18th Annual IDMH Conference

In the time since the founding of IDMH, disasters have become a more frequent part of our daily lives. From the increasing number and severity of hurricanes and other extreme weather events to the ongoing challenges in preventing and responding to mass casualty incidents, both human-caused and natural disasters are impacting our lives more than ever before. As the needs of those impacted by disasters continue to change, so must the way we approach working with these populations. 


The 18th Annual IDMH Conference: Re-Envisioning Disaster Mental Health, will focus on the changing needs in the field of disaster management, including how responders can best meet the needs of communities they are serving and how clinicians can better serve responders themselves. Topics that will be covered during this 2-day conference will include Diversity & Inclusion in Disaster Response, Treating Stress & Trauma in First Responder Communities, and Lessons Learned from Recent Disasters.

In focusing on the current needs and future direction of disaster mental health the Institute will bring together diverse professionals from across the disaster management space to disseminate best practices. Please join us on October 20 & 21 at the Culinary Institute of America to be a part of this conversation and to hear from world-renowned speakers. A conference agenda will be shared on our website shortly, so please keep an eye out for important updates.


Please find our Save the Date flyer above, which includes information such as the date and location of the 18th Annual IDMH Conference. We also encourage you to share this flyer with your networks widely.


See you in October,

The Institute for Disaster Mental Health


Conference Speaker Biographies


Amy Nitza, Ph.D

Dr. Amy Nitza is the Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz.  She is a psychologist who specializes in providing mental health training in academic and non-academic settings both nationally and internationally, with an emphasis on disaster mental health and trauma recovery. As a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Botswana, she trained mental health and school counselors and studied the use of group counseling interventions in HIV/AIDS prevention among adolescents. She has collaborated with the University of Notre Dame in Haiti to develop trauma-related interventions for children in domestic servitude, and to provide training for teachers in dealing with traumatized children in the classroom.  She is also currently collaborating with UNICEF USA to develop and implement a program of mental health support for children impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.  Amy is the author and editor of numerous publications, including the recent book Disaster Mental Health Case Studies: Lessons Learned from Counseling in Chaos.  She is a Fellow of the Association for Specialists in Group Work and serves on the Executive Board of the Society for Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy (Division 49) of the American Psychological Association.  She holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University.  She formerly served as an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Professional Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.


Deanne Criswell, Administrator , FEMA

Deanne Criswell was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on April 22, 2021 as the 12th Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Ms. Criswell is the first woman confirmed to serve as the Administrator, where she leads the nation's efforts in helping people before, during, and after disasters. She brings with her an extensive career in public service, with serving 30 years at all levels of government. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Criswell served as the Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department from 2019 to 2021, where she was responsible for coordinating citywide emergency planning and response for all emergencies. One of her most significant accomplishments was leading the coordination of the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to include preventing the collapse of the healthcare system, making sure no New Yorker went hungry, establishing a first of its kind non-congregate sheltering program, and supporting the country’s largest mass fatality program. Ms. Criswell began her career in emergency management in Aurora, Colorado, where she led strategic change in the city's emergency and disaster planning. During her tenure, Ms. Criswell coordinated transitional housing and family reunification efforts in response to receiving evacuees during the response to Hurricane Katrina. She previously served at FEMA as the leader of one of the Agency's National Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) and as a Federal Coordinating Officer. In this role, Ms. Criswell was the primary Federal representative responsible for leading the agency's response to and recovery from emergencies and major disasters, from severe flooding in North Dakota to hurricanes in South Carolina to fires in Colorado. She also spent two years as an executive in the private sector, providing exceptional technical expertise and the experience necessary to help her clients achieve their critical missions. Ms. Criswell also proudly served 21 years in the Colorado Air National Guard. She is a veteran of two overseas tours to include as a fire officer in Kuwait immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, and to Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010 where she advised senior leadership on fire protection requirements for new and existing military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ms. Criswell holds a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver, and a Master of Arts in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security.


Molly Maurer, Survivor

After surviving two mass shootings within a year of each other, Molly began working on her own mental health journey. She found healing through the Give an Hour organization and started attending their weekly support groups for mass shooting survivors. She began working for Give an Hour as the peer lead for the Route91 Heals Peer Support project. She is currently using her own experiences to help guide and support mass shooting survivors to their own healing journey through her work as the program coordinator for the Route 91 Heals project.





