The Role of Preventionists in Accelerating Health Equity and Communities of Wellbeing


The Great Lakes MHTTC and PTTC present this training for behavioral health and prevention practitioners in HHS Region 5: IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI.

This session presents the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience framework as a lens to understand community-level trauma, with a focus on its application in preventing and addressing substance misuse and mental health crisis.

The session will outline skills needed for a prevention workforce prepared to accelerate equity, justice, and community-trauma-informed approaches within vulnerable communities.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Share the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience (ACE|R) framework to identify how community-level trauma contributes to high rates of substance misuse and mental health crisis.
  • Identify why an equity and justice orientation is essential to upstream prevention approaches.
  • Highlight the skills and role for preventionists in applying health equity principles in their work across multiple systems, and discuss aspects of community change for mental health and wellbeing.



Shelia SavannahSheila Savannah, MA, Managing Director at Prevention Institute, has over 30 years of experience in supporting multisector collaborations and community change initiatives. Her focus has always emphasized the necessity of mobilizing youth, families and courageous leadership to address the norms and conditions that lead to disproportionate outcomes in health, safety and wellbeing. Much of this work is currently done through multiple national and regional communities of practice – all of which use a primary prevention approach to reduce multiple forms of violence and improve mental wellbeing. Based in Houston, Sheila provides leadership on projects that work to improve community environments and address problems of mental health, trauma, substance misuse, and violence. Previously, Sheila was a division manager with the Houston Public Health Department and the Office of Adolescent Health and Injury Prevention. Sheila holds a BJ in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. 

Ruben CantuRuben Cantu, BA, Program Manager, has over 20 years’ experience in public health, health equity, racial justice, program and organizational management, and technical assistance and capacity building. At Prevention Institute, he leads projects on community trauma and mental health and wellbeing. Ruben provides training, coaching, and strategic support on policy development, sustainability, partner development, and communications. Prior to joining Prevention Institute in 2016, Ruben was Associate Director at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, where, among other accomplishments, he authored the state’s strategic plan for reducing mental health disparities. Ruben has consulted with community organizations across the U.S.

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