Scientific synergy and innovation from Military Family and Child Welfare Contexts


An often under-recognized aspect of the United State Military is its leadership efforts to enhance child and family well-being. Indeed, the military supports a large portfolio of programs and practices to enhance overall family health and resilience.  For instance, the military’s child development centers have been widely regarded as some of the highest quality centers in the world. In addition, the military has a large system of family advocacy efforts, including family support, new parent education, resiliency and readiness, and sexual assault prevention. Within this framework, the military has been leading efforts to establish evidence-based risk assessments for family violence and establishing clear guidelines for adjudicating the severity of family violence that will match family needs while including the appropriate intervention

While the Military has been an innovator and incubator for change in how to decrease and address family violence, research in the fields of child maltreatment and child welfare have made tremendous, yet somewhat distinct, strides in terms of child abuse detection and prevention, trauma treatments, family advocacy, and the long-term psychosocial and physiologic consequences for victims. Bringing together often-siloed efforts and focusing on similar challenges through discrete lenses, holds promise for the rapid growth of scientific knowledge through integrated dynamic solutions.

Building on research and practice from the areas of child welfare and Military families, this conference will bring together researchers, policy analysts, and practice professionals from these fields in order to identify successful methods, programs, practices, and systems of care that can be generalized to promote family well-being broadly. The overarching purpose of the conference is to identify knowledge gaps, promote commonalities, and identify opportunities for collaboration and synergy that will fortify both sciences.

To foster collaboration and synergy, each session will include an integrative "translation" and "future-directions" component with particular focus on: (1) how this research can be understood in the context of serving and treating stress-exposed individuals; and (2) applicable strategies for prevention, mitigating injurious outcomes, and reversibility. With eclectic audience representation, this conference is a unique opportunity to encourage a dialogue between researchers, trainees and front-line practitioners—an essential process in illuminating the “next steps” in scientific inquiry and the evolution of scientific knowledge into real-world application and practice.


Biobehavioral Health
Human Development and Family Studies
Public Health Sciences
The Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center
The Child Study Center
The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness
The Clinical and Translational Science Institute
The College of Nursing
The Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education


Wednesday, September 27

7:30-8:30 a.m.

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

9:00 a.m.- Noon

Development of Decision Tree Agorithm: Overview, Theory, Development and Pilot
Amy Slep, Professor, Family Translational Research Group, Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, New York University

Implementation within the State of Alaska: Reasoning for adoption, roll-out process, quality assurance process, and challenges for other states
Dara Lively, MSW, Social Services Program Officer for the State of Alaska

Noon-1:00 p.m.

1:00-4:00 p.m.

CPC CBT: Theory and Overview of the Intervention
Melissa Runyon, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Child trauma and abuse expert

Implementation in a Military Service (Army):  Initial testing process, roll-out process, quality assurance process, and ongoing challenges
Cindi Geeslin, MSW, LCSW, Deputy Family Advocacy Program Manager, Clinical Services Behavioral Health Service Line, HQ, US Army Medical Command

Army Garrison-level Implementation: Positives, adaptations, and challenges
Shirley Ann Smith, LCSW, Family Advocacy Program Treatment Manager, Fort Bliss, TX
Annie Isenberg, LCSW, Family Advocacy Program Treatment Manager, Fort Bliss, TX 

4:00-4:05 p.m.
Day 1 Wrap-up 


Thursday, September 28

8:30 a.m.
Introductory Remarks

8:35 - 11:30 a.m.

THRIVE Initiative: GROW! Reasoning for development, the development process, and the data from the pilot on minitary installations
Jennifer DiNallo, Ph.D., Lead Research and Evaluation Scientist, Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State

After Deployment: Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT): Reasoning for development, the develoopment provess, and the data
Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D., L.P., Professor, Dept. of Family Social Science & Institute of Child Development; Director, Institute of Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health, University of Minnesota

11:30  - 12:30 p.m.

12:30-3:30 p.m.

A Public Health Approach to Implementing Family-Centered Prevention: Implications for Resilience Enhancing Practices within Systems of Care

Catherine Mogil, Psy.D., Director or Training, Division of Population Behavioral Health; Clinical Director, Family Stress, Trauma and Resilience Clinic, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

Use of Technology to Promote Evidence-based Programs
Sheridan Miyamoto, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Nursing, Penn State University

Implications for Systems: Lessons from issues presented in this session and what are the takeaways for the Army and other systems
Rene Robichaux, Ph.D., LCSW, Social Work Programs Manager, Behavioral Health Service Line, US Army Medical Command

3:30 - 3:45 p.m.
Closing Remarks


Colonel Susan B. Bowes

Colonel Susan B. Bowes serves as the Commander of the 86th Medical Operations Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. She leads and provides oversight and policy to 150 Members across four flights to deliver healthcare for 57,000 Kaiserslautern Military Community personnel across three wings supporting 20 thousand beneficiaries, 471 thousand appointments and $5 million dollars in services.

