Anyone working with the criminal justice system, especially those focused on reentry, will find this conference addressing their concerns. This includes mental health and healthcare professionals, attorneys, probation officers, social workers, chaplains, administrators, volunteers, students, substance abuse specialists, law enforcement officers, and representatives of faith-based organizations.
Burrell Behavioral Health is committed to an ongoing process consisting of formal learning activities that (1) are relevant to psychological practice, education and science, (2) enable psychologists to keep pace with emerging issues and technologies, and (3) allow psychologists to maintain, develop, and increase competencies in order to improve services to the public and enhance contributions to the profession.
Burrell is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Burrell maintains responsibility for the program and its content. Up to 22 continuing education credits will be available for the conference.
For questions regarding educational credit please contact Johnelle Ethridge, Education Coordinator at 417-761-5025 or via email at Johnelle.Ethridge@burrellcenter.com.
Accreditation approval only refers to these educational activities and does not imply endorsement of any commercial products by Burrell Behavioral Health or any other participating organization.
Participants will receive statements of credit at the end of the program when all requirements for credit have been met. Satisfactory completion of objectives will occur through program attendance. Therefore contact hours will be given only for hours the participant attends. In order to receive a statement of credit, all participants must sign-in at the registration desk and turn in a completed evaluation form at the end of the program. Continuing education statements will be e-mailed within 30 days to participants who complete and return evaluation forms and sign in on the program roster.
University Plaza Hotel, 333 John Q. Hammons Parkway, Springfield, MO 65806 – a block of rooms has been reserved at $89.00 per night. To receive conference rates when calling, you must ask for the room block under MHCC/Burrell, which is available until March 10, 2015. After the deadline, rooms are based on availability. For reservations call 417.864.7333.
Students: Students who want to reduce costs by sharing a room with other students should contact Johnelle Ethridge (Johnelle.Ethridge@burrellcenter.com).
1. From Solitary to Family: Problems with Reintegration
Maranda Upton, MA; Jennifer Halpin, BS;
The Forest Institute of Professional Psychology
2. Community Re-Entry Program for Delinquent Adolescents
Nicole Bosi, MA
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
3. Changing Perspectives of Juvenile Sex Offenders
Amanda Leonard, MA
The Forest Institute of Professional Psychology
4. An Alternative Program for Intellectually Disabled Offenders
Reylla Santos, BA
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
5. Do Visible Tattoos Lead to a Guilty Verdict?
Jessica Nilson, MS
Forest Institute of Professional Psychology
6. Effects of State Statutes on Sex Offender Reintegration into Society
Jayme Blais, PsyD; Cheryl Jones, PsyD and Amber Denton, PsyD
Forest Institute of Professional Psychology
7. ODOC Assessment and Treatment of Intellectual Disability and Adaptive Functioning
Stephanie Van Orden, MA; Margherita Gaulte, MA and Brooke Sessums, MA
Oregon Department of Corrections
8. Mental Health Professionals as Advocates for Services to Reduce Recidivism
Hannah Jayne Harris, MA; Kristine Makhamreh, MA and Jessara Bowenschulte, MA
Forest Institute of Professional Psychology
9. Bridging the Gap: Integrating Models of Change from Offender’s Experiences
Chad Brownfield, MA, MS, LMHC, IADC, SOTP-II and Andrew Hull, MS
The annual Mental Health in Corrections Conference is dedicated to supporting and providing the highest quality education, training, and networking for persons interested in providing care for individuals and families involved with, and impacted by, the criminal justice system.
Conference registration fees include Thursday evening’s opening plenary and reception, following three days of educational programming, CE credits where applicable, appropriate educational materials, admittance to the exhibit area, and lunch on all conference days.
The MHCC conference offers a Thursday evening plenary presentation by Dr. Brian Kinnaird. Following the presentation by Dr. Kinnaird, join us for a reception of hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. During this networking opportunity, make sure to view the exhibits and juried poster presentations.