Kelly Muklevicz, Supervising Victim Advocate, Ventura County DA’s Office

Kelly is a Supervising Victim advocate in the Crime Victim Assistance Unit of the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.  Kelly is responsible for mass violence response, crisis response planning, and long-term recovery support and service for crime victims. Kelly has responded in the immediate after math of 2 mass shootings, the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas Nevada on 10/1/17, and the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA on 11/7/18. Currently, Kelly is managing a $1.7M federal Anti-Terrorism and Emergency Assistance Program grant that offers no cost long term mental health services and supports to the nearly 14,000 survivors and families affected by Route 91 in Southern California, as well as those affected by Borderline in Ventura County. Kelly has been recognized for her work in mass violence response by the Attorney General for the States of Nevada, and California.



Lorea Arostegui, Emergency Management Liaison Vegas Strong Resiliency Center

Lorea Arostegui is a local Las Vegas Social Worker with 18 years of experience in the Clark County Department of Family Services. On October 1, 2017, she was asked to assist with coroner notifications at the Family Assistance Center after the mass shooting. Since then, she been working at the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center to assist families of those lost, survivors, first responders and the community at large. In addition, her position as a social worker has been moved to the Clark County’s Office of Emergency Management to ensure that the victim’s perspective is always included in emergency planning.




     Karla Vermeulen, Ph.D

Karla Vermeulen, Ph.D., is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health and an Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY New Paltz, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in disaster mental health, grief counseling, and developmental psychology. She also oversees the Advanced Certificate in Trauma and Disaster Mental Health, and the Student Psychological Resilience Project, a campus peer support initiative intended to reduce stigma and build awareness around student mental health issues. In addition to teaching and research, she has coordinated the development and production of training curricula for the New York State Department of Health and Office of Mental Health, the American Red Cross, the United Nations, and other organizations. She is co-author of Disaster Mental Health Interventions: Core Principles and Practices (2017) and co-editor of Disaster Mental Health Case Studies: Lessons Learned from Counseling in Chaos (2019), both published by Routledge. Her next book, Generation Disaster: Coming of Age Post-9/11, was published in August 2021 in the Oxford University Press Emerging Adulthood series. Learn more about the book at generationdisaster.com.


Frank DeAngelis, Former Principal of Columbine High School

Frank DeAngelis was a staff member at Columbine High School in the Jeffco School District in Littleton Colorado, since 1979, starting as a social studies teacher and filling the roles of head baseball coach, assistant football coach, dean of students, and assistant principal, before becoming the principal in 1996. Frank is a Colorado native, completing his K-12 education in Denver-area schools, proceeding to graduate from Metropolitan State College and subsequently from the University of Colorado with a Master’s in Secondary Education and Social Studies, and his Principal’s License and master’s degree from the University of Phoenix. Frank has been involved in numerous professional activities and associations, and has received multiple awards for his teaching, leadership and coaching skills. He has also been called upon to speak about recovery after a school tragedy at a variety of conferences and has assisted as a consultant after a number of other violent school events. He was selected as Colorado High School Principal of the Year and was one of the three finalists for National Principal of the Year. He received the Jefferson Country Lifetime Achievement Award and the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builders Award. He retired in June of 2014 after 35 years at Columbine High School. He is presently serving as a consultant for safety and emergency management for the Jeffco School District in Colorado, and continues to deliver speeches in the United States, Canada, and Europe.


Andre JC Stokes MSW, CASAC, BestSelf Behavioral Health of Buffalo, NY

Andre Stokes is a Master Social Worker, CASAC, author and a Senior Director at BestSelf Behavioral Health in Buffalo, NY, who values local relationships and service to the community. As a counselor who is also from the East Side of Buffalo, NY, Andre brings a unique perspective using real-world experience to his role as an agency and community leader. Andre learned the value of social dedication at an early age as he acquired an interest in ways to improve some of the challenges of the Black community. As an individual who is versed in hardships, Andre utilized experiences as motivation to earn a CASAC, Associate’s Degree from Erie Community College, Bachelor’s Degree from Empire State College, Master’s Degree from the University at Buffalo and is currently working on his Doctorate in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher University in Rochester, NY. Bringing the same level of motivation to the field; Andre remains intentional about the community with regard to wellness and Black mental health.