Colonel Bowes was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. She graduated from Louisiana State University in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and subsequently earned a Masters of Social Work from Louisiana State University in 1989.  Colonel Bowes received a direct commission in the Air Force in January 1997. Prior to her current position, she was leadership of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program as well as the Drug Demand Reduction Program, Element Leader for the Family Advocacy Program and Mental Health Flight Commander. In 2008 she was selected to lead the Social Work Residency at David Grant Medical Center, then later became the Mental Health Flight Commander in June 2010.

Jennifer M. DiNallo

Jennifer M. DiNallo, Ph.D., is the Director of Research at the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. She has been a part of the Clearinghouse team since 2010. Over this time, Jen has had the opportunity to lead on the development, implementation, and evaluation of several programs and projects focused on serving military families, including the THRIVE parenting initiative, and the Resource Center for Obesity Prevention. Jen's research interests include the impact of health promotion behaviors on obesity outcomes, with a focus on parent-focused health promotion interventions. After earning a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from West Chester University in 1995, and before earning an M.E. in Exercise Physiology at East Carolina University in 2000, she worked for the U.S. Marine Corps as a civilian certified fitness instructor and personal trainer at Camp Lejeune, NC. This experience was priceless; as it motivated her passion and drive for applied research. In addition to her work, her love for physical activity is evident. Jen approaches each day in a balance of family time, work time, and physical activities including trail running, cycling, and/or group fitness instruction. For Jen, this is more than a job; she is on a mission to promote healthy behaviors by example and through her work at the Clearinghouse at Penn State.

Cindi Geeslin

Ms. Cindi Geeslin is a clinical social worker with over 35 years of experience in the field of social work.  She has worked with the U.S. Army family advocacy program since 1987.  From 1994-2014, she was an instructor at the Army Medical Department Center and School, with the primary responsibility for teaching and managing the Family Advocacy Staff Training Courses to the worldwide Family Advocacy program.  In this capacity, she ensured that all training delivered to the Army family advocacy prevention and clinical providers was representative of the latest clinical research.  Since April, 2014, she has been working at the Army Medical Command as the Deputy Family Advocacy Program Manager (Clinical Services).  In this capacity, she has worked to introduce evidence based programs into the child and spouse abuse treatment program throughout the Army family advocacy clinical treatment program, thereby marrying clinical policy to practice.  She has been married for 39 years and is the proud mother of 2 wonderful daughters, two “son-in-loves” and one grandson, with another on the way!  Her passions include her faith, her love of Alabama football, Spurs basketball, and West Coast Swing Dancing!

Abigail Gewirtz

Dr. Abigail Gewirtz is the John and Nancy Lindahl Leadership Professor in the Department of Family Social Science and the Institute of Child Development, and director of the Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the development, effectiveness testing, and implementation of targeted prevention programs that promote child resilience among highly stressed families including those affected by military deployment, and war.

Over more than a decade, Dr. Gewirtz’s research has been funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Department of Defense. Dr. Gewirtz is Principal Investigator on three randomized controlled trials to develop and test a web-enhanced parenting program for military families with parents returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has published and presented widely on parenting, trauma, and child adjustment, extending parent training models for populations affected by traumatic stress, and the role of community sectors of care as portals for family-based prevention.

Annie Isenberg

Annie Isenberg is a licensed clinical social worker. Annie has been a clinician at the Family Advocacy Program at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas for 2 years where she has developed and facilitated a variety of groups and provided direct treatment for families experiencing abuse, or at risk of abuse.  As a previous Active Duty Social Work Officer, and current National Guard Social Worker in Virginia, Annie has provided behavioral health services in both garrison and deployed settings to Soldiers and their families.

Dara Lively

Dara Lively, MSW, has worked in the field of social services for over 20 years with an emphasis on children and families involved with the child welfare system. Dara works for the State of Alaska Office of Children’s services as a Social Services Program Officer. Dara has implemented a variety of programs and policies aimed at improving the child welfare system. Examples include the way the State of Alaska determines substantiated and not substantiated maltreatment findings (adapted from Dr. Slep, Dr. Heyman and Dr. Perkins work); coordinating and implementing state wide Team Decision Making (TDM); coaching supervisors to best practice, workforce retention, and many other statewide projects aimed at system support and reform. Dara hopes to inspire other child welfare agencies to adapt researched based strategies that can improve decision making.  She will share lessons learned through the process of developing the Maltreatment Assessment Protocol (MAP).  