Burrell Behavioral Health was established as a private, not-for-profit community behavioral health center in 1977. Today, Burrell serves over 43,000 children, adolescents, adults, senior adults and families each year. Burrell is one of 25 Administrative Agents of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services. As an administrative agent, Burrell is responsible for delivering essential mental health services to defined priority populations in a seven county area of southwest Missouri and an eleven county area in Central Missouri. With a staff of over 1,000, Burrell currently operates from 32 primary locations in southwest Missouri and 11 primary locations in central Missouri, and provides community and professional education, consultation, evaluation, outpatient, residential and inpatient services, home-based services, school-based services, substance abuse services, developmental disabilities services, as well as 24-hour crisis assistance. Burrell has received local, state and national recognition for its innovation, broad continuum of care, initiatives in health/behavioral health integration, children services and for its community service. Burrell is the only organization to have received three National Excellence Awards from the National Council of Behavioral Healthcare.
Agencies and organizations interested in promoting their initiatives, programming, or products at the conference are encouraged to participate as MHCC Exhibitors. Exhibit booths will be open throughout the duration of the conference with several opportunities for attendees to peruse booths and displays incorporated into the schedule, including Thursday evening’s Plenary and Reception, lunch breaks, session changeovers, and more. All exhibiting agencies will receive one complimentary conference registration and are eligible for up to two additional registrations at a reduced rate. Additional information regarding Exhibitor booths and registration information can be found on the conference website at www.burrellcenter.com/conference/mhcc.
|8:30 am – 11:00 am||Morning Workshop|
|11:45 am – 1:00 pm||Lunch (provided)|
|1:00 pm – 4:00 pm||Afternoon workshops|
|6:15 pm – 7:15 pm||Evening Plenary|
|7:15 pm – 8:00 pm||MHCC Advisory Board|
|8:00 pm – 9:00 pm||Hors D’Oeuvres Reception|
|8:00 am – 9:00 am||Morning Plenary|
|9:15 am – 12:15 pm||Morning Workshop|
|12:30 pm – 1:30 pm||Lunch Plenary|
|1:45 pm – 3:15 pm||Workshop 104 or Workshop 105|
|3:30 pm – 5:00 pm||Workshop 204 or Workshop 205|
|8:00 am – 9:00 am||Morning Plenary|
|9:15 am – 12:15 pm||Morning Workshop|
|12:30 pm – 1:30 pm||Lunch Plenary Poster Award Presentations|
|1:45 pm – 3:15 pm||Workshop 304 or Workshop 305|
|3:30 pm – 5:00 pm||Workshop 404, Workshop 405 or Workshop 406|
Specific Goals and Learning Objectives:
The Mental Health Court team consists of a District Court Judge, Magistrate Judge, Probation Officers, Supervisory Probation Officers, representatives from the Assistant U. S. Attorney’s Office, Assistance Federal Public Defenders, and treatment providers (therapists and case managers). The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) also has a peer specialist assigned to the Court.
Specific Goals and Learning Objectives:
This high-energy workshop will incorporate experiential learning opportunities, lecture, personal stories and case studies for illustrations and group discussions to create the optimal learning environment. Through class involvement and case studies, the participants will be exposed to real-life challenges and solutions transferable from the most serious to the most common threats to the family unit. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to find out more about cutting edge innovations for case management and personal development.
Specific Goals and Learning Objectives:
is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute. She received her PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from Syracuse University and her master’s, also in MFT, from the University of San Diego. Dr. Brown is a Licensed Marital & Family Therapist at Midwest Assessment & Psychotherapy Solutions in Springfield. Her education, training, and practice includes a specialization in medical family therapy helping couples and families who struggle with medical issues including chronic illness and cancer. She is also an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and Missouri Approved MFT Supervisor.
is currently a third year PsyD student at the School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute with a concentration in forensic psychology. She plans to graduate from the program in 2017. She will complete her Master’s of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the School of Professional Psychology in Spring 2015. She completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Criminology and Psychology at Missouri State University in May 2012. She is actively engaged in research related to capital punishment, sex offenders, executive functioning, and assessments of daily living.
received his Doctorate of Philosophy, Criminology with specialization in Criminal Justice from Capella University in 2013. He is the Director of Substance Abuse Treatment Programming for Gateway Foundation at Ozark Correctional Center in Fordland, Missouri. He has been involved in the treatment of criminal justice involved substance abusers for over twenty-two years, working in a variety of disciplines within both the Missouri Department of Corrections and Missouri Department of Mental Health. Since beginning his career as a Correctional Officer, his professional experience has included casework, counseling, program management and oversight, and subject matter expert consultation. Dr. Cummins is currently conducting original research exploring the lived experience of non-recidivist.
