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PACEs Science Champions

Brandon Jones, ACEs Champion, lives a life with purpose…on purpose  

Brandon Jones describes himself this way: “I’m a down-to-earth psychotherapist, professor, and family man dedicated to helping those who want to heal.” Jones grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, which has been averaging a police-involved death every year over the past five years . Gun violence in African American, Somali, Latin x and indigenous gangs “have all found a home here in the Twin Cities . ” “George Floyd was the tip of the iceberg,” says the PACEs advocate, psychotherapist, consultant...

Psychiatrist Andres Sciolla wants to expand ACEs work to include social determinants of health

Andres Sciolla, a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at UC Davis Medical School, hopes that an expanded version of ACEs becomes completely integrated into the medical profession in the future. By “expanded,” he explains: “Medicine would have to integrate sustainable and practical ways to address social determinants of health,” such as affordable housing, basic income, and access to affordable health care. Sciolla earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Chile...

Morgan Vien views PACEs through a public health lens

Morgan Vien, the child of Vietnamese refugees and herself a San Francisco Bay Area native, says her ACE score is zero. That’s because she grew up with her parents and a younger brother “in a very safe and nurturing atmosphere.” It wasn’t until her junior year at Santa Clara University, where she earned a B.S. in public health science with minors in sociology and biology, that she learned about adverse childhood experiences — ACEs — in a public health class. That knowledge was...

Filmmaker Fritzi Horstman brings ACEs awareness to Compassion Prison Project

Fritzi Horstman grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan – not as posh as it is now, she says, but still a respectable, middle-class neighborhood. By the time she was 16, she had become a “juvenile delinquent, doing drugs and running around.” What happened? And why was her ACE score 8, when she finally assessed it nearly 40 years later? Domestic violence underscored her childhood and teen years, she says. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother a “rage-aholic” who abused her and her...

ACEs Champion: Carolyn Curtis brings ACEs healing to community networks through the ‘Mind Matters’ program

“Mind Matters: Overcoming Adversity and Building Resilience” builds on Carolyn Curtis’s lifetime experience. It is as if she had been predestined to teach people to overcome the adverse experiences in their lives. Like many of us, Curtis grew up in an alcoholic home. This gives her a deep understanding of the damage that comes from early childhood trauma – and a passion for helping others overcome it. Her experience eventually led her to become a marriage and family counselor. After 30...

ACEs Champion: Dr. Tasneem Ismailji finds her niche in promoting ACEs as scientific evidence for health effects of violence and abuse

Pediatrician Tasneem Ismailji is a cofounder and former president of the Academy on Violence and Abuse (AVA). Her Pakistani heritage and love of children have informed not only her career choices but also her decades-long commitment to the prevention of the health effects of violence and abuse. Born in the ancient city of Karachi, Pakistan, Ismailji was one of seven siblings — four girls and three boys — growing up in a loving Muslim family, where she spoke both Urdu and English. In the...

ACEs Champion: Child psychiatrist David Corwin's campaign against spanking rooted in ACEs science

Dr. David Corwin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, told me an astonishing fact recently: 61 countries around the world have banned spanking and hitting children, with another 50 pledging to do so. But the United States is far behind in addressing this kind of physical violence toward children. And that was just one of three amazing elements of my recent three-hour interview with him. No. 2: It was the longest interview I’ve ever conducted for this site.

Elizabeth Smith knits together families and communities through her own healing journey

(l to r) Elizabeth Smith and Peacetown board of directors: David, Amitiel, Jim aka Mr. Music, and Jasmine. Only eight years ago, Elizabeth Smith was experiencing severe chronic stress. Raising a young son on her own, she was employed as a technician at a county hospital in Northern California that had downsized staff and increased her workload , as well that of other staff. She was helping to raise the morale of her fellow workers and served as a liaison between staff and the administration,...

ACEs Champion: From a movie to a mission — Edwin Weaver's journey to help foster youth graduate from high school

(l to r) Elaine Miller Karas co-developer of CRM; Jim Sporleder, former principal of Walla Walla High School; and Edwin Weaver at the 2018 ACEs Conference & Pediatric Symposium in San Francisco. After watching the late Jamie Redford’s 2015 film, “ Paper Tigers ,” about a Washington state high school where ACEs integration transformed graduation rates, Edwin Weaver knew he had to take action. Weaver is the executive director of Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley , providing social services...

ACEs Champion: The reintroduction of Michael Hayes — from ACEs awakening to ACEs community service

It wasn’t until his fifth prison term in a North Carolina county jail — his fourth conviction for driving under the influence — that Michael Hayes volunteered to take an ACE survey that changed his life. The 48-year-old father of six sons and one daughter had spent a number of years in and out of prison. During his last term, to get some time out of the cell where he spent 16 hours a day, he volunteered to attend a class offered by RHA Health Services, a nonprofit that incorporates the...

Denise Presnell scores high on developing community resilience to ACEs

Denise Presnell had been a social worker for public schools in North Carolina for many years before she found out about ACEs. She first learned about adverse childhood experiences during an internship while earning her master’s degree in social work. The experience, she says, was like “those moments of clarity in therapy when the earth moves and the light bulbs turn on.” At first, “I really didn’t want to know my ACE score,” she said. But once she did assess her score – a 9 -- at the request...

ACEs science transformed David Magallon’s life, now he’s a parent educator

Learning about ACEs science changed David Magallon’s life in a profound way — and now he’s made it part of his mission to share that knowledge with other parents who really need it. Since 2017, Magallon has served as a court referral programs manager at the Child Parent Institute (CPI) in Santa Rosa, California. The non-profit agency offers child therapy, parent education, and other resources for families throughout Sonoma County. Magallon works with families in a probation program mandated...

ACEs Champion: Rafael A. Maravilla merges his past with his love for science

Rafael Maravilla has what seems the ideal academic background for his job as ACEsConnection network manager and community facilitator for central California. Not only does he have a B.S. in neurobiology from University of California, Berkeley, but he also has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Merced, thus combining an understanding of human biology with insights into human behavior. He also has an ACE score of 9. The eldest child of a Mexican farmworker who was an alcoholic and not...

Vanessa Lohf integrates ACEs science throughout Kansas communities, organizations and systems

A Kansas-licensed social worker, Vanessa Lohf was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, where she still lives and works in public health by facilitating the Trauma-Informed Systems of Care Initiatives (TISC) team at the Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute. She also manages the Kansas ACEsConnection network , where she regularly posts about news and resources for communities and organizations throughout the state. Lohf says that Wichita is known as the “Aircraft Capital of...

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