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Conference Presenters




Charles Clark (he/him/his)

Charles Clark is a former 3-time National Champion, 10-time All-American, and the 6th fastest man in the world. After a debilitating injury, his dreams and goals were shattered, completely changing the trajectory of his life. While dealing with being at his lowest point, he started visiting schools and sharing his story with young people. Eventually, he realized that in order to make a difference, he would need to share his entire story – the good, the bad, and the difficult. He now travels the world, helping people become mentally strong, build resilience, improve their habits, discover their purpose, and set goals.

Sally Karioth, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Sally Karioth is a professor at FSU where she has taught more than 26,000 students. Her class on grief, loss, and trauma has been a ‘must take’ for students for over 50 years. She is a much sought after public speaker and a TV, newspaper, and radio commentator. Her private practice focuses on helping clients with loss and trauma.

Melissa Brocato (she/her/hers)

Melissa Brocato, is Assistant Vice Provost, and executive director of the Center for Academic Success (CAS) at Louisiana State University, one of only two twice certified NCLCA national learning centers of excellence in the country. She has dedicated her nearly 30-year career in education, 24 within the Center for Academic Success, to helping students learn more effectively and think critically. Through her work she has been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of academic support programs and the teaching of metacognition’s effect on student academic resilience, performance, retention, graduation, and self-efficacy for all students including those in STEM and those from at-risk populations. She has developed and delivered metacognitive principles to students in transition programs from high school to college and has assisted in creating a highly effective academic coaching program at LSU. 

Sara Gorman(she/her/hers)

Sara Gorman, PhD, MPH is Director of Research and Knowledge Dissemination at The Jed Foundation (JED). As a public health specialist and author, she has also written extensively about mental health, global health, and the intersection of public health and psychology, among other topics. Sara’s first book, Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, published by Oxford University Press in 2016, explores the psychology behind irrational health beliefs and decisions. Her second book, in process and also for Oxford University Press, examines medical mistrust and conspiracy theories in the wake of COVID-19.

Melanie-Anne Atkins, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins is the Associate Director, TA Programs at the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Teaching and Learning. In 2016, she led the creation of a student-driven wellness education innovation hub teaching evidence-based mental health and wellness strategies. Since then, Dr. Atkins has delivered over 250 presentations and collaborates with universities, colleges, and other organizations to develop educational resources in the areas of mental health and wellness, anti-oppressive practices in education, EDI, intercultural communications, and eLearning.

Alex Bolinger, Ph.D. (he/him/his)

Alex Bolinger is the ICCU Endowed Professor of Management at Idaho State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and teaches classes on leadership, negotiation and decision-making, and organizational behavior. Bolinger’s research focuses on team dynamics and leadership and has appeared in the Harvard Business Review and Academy of Management Review, among other outlets. His experiences with facilitating student resilience through gratitude came while serving as the acting director of the Idaho State University Honors Program during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Mitzi Brammer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP (she/her/hers)

Dr. Mitzi Brammer is an associate professor in the Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences department at Saint Louis University. She serves the department as the Graduate Program Director. Her research interests include resilience (students and faculty), interprofessional practice, language and literacy connections, and inclusive practices. She has published and presented widely on these topics.

Megan Kennedy (she/her/hers)

Megan Kennedy, the Director of the Resilience Lab at the University of Washington, aims to build healthy and compassionate learning communities where students, staff, and instructors thrive. She is developing and evaluating a systems-based approach to well-being that combines applied research, education, and collaborative programming across three University of Washington campuses. This includes supporting and partnering with faculty and academic departments, student health care, student life, and campus-and community-based organizations seeking to deepen their mindful capacity and resilience. Kennedy earned her master’s degree in Applied Behavioral Science from Bastyr University and is a licensed therapist with over a decade of experience in public and private practice.

Omid Fotuhi, Ph.D. (he/him/his)

Dr. Omid Fotuhi currently serves as the Director of Learning and Innovation at WGU Labs, as well as a visiting research associate at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Fotuhi’s research focuses on the psychology of performance and motivation in the domains of academics, athletics, and workplace achievement–insights which he translates into actionable strategies for practitioners and individuals.