is a founding member of MHCC and has served many years as a board member. Since 1989 he has campaigned to bring attention to the unique challenges faced by mental health providers working within the criminal justice system. His interest in the interface between psychology and the criminal justice system began as a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia and remains a driving force in his daily life. For seventeen years he worked to enhance the delivery of mental health opportunities within prisons. He contributed to the development of many innovative programs and received national recognition for his efforts. As a counseling psychologist, Dr. Denney focused on strength based programs. He provided training opportunities and mentoring for many entry level mental health professionals, as well as, correctional professionals. In 2003 he moved out of a prison setting and into an administrative role where he encouraged continuity of care principles. Dr Denney assumed leadership of federal reentry programs located in the Midwest in 2012. His motto “how do we get to yes” has challenged many while expanding the range of services and reentry programs found in many settings. He has found great collaborators in other governmental and private agencies and continues to share the unique world of prisons with those within government and in the community. His current initiatives include working to enhance the financial fluency of those leaving prison, ensuring the assessment of risk and need inform supervision decisions, fostering the role of recreation and leisure in adaptive living, encouraging responsible child support and family reintegration choices and options, making continuity of care a priority for those with physical and mental health needs as they transition from government care to personal health care decisions; and bringing research and statistics into risk and management decisions related to the heterogeneous population called “sex offenders.” Don proudly calls Kansas City and the Midwest his home, has been married 34 years to his best friend and companion, and raised a wonderful family.
was raised in Quincy, Illinois and has been a Missouri resident for the past 35 years. In 1993, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO where he later earned a Master’s of Education degree in Guidance and Counseling. In 2004 Neal became a Licensed Professional Counselor and for more than a decade he has provided behavioral health services in Correctional settings, serving as supervisor of the mental health department for six of the past 11 years. Much of his career has focused on counseling incarcerated offenders; focusing specifically on their relationships, or lack of any relationship, with their fathers. He enjoys his work with this population and appreciates opportunities to encourage and equip incarcerated individuals to have successful families and futures. Married for over 21 years, Neal is the proud father of three wonderful teenagers—he loves to camp, canoe, hunt, and shoot guns, but most of all he loves being a husband and father.
is currently a Supervising U.S. Probation Officer for the U.S. Probation Office, Eastern District of Missouri. Her duties include oversight of the district’s employment program, Drug Court, and co-oversight of the Mental Health Court. Mrs. Doherty’s service in the probation system began in the Missouri state probation system. In December, 1984, she joined the staff of the U.S. Probation Office in the Eastern District of Missouri as a probation officer. In December, 1987, she was promoted to Supervising U.S. Probation Officer. Mrs. Doherty received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work from St. Louis University and received a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Counseling from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. In March, 2002, Mrs. Doherty completed the Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) training provided by the National Institute of Corrections and completed Instructor certification through the National Career Development Association in May 2002. In March, 2005, she completed additional training and is now a Master Trainer. She and her team are now providing OWDS training to federal probation officers across the country.
received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in African American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He holds a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Psychology and Counseling from the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University. His pre-doctoral internship was completed at Student Psychological Services at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is a Licensed Psychologist in Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, Arizona, Kansas and Delaware. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health in Delaware. He is a national Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a Certified Correctional Healthcare Professional and a Certified Correctional Healthcare Professional with the Mental Health expertise designation. He is credentialed as a Health Service Psychologist. Dr. Fleming has over twenty two years years of experience working with diverse populations. His areas of research interest and clinical expertise include trauma, severe mental illness, multicultural counseling, co-morbidity, the mental health needs of incarcerated individuals, the psychology of men, PTSD in Armed Service Members and an integrative approach to the mental health needs of his clients. Dr. Fleming has worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Individual and Family Studies and as Assistant Director for the Center for Counseling and Student Development at the University of Delaware. Upon leaving the University of Delaware, he served as the Director for the Center for Counseling and Student Development at Coppin State University. He joined Corizon in June 2009 as the Lead Psychologist at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Institution, a 2500 Maximum Security Prison. He currently serves as a Regional Vice President for Behavioral Health for Corizon, the largest healthcare company of its kind providing medical, mental health, and pharmacy services to statewide Department of Corrections and county jail programs. His primary responsibilities are to oversee, from both an operational and clinical perspective, the mental health program embedded within the Arizona Department of Corrections. He also has a private practice which he has maintained since 2003. Dr. Fleming was also appointed by the Governor of Delaware to serve on the Board of Examiners for Psychologists. Dr. Fleming is also a Captain in the United States Army providing psychological services to the men and women in uniform.
