Trauma, education & resettlement CONFERENCE



WISE, with co-sponsors MN Coalition for Battered Women, Asian Women United of MN and African Immigrants Community Services, is holding an all-day conference focusing on Trauma, Education and Resettlement issues. We will cover topics of

  • immigrant and refugee journeys

  • trauma-informed services

  • humanitarian aid

  • youth and women services

  • prostitution and human trafficking

  • strategies for healthy families

  • crisis intervention methods

Who should attend?

Workshops are for mental health practitioners, domestic and sexual violence advocates, youth workers, social workers, social justice advocates and others working with refugee and immigrant populations

CONFERENCE NAME: Trauma, Education, and Resettlement Conference

WHEN: November 16, 2018 9:00AM - 4:30PM

WHERE: Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave, St. Paul, MN 55130

COST: $35/person (lunch included)

*Workshops eligible for Continuing Education Units (CEUs)*

View/Download Conference Brochure


Mary Jo Avendaño

Psy.D., L.M.F.T., LICSW, L.P.C.

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Biography: Mary Jo Avendaño has been a clinical consultant for the MN Department of Human Services at the Behavioral Health Department since 2008 and provides clinical consultations for Cochran Recovery Services at their residential treatment center in Hastings. Originally from Colombia, Dr. Avendaño has extensive expertise working with diverse Latino children, adults, and families, particularly those facing trauma and hardship.

She is the former clinical supervisor of the Child Development Policing Program and former director of Centro Cultural Chicano, a large social services agency providing comprehensive social and psychological services to the Latino community. Her additional professional experiences include being a faculty member at St. Mary’s University and providing numerous clinical support for community and county agencies, such as the Tubman Family Alliance and the Hennepin County Children’s Mental Health Services.



Topic: Implications of the Therapeutic Alliance and Affect Regulation: Respecting a client’s culture and system of belief to promote family self-efficacy

Our emotions and behaviors are primarily regulated by our own attentiveness and reaction to our environment, our cognitive activities, and our situational interpretations. The manner in which we actively transform our environment to fit our needs is something created within the culture of therapy. A therapist’s effort to regulate emotions and behaviors at the start of treatment is conducive to the affective input of the client, both by regulating their emotional response and by actively influencing (both negatively and positively) the client’s exposure to stressful and traumatic situations.

In this session, Dr. Avendaño distinguishes between therapist-assisted and therapist-managed affect regulation, the process by which an individual moderates their own emotional state to adapt to and meet the demands of their environment, and discusses her role in increasing a client’s capacity to overcome trauma through self-regulation.


Alejandro Maldonado

M.A., C.C.P., C.H.I.,President of Avante-Enterprises


Biography: Alejandro Maldonado has over 29 years of experience in healthcare interpreting, social services, public assistance policy, and mental health services delivery.

It has become his mission to make sense of the ways in which the brain organizes itself, the development of attachment as a means of survival, and how one can reconstruct learned behaviors through the channeling of a power within. Alejandro works closely with principles and techniques including self-regulation, personal histories influencing current affairs, and following closely meta-analysis on attachment, behavior, and plasticity of the brain.

Alejandro works with a wide variety of clients facing individual, group, and couple-based challenges. And while the therapeutic process itself fluctuates based on gender, gender identity, race, national origin, socio-economic status, ability, and disability; Alejandro's relationship-based treatment remains founded in energy, empowerment, and positivism. Alejandro is a national seek out speaker on different disciplines.



Topic: The Immigrant Adolescent: ambiguous journey, trauma, and recovery

The purpose of this workshop is to provide a framework that will honor the biculturalism that immigrant families and especially their adolescents struggle with when moving to the USA.

The presentation will address briefly value systems, the unintended result of creating trauma, awareness of possibility mal-pathologizing adolescents, and exploration of recovery paths.


Sipra Jha

House of Peace Shelter Director, Asian Women United of MN

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Biography: Sipra Jha was born in India and lives in Minneapolis. She is currently the shelter Director at Asian Women United of Minnesota, an agency that is working towards ending domestic violence and promoting safe and healthy families in the API community. Sipra has long been an advocate for women and children both in her home country of India, as well as through her current roles in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

As a young woman growing up in India Sipra worked with the Tibetan refugee women and children in Dharamsala, India. Sipra also explored the notion of “shame” to promote understandings of migrant Asian women’s experiences in domestic violence and help seeking practices.

Sipra received her Master’s degree in Political Science from Punjab University, Chandīgarh,India. Being a keen student of Political Science, International law and Women’s studies,Sipra spent most of her early years in India doing active intervention, and in so doing trying to bridge the gap between academia and activism.

Sipra has served on the boards of Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women and SEWA

(Asian Indian Family Wellness Program).


Topic: No Home To Return To

Preying on the desperation and dreams of vulnerable immigrants around the world, human traffickers lure their victims to the U.S. with false promises and tales of living the American dream. Most victims are pulled to the U.S. by the hope of opportunity and pushed from their home country by the lack of the same chances of making a better life for themselves and their loved ones. But once in the U.S., the experiences of these individuals are strikingly similar -- abuse, threats of violence and retaliation, elimination of personal liberty, and dehumanizing treatment that crushes the dignity, self-esteem, and self-worth of the victim.

How do we make victims of sex trafficking feel safe and supported?


Hanin Omran

Community Solutions Fellow from Syria, Former Project Director of SOS Children’s Villages, Youth Peace Trainer

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Biography: As the former Project Director for SOS Children’s Villages Syria, an international NGO providing humanitarian aid and assistance to children, Hanin Omran has trained youths to increase their self-capacity and developed educational programs for displaced children. She has experience promoting children’s rights and empowering women and youth through various support programs. Upon returning to Syria, Hanin plans to deliver a series of trainings using community-based approaches to increase support for children and mothers and to promote gender equity.

Hanin is currently serving as a Community Solutions Fellow and Healthy Relationships Coordinator at the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment and is collaborating with the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women to prevent dating violence, cyber-stalking, and human trafficking in Minnesota.




Topic: Nearly eight years of Syrian conflict has had an adverse impact on the survival and development of over 5.6 million children living in Syria today. Proximity to armed hostilities, displacement, increased poverty, family separation, limited access to education and public services and lack of both legal documentation -- such as birth certificates -- and income are critical factors that increase the endangerment and vulnerability of children.

Economic decline, protracted displacement, and loss of family capacity to cope with the consequences of the crisis have contributed to swell the numbers of people in Syria living in shelters and on the streets, aiding to the disintegration of traditional family and community structures. Drop-in centers were established to mitigate the impact of child labor and provide vulnerable children and adolescents with protection and growth opportunities. Within the presentation we will focus on the impact of working children, risk mitigation through the drop-in center, and prevention tools for the upcoming future.



This event is sponsored by