Keynote Luncheon Speaker
Sasha Joseph Neulinger
At just four years old, Sasha endured abuse from three separate family members over a four year period. He lived a life framed by film, his father a filmmaker, and Sasha an actor from a young age.
Donna Beegle grew up in generational migrant-labor poverty and left school at 15 to get married and start a family. At 25, she found herself with two children, no husband, little education, and few marketable job skills.
Mario Bonds is a multitalented motivational speaker, singer/songwriter and fitness model made famous by NBC Universal’s run of The “Glee Project.” Successful in his quest to show the world that a person with a disability can rise to meet any challenge, Bonds has enjoyed entertaining and inspiring millions.
Mark Anthony Garrett grew up in the tough inner city of Dayton, Ohio as a foster child and was then later adopted. Throughout his childhood he faced many hardships such as poverty, neglect, homelessness, abandonment and abuse, both physical and sexual.
Karen Vadino is a Motivational Speaker, Humorist, Trainer and Consultant. In her thirty-plus years as a human service professional, most of Karen’s experience has been in the field of chemical dependency, both as a licensed clinician and as a certified prevention specialist.
Associate Director for Community Relations
Saida Abdi, LICSW, MSW, MA is the Associate Director for Community Relations at the Boston Children’s Hospital Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center (BCHRTRC). Ms. Abdi is a member of leadership team that has developed a model (Trauma Systems Therapy for Refugees) that has proven successful in engaging refugee communities using CBPR. As the Associate Director for Community Relations, she has led BCHRTRC’s efforts to build community partnerships and to increase mental health knowledge and services in diverse refugee communities. Her clinical practice focuses on supporting children and families impacted by violence and migration and her research focuses on factors related to resilience among refugee and immigrant children and families and the use of CBPR to promote community engagement and collaboration.
Principal, CAPER Consulting (Child Abuse Prevention, Education, Recovery)
Julie Brand holds a Master’s degree in Counseling and enjoyed a distinguished 25-year career as a school counselor. Now she uses her unique perspective as both a counselor and a survivor, to speak out about females who sexually abuse children. Since 2006, she has educated and empowered audiences across the United States with her dynamic programs on mother-daughter sexual abuse, female teacher-offenders and resiliency.
Julie authored A Mother’s Touch: Surviving Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse, and has testified as an expert witness in district court. Julie’s upbeat presentations focus on the power of resiliency and healing in all of our lives.
Forensic Interview Program Manager
Colleen Brazil is the Forensic Interview Program Manager at Project Harmony. She has been with Project Harmony since 2015 and supervises forensic interviewers as well as manages the intake process. Before Project Harmony, Brazil was the Clinical Director with Family Connections, Inc. in Council Bluffs from September 2014 – October 2015 and a forensic interviewer at Child’s Voice in Sioux Falls, SD from its inception in 1998 until August 2014 when she moved to Omaha.
Brazil has interviewed over 6,000 children regarding allegations of abuse or neglect. She has trained child protection workers, law enforcement officers and other multi-disciplinary team members throughout South Dakota. She is frequently called upon to provide consultation to these professionals. In addition, Brazil has mentored other forensic interviewers both at Child’s Voice and within South Dakota. She served as an expert witness in Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota courts regarding cases of child abuse. She previously worked in private practice with Lutheran Social Services performing child custody evaluations.
Brazil has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and she is an adjunct professor in their social work department.
Director, Training and Capacity-Building
Jaymie Campbell, PhD, has been working in health promotion, social services, HIV research, and sexuality education for over ten years. Dr. Campbell specializes in training for medical providers, behavioral health providers, educators, and community-based organizations on improving services for populations facing intersecting oppressions. Since February 2017, he has held the role of Director of Training and Capacity-Building at AccessMatters, a sexual and reproductive health non-profit. He is the lead trainer for AccessMatters’ trainings on race, gender identity, and sexual orientation microaggressions and has delivered microaggressions trainings to nearly 2,000 participants to date.