graduated from Illinois State University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Community Health Education. She went on to complete her M.A. in Forensic Psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2012 and is currently enrolled in their doctorate program for Clinical Forensic Psychology, expecting to graduate in 2017. Through the course of her clinical training in the field, she has externed at McLean County Juvenile Detention Center, Dixon Correctional Center, Court Services of Lake County, and is currently completing her therapy externship at Elgin Mental Health Center. For the last two years, she has been working as a Mental Health Professional at Indiana State Prison.
graduated from Saint Bonaventure University with a B.A. in Psychology and went on to earn her M.A. in Forensic Psychology in 2009, as well as Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology in 2013 from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Elgin Mental Health Center in Elgin, Illinois and her postdoctoral hours at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana. She is currently employed at Indiana State Prison. Her training and work has focused on treatment of major mental illness (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder) and psychological testing. She is certified in Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) and is a certified Suicide Prevention Trainer in Indiana DOC.
graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. in Psychology and Criminal Justice in 2007. After graduation, she worked in a domestic violence shelter and an involuntary inpatient psychiatric hospital before deciding to pursue a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. She is currently a fourth year graduate student at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in the Clinical PsyD program. Her practicum experiences during graduate school have all been within a prison setting, with her first two years being at Indiana State Prison, and her third year at Dixon Correctional Center. Since earning her M.A. in 2013 she has been employed part-time at Indiana State Prison as a Staff Mental Health Professional.
is President and CEO of the National Partnership for Community Leadership. NPCL is a national nonprofit organization who mission is to strengthen the service capacity of nonprofit and community-based agencies and to empower low-income parents and youth through innovative training techniques, effective program management tools, and evidenced based practices. As president of NPCL, Dr. Johnson has overseen the planning and implementation of two of the nation’s largest social welfare research projects involving men and fathers. Since 1997, Dr. Johnson and NPCL convene an annual international fatherhood conference that attracts policy makers, family practitioners, and parents from around the world. He was also the visionary and national planning committee chair for the 100 year anniversary of Father’s Day held at the Lincoln Memorial on June 19, 2009. Dr. Johnson also presided over the National Youth Development Practitioners Institute under contract with the United States Department of Labor. Dr. Johnson has presented at more than 300 conferences and is a recognized authority on matters pertaining to fathers and families, youth development, workforce development, urban poverty, and leadership development. A particular focus of his work has been on the plight of African-American men and families. He has written numerous articles and publications and is regularly invited to testify before the United States Congress on national policy affecting fathers and low-income families. He played a principal role in passage of the first national fatherhood legislation in Congress, The Father’s Count Bill in 1999. This legislation provided the framework for the first federal funding of responsible fatherhood programs. In addition to his tenure at NPCL, Dr. Johnson has been a high school history teacher; youth program development specialist; job development specialist, Director of a county-wide Work/Education Council; Program Manager for the Detroit-Pre-employment Training Center, Vice-President for Program Development and Marketing for a national drop-prevention and recovery organization an Assistant Professor in Education and Nonprofit Management, and, a senior consultant to several federal departments. Dr. Johnson has also worked and travelled to more than 30 countries. Dr. Johnson has an extensive civic involvement record and serves on many boards wherein he has received numerous service awards. Dr. Johnson was a 25 year volunteer member of the United Way of the National Capital Area and held various leadership positions including Board Chairman. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Morehouse College Research Institute, Vice-Chair of the National Fatherhood Leaders Group and Chair of the District of Columbia Neighborhood College. Dr. Johnson also serves as Chair of the Men’s Fellowship Ministry at the People’s Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring, MD. He is also a 2009 Peace Ambassador Award recipient for his national and international work with men and families. In 2012, Dr. Johnson was selected as Fatherhood Leader of the Decade by colleagues in the responsible fatherhood field, and the 2013 Amtrak/Washington Wizards Pioneer Award for lifetime community service. Dr. Johnson received his formal education at the University of Michigan where he received the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Urban Education.
