2020 Great Plains Disaster Behavioral Health Conference

The Great Plains Disaster Behavioral Health Conference is for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health care providers, public health officials, nurses, clergy, emergency managers, and first responders to learn and recognize how to prepare and respond to the psychological effects of disaster and mass casualties.

Conference Theme - Long-Term Recovery: It’s Everyone’s Job

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2020 Conference Program
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Date and Location

Date: July 22-23, 2020

Location: Virtual Conference - Zoom Webinar
Continuing Education

There will be 3.0 APA CEs available for the Thursday, July 23, sessions.

Conference Objectives

This year’s conference will focus on learning how to prepare and respond to the psychological effects of disaster and mass casualties.

Conference Objectives

  1. Discuss the role of behavioral health in long-term disaster recovery.
  2. Describe the role of various state and volunteer organizations in individual and community disaster recovery.
  3. Demonstrate how behavioral health professionals can work with state and volunteer organizations to assist with individual and community recovery.
Conference Agenda

Wednesday, July 22nd from 8:45AM - 12:30PM

8:45 - 9:00: Welcome by Susanne Shore, First Lady of Nebraska

9:00 - 10:20: Disaster Basics*

10:20 - 10:30: Break

10:30 - 11:30::Long-Term Recovery Panel

11:30 - 12:30: Community Recovery: Lessons Learned from Joplin with featured speaker, Jane Cage

*This session includes short presentations showcasing the work of Nebraska's Division of Behavioral Health, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, Nebraska VOAD and COADs, and University of Nebraska Extension.

Thursday, July 23rd from 9AM - 12:30PM

3 hours of APA Continuing Education credits are available for Thursday's sessions.

9:00 - 10:00: Current mental health outreach activities relating to COVID-19

10:00 - 10:05: Break

10:05 - 11:05: Introduction to Disaster Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

11:05 - 11:10: Break

11:10 - 12:10: Ethics in Disaster Work and Cultural Competency

12:10 - 12:30: Closing Remarks

Conference Faculty and Materials

First Lady of Nebraska, Susanne Shore

A native of Tulsa, OK, First Lady Shore holds a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in business administration from Oklahoma State University and a Bachelor’s in nursing from Creighton University. Since January 2015, Susanne Shore has served Nebraska as First Lady and has been involved in a number of important statewide initiatives. As president and CEO of Nebraska Impact, a 501c3 based in Lincoln, First Lady Shore and her team work to implement statewide programming that promotes volunteerism and economic development. Most recently, Nebraska Impact raised more than $400,000 to provide food, rent, and technology assistance to vulnerable populations across the state who are struggling amid the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also collected and distributed more than 2,500 reusable cloth masks. First Lady Shore and Governor Pete Ricketts launched Bring Up Nebraska initiative in September 2017 in coordination with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. Recently recognized nationally with the Jim Casey Building Communities of Hope Award, the initiative strives to bring together public, business, nonprofit, philanthropic, and community partners to improve the safety and success of children and their families. Thanks in part to the program, Nebraska has seen the number of children in need of foster care drop by 18 percent over the past two years. First Lady Shore, a mom of three, has a long history of championing child welfare, having served on the boards of the Child Saving Institute, the Nebraska Families Collaborative, and served three years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. She spearheaded Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2017, planning and executing a series of 13 programs and events throughout the state.

Jane Cage

Jane Cage, a long-time Joplin resident, served as the volunteer chairman of the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART) that was formed after the May 2011 tornado. As CART leader, she led the group in listening to citizens about their visions for a recovered Joplin. The resulting report became the long-term recovery plan for Joplin. Jane has consulted on projects around long-term recovery, resilience, and as a facilitator as the principal of InsightFive22. She is an adjunct instructor at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute for classes based on community long-term recovery and is certified to teach Disaster Recovery: The Role of the Local Community.

Mikayla Johnson

Mikayla Johnson is the Network Administrator for the Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) within Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Part of her role within DBH is the Behavioral Health Disaster lead, working with sister divisions in DHHS, University of Nebraska’s Public Policy Center, six Regional Behavioral Health Authorities, and other state agencies when natural or man-made disasters occur. Mikayla also has experience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSHA) Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Programs grants. The State of Nebraska has again been awarded the Immediate Services Program grant for COVID-19.

Dr. Alice Mitwaruciu

Alice Mitwaruciu is a licensed psychologist who specializes in trauma, PTSD, and crisis intervention and management. She earned her Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Utah and her Master’s in Education at the University of Idaho. In 2019, she joined the Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as the assistant director.

Dr. Kate Speck

Kate Speck has more than 28 years’ experience working in the field of addiction, including a Master’s in Addiction Counseling. Kate received her Ph.D. in Community & Human Resources and her M.A. in Adult & Continuing Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received her B.A. in Human Relations from Doane College. Kate is a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor (LADC) as well as a certified Master Addiction Counselor through the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). Her areas of interest include substance abuse, motivational interviewing, workforce development, and training.