Sarah Lowe, Ph.D, Yale University

Sarah Lowe, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Yale School of Public Health, with secondary appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and Yale School of Nursing. Her research focuses on the long-term mental health consequences of a range of potentially traumatic events, as well as the impact of such events on other domains of functioning, such as physical health, social relationships, and economic wellbeing. Her work explores the mechanisms leading from trauma exposure to symptoms, and the role of factors at various ecological levels – from genetics to neighborhoods – in shaping risk and resilience. She uses a range of methodologies to achieve her research aims, including structural equation modeling, latent growth curve analysis, geospatial modeling, and qualitative analysis, among others. Dr. Lowe received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Boston and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training program at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.



Jayson Kratoville, MPA, Director of Operations, CONSTANT Associates

Jayson Kratoville has 14+ years of experience helping people, organizations, and communities adapt to evolving risk. He is Director of Operations for CONSTANT Associates, an award-winning emergency management, health security, healthcare preparedness, and counterterrorism firm. Jayson leads a talented team supporting planning, training, exercises, and staffing for agencies across the country, such as FEMA, HHS, FDA, DTRA, TSA, CBP, and over 40 SLTT jurisdictions. This has included disaster mental/behavioral health plans and training, mass fatality exercises, local and statewide COVID-19 AARs, regional pandemic preparedness coordination, and planning for recovery from terrorism and mass violence. Prior to joining CONSTANT, Jayson was Interim Director of the National Center for Security & Preparedness (NCSP) at the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (UAlbany CEHC), where he served in various leadership positions for 10 years. In his time there, the NCSP provided up to 300 days of training per year in support of NYS DHSES, serving over 40,000 first responders and emergency managers. During the COVID-19 response, Jayson supported planning, repatriation, testing, tracing, isolation & quarantine, vaccination, mental health, and crisis communication efforts at the University. He also worked with the University’s College of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences on a federally funded climate and severe-weather decision-making project. Jayson holds an MPA in Homeland Security & Government Information Systems Management, as well as a BA in Political Science, from the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. He has also been on the adjunct faculty at UAlbany CEHC and is affiliated with SUNY New Paltz’s Institute for Disaster Mental Health.


Colleen Becket-Davenport, Psy.D. National Center for PTSD

Colleen Becket-Davenport is a clinical psychologist at the National Center for PTSD, Dissemination and Training Division. She is an Implementation Facilitator and the Communication and Training Lead for the Tech into Care Program. As part of her role, Dr. Becket-Davenport delivers trainings on VA mental health apps and works with healthcare teams to incorporate apps into care. She is also a certified Prolonged Exposure clinician and has worked with Veterans from all branches and service eras. Her clinical and research interests include mobile health, military culture, Interpersonal Therapy, and evidence-based treatments for PTSD. She received her Psy.D. from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, and her postdoctoral fellowship at Weill Cornell’s Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies.


George A. Bonanno, Ph.D., Columbia University

George Bonanno is an internationally renown expert on trauma and resilience. He is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, and has conducted ground-breaking research on trauma, loss and other kinds of adversity for over three decades. He has been listed among the top one percent most cited scientists in the world and has been honored by the Association for Psychological Science “for a lifetime of intellectual achievements in applied psychological research and their impact on a critical problem in society at large” and by the and by the International Positive Psychology Association for “distinguished lifetime contributions to positive psychology.” His books include the Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells us About Life After Loss and, most recently, The End of Trauma: How the New Science of Resilience is Changing How We Think About PTSD.”



Jackie Bray, Commissioner, NYS DHSES

Jackie Bray is the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Jackie most recently served in New York City’s COVID-Response, first managing hospital surge capacity during in early 2020, and then as Deputy Executive Director of the New York City Test and Trace Corps. Prior to taking on pandemic response responsibilities, she was the inaugural Director of the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants where she built a new office from the ground up focused on tenants’ rights and protecting the City’s two million renter households.  She served as the First Deputy Commissioner at the New York City Department of Homeless Services, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive homeless system, where she oversaw day-to-day operations, implementation of the City’s Turning the Tide on Homelessness Plan, and all rehousing programs. Previously she served as Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives at the City’s Department of Social Services, and as a policy adviser at City Hall focused on mental health policy and programs. Before joining New York City government, Jackie served as Deputy Chief of Staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Chief of Staff at the National Weather Service (NWS), where she focused on stabilizing the nation's weather satellite programs, implementing the Weather Ready Nation vision, and developing climate adaptation policy. Jackie is an alumna of the University of Michigan and holds a Masters of Public Health degree from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.



Special Thanks to New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services for their continued support and sponsorship for the IDMH Annual Conference!