in behavioral health and addictions to serve in her role as a board member of the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (IGCCB) and as a gaming expert consultant for several organizations and telehealth agencies. Dr. Diez-Morel continues her clinical practice, as she is dually licensed in the U.S. states of Florida and Pennsylvania. Her clinical practice areas include: technology-based addictions, gaming disorder, behavioral addictions, behavioral health, co-occurring disorders, and mental health.

Lark Eshleman, PhD, MLS, Author & Owner, Eshleman Mental Health Consulting

Lark Eshleman is a Doctor of Psychology whose work specializes in child trauma – its causes, immediate negative impacts, and long-term effects, and how we can prevent and reverse the damage. In her career she has been a school librarian, elementary school principal, PA school psychologist, and specialty clinic founder and director. She is an author of a well-received book on attachment in adoption, and a “coloring in pairs” book for children and adults who want to become closer together.

Dr. Eshelman’s work has taken her to Asia, India, and Eastern Europe, especially to war-torn countries where she developed programs for children of war. She has recently been invited to Romania to teach this program to care-givers and therapists working with refugee children and teens from Ukraine. Currently she offers training and consultation to educators, parents, adoption professionals and others who hold children’s lives in their care.

Wynne Kinder, MEd, Author and Owner, Wellness Works in Schools

Wynne has supported teachers and students through her program Wellness Works in Schools for more than 20 years. She guides teachers, students, and parents in managing stress and increasing their locus of control. Informed by science and experience, her trauma-sensitive program offers choice-based, mindful practices and social-emotional content that are increasingly relevant in today’s challenging world.

Wellness Works in Schools consists of a team of professional educators who help create a sustainable, healthy, and resilient school cultures. Ms. Kinder’s work has expanded to include 30 regional districts and reached millions of kids through her GoNoodle channels. She teaches educators in graduate school and has written curricula and classroom manuals as well as engaging books for children, including CALM – Mindfulness for Kids and I Am – I Can: 365 Affirmations for Kids.

Dana Milakovic, PsyD, NCSD, Mental Wellness & Trauma Specialist, Pennsylvania Department of Education

Dr. Dana Milakovic serves as the Mental Health/Alcohol and Other Drug Specialist with the Office for Safe Schools for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), serves as the Trauma Lead, and supports PA in moving forward as a trauma-informed state by participating on the leadership team for HEAL PA.

Dr. Milakovic is a mental health and trauma specialist with experience in school mental health, community mental health, pediatric neuropsychology, school administration, and school psychology. In her current role, she is focused on strengthening schools by applying neuropsychological research to mental health integration in schools, trauma-sensitive schools, school climate, substance use disorders, and improving mental health services for children across Pennsylvania. Prior to her work at PDE, Dr. Milakovic spent over 15 years working on behalf of children with special needs as a community mental health evaluator, school psychologist, and administrator.

Joshua Mountz, MEd, CPS, Training Coordinator, Compass Mark

Joshua is the Training Coordinator and a Prevention Specialist with Compass Mark, where he has worked since 2014 after earning his master’s degree in education from Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. As a prevention specialist Joshua teaches classroom lessons K-12 and college age, community education sessions, represents Compass Mark at local health fairs, and works with various community partners to champion the cause of prevention!

Joshua has joined the Student Assistance Program (SAP) training team at Compass Mark and has been confirmed as a State Certified Lead SAP Trainer. Training in the areas of SAP, Problem Gambling, Loot Boxes, and other topics related to substance use/misuse, Joshua provides educators and community members with important and relevant information.

Leah Mundy-Maher, MSW, LSW, Program Director, Behavioral Health Training and Education Network

Leah has worked with youth and families in clinical and social work settings for over 15 years, providing crisis intervention, victim support services, and individual and group therapy to children and adolescents in outpatient settings. She is experienced with collaboration across child-serving systems, including behavioral health, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and law enforcement.

Leah is trained in TF-CBT and is a PA-Approved Student Assistance Program (SAP) Training Provider. Her work has consistently highlighted the value of evidence-based trauma-informed care for vulnerable youth across settings. Leah is a licensed Social Worker and earned her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Marjorie Paradise, EdD, MS, Community Volunteer

Marj Paradise is the mother of three biological children (one, Liz, is in heaven due to an opioid overdose), four stepchildren, and has 13 grandchildren. Marj is a psychologist who earned degrees in psychology from Bucknell and Millersville Universities and her doctorate from Immaculata University. She currently leads groups for Hospice & Community Care – Pathways Center for Grief & Loss, serves on the board of directors of GOAL Project, and has recently joined the Lancaster County Overdose Fatality Review Team.

Nicole Platz, MS, EPIS Center, Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, Penn State University

Nicole Platz, MS, is an implementation specialist at EPIS Center, an intermediary organization at Penn State University—part of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center—connecting research, policy and real-world practice to improve outcomes for children and families across Pennsylvania. Nicole obtained her Master of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Phoenix.

Prior to her work at EPIS, she served in various capacities during her 12- year tenure at the Achievement Center in Erie, PA. She has practiced as a Family-Based Mental Health Therapist and Supervisor, Supervisor of the EcoSystemic Structural Family Mobile Therapy Program, and just completed her role as the Project Director for the System of Care, a SAMHSA funded grant initiative, in Erie County.

