Our second annual Resilient Cobb Summit was held on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. This half-day symposium focused on promoting strong mental health in early childhood to create lasting resilience. Advocates convened at the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce to share best practices and help to build a more trauma-informed and resilient Cobb community.
Key note speaker was Dr. Douglas Bell, Professor of Early Childhood Education at Kennesaw State University. 2023 panelists:
- Dr. Douglas Bell, Professor, KSU Bagwell College of Education
- Dr. Allison Garefino, Clinical Director of Children & Family Programs at KSU
- Bridgette Washington-Collier, Early Education Community Partnership Coordinator, DECAL
- Christine Ramirez, Director, Emily Lembeck Early Learning Center, MCS
- Kaleigh Raulerson, Program Director, Cobb Collaborative
We are GRATEFUL to:
- Resilient Georgia for their sponsorship of this event.
- Cobb Community Foundation for hosting the event for us in the beautiful Wellstar Community Room at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
Join us in 2024 for our third annual Resilient Cobb Summit. In the meantime...
- Click here to download our 2023 Resilient Cobb Summit press release.
- Click here to visit our Mind Your Mind ACEs web page to gain access to additional resources including our trauma-credentialed training opportunities.
Resilient Cobb 2023 Speaker & Panelist Bios
Dr. Douglas Bell has been training early childhood teachers for over twenty years. He has published and researched on a variety of aspects of early learning. His experience supervising staff offers a unique perspective to early childhood teacher preparation. Dr. Bell has expertise in infant & toddler care, working with young dual language learners, social emotional learning with an emphasis on challenging behaviors, and early literacy. Dr. Bell is currently a professor of early childhood education at Kennesaw State University and the program coordinator for their Birth through Kindergarten teacher education program.
Bridgette Washington-Collier, Central West Early Education Community Partnership Coordinator Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Bridgette has held various roles in early childhood education continuously since graduating from San Diego State University in 1991. A classroom teacher, an early education training and curriculum specialist, and serving as a center director in California and Maryland federal child care programs, Bridgette desired to expand her reach, providing licensing oversight and training to potential and existing child care programs for the State of Maryland prior to serving child care programs in the State of Georgia in 2002. Bridgette’s years with Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning have included working with DECAL’s Child Care Services and Quality Innovations and Partnerships divisions. From licensing and monitoring to Georgia’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, and currently Community Partnerships. Bridgette remains dedicated to ensuring families with young children have access to beneficial information, and programs have the support they need to provide quality environments and experiences for children.
Dr. Allison Garefino is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and earned her Ph.D. in clinical Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is a Research Scholar in the Dean's office of Wellstar College of Health and Human Services as well as a Part-Time Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University. Garefino is a recipient of the Part-Time Distinguished Teaching Award three years in a row. She is also the 2017 recipient of the Part-Time Distinguished Teaching Award for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her mentor Dr. William Pelham, Jr. developed a state-of-the-art Summer Treatment Program (STP) for children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD. Dr. Garefino served as the Clinical Director of the STP at the Center for Children and Families in Buffalo. She has also led many parenting strategies workshops and helped develop and implement school-wide behavioral interventions. She is the Clinical Director of the Children and Family Programs (CFP) at the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services. Her clinical and research interests include trauma informed care, and resiliency training as well as increasing the dissemination and effectiveness of behavioral interventions for the treatment of the disruptive behavior disorders across multiple settings. Other areas include promoting the health and wellbeing of student parents, preservice teachers, and emerging mental health professionals.
Christine Ramirez has worked for Marietta City Schools for more than 20 years; she has experience in elementary school, middle school and central office. With a passion for early learning, she is the founding director of the Emily Lembeck Early Learning Center, which opened in 2018 ensuring all of Marietta’s children have access to a free, quality pre-kindergarten experience. Ms. Ramirez believes that community partnerships are key for families and children alike and that public policy must recognize early learning is foundational for lifelong learning. Her recent work focuses on promoting the science of reading to other Marietta-based early learning centers through the metro-wide Literacy and Justice for All initiative, and partnering with Cobb Collaborative in creating a trauma-informed community with the help of a Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) trauma-responsive grant.
Kaleigh Raulerson is the Program Director for Cobb Collaborative. She became connected to the community of Cobb through her time spent at Kennesaw State University. It was there that she obtained a degree in Human Services with a specific concentration in Nonprofit Management. During her time there she served the Cobb and Metro area interning and volunteering at multiple nonprofits including the YMCA, Rise Against Hunger, and City of Refuge. Post graduation, she served her hometown, the community of Bartow County. There, she worked as a Program Director of a learn-to-earn parenting program at their local resource center (Bartow Family Resources) serving caregivers and children ages 0-5. She looks forward to bringing her passion and experience of “improving outcomes for children and families” to the community of Cobb. When she’s not working, Kaleigh enjoys being with her daughter, searching out good coffee shops, and reading and writing.
Emily Ann Vall, PhD, has dedicated her career to improving children’s health. In 2019, Vall became Executive Director of Resilient Georgia where she has led the creation of a statewide coalition of trauma-informed organizations by convening diverse private and public partners to create a birth through 26 year old integrated behavioral health system. The statewide coalition includes over 700 stakeholders working to prevent adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and support healing through integrated behavioral health resources and services. She is a proven leader of collaborative, multi-agency initiatives impacting Georgia’s children having served as the Child Health and Wellness director at the Georgia Department of Public Health where she oversaw Georgia Shape, the Governor’s childhood obesity initiative. She spearheaded robust employee wellness efforts at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, including leading the employee wellness team for the pediatric health care system. She began her career as a Title 1 middle school public school educator. Vall earned her PhD in Physical Education and Health Pedagogy with a cognate in Diversity Studies from the University of South Carolina. She completed her undergraduate teaching degree at Florida Southern College before attending the University of South Florida focusing on physical education and special needs populations.