Genetic Counselor and Nurse Practitioner
Beth Conover is a Genetic Counselor and Nurse Practitioner, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She evaluates genetics patients in a variety of clinics including Pediatric Genetics Clinic and the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Clinic. However, her main interest is teratology and she has directed the Nebraska Teratogen Information Service since 1986 and was a founding member of OTIS (the Organization for Teratology Information Specialists). She is a consultant for the FDA and CDC. Two of her recent publications are, “The Art and Science of Teratogen Risk Communication” and “Safety Concerns Regarding Binge Drinking in Pregnancy: A Review”.
Senior Managing Attorney
As a Senior Managing Attorney, Anna oversees the Immigrant Legal Center’s Child & Family, Domestic Violence, and Southwest Iowa Programs. She provides legal assistance on a variety of immigration issues but specializes in U-Visa/VAWA cases involving domestic abuse and other violent crimes. She also has experience in asylum law, removal defense, affirmative immigration benefits, and consular processing. Anna graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. She graduated cum laude from Boston College Law School. Anna is licensed to practice law in Nebraska and is proficient in Spanish.
School Outreach Worker
George Devers is a native of Omaha, Nebraska with more than 10+ years of experience working one-on-one with at-risk adolescents and young adults. George made a conscious decision in 2008 to focus his outreach efforts on working with young men in school, after school, and street settings. He currently works as a School Outreach Worker at YouTurn.
His enthusiasm for working with youth lead him to expand his commitment to become a volunteer with several local youth programs. As a mentor, coach and advocate, George is dedicated to utilizing his experience to help guide young men identifying positive alternatives to gangs, gang violence and other at-risk behaviors.
Therapist and Co-Founder at Omaha Therapy and Arts Collaborative
Betsy is a Clinical Social Worker and Registered Expressive Arts Therapist in private practice and co-founder of Omaha Therapy and Arts Collaborative. She has been a certified social worker for 20 years and has worked with various agencies including Goodwill Industries, Phoenix House Domestic Violence Shelter, Nebraska Health and Human Services, and Lutheran Family Services. Currently, she works with people coping with challenges of all kinds with a specialty in trauma and abuse related issues. She has specialized training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy, as well as Expressive Arts Therapy. Her passion involves bringing the arts into treatment in a way that promotes healing and resiliency. She is the developer of the “GREAT” Teen and Kids Groups, which are Expressive Arts therapy groups she facilitates in the OTAC studio and in area elementary and middle schools. She also provides the “Open Studio for Helping Professionals” monthly as a form of self-care and networking for those providing services to others in the Omaha area.
FBI Victim Specialist
Karen entered on duty with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2005 and has over 20 years in victim advocacy.
Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Pacific Lutheran University and a Master of Arts degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.
As an FBI Victim Specialist, Karen’s area of responsibility includes FBI Resident Agencies in Des Moines, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities in Iowa. She provides comprehensive victim services to identified victims of federal crimes and provides training, statewide.
Karen has been a member of the FBI Victim Services Rapid Deployment Team (VS-RDT) since 2012 and responded to mass casualty events, to include: Sandy Hook School shootings, the Inland Regional Center, San Bernardino, California, the Pulse Nightclub, Florida, the First Baptist Church shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the Iowa victims of the Las Vegas Harvest Festival shootings.
She has received the FBI Director’s Award for “Distinguished Service for Assisting Victims of Crime” for both the Sandy Hook and San Bernardino mass casualty events and was awarded the 2018 Crime Victim Rights Week, Award of Excellence in Victim Services 2018, by the US Attorneys’ Offices in Iowa.
Melissa Gerdes is a Bilingual Family advocate at Project Harmony. Her key role is to provide and coordinate services between families and community partners. As a family advocate, she provides support in case management, crisis intervention, safety planning, and court advocacy. She also acts as a liaison between families, staff and the community. Melissa provides cultural and linguistically sensitive services for families and individuals. She has 20 years’ experience interpreting and working with multicultural and diverse populations. She is a member of the sexual abuse treatment team, Darkness to light trainer, and co-facilitates a Spanish speaking non-offending parent support group. Melissa earned her BS in Criminal Justice from the University of Phoenix.
Violence Prevention Director
Stewart Giddings, a native of New York City, overcame the obstacles of the street and gang lifestyle as an adolescent. His “second chance at life” began with an opportunity to play college football, which relocated him to the Midwest and him ultimately deciding to relocate to Omaha, Nebraska.
