Events | Trainings

Conference Featured Speakers

Scroll down to explore full workshop descriptions and presenter bios for our 2022 conference featured speakers.

Check out our full workshop lineup | Visit our conference home page

Keynote Presentation

Dr. Afliee Breland-Noble

A Fireside Chat with Dr. Alfiee and MACMH Executive Director Brandon Jones

Monday, April 25 | 8:25 – 9:30 a.m. CDT

Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble (Dr. Alfiee) is an internationally recognized scientist, author, speaker and media contributor. As Founder of the AAKOMA Project, Inc. (an innovative 501(c)(3) mental health nonprofit) she translates complex scientific concepts (developed over 25+ years as a disparities researcher at Duke and Georgetown Psychiatry) into useful, everyday language for communities of color. A sought-after mental health expert, Dr. Alfiee’s media work includes hosting her video podcast “Couched in Color with Dr. Alfiee”, which is currently airing Season 2, and addresses mental health issues in BIPOC youth, young adults across all marginalized identities (i.e. LGBTQIA+ and disabilities).

She regularly appears on media platforms like CNN, NBC, Refinery29, Black Enterprise, Dr. Oz, Shape Magazine, Roland Martin Unfiltered, Areva Martin’s Special Report, National Press Foundation, NPR and others. Widely recognized for her ability to draw in audiences and inspire, she embodies her belief that there is enough love and light (informed by strong culturally relevant science) to help everyone achieve #optimalmentalhealth.

Check out Dr. Alfiee’s podcast, Couched in Color, where she discusses the importance of encouraging dialogue around the mental health needs of youth and young adults of color.

Listen to the podcast.

Keynote Presentation

iGen: The Smartphone Generation and Its Mental Health Challenges

Monday, April 25 | 4:10 – 5:45 p.m. CDT

Dr. Jean Twenge

Today’s kids, teens and young adults are iGen (born after 1995) – the first generation to spend their adolescence with smartphones. iGeners are growing up more slowly as adolescents, spending more time online and spending less time hanging out with their friends in person. They are also spending less time sleeping. Perhaps as a result, they are more likely to experience unhappiness, anxiety and depression and to engage in self-harm. During this featured presentation, we’ll discuss ideas for helping children, adolescents and their parents find a better balance with technology and be healthier and happier.

Dr. Jean M. Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of more than 140 scientific publications and the books “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood,” “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before” and “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement” (co-authored with W. Keith Campbell). Dr. Twenge frequently gives talks and seminars on teaching and working with today’s young generation based on a dataset of 11 million young people. Her audiences have included college faculty and staff, high school teachers, military personnel, camp directors, and corporate executives. Her research has been covered in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post, and she has been featured on Today, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC and National Public Radio.

During this CBS interview, Dr. Twenge discusses the effects digital devices can have on today’s youth.

Explore additional interviews with Dr. Twenge.

Keynote Presentation

The Ambiguous Losses of Youth: Resilience, Not Closure

Tuesday, April 26 | 8:25 – 9:30 a.m. CDT

Dr. Pauline Boss

Children and young adults often experience ambiguous loss. A family member can be absent while present, or present while absent, leading to confusion and unresolved grief for the young. Causes of physical ambiguous loss may be divorce, adoption, foster care, military deployment, immigration, incarceration of a parent, or from disasters when loved ones disappear. Psychological ambiguous loss may occur when a parent or sibling is clinically depressed, addicted, has dementia, or is preoccupied with work, gaming, etc. When a young person’s loss can’t be clarified, and their grief is frozen, our goal is to increase their understanding and resilience to live with the ambiguity. We must also increase public awareness so that policies can change.

Pauline Boss, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, family therapist, is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a former president of the National Council on Family Relations. With her groundbreaking work in research and practice, Dr. Boss coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s and since then, developed and tested the theory of ambiguous loss, a guide for working with families of the missing, physically or psychologically. She summarized this research and clinical work in her widely acclaimed book, Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief. In addition to over 100 peer reviewed academic articles and chapters, her other books include Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss and “Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief.” Her most recent book is “The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change.” Her books are available in 18 different languages. Learn more about her work at

Keynote Presentation

Trauma Across Generations: How Are the Children?

Tuesday, April 26 | 4:10 – 5:45 p.m. CDT

Samuel Simmons Jr, LADC

This conversation will provide an opportunity for participants to explore the link between the historical, racial trauma and disparities impacting African American youth. It will provide insight into the importance of being aware of unintended consequences and harm that policies and approaches developed without cultural sensitivity can have on African American children and families. Also, practical, culturally sensitive trauma informed outcome driven best and/or promising practices to improve support, engagement, and collaboration will be discussed.

Samuel Simmons, Jr., LADC, Behavioral Consultant has over 32 years of experience as an alcohol and drug counselor and behavioral consultant specializing in practical culturally sensitive trauma informed strategies addressing historical trauma and focused on improving outcomes for African American males and their families. He is an Adverse Childhood Experience Interface Trainer in the state of Minnesota. Sam received the 2016 Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma award and the Black Tear Drop Award for his vision and leadership in culturally sensitive trauma informed work in the community and around the country. In 2017 Sam received the Champions for Children Award for his trauma work with parents. In 2018 he received Public Health Hero Award for his unique, innovative, and culturally specific trauma informed work from the City of Minneapolis. He is co-host of the “Voices” radio show on KMOJ FM that addresses urban community issues. Sam is co-creator of a conference called “Groundbreaking and “Visionary,” which in 2018 received recognition from both Minneapolis and St. Paul Mayors and Minnesota’s Governor.

