Conference Agenda

8-8:45am – Registration

8:45-9am – Welcome and Introduction to Keynote
Joni Schwager, Executive Director, Staunton Farm Foundation

9-10:15am – Keynote: Dr. Matthew Wintersteen, Associate Professor, Research Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Service, Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Wintersteen’s keynote entitled ‘Suicide in Rural Communites’ will help attendees identify contributors to suicide that may be unique to rural communities and understand the roll of 988 and other crisis services in these areas.

10:30am – 12pm Morning Sessions:

1. Overcoming Social Disconnection and Despair: Solidarity Care and Integrative Community Therapy with Dr. Kenneth Thompson

This presentation will review the connection between social disconnection, despair, and mental health. Participants will appreciate the elements and the development of Integrative Community Therapy and Solidarity Care as a method to improve emotional literacy and build community solidarity.

  Solidarity Care and Integrative Community Therapy Presentation

2. Harm Reduction in the Recovery Community with Dr. VonZell Wade and Laurie Johnson-Wade

Participants will learn proactive and evidence-based approaches to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with alcohol and other substance abuse.

3. NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy: Telling Your Story with Nikki Weingard

NAMI Smarts for Advocacy is a hands-on advocacy training program that helps people living with mental illness, friends, and family transform their passion and lived experience into skillful grassroots advocacy. Participants will learn how to tell a compelling story that is inspiring and makes an “ask” in 90 seconds.

12:15-1:15pm – Lunch and presentation by CeaseFire PA

  Rural Gun Suicide Presentation
  Firearm Suicide Fact Sheet
  Rural Gun Violence Fact Sheet

1:30-3pm – Afternoon Sessions

1. Unveiling the Hidden Crisis: Analyzing Rural Homelessness and Pathways to Progress with Dan Carney

This session will help participants recognize the intersections between rural homelessness and other social issues, such as poverty, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and access to employment opportunities, in order to develop holistic and comprehensive approaches.

  Rural Homelessness Presentation

2. Six Steps to Teen Connection led by Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski

Each encounter with an adolescent is a cross-cultural experience. This workshop will provide social workers and health care professionals with the skills needed to make connections. A panel of peer educators from Dr. Podgurski’s Teen Outreach will offer teen perspectives.

  Six Steps to Connection Presentation

3. How to Work With Peers presented by certified peer specialists from AMI, Inc. of Washington County

This session will help participants understand the benefit of employing Peer providers within their organization. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from individuals who started as clients of behavioral health services who are now working as Peer providers and giving back to the behavioral health system by sharing their lived experience with others.

  How to Work with Peers Presentation

This program is offered for 5.5 hours of Continuing Education hours of social work continuing education through co-sponsorship of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work, a Council on Social Work Education accredited school and therefore a PA pre-approved provider of social work continuing education. These credit hours satisfy requirements for LSW/LCSW, LMFT, and LPC biennial license renewal. For information on social work continuing education please visit

Questions? Contact Bethany Hemingway at