This session will explore the concept of trauma-informed performance management, an innovative approach that shifts the focus from solely client-centered care to prioritizing staff well-being. Participants will learn how to recognize and address the signs of trauma among staff members and understand the importance of creating a supportive work environment that fosters resilience and empowerment.

It will also address the challenges that arise when trauma-informed practices are misapplied, leading to staff burnout and organizational strain due to tolerance of poor performance. We will discuss strategies to maintain high-quality standards, while being sensitive to the personal experiences of employees. This includes setting clear expectations, providing constructive feedback, and ensuring that trauma-informed principles do not excuse unprofessional behavior, but rather guide the path to recovery and excellence.

By the end of this training, participants will be equipped with the tools to implement a balanced trauma-informed performance management system that upholds the organization’s mission and values without compromising on quality and accountability.

Learning Objectives


Kiera McGillivray
Chief Program Officer of School Based Initiatives
Co-Director of the Brain Science Training Institute
Children & Families First

Shannon Fisch
Director of Operations & Risk Management
Co-Director of the Brain Science Training Institute
Children & Families First

Would you like to whistle all the way home from work? Do you wish you could fully leverage the power of your organization’s culture? Would you like to have the opportunity to learn about and implement strategies that ensure your services and organization’s success?

If the answer to these questions is a resounding YES, join Dr. Dann for a high-energy, high-impact training on the power of positive organizational culture.

We all operate within an organizational culture. Our social nature and desire to belong shapes membership behavior, and the culture that grows because of this phenomenon can become the defining measure for organizational success or failure. This interactive and engaging session will open the window to understanding your organization’s normative culture, as well as strategies to ensure the presence of positive organizational culture. A rising tide lifts all boats! A positive organizational culture makes the seemingly impossible possible!

Through this session, participants will come away with concrete strategies to ensure that their organization’s culture becomes a powerful source for ensuring success. Participants will explore proven strategies to ensure the presence of a mission-focused, positive organizational culture. Explore the power of WE, learn the connection between your program/organization’s culture and employee resilience and retention. Develop strategies to ensure positive norms that support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Learn about the connection between your organization’s systems and a positive organizational culture. Develop strategies to leverage communication and feedback practices.
And don’t forget – during this session we’ll have some fun!

Learning Objectives


Paul Dann
President and CEO of North American Family Institute
North American Family Institute

Social Current supports organizations nationwide in embedding equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in their culture and operations. To walk the walk and not just talk the talk, Social Current has made its own commitment, beginning its EDI journey when it was formed in 2021.

This session will offer insight into the work that must be done across an organization at all levels – staff and governance – to truly embrace and build operations, governance, and organizational culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and antiracism. While the focus of each may take a different approach, to truly integrate and sustain an EDI culture requires ongoing involvement and investment of both staff and board members. One of Social Current’s staff leads and the chair of the board’s EDI committee will share their experience, including specific strategies and steps to take to move an organization forward on their journey. Candid reflection around barriers will help others to understand and prepare for the inevitable challenges that will be encountered along the way.

Learning Objectives


Jody Levison-Johnson
President and CEO
Social Current


Turaia Ahsan
Accreditation Coordinator
Social Current

Alexandra L. Cawthorne Gaines
Executive Director for Global Public Policy
JPMorgan Chase & Co
EDI Committee Chair
Social Current Board of Directors

This working session will open a space for exploring how narrative and mindset change efforts, which are underway across the sector, could be strengthened with evidence related to economic and concrete supports. In addition, there is a need to infuse the delivery of the economic and concrete support information in alignment with new messages that propel mindset change.

Learning Objectives


Clare Anderson
Senior Policy Fellow
Chapin Hall

A panel of COA Accreditation peer reviewers will offer guidance on the following areas:

The panelists are all seasoned peer reviewers and will be able to help participants break down these areas and make the accreditation or reaccreditation process less stressful and a more rewarding experience. This presentation is for those interested in learning more details about the COA Accreditation process from those that are in the field reviewing organizations.

Through our many years of experience, the panelists have learned simple tips for making the accreditation process easier on the reviewers and organization staff who are responsible for leading the accreditation process. Through four key areas, this session looks to take participants on a path that will make the review process less stressful, easier to organize, and maybe a little fun. The key to the accreditation process is to showcase organizations. In most cases there is a lot of stress and panic that can be avoided. Please join us for what we hope is an exciting look at these topics and allow us to help you get through your site visit a little easier.

Learning Objectives


Justin Loehr
Senior Director of Campus Life Services
Omaha Home for Boys

Brandy Gustoff
Chief Operating Officer
Omaha Home for Boys

This is the second session of a two-part advocacy training during SPARK 2023. This training will equip participants with the information and skills to effectively participate in Social Current’s Hill Day, immediately following the conference, Oct. 18. This session is required for those participating in Hill Day, and all SPARK 2023 participants are invited to join.

This second training session will focus on advanced advocacy strategies, equipping participants with the skills to navigate policymaking and advocate for their causes.

The session will cover the following topics:

This training overlaps with Session D Workshops and part of lunch.

View Part 1 of the training.