Mindy Barna, Ed.D. (she/her/hers)

Dr. Mindy Barna serves as the Associate Dean for Health Professions at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska. She has devoted the last 15 years of her career towards educating and empowering women. Her experience includes developing academic programs, curriculum, educational plans, and assessments. Dr. Barna holds a Doctorate in Education from College of Saint Mary, a Master of Science in Nursing from Nebraska Methodist College, and her associate’s and bachelor’s degree in the Science of Nursing from College of Saint Mary.

Jennifer Thannhauser, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Jennifer Thannhauser, PhD, is a counsellor, and past associate director (counselling), in Student Wellness Services at the University of Calgary. As a registered psychologist (Alberta), she specializes in post-secondary mental health supporting students with a wide range of concerns. Her research and practice interests include holistic approaches to fostering mental health & resilience in post-secondary students, grief and loss, and adjustment to chronic illness among emerging adult population. She is the founder of the Resilience Research & Practice Community of Practice.

Diana Morelen Ph.D., IMH-E (she/her/they/them)

Dr. Diana Morelen is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at East Tennessee State University, a licensed clinical psychologist with specialization, and the associate director of training implementation and dissemination for ETSU’s Strong BRAIN (Building Resilience through ACEs-Informed Networking) Institute. Dr. Morelen is honored to serve as a consultant for the Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee (AIMHiTN) and a board director of Postpartum Support International (PSI-TN). Dr. Morelen is a clinical scientist committed to breaking the intergenerational transmission of trauma, adversity, and mental illness through evidence-based prevention and intervention programs. Dr. Morelen’s work uses a trauma-informed, relationship-based, and diversity-informed approach to promote resilience from the top down (e.g., systems level change) as well as the bottom up (e.g., community-based intervention programming).

Erlinda Delacruz, M.A. (she/her/hers)

Erlinda joined JED in February 2020, right before quarantine. Her passion areas focus on supporting marginalized communities in America with equitable access to treatment, systems change work, and cultural humility/competency, especially for topics related to People of Color. She has held positions in residence life and multicultural affairs. Erlinda received a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Film Studies and a M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Cracco, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Elizabeth Cracco is the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Life and Wellbeing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Cracco is charged with leading a collaborative including four key units on campus, including Residential Life, Campus Recreations, Counseling and Psychological Health and Health Promotion, to develop and implement strategic visioning and a coordinated response to the mental health and wellbeing need of the 35,000-plus students on campus.
Betsy believes that connection and belonging is at the heart of all wellbeing, and utilizes her interpersonal skills, developed over 25 years as a clinician and leader in the field of collegiate mental health, to build collaborative partnerships across campus to forward this central goal.

Genevieve Chandler, RN, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Dr. Chandler is an associate professor of nursing at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Chandler’s passion is understanding how to build resilience to interrupt the effect Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) have on health risk behaviors, hard-to-treat symptoms, and chronic disease conditions. Her resilience model is the framework for strength-based interventions to develop the capacity to bounce back from stress to promote young adult health and wellbeing. She is a leader in promoting trauma informed care to eliminate seclusion and restraints and create a safe environment for patients and staff on inpatient mental health units. Mentoring as strategy to empower students, nurses, and faculty is the focus of Dr. Chandler’s educational research, which has resulted in two books, the award-winning Ultimate Guide to Getting into Nursing School and New Nurse’s Survival Guide, as well as two Robert Wood Johnson New Careers in Nursing awards.

Jim Helling, MSW, LICSW (he/him/his)

Jim Helling is a UMass Center for Counseling and Psychological Health senior clinician and leader of the Athletic Counseling Office at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Helling works to expand the scope of their classroom-based “Changing Minds, Changing Lives” (CMCL), designed to support first-year student-athletes’ successful transition into college life.

Joyce Mikal-Flynn Ed.D., RN (she/her/hers)

Dr. Joyce Mikal-Flynn is an Associate Professor at California State University, Sacramento teaching courses in Neuroscience and Trauma Informed Care. Due to her area of research and expertise she focuses on the course she created: Traumatology: An Introduction to Posttraumatic Growth and direct application of PTG in recovery programs. Along with her FNP practice, she continues studying and collaborating with institutions and organizations focusing on direct clinical application of metahabillitation, a recovery system which supports and guides one toward PTG. She has several peer-reviewed publications and over 40 podium presentations at international and national conference, lecturing about PTG and her unique system of rehabilitation, MetaHabilitation. Her publications include her book: Turning Tragedy Into Triumph. Metahabilitation; A Contemporary Model of Rehabilitation.