Disaster Basics

  • Chris Schroeder serves as Long-Term Recovery Specialist and Voluntary Agency Liaison with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. In this role, since last year and in the 2019 flooding aftermath, he coordinates the Governor’s Long-Term Recovery Task Force and the state’s Food Security Task Force, and assists with recovery operations, individual assistance, and mass care efforts around Nebraska. Originally from West Virginia, Chris served in similar disaster recovery capacities around the Appalachian region following the West Virginia flood and the forest fires in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, both in 2016. Before that, he led a small nonprofit in repairing and rebuilding homes for people living in poverty around Appalachia, the operations of which became the structure of FEMA’s Rapid Rebuild program.
  • Dr. Stacey Hoffman focuses on disaster behavioral health response planning, risk and crisis communication, public health monitoring system evaluation, program evaluation, and program management in her work at the NU Public Policy Center. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Psychology from UNL, and her B.A. from Cornell College.
  • Lisa Ashby is a professor of English at Concordia University in Seward, NE, where she also serves on the Critical Incident Management Team. Lisa holds a Certificate of Specialized Training in the areas of Critical Incident Stress Management, Emotional and Spiritual Care, and School Crisis Management through the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Lisa is a diplomate of the National Center for Crisis Management. She directs Noah’s Canine Crisis Response Team, which uses trained crisis therapy dogs to offer psychological first aid and Critical Incident Stress Management. She and her crisis response dogs have responded to hurricanes, mass shootings, suicide postventions, and numerous natural disasters across multiple states. Lisa has been involved with Nebraska VOAD since 2005, serving as secretary for several years and as chair since 2016.
  • Nathan Mueller earned his B.S. and M.S. in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Ph.D. in Agronomy from Kansas State University. His thesis was on sediment and phosphorus movement in an agricultural watershed and his dissertation on soil fertility for corn and soybean. Previously, Nathan worked as a resource specialist team leader with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture–Soil Conservation Division and as an assistant professor and an extension agronomist for South Dakota State University.

Long-Term Recovery Panel

  • Ashley Mueller focuses on disaster education and, in cooperation with Extension faculty and staff, she helps Nebraskans prepare for and recover from extreme weather and disasters. Ashley serves as Nebraska Extension’s point of contact for the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) and Nebraska Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NE VOAD). She is a part of UNL’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), NDA’s Homeland Security Team, FEMA Region VII Regional Advisory Council, and is a ServeNebraska Commissioner.
  • Judi Sickler is the President/CEO of the Kearney Area Community Foundation and has been in the nonprofit world for almost 20 years. After the flooding in March 2019, she organized a small group of nonprofit professionals in the Kearney area to raise funds and provide relief to flood victims in their county, only to be hit with a bigger flood four months later. In July 2019, the small group morphed into a Long-Term Recovery Group, finding their way through this new territory.
  • Elizabeth Troyer has been the Coordinator for the Heartland Disaster Recovery Group (HDRG) since June 2019. Following the March 2019 floods, HDRG formed working with individuals and families as they recover and seek a new normal. Though the March 2019 floods primarily impacted Howard and Hall counties, HDRG also serves Hamilton and Merrick. In Grand Island, Elizabeth serves as the Disaster Outreach Coordinator with the Heartland United Way.
  • Jeff Weaver was lead pastor for 12 years prior to becoming Executive Director for Sarpy County Long-Term Recovery Group in November 2019. Since March 2019, he has been involved with LTRG and as pastor of the local church coordinated the procurement and distribution of over $1 million dollars of donations to flood-impacted families at no cost. During this time, Jeff also provided counseling and therapy to those families. Jeff serves on the Governor’s Food Task Force, Governor’s Task Force on Local Impact, NE VOAD COVID-19 group, and various other housing and food task forces. In addition, he’s provided support/input to various counties in Nebraska and Iowa with LTRG startup, grants, issues, and response.
  • Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Tandra Sudman joined the U.S. Air Force in 2005. In 2013, she transitioned into the reserve program and is still serving. She also obtained her B.A. in Human Services Management, and an M.A. in Emergency and Disaster Management in 2020. Employed by Cass County Emergency Management as a Public Safety Officer, she helps with daily operations and coordinates disaster response and crisis management. In March 2019, as a volunteer, she was asked to create a long-term recovery group for the county. Volunteer-based, the LTRG has officially been operational for just over a year and has one part-time paid employee. To reach as many Cass County residents as possible, they are diligently working on widening their platform.

Conference Materials

Please check here for updated materials
Conference Sponsors
UNMC NEMA Extension