As the YouTurn Violence Prevention Director, he holds a master’s degree in business administration. Stewart directs the day-to-day services provided through the YouTurn street and school outreach staff. Since he started his position with YouTurn, he has shared his passion for supporting youth in identifying alternatives to gangs and violence at several conferences and seminars around the city of Omaha.
Mike Krapfl is a Special Agent in Charge in the Major Crimes Unit with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, where he oversees agents working homicides, robberies, officer-involved shootings, and other felony offenses. Mike served as an Agent in the Major Crimes Unit for 14 years and previously worked as a patrol officer and investigator for eight years with a municipal police department. Mike holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and a BA in Criminology from the University of Northern Iowa and instructed for 12 years as a member of the Criminal Justice faculty at the University of Dubuque. Mike is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and presents at state and national law enforcement conferences.
Social Worker/Training Specialist
Jessica Kroeker is a Training Specialist and Mental Health Therapist at Project Harmony. Her work focuses on trauma in both therapeutic interventions with victims of abuse and training throughout the community on recognizing and responding to trauma and its symptoms. She is currently coordinating the Trauma Matters Omaha initiative. Additionally, Jessica provides therapy in rural Nebraska and previously worked several years in foster child adoption and permanency services. Jessica earned her Master’s in Public Administration and Master’s in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Assistant Director Chemical Use Program, Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health
Lisa M. Paradis is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor providing dual diagnosis outpatient therapy services to adolescents and adults in the Chemical Use Program at Boys Town. Lisa is a Registered Provider for the State of Nebraska, providing services to individuals in the justice system. She provides supervision to clinicians working to obtain their PLADC/LADC as well as provides secondary supervision to clinicians in the Chemical Use Program. Lisa is responsible to collecting and compiling program data on adolescents in the outpatient program.
Anti-Trafficking & Exploitation Program Manager
Iona R. Rudisill is a licensed social worker with more than 25 years of experience combatting varying forms of child sexual abuse. She is clinically trained and brings more than 16 years of expertise in forensic interviewing, being trained in several national and international protocols, including the development of a nationally recognized forensic interviewing guideline specifically for child trafficking. Iona is also an expert in advocating for and providing services to youth who have been sexually trafficked. She has established a program that provides a comprehensive response (from prevention to aftercare) for human trafficking, child sexual abuse imagery, and Internet Crimes against Children cases. She regularly consults with nationally accredited Children’s Advocacy Centers throughout the country to develop effective responses within their capacity.
For almost three years, Iona served as the Co-Chair of the Victim Services Subcommittee of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, served on a 16-member work group instituting forensic interviewing guidelines for sexually trafficked youth and currently serves on the Archdiocese of Baltimore Child Abuse Review Board. She has delivered numerous trainings nationwide on the dynamics of Child Trafficking.
Jeff Shelbourn is a Detective in the Child Sexual Assault Squad for the Omaha Police Department. He has been with the Omaha Police Department since 2007 and a member of the Child Sexual Assault Squad since 2014. Shelbourn is a dedicated Law Enforcement Officer with over 15 years’ experience working in a variety of assignments to include Uniform Patrol, Training Academy Instructor, and Criminal Investigations. Shelbourn has a passion for obtaining justice for child survivors and in so playing a role in their healing and growth. His strengths include communicating with victims, parents, and suspects, diligent work ethic, team oriented, and empathy.
Megan Smith-Sallans, MS, LIMHP, LIPC is a psychotherapist in private practice who specializes in gender, sexuality and people in diverse relationships. Megan provides therapeutic services to gender creative children (ages 3 and up), adolescents, adults, families and couples. Megan is the Director of Behavioral Health in the Transgender Care Clinic at the University Nebraska Medical Center. Nationally, Megan is a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Heath (WPATH), the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS). Locally, she is the co-founder of the Professional Transgender Resource Network, member of the Children’s Hospital’s Differences in Sex Development Multidisciplinary team, and member of NECTR (Nebraska Collaborative for Transgender Research). In partnership with Dr. Jean Amoura at the University Nebraska Medical Center, Megan co-facilitates the Parents and Caregivers of Gender Expansive Youth Support Group.