Sheridan Miyamoto

Sheridan Miyamoto is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing and is a faculty member of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State University.  Dr. Miyamoto received her Ph.D. in Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.  Her clinical work as a Nurse Practitioner at the UC Davis Child and Adolescent Abuse Resource and Evaluation Center focused on providing health and forensic services to children in Northern California. She supported six rural sites through live telehealth sexual assault consultations, allowing children to receive quality care within their own community. Miyamoto’s research interests include utilizing administrative databases to improve risk tools to identify children at risk of maltreatment, identification and prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children (trafficking), and the use of telehealth technology to improve sexual assault forensic care in rural communities. Miyamoto is the principal investigator of the Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Telehealth (SAFE-T) Center, a project funded by the Department of Justice to enhance access to quality forensic services in underserved communities.

Catherine Mogil

Catherine Mogil, Psy.D., is an Assistant Clinical Professor, Clinical Director of the Family STAR (Stress, Trauma And Resilience) Clinic, and Director of Training for the Division of Population Behavioral Healthat the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Mogil’s research focuses on intervention development and implementation strategies to better serve families facing adversity, including infants born into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, families involved in the child-welfare system, and military-connected children. She is the co-developer of several interventions including Families Overcoming Under Stress (FOCUS), FOCUS for Early Childhood (FOCUS-EC), and Strategies for Early Educational Developmental Success (SEEDS). She currently co-chairs a NATO Science and Technology task group focusing on the impact of military life on children in military families. Dr. Mogil received her doctorate from Pepperdine University and completed her clinical internship at UCLA and post-doctoral fellowship specializing in the prevention and treatment of child and family traumatic stress at USC/Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Prior to receiving her doctorate, Dr. Mogil worked for five years as a Senior Social Worker in investigations, reunification, and permanency planning for children of all ages exposed to domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.

Rene Robichaux

Recently retired Social Work Program Manager and U.S. Army Medical Department Family Advocacy Program Manager.  Dr. Robichaux was commissioned as a Social Work Officer in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps in 1979, after an eight-year career with Child Protective Services in Houston, Texas.  After serving as Chief, Family Advocacy, DeWitt Army Hospital, Ft. Belvoir, VA., he completed a two-year fellowship in Child and Family Studies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  His doctoral work was completed at The Catholic University of America, from 1982-1984, with the degree awarded in 1988. Subsequent assignments followed as the Chief, Family Advocacy at Walter Reed; Chief Family Advocacy Training Branch, Fort Sam Houston, TX.; Chief of Social Work, Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center, GE.; Chief of Social Work, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX.; Chief, Soldier and Family Support Branch, AMEDD Center and School, Fort Sam Houston, TX.; and Chief, Behavioral Health Division, U.S. Army Medical Command. He retired in 2004 from uniform service at the rank of Colonel. In 2005, he returned to the Army Medical Command as the civilian Program Manager for all Social Work Programs to include the Family Advocacy Clinical Program. He retired from civilian Federal Service at the start of 2017.  Since retirement, he has actively consulted with colleagues at NYU with regards to ongoing research related to the Army Family Advocacy Program and with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness, The Pennsylvania State University.  In 2015, he was recognized as a Social Work Pioneer, by the National Association of Social Workers, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Melissa K. Runyon

Melissa K. Runyon, Ph.D. is currently a licensed psychologist, independent trainer and consultant and owner of Melissa Runyon, Ph.D., PLLC Training and Consulting Services in Prospect, Kentucky. Dr. Runyon began her career in 1997 at the Miami University School of Medicine’s Child Protection Team in Miami, Florida where she founded and directed the Family and Child Treatment Services (FACTS) program. In 1999 she took a position as Treatment Services Director of the CARES (Child Abuse Research Education and Service) Institute where she achieved the rank of professor of psychiatry at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine School of Osteopathic Medicine (Rowan SOM). For nearly 16 years, Dr. Runyon provided oversight of all clinical activities, including offering training and clinical supervision to staff and trainees in the evidence-based therapies (EBTs), Combined Parent-Child Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CPC-CBT) and Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), developed at the CARES Institute. Dr. Runyon has been principal and co-investigator on federal grants from NIMH and SAMHSA examining the outcomes associated with each of these models. Dr. Runyon is a certified TF-CBT trainer who offers training and consultation to therapists in TF-CBT and CPC-CBT nationally and internationally. She has co-authored numerous publications, including books related to each of these EBTs.