serves as Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS. Dr. Kinnaird has nearly two decades as a scholar-practitioner, serving as a corrections officer and deputy sheriff in Ellis County, KS before moving into academia. He is widely published in a variety of peer-reviewed and trade outlets in the fields of social psychology and criminal justice. He has worked with the Kansas Department of Corrections with PREA standards, and the American Jail Association and Central Kansas Mental Health Center in establishing internships and professional development credit for today’s practitioner.
is currently a Supervisor with the U. S. Probation Office in Eastern District Missouri. In 2002, she was hired in the federal system. Monica was promoted to Supervisor in 2009, and has been a Supervisor in both the Presentence Investigation Unit and Supervision Unit. Monica has developed a Mental Health Resource Officer team and an In-District Leadership Development Program for the U. S. Probation Office. She played an instrumental role in the development of a
Mental Health Court in the federal system. Her current duties include oversight of the district’s Mental Health Court. Monica is a certified Field Instructor for student interns from both Missouri and Illinois Universities. Monica received a Bachelor Degree in Social Work for Southeast Missouri State University and A Master’s Degree in Social Work from St. Louis University. Monica earned her License in Clinical Social Work in August 2005.
graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Psychology and went on to earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989. He completed a two year postdoctoral internship at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. Since completing his academic and clinical training, Dr. Matias has served in a variety of capacities including Assistant Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, and Chief Psychologist at Porter Starke Counseling Center in Valparaiso, Indiana. For the last 8 years, he has served as the Director of Mental Health Services at the Indiana State Prison.
earned a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology in 2009 from the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri. He completed his post-doctoral residency at Kent State University before launching his private practice in Springfield where he provided psychological assessments and services including individual therapy, couples’ counseling, substance abuse treatment and more. Additionally, Dr. Mattson organized an independent research team consisting of both students and other clinical practitioners. In 2011, Dr. Mattson joined Burrell Behavioral Health as an outpatient psychologist while also providing clinical supervision to practicum students and student research assistants. Early in his career, Dr. Mattson served as adjunct faculty at the School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute and in 2014 he again joined the Forest team as an Assistant Professor where he teaches courses in the Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program, advises students on dissertation and thesis projects and supervises students with a variety of independent research projects. Dr. Mattson continues to engage in self-directed research with both internal and external research partners.
completed his PhD in counseling psychology at Oklahoma State University (1999) and a postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri– Kansas City and the Missouri Department of Mental Health (2000). He joined the faculty at Texas Tech University in 2000 where he is currently the John G. Skelton, Jr. Regents Endowed Professional in Psychology and Director of the Institute for Forensic Science. In addition to his work at TTU, he was also Associate Director/Director of Forensic services at Lubbock Regional Mental Health Mental Retardation services for 2002-2012. Dr. Morgan’s research and scholarly activities include treatment and assessment of justice involved persons with mental illness, forensic mental health assessment, and professional development and training issues. His research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Justice. He has authored or co-authored over 55 peer reviewed publications as well as three books: Careers in psychology: Opportunities in a changing world (3rd ed.), Life after graduate school in psychology: Insider’s advice from new psychologists, and Clinicians Guide to Violence Risk Assessment. He has provided forensic mental health services for state courts in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas, worked in state and federal correctional facilities, and consults with various private and public sector criminal justice agencies.
has been involved in corrections and behavioral health issues for 30 years. He is currently the Regional Administrator for the Western Region of Missouri Probation & Parole and has been involved in the general oversight for all Mental Health programs for the MO Division of Probation and Parole for the past seven years. He is a graduate of Missouri Southern State College, with a B.S. in Psychology. His previous work includes the MO Division of Youth Services, 1985-1987 as a Youth Specialist and the MO Board of Probation & Parole, 1987 to the present, where he has held positions as a Probation Officer, Unit Supervisor, and District Administrator.
has been a U.S. Probation Officer since 2009. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2012, Julia holds a BA in Justice from American University in Washington, D.C., and an MSW from Saint Louis University. Prior to her service to the Court, Julia completed a year of AmeriCorps national service, and she has worked as a Paralegal through the U.S. Department of Justice Outstanding Scholars program. Julia is proud to serve as a U.S. Probation Officer for the Jan C. Good Mental Health Court team. She is proficient in Spanish and an avid runner.
