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PACEs Connection Launches Sustaining Resilient Communities Initiative!


Pilot is for DEIB professional development with Yolo County, California, Division of Health and Human Services

As the first phase of PACEs Connection’s consulting engagement with Yolo County, California, draws to a close, CEO Ingrid Cockhren is announcing the launch of the organization's Sustaining Resilient Communities (SRC) initiative, expanding services to include consulting and professional development for counties, cities, corporations, and government agencies.

Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.26.31 PM“We’ve branched into a  new area in supporting and sustaining communities by developing and leading a series of trainings for the Yolo County  Health and Human Services staff. The work began  in December 2022, to facilitate awareness building, capacity development, and operationalization of racial equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), and trauma-informed principles in the workplace,” said Cockhren.

“We hoped to increase understanding of core DEIB and trauma-informed principles and to see a demonstrated commitment from staff to racial equity, DEIB, and trauma-informed practices. I’ve done this work for several years, in other roles, and it is good to offer it through PACEs Connection now, as we have the capability and experience. It fits in our overall strategy not only to serve our members in ways they’ve said they need help but in our efforts to expand the awareness beyond community organizations to state agencies, corporations, and other entities to support our goal of this being a worldwide movement. ” she added.

Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.24.22 PMYolo County’s lead contact for the work, Tessa Smith, diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator for the Health and Human Services Agency, would agree that the work is being achieved.

We’re working with 760 employees in this training.  Some of them may be in the managerial track, and some of them may be in the general track. Success here will look like better leadership-to-staff relationships, better colleague-to-colleague relationships, better service and service outcomes, or treatment outcomes for the people we serve. From a trauma-informed approach we are learning not to assume or judge another person’s stories or experience by the chapter of their story we came in on,” said Smith.

The work has included a leadership track to help leadership identify and practice effective ways to talk about racial equity as well as intersectionality and privilege. PACEs staff also helped Yolo leadership learn about the role of trauma on the nervous system and practices and policies to help create a trauma-responsive workplace, and how to support racial equity practices come alive in the work across teams.

“Our hope was that we would generate empathy for each of us, in our own humanity, and then work a different way in a different way, stay in service to each other and the community. These ideas used to be only for behavioral health, but now it's for everybody, the whole agency, and for anybody that does any business with us, that we have a shared language, a shared vision and shared goals,” said Smith.

She said it was important that the groups address communications issues that come from lack of knowledge and lack of understanding about “how we intersect as people, and about what should be everybody's basic human rights.

“Any group has got its own history of trauma that they bring.  When we start talking about history, we knew it could be hard with leadership. That history was 400 years in the making, and people today need to understand this. So the historical trauma training for leadership was important,” said Smith.

Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.27.40 PM“If anybody can talk about a hard subject and not have people running from the room screaming, it will be Ingrid (Cockhren) and Mathew (Portell, PACEs Connection director of education and outreach). We have plans to reinforce this training, because people need to hear things over and over again. So this needed to NOT be a ‘one and done training.’  We worked it out so that people would have a piece of this training every month, to keep it constantly in their thought processes,” Smith explained.

Smith says doing this training can be delicate work sometimes.

“It takes someone who has an understanding of what that feels like in a person's body, mind and spirit, and that's what you get from Paces Connection. You get that actual linkage back to somebody who can speak to the humanity of all of this, and that kept the conversations on the rails,” she said.

Smith also shared the challenges of this initiative.

Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.30.29 PM“This is really hard work.  Facing history and ourselves can be jarring. I think organizations need to be prepared for the sensitivities of their staff because all staff are on a spectrum of what it means to be trauma- and DEIB-informed with some being prepared to do the work and some being pulled along reluctantly into the present and future,” Smith said.

“So our approach in our agency right now is that we have got to take care of ourselves in order to be able to give the best service to our clients and the people that we serve. That means being an inclusive space where everybody feels like they belong, where we appreciate diversity. And the way people show up is as a healthy and good team that's being trauma informed,” she said.

Among other benefits of doing the work?

Smith says, “It’s helped us in recruiting. People hear we are doing this work and they are much more interested in wanting to work with us.”

The work has also included multiple sessions on trauma-informed care and psychological safety in the workforce, becoming anti-biased and culturally responsive, and exploring the historical trauma specific to Yolo County and surrounding areas.

PACEs Connection is also providing training videos on a number of topics including health, mental health, child welfare, education, criminal justice and other social determinants of health, the historical trauma of the region with regard to LGBTQI+, migrant workers, Native American peoples, immigrants, and refugees, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) trauma-informed principles and practices.

For more information about engaging PACEs Connection for DEIB work, please contact


Images (4)
  • Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.26.31 PM: Ingrid Cockhren, CEO, PACEs Connection
  • Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.24.22 PM: Tessa Smith,  Cultural Competence/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator for Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency
  • Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.27.40 PM: Mathew Portell, PACEs Connection director of education and outreach
  • Screen Shot 2023-07-25 at 3.30.29 PM: Official Seal of Yolo County, CA

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I am seeking paid work with this type of initiative. I have lived experience as a child trafficking survivor with a 9/10 ACE score, MA in Community Development Policy & Practice, undergraduate in Political Science, 5 years of executive experience, and 3 years of policy/advocacy experience. Anyone who is seeking to fill a role with this kind of expertise, please contact me! I'm in New Hampshire, cannot move, but can work remotely, am engaged as a volunteer in a local trauma responsive community initiative. <3

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