Amy M. Smith Slep

Amy M. Smith Slep received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Stony Brook University in 1995. She is now Professor in the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at NYU. Along with her collaborator, she co-directs the Family Translational Research Group, which comprises an interdisciplinary team of researchers focused on understanding violence in families. Dr. Slep’s research focuses on many different aspects of conflict and violence in relationships and families families: the development of dysfunctional parenting, the connections between parenting and partner conflict, the dynamics of conflict escalation and de-escalation in productive and destructive conflicts, what facets of exposure to violence impact children’s functioning and how these impacts can be buffered, and how to best prevent family violence. She is also focused on how communities can promote healthy relationship and improve population risk profiles. Her work on definitions of maltreatment has resulted in definitions that are now being used throughout the U.S. military, are being implemented across the state of Alaska, have influenced the DSM, and are being considered for the ICD-11. She has overseen a number of community-based prevention trials and longitudinal studies of representative samples. She has published over 100 scientific articles and book chapters and has received more 50 federal research grants to support her work. She is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Shirley Smith 

Shirley Smith is a licensed clinical social worker with a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Utah.  She has worked in the field of family violence prevention and treatment services for over 20 years. She has participated in the development of several children’s groups; including sexually reactive preschoolers, children exposed to domestic violence, kindergarteners exposed to substance abuse/dependence and life skills group for teens. She has 17 years’ experience working for the Family Advocacy Program as both a clinician and supervisor for the Department of the Navy, Air force and the Army.  She currently works at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas.


The conference will take place at the historic Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State’s University Park campus. A block of rooms has been reserved from Tuesday, September 26 through Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at the rate of $139/night for a standard room. 

Please use the group code: CHIJ17B. (The code expires Sunday, August 27, 2017) 

Reservations can be made at the Nittany Lion Inn’s website:

If you have problems reserving a room online using the group code, reservations can be made over the phone, toll-free at 800-233-7505


General Registration

$175 Early bird (til September 1)

$225 Regular (beginning September 2)


Penn State Faculty/Staff Registration

$75 Penn State Faculty/Staff


Student Registration

$50 Student


Conference Fee

The fee covers all instruction, program materials, refreshment breaks, and two lunches. Registrants are responsible for all other meals and lodging.



All registrations and payments must be received by 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, September 15, 2017. After this date, please contact Cheri at or 814-865-2193 for availability; you can register for an additional $30.



You will receive a confirmation of your registration. You will be alerted promptly of any cancellations or changes. If some unforeseen event forces Penn State to cancel or postpone the program, you will receive a full refund of your registration fee; however, the University cannot be held responsible for any related costs, including cancellation fees assessed by airlines or travel agencies.



If your request to withdraw is received by Wednesday, September 13, we can issue a partial refund. Send your written request by email to Cheri McConnell at A $50 administrative fee will be charged for each withdrawal.



Anyone who is registered but cannot attend may identify a substitute. A full refund will be issued after the substitution registration has been completed. A registration form and full payment by the substitute are required. Substitutes are eligible to register at the same fee.



Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing special accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Cheri at 814-865-2193 at least two weeks prior to the conference.


The State College/University Park Airport (airport code: SCE) is located near the conference site. Call 814-865-5511 or visit the State College/University Park Airport website for information on flights. We recommend that you make the State College/University Park Airport your final airport destination. Please inquire with your hotel if they offer courtesy airport transportation. Taxis are often located outside of the airport baggage claim area, curbside. Participants are responsible for arranging ground transportation between the airport, hotels, and conference site. Please view this University Park Airport Taxis and Shuttles page


By Car

The University Park campus is located within driving distance of many major cities, including Harrisburg (1.5 hrs., 90 mi.), Pittsburgh (3 hrs., 137 mi.), Philadelphia (3.5 hrs., 194 mi.), Baltimore (3.5 hrs., 155 mi.), Washington, D.C. (4 hrs., 190 mi.), New York City (5 hrs., 250 mi.), and Toronto (6.5 hrs., 304 mi.). See our Visitors and Neighbors website for detailed visitor information, including maps.


By Bus

The following companies provide bus service between major cities to State College, Pennsylvania: Greyhound and Megabus

Contact Us

Conference Information

Cheri McConnell, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network


Phone: 814-865-2193


Registration Information




The Penn State Psychological Clinic is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Psychological Clinic maintains responsibility for the program and its content. Please contact Dr. Sandy Testa Michelson (, if you would like additional information.

Social Workers

Penn State is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors to provide continuing education courses and programs for these professions under sections 47.36 (a)(3), 48.36 (a)(3), and 49.36 (a)(3) of the Pennsylvania code.