Howard Center Annual Conference 2022

We hope you’ll join us on April 7, 2022 for our 2022 Annual Conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel!

Thank you to V, Rev. angel, and Dr. Laurie Santos for being with us for our 2021 annual conference. They were inspiring!

Conference Evaluation Form

The full program for our annual conference: Perspectives on Connection, Compassion, and Belonging is available by clicking here.

Save the date for next year’s conference on April 7, 2022 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington.

Perspectives on Connection, Compassion, and Belonging is on March 30 from 9:00am – 1:00pm. Howard Center’s annual conference brings together national and international speakers and attendees from the United States and Canada. The conference is designed for a broad audience, including mental health and healthcare providers, educators, clients and families, representatives of state and local government, law enforcement, the judiciary, and the general public.

We would like to thank our Champion Sponsor New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center. For information about conference sponsorship opportunities, please view or download our sponsorship packet or contact Denise Vignoe at 802-488-6912 or

2021 Conference Details:

This half-day conference will be hosted by Howard Center’s Catherine Simonson, LICSW and moderated by Dr. Jude Smith Rachele of Abundant Sun and Howard Center will offer various perspectives on connection, compassion, and belonging, including themes of confronting stigma, improving access, continuing advocacy, advancing policy, and giving voice.

Throughout the day, speakers will share their perspectives and stories–inspiring attendees to consider how connection, compassion, and belonging impact overall health and well-being and how we create new pathways to improve care and treatment, influence policy, and improve access to quality care that is inclusive and available for all. Registration is $69 for the event. CEUs are offered to meet a variety of professional requirements, and a certificate may be obtained by emailing immediately following the conference. Presenter books are now available for sale by clicking the author’s book images below and heading to our local bookseller partner, Phoenix Books. A limited numbers of signed copies are available.

Register Today

Our Speakers

Purchase ‘The Apology’ today

Eve Ensler

‘V’ formerly Eve Ensler

The Apology – From V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of one of the most influential works of the twentieth century—The Vagina Monologues—comes a powerful, life-changing examination of abuse and atonement. Like millions of women, Eve Ensler has been waiting much of her lifetime for an apology. Sexually and physically abused by her father, Eve has struggled her whole life from this betrayal, longing for an honest reckoning from a man who is long dead. After years of work as an anti-violence activist, she decided she would wait no longer; an apology could be imagined—by her, for her, to her. The Apology, written by Eve from her father’s point of view in the words she longed to hear, attempts to transform the abuse she suffered with unflinching truthfulness, compassion, and an expansive vision for the future. Remarkable and original, The Apology is an acutely transformational look at how, from the wounds of sexual abuse, we can begin to re-emerge and heal. It is revolutionary, asking everything of each of us: courage, honesty, and forgiveness.

Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Sensei

Purchase ‘Radical Dharma’ today

Purchase ‘Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace’

Reclaiming Belonging in Collective: Insights & Frameworks for Redemption of Self and Other – One by-product of America’s unique history as a nation built over time to have a citizenry comprised of peoples of wildly different backgrounds is that the fundamental human need to belong is framed, tested and challenged, again and again, as we move in and out of contexts. Who belongs — and by extension, who one can be with, agree with, and love, or should not — has been communicated through history, laws, culture and inheritance that puts into conflict our innate sense of connection and compassion.

In this talk, Rev. angel Kyodo williams draws forth less-often examined vectors that impact our sense of belonging. She encourages the development of collective frameworks that can be an antidote to socially-inherited “disbelonging” within ourselves and the people we serve.

Dr. Laurie Santos

Psychology and the Good Life – College aged students are currently facing an unprecedented mental health crisis, with levels of depression doubling in the last decade. What can educators do to help students reduce their stress and live a more flourishing, happier life? And what can educators do to improve their own personal well-being? This workshop will address these broad questions by discussing a set of scientifically-validated strategies that educators (and anyone!) can use to increase their well-being.  In the workshop, Dr. Laurie Santos of Yale University will explore what new results in psychological science teach us about how to be happier, how to feel less stressed, and how to flourish more. The workshop will also allow participants to put these scientific findings into practice by learning how to build the sorts of habits that promote a happier and more fulfilling life. In January 2018, her course titled “Psychology and the Good Life”, on which her presentation will be based, became the most popular course in Yale’s history, with approximately one-fourth of Yale’s undergraduates enrolled.

Our Conference Event Host and Moderator

Catherine Simonson, LICSW, Event Host

Catherine Simonson is Howard Center’s Chief Client Services Officer and joined the organization over 25 years ago as a school social worker. Today, Catherine oversees client services for Howard Center and is leading the integration of services agency-wide to benefit the people served. Catherine serves on the Board of the UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice and is a licensed clinical social worker.

Dr. Jude Smith Rachele, Event Moderator

Jude is a highly charismatic, dynamic, and insightful presenter. Originally from the USA, Jude has for decades lived and worked internationally between the UK, Europe, and the Americas, and currently divides her time between the UK, Europe, and the USA. She is the CEO and co-founder of Abundant Sun, a global consulting firm for diversity, equity, and inclusion-based initiatives.  Jude started her career as a diversity and inclusion trainer, but has since dedicated herself to cultural transformation driven specifically by data analytics, business ethics, leadership and governance. She has designed numerous programs to help professionals display inclusive behaviors and to understand and respond respectfully to various cultural traditions, behaviors and values. Jude holds a BA in Psychology and a PhD in Business. She is the author of many articles including her own recent book “Dismantling Diversity Management: Introducing an Ethical Performance Improvement Campaign.” Jude has also been a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio delivering several powerful and insightful commentaries on contemporary issues. She has been leading Howard Center’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives since 2015.

Special Accommodations

If you require special accommodations, please contact Denise Vignoe at 802-488-6912 or as soon as possible, or by March 15, 2021.

Cancellation Policy

Through February 28, cancellations are refundable, less a $25 administrative fee. After February 28, refunds will not be provided, but attendee substitutions will be accommodated.

If the event is cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control, we will post the cancellation on our website at and registrations will be non-refundable.

Thank you to our Supporters!

Howard Center is a funded agency of United Way of Northwest Vermont. 

Photos from Previous Conferences

Photos above are from the 2018 Opiates: Scientific, Political, and Social Perspectives conference 

Previous Conferences

2019 Conference

Overcoming Adversity: Bold Perspectives on Mental Health and Addiction
June 3, 2019

The conference reflected on current and future trends in mental health and addiction treatment, including themes of confronting stigma, improving access, continuing advocacy, advancing policy, and giving voice. Speakers shared their perspectives and personal stories–inspiring attendees to think boldly about current approaches to treatment and challenging them to create new pathways to overcome adversity, influence policy, and improve access to quality care that is inclusive and available for all.

2018 Conference

Opiates: Scientific, Political, and Social Perspectives
May 22, 2018

Opiate use impacts individuals, families, workplaces, and communities everywhere. Presenters discussed various aspects of the current opiate crisis, including the effects of opioid use on the brain, current research and evidence-based treatment options, obstacles to treatment, and practical solutions for reducing opioid-related deaths. Conference speakers included Drs. John Brooklyn, Sally Satel, Stefan Kertesz, and Carl Hart.



2017 Conference

A Day with Gabor Maté
January 25, 2017

Renowned speaker and author Dr. Gabor Maté addressed a range of topics, from addiction to mind-body wellness. The 2017 conference included a full day of presentations and discussion with the well-known author, including The Hungry Ghost: A Biopsychosocial Perspective on Addiction” and “When The Body Says No: Mind/Body Unity and the Stress-Disease Connection.