Nikita Gupta (she/her/hers)

Nikita Gupta, MPH, RYT is a recognized leader who has worked internationally with diverse communities, educational leaders and community service providers for over 25 years to transform trauma through healing and resilience. Nikita is the founder of the innovative GRIT Coaching Program at UCLA where she served students, staff and faculty for over 10 years with resilience coaching and community healing programs. As a public health professional and facilitator, her work is rooted in practices of collective empowerment and social healing for individuals and service-based organizations. Through training, coaching and collaboration she aims to foster a culture of resilience as we bravely move through the unknown, while finding joy in each day. Learn more about her work: www.linktr.ee/ngupta.

Rebecca Gilbert, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Dr. Rebecca Gilbert is a Health and Wellness Educator at Indiana University Bloomington. Dr. Gilbert has worked at Indiana University’s Student Health Center since 2012. Prior to this, Dr. Gilbert taught at Temple University in Philadelphia and at Indiana University Bloomington. Dr. Gilbert has an MS in counseling and PhD in Therapeutic Recreation, and experience working as both a counselor and recreation therapist in community and inpatient psychiatric facilities. She is a certified health coach and CTRS (certified therapeutic recreation specialist), and has taught multiple courses on topics related to mental health and wellness.

Doria “Kathy” Stitts, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Dr. Doria Kathleen Stitts (Kathy) serves as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of University College and Lifelong Learning at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), where she leads a dedicated team of faculty, staff and students who provide academic support services to students along their academic journeys. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Kathy is a 2018-19 American Council of Education Fellow (ACE) and a graduate of the 2015 class of the HERS Leadership Institute and serves her community through membership in local and national organizations including the boards of Forsyth Futures, the Bethesda Center for the Homeless, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to name a few. Kathy believes that she is called to help others succeed, participating in research and providing presentations on advising, professionalism, etiquette, leadership, strategic planning, and assessment. After receiving her BS degree in accounting and MBA from Florida A & M University, and her Ph.D. in marketing from Florida State University, Kathy now enjoys traveling, reading, and is an avid foodie.

Ty Konopinski (he/him/his)

I have worked in higher education for a total of 7 years, specifically in the work of conflict resolution, student conduct, development, Title IX and continuous improvement of policy for student thriving. Currently I serve in central Kentucky as a Director of Student Services for Asbury Theological Seminary and work with extension sites in Memphis TN, Colorado Springs, CO, Tulsa OK, Orlando FL, and Tampa Bay, FL. I have been married for 11 years and have three children, ages 6, 4, and to be born this Thanksgiving!


Chase Black, Ph.D. (he/him/his)

Chase Black is the Director of the Academic Guides Program at Duke University. As part of the Academic Guides team, he also offers academic and well-being support to students living in two of Duke’s West Campus residence halls. He has a PhD in Literature from the University of California San Diego and a background in undergraduate teaching, advising and program coordination.


Laura Johnson, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Laura Johnson currently serves as the Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Affairs at Boston University, where she works with university stakeholders to develop academic programs and policies that enhance educational opportunities for undergraduate students. Laura began her career as a faculty member in History & Literature and in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Harvard University, where she also held a variety of positions in academic affairs and student affairs. Laura holds a doctorate in American Studies from Boston University, with a specialization in gender studies, and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she focused her studies on student development. Laura is particularly interested in student wellbeing and academic resilience, and she serves as the Vice Chair of the Academic Resilience Consortium.


Carrie Landa, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dr. Carrie Landa is the Executive Director of Student Wellbeing at Boston University. Under the Provost’s office, her department works to create a campus environment that supports student’s growth, personally, interpersonally and professionally, highlighting the importance of wellbeing as a driver of student success. The office brings together multiple campus stakeholders to provide a truly integrated experience around wellbeing for a diverse student body.


Maggie McDowell, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Maggie McDowell is an Academic Guide at Duke University, where she provides residentially-based academic advising and well-being support to undergraduate students. She holds a Ph.D. in English and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. As an instructor and advisor she is committed to creating student-led spaces for exploration and self-expression.


For questions regarding the conference, please contact Merina Cameron at [email protected] 

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