Building Resiliency and Promoting Healing in Communities through Implementation of Trauma-Informed Approaches

SAMHSA recently awarded eight communities a ReCAST grant, to help local community entities work together to improve behavioral health, empower community residents, reduce the effects of trauma, and sustain community change in response to civil unrest/community strife. In addition to the grants awarded, SAMHSA would like to reach more communities (city/town/county/municipality) to help heal and recover from community strife. 

To that end, NCTIC is offering an opportunity for up to six communities to receive technical assistance and participate in a virtual learning network (VLN) centered on SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for Trauma-Informed Approaches. A VLN allows for a more collaborative, expansive community of learning, problem-solving, sharing of experiences and successes and brainstorming of ideas and builds a sense of community support among the participants. We believe this collaborative model would work well for the purposes of this project, where participating sites can learn from and engage with one another throughout the change process. VLN webinars will be archived so members have the information as a resource if they miss a session or wish to refer back to a session. 

Application/Eligibility Requirements


Each community will submit a letter of intent, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between and signed by partners, identifying needs and goals and commitment to the 9-month change process.  Communities agree to the following: 

  • Provide a list of the community team participants for the VLN, identifying a point of contact as well as assurance that all participants will be committed to attend all of the VLN sessions
  • Demonstrate community partnerships through the application process – include an MOU signed by at least four community entities describing the nature of, commitment to, and proposed outcomes of the partnerships.  
  • Include citizens – community advocates, families, and youth impacted by trauma as part of the team, with special attention to the participation of families and youth impacted by violence.
  • On-site listening session with community team and content experts/consultants to further identify focus (deep dive session).
  • Participation in monthly Virtual Learning Network (VLN) sessions over 9-month period with other communities on the Adobe® Connect™ platform (interactive work sessions)
  • Ongoing mentoring/coaching and on-site training/technical assistance tailored to each communities’ needs. (Plan for 2-3 on-site technical assistance events, as needed.)
  • Develop an Action Plan (as described above)
  • Develop a measurement strategy for assessing progress.
  • Project assessment review with the TA team.
  • Report on Final Outcomes.

Proposed Schedule


The VLN sessions will occur on the afternoon of each fourth Monday of the month from February – September 2017.  This “working” classroom event which consists of instructor-led virtual classroom presentations on the Adobe® Connect™ platform and interactive “work” sessions with NCTIC facilitators; and on-site training with national experts. 

The VLN will be with the following schedule:

  • February 2017 – On-site listening session with community partners and consultants/coach 
  • February 2017– Bi-weekly webcasts on Trauma-Informed principles
  • March – June 2017 – Monthly webcasts on challenges/successes/special topics-speakers
  • March – June 2017 – On-site technical assistance tailored to match the community needs – training, consultation, leadership meetings, community meetings
  • June 2017 – Participants present Action Plans to the group 
  • July 2017 – Progress assessment review with TA Team.
  • July – August 2017 -  Monthly webcasts on challenges and successes
  • September 2017 – Participants present final report on progress, challenges, innovations and outcomes



Joan Gillece, Ph.D. 
Dr. Gillece has thirty-five years of experience working in the behavioral health field with twenty dedicated to trauma, and eleven in prevention of seclusion and restraint. Working across agencies, Dr. Gillece promotes the use of trauma informed care in multiple settings including mental health, substance abuse, adult and juvenile justice and homeless services.

Prior to joining the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) eleven years ago, Dr. Gillece served as Director of Special Populations for Maryland’s Mental Hygiene Administration where her responsibilities included all aspects of state mental health planning and delivery of services as well as development of collaboration across agencies serving individuals with psychiatric diagnosis.  As project director for SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC), Dr. Gillece has championed the cause of full consumer integration and development of Culturally Competent programs. Utilizing survivors in all aspects of trauma work, Dr. Gillece has coordinated and provided technical assistance, conference presentations, and consultations to multiple systems across the country. . Commitment to strength-based support by implementing trauma informed values with the overreaching theme of healing has been her focus.

Raul Almazar RN, MA, 
Mr. Almazar has many years of experience as direct care provider, administrator, organizational and clinical consultant, trainer, and speaker. He recently accepted the position of Senior Public Health Advisor for the National Association of Program Mental Health Directors’ Center for Innovations in Trauma Informed Approaches. He continues to serve as the Training and Technical Assistance Lead for the SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma Informed Care and Promoting Alternatives to Seclusion and Restraints. He has recently been involved in facilitating learning communities in the States of Ohio and Missouri and the City of Baltimore where the community engages in year-long project of healing and developing community resilience. Prior to working as full-time consultant in 2009, he served as Deputy Director for the State of Illinois Division of Mental Health where he was charged to facilitate an organizational culture shift in all 10 State -operated facilities towards person-centered, trauma-informed, recovery-promoting, non-coercive treatment settings. He provides consultation, training and technical assistance to organizations in the areas of leadership, workforce development, consumer empowerment, organizational planning and changing organizational cultures to effect systems transformation towards development of non-coercive, trauma-informed treatments. He has expertise in working with youth and adult serving, institutional and community based, publicly and privately –funded programs across service systems.

Maurissa Stone Bass
Maurissa Stone Bass is a change strategist, management consultant, and community development professional. Through Iona Concepts, Inc., the company she founded in 1995, she directs The Living Well, an innovation incubator and healing arts space that operates as a collective of community practitioners and agents of change. Stone Bass also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Baltimore and works as a management consultant for NeighborWorks® America, a congressionally sponsored intermediary that provides funding, training and technical assistance in affordable housing, real-estate development, community and economic development. Read more about Mrs. Stone Bass at


To hear a recording of our informational teleconference regarding what to expect from this VLN, please call 888-203-1112 and enter replay passcode 115701825.

Please email Pam Rainer at if you have additional questions regarding this VLN.