Blair Abelle-Kiser
Senior Director of Government Affairs
Social Current

Derry Kiernan
Field Mobilization & Policy Manager
Social Current

Healing is the gathering of resources from within a person, their family (however they define that), and their community. The children, families, and adults we work with are not the only ones who are in need of healing and compassion. Often, it is us healers and compassionate caregivers that have the hardest time asking for help or recognizing when we are burned out. Sometimes we think that we shouldn’t struggle if we’re the helper or that it’s a sign of weakness to be burned out. This workshop is designed to squash all those myths and to get you back to taking care of yourself, so that you can best be equipped to take care of others!

The primary goals of this workshop are to nonjudgmentally learn the root causes of compassion fatigue and identify them within ourselves, understand how that impacts the work we do, and to both practice and develop a wellness plan to combat the effects of burnout. Additionally, participants will be able to learn how to scale their own level of fatigue and common techniques that are inexpensive and simple to utilize to minimize the effects of this burnout.

The format will include activities such as fatigue scales and relaxation techniques, as well as time for Q&A. This session will look to normalize the reality of compassion fatigue in helping professions and provide an introductory way for individuals to manage the challenges associated in working with individuals whose needs are so great.

Ultimately, by coming together to demystify the real experience of burnout, hopefully we can begin to be impacted less by the unnecessary shame. None of us are above needing help and the sooner we all recognize that, the sooner we all start feeling better.

Learning Objectives


Robert Benson Sanoshy
Director/Therapist; Instructor
The Balanced Cairn

Bias lives everywhere. It lives in each of us, in the teams we work in, the organizations we work for, and the systems around us. It impacts our lives, communities, and workplaces. Taking action to disrupt the impact of bias on decision making is an increasing priority in the child welfare system and human services fields. But implicit bias training alone has been shown to be inadequate at addressing bias in decision making.

AWAKEN is a practice for conscious decision making that provides actionable steps to take child welfare professionals working in a fast-paced, emotionally charged environment from automatic, bias-based thinking to values-based critical thinking.

How individuals and organizations navigate bias and perspective sharing affects organizational culture, and that’s where mindful organizing comes in. Mindful organizing is a team-based practice that allows teams to manage complexity and bias in decision making (Sutcliffe, 2011). AWAKEN provides teams with mindful organizing strategies to co-conspire against biases in ourselves, systems, and communities. AWAKEN uncovers the critical consciousness to make equitable decisions that foster safety, trust, and belonging. It helps us identify bias at all levels and its impact on our decision making, so we can call out systemic biases (racism/sexism/heterosexism/ableism) to advocate for social justice and system transformation. It also helps us call-in cognitive biases, (fundamental attribution error/hindsight/ severity bias) before critical decisions are made. 

AWAKEN is being implemented across the South Carolina Department of Social Services child welfare system. It can be found in new caseworker and experienced caseworker trainings that give professionals actionable strategies to dismantle bias, strengthen teaming, and encourage multi-perspective thinking at critical decision points.

The National Partnership for Child Safety, supported by Casey Family Programs and the University of Kentucky Center for Innovation in Population Health, is implementing AWAKEN in advanced trainings for critical incident reviewers in over 30 public child welfare jurisdictions. Aligned with safety science, AWAKEN is an emerging best practice confirming blameless, supportive inquiry to learn from fatalities/near fatalities, and leveraging learning to inform system transformation.

This presentation covers nearly all of the SPARK 2023 areas of focus: Brain Science; Innovative Programs and Services; Workforce Resilience and Leadership; and EDI, Belonging, and Justice.

Learning Objectives


Christina Rosato
Affinita Consulting, LLC

Dr. Shaneé Moore
Child Welfare Training Director
South Carolina Department of Social Services

Santana Jones
Associate Policy Analyst
Center for Innovation in Population Health at the University of Kentucky

Transforming the modern landscape of research and practice related to child- and family well-being requires innovative and meaningful partnerships between researchers and communities. This workshop will provide expertise related to designing and carrying out high-quality program planning and evaluation efforts that pay attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) aspects and socially just planning methods.

We will also help agency leaders, funders, and evaluators better attend to DEI concepts as they involve community members and people with lived expertise in their planning and evaluation activities. We will provide sample requests for proposals that illustrate how to build some of these concepts into actual funding announcements and a funder’s checklist of key dimensions to consider.

Learning Objectives


Julie Collins
Vice President of Practice Excellence
Child Welfare League of America

Sandra Killet
We All Rise

Peter J. Pecora
Managing Director, Research Services
Casey Family Programs
Professor, School of Social Work
University of Washington

Did you know that the first impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is on the development of healthy executive function and self-regulation skills in 3-5 year olds? From late 2019-2021, three members of Social Current’s original Change in Mind brain science learning cohort joined forces to pilot home visiting and parenting group strategies to buffer children and caregivers against ACEs and toxic stress. With support from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child-Frontiers of Innovation, the three Change in Mind sites, the Institute for Child & Family Well-Being (Children’s Wisconsin), Children and Families First of Delaware, and The Family Partnership (TFP), came together to conduct rapid cycle, COVID-safe pilots of TFPs innovative Executive Functioning Across GenerationsTM curriculum. This session will discuss the results and learnings, implications for early childhood and parent support policy and practice, as well as how we are each continuing to innovate in the brain science space.

Learning Objectives


John Till
Senior VP of Strategy & Innovation
The Family Partnership

Andrea Miller
Manager, Grants & Quality Excellence
Children & Families First of Delaware

Dianne Haulcy
President and CEO
The Family Partnership

Gabriel McGaughey
Director of Child Well-Being
Children’s Wisconsin Community Services

Kirstin Olson
Children & Families First