Resilience Expert Laura Porter Returns to Sonoma County to Facilitate Community Healing

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Co-founder of ACE Interface Laura Porter to facilitate a series of forums at Hanna Institute building capacity to generate transformative improvements to health and well-being

ACEs give community leaders the opportunity to find those really high-leverage solutions to problems that will have staying power over time.

Hanna Institute, a leading provider of trauma-informed care training in Northern California, today announced that Laura Porter, co-founder of ACE Interface, will facilitate a series of five community forums around Sonoma, CA on Feb 26-27th. The events are organized in partnership with La Luz Center, Sonoma Valley High School, and other local organizations.

Armed with research showing the dramatic public health benefits of the Self-Healing Communities Model, Porter will guide a broad coalition of community leaders, nonprofits and agencies in galvanizing resources to address toxic stress among children in Sonoma Valley.

According to Porter, “ACEs give community leaders the opportunity to find those really high-leverage solutions to problems that will have staying power over time.”

Referring to the groundbreaking Self-Healing Communities work in Washington State (1994-2011), Porter added, “We can see clearly that communities that have been actively mobilized around these issues, the young people who are aging into adulthood have lower ACE scores with a profound impact on the next generation. We see a virtuous cycle. We see fewer ACEs, less difficulty from ACEs, fewer ACEs in the next generation. The parenting-age generation has less depression, lower stress-related disease, more functional days every month, profound impact on the next generation because these young people aging into adulthood are the next generation of parents. The Self-Healing Communities process builds the capacity of communities to define and solve problems most relevant to them and generates new cultural norms that mirror the values and aspirations that community members have for their children."

Mary Kelly Persyn, Director of Hanna Institute, sees the recent North Bay fires as a call-to-action, "Here and now in the Sonoma Valley, we know many of our kids face stress and trauma related to the October fires. Others suffer with fear that their parents and other family members could be detained and deported without warning. The high cost of living puts a strain on family resources, and often, tempers. Access to health care that could blunt the impact of these stressors isn’t nearly what it should be. And in the end, shouldn’t we aim to support families further ‘upstream,’ before the impact to health and well-being is felt?"

Kelly Persyn added, “The beginnings of an answer may be hiding in plain sight. The Sonoma Valley’s tight-knit communities have many of the building blocks, including strong kinship and friendship ties, strong faith communities, and strong cultural affinity. Those strengths, supported and leveraged by Sonoma Valley leaders, agencies, clergy, and others, hold the promise and power of healing.”

Additional details about the community forums are available at One forum is designed for nonprofit, agency and community leaders; another is for Sonoma Valley youth (Sonoma Valley High School, by invitation only). The third is for local Sonoma Valley residents, and the last is for health, mental health and other professionals who work with youth. The events are free and open to the public (except as noted).

For questions or more information, contact Nick Dalton at or (707) 933-2563‬.

Presenter Bio
Laura Porter (co-founder of ACE Interface with Dr. Robert Anda) directed the Washington State Family Policy Council and Office of ACE (Adverse Childhood Event) Partnerships. In these roles, she and her colleagues developed a unique model for improving the capacity of communities to deliver stunning results for a modest investment. Communities using the model have documented reductions in the rates of seven major social problems and Adverse Childhood Experience scores among young adults. She is also an Associate with the Southwest and Central offices of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT).

About Hanna Institute, located at Hanna Boys Center
Hanna Institute is a leading provider of trauma-informed care training in Sonoma County and Northern California, raising awareness for childhood trauma and early adversity while promoting the resilience and recovery of children and adults. Hanna Institute supports parents and child-serving systems with resources that build resilience and hope. Hanna Institute also partners with leading trauma-informed care leaders such as International Trauma Center to provide training, events and outreach. For more information, visit

About Hanna Boys Center
Since 1945, Hanna Boys Center has changed the lives of thousands of at-risk, motivated youth through faith, education and caring, helping them grow into productive members of society. Hanna exists to help at-risk teens overcome the effects of childhood adversity—to become responsible, productive adults and realize their highest potential. We do this by providing a nurturing and therapeutic residential environment, a tailored educational model, and trained, caring adults who help kids create positive, permanent change in their lives.
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