Supervision Seminar
Who Am I as a Supervisor: An Ongoing Exploration of Cross Cultural and Ethical Supervision Practices

Sunday, April 24 | 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CDT (with 30-minute lunch break)

This webinar covers a total of 6 hours of content.

This series is designed to help social work supervisors meet the Minnesota Board of Social Work’s requirements in the practice of licensing supervision. Two hours of this workshop will cover ethical content.

No matter how confident we are in our role as a supervisor, it is important that we continue to explore who we are as it relates to providing supervision in a cross cultural and relational fashion. During this workshop, participants will explore the meaning and common factors of providing cross cultural supervision; use tools to identify culture, experiences and learning styles in the supervisor/supervisee relationship; and identify components of who they are, including their roles and their styles of supervision. Using case samples, this workshop will also examine ethical considerations and dilemmas specifically related to the ethical component of supervision according to professional board standards. This series is designed to help social work supervisors meet the Minnesota Board of Social Work’s requirement in the practice of licensing supervision. Two hours of this workshop will cover ethical content.

Level: 2 | For: Professionals | Clinical Content

Renita Wilson, MSW, LICSW is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (B.S.- in Rhetoric, Youth Studies and African American Studies. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Renita provides independent clinical supervision to Social Workers pursuing their clinical licensure and she offers clinical consultation support to organizations seeking her expertise in the areas of supervision and clinical knowledge. In addition to her independent work, Renita is also an Associate Therapist and Clinical Supervisor with Kente Circle. Prior to joining the Kente Circle team in 2011, Renita earned a multitude of skills, experience, and expertise surrounding issues related to Family and Children Services: Child Protection, Foster care, and Adoption as well as working with Adults and Children in Mental Health spanning over 20 plus years. Renita is an approved supervisor for the Board of Social Work. Renita approaches her clinical work as she does with all areas of her professional encounters; client centered, respectful, open-minded and honoring their story. Renita has also worked in both private and public agencies in supervisory and management positions, overseeing all operating functions of programming and maintaining required expectations for continued service delivery.

MHED Talks

Sunday, April 24 | 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. CDT

MHED Talks is a presentation series in the spirit of TED Talks. Using stories— both personal and experiences from the field — each speaker has 18 minutes to share their expertise on new concepts, programs, treatment models and research.

Mansplaining to Men: Addressing the Destructive Masculinity Cycle in Boys & Men

Cisco Cole wants us to break free from the toxic culture of destructive masculinity. Join him as he talks about the biggest issues surrounding the current definitions of masculinity, how destructive masculinity affects all of us, and how we can break free from the current definitions to live free from the toxicity.

Cisco Cole (MA, LAMFT, Psychotherapist – PHA Wellness) works as an individual, group, and couples psychotherapist, and is most passionate about the current issues that boys and men face surrounding destructive masculinity. Cisco’s deep experience includes specialization in mental health, anger management, and family/relationship issues, along with direct client work in clinical, outpatient, and incarcerated settings. Cisco’s own journey of growing up in a destructive masculine environment, and creating a similar environment for his own children, allowed him to confront and redefine his own belief systems and reconstruct a new definition of masculinity. Cisco’s personal experiences give him a unique ability to understand and empathize with others dealing with the effects of destructive masculinity. Today, Cisco works with all spectrums of humans to help navigate mental health and how destructive masculinity is impacting them and those around them. Cisco is passionate about helping others redefine and reframe masculinity in a way that helps us live free from the constraints of destructive masculinity.

Watch Cisco’s speech on The Masculine Myth presented at Ignite Minneapolis.

Historical Trauma, Resistance & Resilience: An Indigenous Perspective

This talk will address the complex topics of historical and intergenerational trauma and resilience from the perspective of both lived experience and community-based participatory research with Indigenous communities.

Melissa Walls, PhD, Director – Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health & Associate Professor – International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Melissa Walls is an Anishinaabe social scientist working in collaboration with Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada on health equity research and culturally relevant public health programming. She is an Associate Professor of American Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Great Lakes Hub of the JHU Center for American Indian Health. Dr. Walls serves as PI with a longstanding research team that includes Anishinaabe community members and academic researchers working together to understand and address the social, historical, and contemporary determinants of unequal health outcomes. The team’s work is largely funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIDA and NIDDK). Dr. Walls’ tribal affiliations are Bois Forte and Koochiching First Nation Ojibwe.

Cultivating a Generational Shift Toward Abundance

This talk will convey the ways racism evokes a sense of self predicated on scarcity. Listeners will consider signs of detachment, solutions found in solidarity and a collective responsibility to demonstrate conscious connection to self and others for generations to come.

Arielle Grant is the Executive Director of Render Free, a virtual and in-person space for self-identified Black + Brown women with a mission to disrupt racial trauma by promoting whole body wellness. She is also the author and illustrator of The Picture Box, a children’s book on representation, self-value, and identity. Arielle has a background in program, curriculum, and community developer. In a variety of contexts her work has consistently been to advocate and care for those navigating the oppression of white supremacy. Informed by history and ongoing community relationships, she inspires introspection, meaningful connection and racial identity progression.