April 19, 2023


Howard Center Annual Conference 2022




Thank you speakers, sponsors, and attendees for a wonderful day of inspiration, learning, and rich conversation at Vision, Visionaries and Voices, our fifth annual spring conference on April 7, 2022.

Confronting Stigma. Improving Access. Continuing Advocacy. Advancing Policy. Giving Voice.

In case you missed the Seven Days interview with Dr. Jude Smith Rachele, you can read all about it here.

2022 Conference Program Guide:

Our downloadable program guide contains all of the information you need including speaker bios, sponsor message, information about Howard Center, a description of the videos we will be showing, and upcoming events. If you would like to download our full 19 page conference program guide, you may click on the image to the left or click here. We also have a lower resolution digital program guide available here.

Featured Speakers:

Mary Bassett

Mary T. Bassett M.D., M.P.H., was confirmed as the Acting Commissioner of Health by the New York State Senate on January 20, 2022. She previously served as Director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Prior to that, she served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Director for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s African Health Initiative and Child Well-Being Prevention Program; and as Deputy Commissioner of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Early in her career, Dr. Bassett served on the medical faculty at the University of Zimbabwe and went on to serve as Associate Director of Health Equity at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Southern Africa Office. After returning to the United States, she served on the faculty of Columbia University, including as Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology in the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Bassett received a B.A. in History and Science from Harvard University, an M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and an M.P.H. from the University of Washington. For more information on the conference presentation by Mary Bassett, please click here.

Anita Hill

The youngest of 13 children from a farm in rural Oklahoma, Anita Hill received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980. She began her career in private practice in Washington, D.C. Before becoming a law professor, she worked at the U. S. Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1989, Hill became the first African American to be tenured at the University of Oklahoma, College of Law, where she taught contracts and commercial law. She has made presentations to hundreds of business, professional, academic and civic organizations in the United States and abroad.

Hill’s new book, Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence, is a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors. For more information on the conference presentation by Anita Hill, please click here.

Byron Katie

In 1986, at the bottom of a ten-year spiral into depression and self-loathing, Byron Katie woke up one morning in a state of joy. She realized that when she believed her stressful thoughts, she suffered, but that when she questioned them, she didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Her simple yet powerful process of self-inquiry, which she calls The Work, consists of four questions and the turnaround, which is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe. Katie has been bringing The Work to millions of people for more than thirty years. Her public events, weekend workshops, intensives, and nine-day School for The Work have brought freedom to people all over the world.

Her books include the bestselling Loving What IsI Need Your Love—Is That True?A Thousand Names for Joy, and A Mind at Home with Itself. For more information, visit Conference participants can click here to download The Work resources.  For more information on the conference presentation by Byron Katie, please click here.

Ethan Nadelmann

Described by Rolling Stone as “the point man” for drug policy reform efforts and “the real drug czar,” Ethan Nadelmann is widely regarded as the outstanding proponent of drug policy reform both in the United States and abroad. He founded and directed first The Lindesmith Center and then the Drug Policy Alliance from 1994 to 2017, during which time he and his colleagues were at the forefront of dozens of successful campaigns to legalize marijuana and advance other alternatives to the war on drugs.

Ethan has authored two books on the internationalization of criminal law enforcement (Cops Across Borders and (with Peter Andreas) Policing The Globe), published extensively, and spoken publicly in roughly forty states and forty countries.  His TED Talk on ending the drug war has over two million views, with translations into 28 languages.  Ethan currently hosts the leading podcast on all things drugs: PSYCHOACTIVE. For more information on the conference presentation by Ethan Nadelmann, please click here.

Tara Westover

Tara Westover is an American author. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. An older brother taught her to read, and after that her education was erratic and haphazard, with most of her days spent working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that first encounter with education she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She received an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009 and in 2014 was awarded a PhD in history. In 2018, she published her memoir, Educated, which explores her struggle to reconcile her desire for education and autonomy with her desire to be loyal to her family. Educated was an instant commercial and critical success, debuting at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and remaining on the list for more than two years. For more information on the conference presentation by Tara Westover, please click here.

Meet Our Event Host and Moderator

Catherine Simonson, LICSW, has dedicated her career to the wellbeing of Vermonters. As Howard Center’s Chief Client Services Officer, her daily responsibilities include oversight and management of more than 60 clinical programs including residential programs, outpatient counseling, therapeutic schools, crisis programs, and a range of other supports for mental health, substance use, and developmental disabilities. The agency serves 19,000 people each year.

Catherine joined Howard Center in 1994 and spent more than 22 years as a social worker and leader expanding child and family programming beginning with a program delivering school social work services that has expanded to a team of 61 clinicians placed in all Chittenden County Schools.  Community partnerships has been a critical focus of Catherine’s work over the past two decades to include leading interagency teams designed to improve the community response to unmet mental health and substance use disorder needs.  Leadership development remains a passion with a goal of developing and retaining highly ethical inclusive leaders prepared to navigate change. Catherine will serve as our conference host.

Dr. Jude Smith Rachele is the CEO and co-founder of Abundant Sun, an international consulting firm. She is a social entrepreneur, academic, artist, and a public speaker. Originally from the USA, Jude has for decades lived and worked internationally between the UK, Europe, and the Americas. She is a highly experienced, charismatic, dynamic, and insightful leader.

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, to understand and respond respectfully to various cultural traditions, behaviors and values, and most importantly to improve their ethical decision-making processes. Jude holds a BA in Psychology and a PhD in Business. She is the author of many articles, and of her own recent book “Dismantling Diversity Management: Introducing an Ethical Performance Improvement Campaign.” Jude has been a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio delivering several powerful and insightful commentaries on contemporary issues. She has also been leading Howard Center’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives since 2015. Jude will serve as our conference moderator.

If you’re interested in purchasing any books by some of our featured speakers Anita Hill, Byron Katie, Ethan Nadlemann and Tara Westover, please visit Phoenix Books. Signed book plates from the authors will be available while supplies last.

If you are interested in supporting this annual event, please download our sponsorship packet for more information. To view last year’s program guide, you may click here. Thank you to our 2022 Annual Conference sponsors!

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

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) Availability

CEU certificates will be available by request following the conference.

Cancellation Policy

Through March 15, cancellations are refundable, less a $25 administrative fee. After March 15, 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.

Photos from Previous Conferences

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

Previous Conferences

2021 Conference

Perspective on Connection, Compassion, and Belonging
March 30, 2021

Howard Center offered various perspectives on connection, compassion, and belonging, including themes of confronting stigma, improving access, continuing advocacy, advancing policy, and giving voice.

Speakers shared 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. Conference speakers included Dr. Laurie Santos, V (formerly Eve Ensler), and Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

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.