is a Program Specialist with the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, based out of the Regional Office in Kansas City, MO. He has a combined 10 years of experience working at both the State and Federal levels of the program. In addition to his regulatory oversight role over Iowa, Nebraska, and the Tribes of Winnebago and Meskwaki, he acted as national coordinator for seven State grants related to the intersection of child support and re-entering non-custodial parents. Prior to his work in the child support field, Jeffrey was a software developer and manager working in the financial services industry. He is the proud father to two young boys and is a professional musician. Jeffrey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Missouri – Columbia.
are passionate innovators whose vision, skills and experience allow them to be a catalyst for change wherever they are. They are respected advocates for families, authors and nationally‐renowned speakers. Their dynamic and inspiring leadership has helped transform tens of thousands of lives across the country. Their ability to challenge the status quo to forge creative and effective solutions is unparalleled in the social services field. In 1991 they experienced a tragedy when Ron was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to 14 – 25 years in an Ohio prison. In the midst of this unimaginable circumstance the Tijerinas discovered that there was little to no support for vulnerable families, especially families who had a loved one in prison – a group that they term “Forgotten Victims.” This experience ignited a passion in the Tijerinas for being an advocate for families. During Ron’s incarceration, the Tijerinas discovered some of the root causes of generational cycles of poverty, low expectations, and incarceration. They became determined to do something about it and together they created a program, TYRO Dads, to help strengthen families. As Ron worked to overcome the challenges of being a father and husband while incarcerated, Catherine toiled to move beyond welfare assistance, creating self‐sufficiency, and keeping their family intact. As they re‐established their own family, they began to dream about how they could help others. So in the year 2000, while Ron was still incarcerated, the Tijerinas founded The RIDGE Project as a vehicle for building strong families. The RIDGE Project quickly grew from a small local agency, to a respected state‐wide organization. After Ron’s eventual release from prison in 2006, the Tijerinas expanded upon their work, and have championed family strengthening policies, programs and practices both on the state and national level. Their work has resulted in numerous awards and recognitions, including the SMART Marriages Impact Award, The White House’s designation as a Champion of Change, and Director’s Award from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. They have shaped both state and federal policy, and have established models for best practices in youth and family social services that are widely used today. Currently Ron and Catherine Tijerina speak in venues across the country carrying a message of hope for all families. Most recently, they have authored HIGH FIVE Love Never Fails which presents a recipe for healthy families built on 5 time‐tested principles. The Tijerinas regularly appear in local, state and national print, radio and televised media. The couple resides in Ohio with their daughter and are the proud parents of two adult sons, two daughters‐in‐law, and grandparents of two grandchildren.
is currently pursuing her PsyD in Clinical Psychology at The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute with an emphasis in Forensics. She received a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2011. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2008. She currently is doing practicum work at the US Federal Medical Center and is the President of the Forensic Committee of Student Psychologists at The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute. Additionally, she serves as the Campus Representative for American Psychology-Law Society for the Forest Campus.
is currently the Licensed Clinical Social Worker for the Back to Health, Back to Work services-program at Employment Connection, a St. Louis United Way agency. He was called, interviewed, and hired when Back to Health, Back to Work began in July of 2007, funded by the St. Louis Mental Health Board, to provide supportive and empowering relationship-based services in “assisting individuals with limited opportunities to self-sufficiency.” The program’s goals are ‘job placement and retention,’ primarily servicing ex-offenders, and maintaining an enduring low recidivism rate. Steve began his social justice-service life in the summer of 1965 at the Warwick (NY) State Training School (Manchild in the Promised Land) and a full year as a VISTA Volunteer, assigned to the Catoctin Job Corps Center (JCC) in Catoctin, MD. His professional life began in 1969 in the black housing projects of St. Louis and continued on with agencies on the city’s Northside. He as a full-time instructor in Social Work at SIU-E in the late ‘90’s as well as adjunct faculty at St. Louis University and Ranken Technical College. He currently provides LCSW supervision to two LMSWs, has been a certified field instructor for years, and is an active member of the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) and St. Louis Area Restorative Justice Collaboration (SLARJC).