Special Agent, FBI Child Exploitation Task Force, Iowa DCI Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
SA Chris Thomas is a federal task force officer with FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and works with Iowa DCI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). Prior to working with FBI’s CETF, SA Thomas was assigned to FBI’s Cyber Task Force where he investigated criminal computer intrusions (Hacking), and prior to that SA Thomas investigated homicides with DCI’s Major Crime Unit and was assigned to an IRS Task Force that investigated Money Laundering offenses. SA Thomas has an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Science degree.
After graduating from the University of Iowa College of Law, Jon Turbett began his law enforcement career as a Special Agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation assigned to the Gaming Unit. After five years, he was reassigned to the Major Crimes Unit, where he has worked since 2005. Jon currently investigates a significant number of felony level offenses, including homicides, human trafficking, fraud, and sex crimes. He has presented at the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association Conference, the Midwest Gang Investigators Conference, and the Conference on Crimes against Women. Jon oversees the legal component of The CTK Group’s Interview and Interrogation courses.
Principal, 302 Consulting Group
Tom Veivia is the Principal of 302 Consulting Group, LLC, a Law Enforcement and Crisis Management Consultancy in Hamden, Connecticut. Tom retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Supervisory Special Agent in the Behavioral Analysis Unit in Stafford, Virginia after a 26-year law enforcement career. During his service with the FBI he served as the New Haven, Connecticut Office’s Crisis Management Coordinator where he planned, coordinated and managed the FBI’s response to major events in the state of Connecticut.
Prior to his promotion to the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) in Stafford, Virginia he served as the BAU Coordinator for the New Haven office where he coordinated the response of BAU resources to criminal investigations and threats posed by persons of concern who may be on the pathway to violence. Additionally, he provided training and instruction in the identification, assessment and management of potential threats of violence. He was the Team Leader for the FBI’s Northeast Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team and has deployed nationwide providing operational support and instruction for kidnapping investigations.
Tom was an 18-year member of the FBI SWAT Team in New Haven and was the Senior Team Leader for the FBI’s response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in December of 2012. He was also involved in an FBI led study of the Hartford Distributor’s workplace shooting that occurred on August 3, 2010 in Manchester, Connecticut. He has travelled nationally to provide instruction and training to law enforcement and civilian organizations in the area of active shooter prevention and response planning, crisis management/critical incident response planning, major case management, kidnapping investigations and mental health awareness for first responders.
Prior to joining the FBI, Tom served five years with the New York State Police.
Director of Education and Research, Zero Abuse Project
Victor Vieth has trained thousands of child-protection professionals from all 50 states, two U.S. Territories , and 17 countries on numerous topics pertaining to child abuse investigations, prosecutions and prevention. He gained national recognition for his work in addressing child abuse in small communities as a prosecutor in rural Minnesota, and has been named to the President’s Honor Roll of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. The Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association named him one of the “21 Young Lawyers Leading us Into the 21st Century.” Mr. Vieth graduated magna cum laude from WSU and earned his Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law (HUSL). While studying at HUSL, he received the American Jurisprudence award for achievement in the study of Constitutional law and served as editor-in chief of the Law Review. In 2017 Mr Vieth earned an MA in theology from Wartburg Seminary.
Begun in 2003, Mr. Vieth is the Founder of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center. Within the work of this organization, Victor has been instrumental in implementing 22 state and international forensic interview training programs and dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs on child maltreatment.
Mr. Vieth has published countless articles related to the investigation, prosecution and prevention of child abuse and neglect. He is author of Unto the Third Generation, a bold initiative that outlines the necessary steps we must all take to eliminate child abuse in America in three generations, and On This Rock: A Call to Center the Christian Response to Child Abuse on the Life and Works of Jesus (Wiff & Stock 2018). Victor joined the Zero Abuse Project in August of 2018 as its Director of Education and Research, and is the 2018 President of the Academy on Violence & Abuse.
The cycle of abuse does not have to continue, but we can’t end it alone. Anyone has the power to be someone who makes our community a safe place for all children.