Nicole is a co-chair for the Diversity & Belonging Work Group of the Erie Coalition for a Trauma Informed Community (ECTIC), as well as a member of the ECTIC Executive Committee. She is the current Treasurer for the Board of Directors at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Erie, a Certified Professional Supervisor, a Certified Clinical Supervisor through Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic since 2016, and a Certified Eco Systemic Structural Family Therapist since 2012. She has been Sanctuary Model trained for Trauma Informed Care since 2012 and has organized Annual Trauma Conferences in Erie County since 2017.

Melanie Rankin, MSW, LSW, COBYS Family Services

Melanie Rankin has spent the last 20 years working in the child welfare system in the areas of foster care and adoption and spent the last three years in private practice as an outpatient therapist specializing in treating children with attachment challenges and early complex trauma. Melanie received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Houghton University and her Masters of Social Work from Temple University.  She is a Licensed Social Worker, currently working towards her LCSW, as well as a  Certified Attachment and Trauma Specialist.

Andrea Reca, LPC, CAADC, Clinical Team Lead, Wellspan Philhaven

Andrea Reca obtained her MA in counseling psychology from Towson University in 2010. She has worked in addiction services since 2012 and is the Clinical Team Lead at START. In this role, she has helped to hire and develop treatment team members, implement evidence-based practices, and demonstrate clinical outcomes.

Ms. Reca participates in the Consumer Advisory Board and works closely with the York County Wellness Courts, the Re-entry Coalition, and the Community Action for Recovery and Diversion program. She is passionate about addressing health disparities in marginalized populations, is an MBA candidate at Lebanon Valley College, and plans to move into healthcare administration.

Eric Rodriguez, MSW, LSW, CAADC, Education Resource Director, Caron Treatment Centers

At Caron’s Education Alliance Department, Eric Rodriguez oversees education, training, development, and learning initiatives, with a focus on corporate and organizational education. Prior to accepting that role in 2021, he worked as a behavioral health therapist for the Caron’s Grand View program, providing individual and family therapy to patients and their families, facilitating groups, offering educational lectures, and helping to set up aftercare plans.

Eric has advanced education in co-occurring disorders, specifically related to anxiety, and is trained in cognitive processing therapy for trauma. He began working at Caron in 2017 as a therapist for the Primary Men’s program, serving in a similar role. Before joining Caron, Eric worked as a social worker with heart and vascular transplant patients and their families, providing social and family evaluations and post-transplant discharge planning.

Prior to his career in health care, Eric worked in sales and marketing within the telecommunications industry. Eric is a licensed social worker in the state of Pennsylvania and has a certification in advanced addiction and drug counseling. He has a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Millersville University.

Diane Wagenhals, BA, MEd, CFLE, PQAS Certified, Program Director, Lakeside Global Institute

Diane Wagenhals overseeing programming for Lakeside Global Institute and has authored over 35 courses and workshops. She was an adjunct instructor for Philadelphia University, authoring four courses for which students received a trauma minor. She served as a fellow with the Child Trauma Academy from 2010 through 2021, was a member of the Philadelphia ACEs Task Force, has maintained certification as a Pennsylvania PQAS (Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System) instructor since 2007, and is a Certified Family Life Educator.

Diane is a secretary on the executive board of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practices, a national non-profit organization that advocates for political involvement in how we support and fund programs that impact children and families. She has been an elementary school teacher, a childbirth educator, a family therapist, and the founder of a parenting education company. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from West Chester University and performed graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Maryland in rehabilitation counseling. She received a Master of Education in psycho-educational processes, specializing in family therapy, from Temple University.

Jessica W. Weiss-Ford, PhD, LCSW, CCTP, Adjunct Professor, Millersville University and LGBTQ Community Liaison + Primary Therapist, Sun Point Counseling

Dr. Jessica Weiss-Ford, LCSW, CCTP is a licensed outpatient therapist at Sun Point Counseling and adjunct professor at Millersville University School of Social Work. She is also co-chair of the Positive Change Virtual Conference. She was formerly was the coordinator of a graduate internship program at a local counseling center, and currently serves as an experienced Field Instructor and Social Work Graduate Adjunct Professor at Millersville.

Dr. Weiss-Ford worked with Lancaster Children & Youth Agency for 7 years investigating neglect and abuse cases and related systemic issues such as poverty and substance use disorder. The importance of fostering resiliency and meaningful connections for children and families was apparent in addressing the difficult dynamics they were facing.

With over two decades of clinical experience, Dr. Weiss-Ford offers a therapy space that welcomes people of all genders, sexualities, cultures, religions, and diverse relationships, utilizing a strengths-based, non-judgmental approach. She formulates clinical interventions relevant to each of her client’s needs in all their life domains and is most proud of being able to walk alongside the journeys of both clients and her interns in their respective lives.

She has trained on working with LGBTQ+ populations and trauma-informed approaches with real world expectations to clinical agencies and within Millersville University. Her clinical roles are diverse including: licensure supervision, school-based counseling, outpatient mental health, and providing case consultation on LGBTQ+ and sexual therapy cases.  Dr. Weiss-Ford earned her PhD in human sexuality from Widener University, and she has extensive advanced trauma counseling training, including EMDR Trauma Therapy, Mindfulness Certification Training, and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional certification.

Dr. Weiss-Ford has also taken advanced trainings to better enhance cultural competency and diversity needs, including the intersectionality of our identities and our lived experiences. A book that impacts her clinical practice is How to be Antiracist by Ibram X Kendri. His discussion on how we need to deconstruct oppressive dynamics within our lives, including the language and every-day interactions with one another, inspired Dr. Weiss-Ford to continue to do better in examining her own implicit biases. To quote Brene Brown, “When we deny the story, it defines us.  When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.”

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