Howard Center Annual Conference

Header graphic thanking attendees, speakers, and support staff for being part of Howard Center's 6th annual spring conference. Click the button below to request ceus


Thank you for joining us for our sixth annual spring conference, Breaking Barriers: Finding Purpose and Possibilities Together. It was a wonderful day of inspiration, learning, and rich conversation.

Stay tuned for more information about our 2025 Annual Spring Conference. To stay involved, check out our free and open to the public 2024 Spring Community Education series.

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Click to download the 2023 Spring Conference program guide.

2023 Speaker Slide Decks

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

Featured Speakers

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a renowned physician, researcher, and public health leader. As California’s first Surgeon General, she played a critical role in the state’s COVID response and was instrumental in launching a statewide effort to train primary care providers in trauma-informed care. She is an expert in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress and founded the Center for Youth Wellness and the Bay Area Research Consortium on Toxic Stress and Health to advance pediatric medicine and raise public awareness.

Her research and expertise have been recognized by various organizations, including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award. Her work has been profiled in numerous books, films, and news outlets, including “How Children Succeed,” “Hillbilly Elegy,” “Resilience,” and The New York Times.

Dr. Burke Harris’ TED Talk How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across the Lifetime has been viewed over 10 million times and her book, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, was called “indispensable” by The New York Times. She has been named one of the Most Influential Women in Business by the San Francisco Business Times and as one of Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 most influential people.

Dr. Burke Harris is dedicated to serving vulnerable communities and addressing root causes of health disparities. Her efforts to raise awareness and improve the lives of vulnerable communities have made a lasting impact on society.

Presenting: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and Toxic Stress


Dr. Dacher Keltner’s research focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, and beauty, and power, social class, and inequality. As a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab, he is a leading scholar in the study of emotion, including a new project on awe around the globe, as well as power, class, and inequality. Dacher also serves as the Faculty Director of the Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. In 2020, along with Michael Pollan and others, he co-founded the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics. The center will conduct research using psychedelics to investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain.

Dacher is the author of The Power Paradox, as well as the bestseller Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and The Compassionate Instinct. He has published over 190 scientific articles, including seminal works on the psychology of awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003) and is the co-author of two textbooks. He is also co-editor of The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, London Times, and Utne Reader, and his research has been covered in TIME, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CNN, NPR, and the BBC as well as many other outlets. His new book is Awe: The New Science Of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life (Penguin Random House, January 3, 2023).

Dacher has collaborated on projects at Facebook and Google, and served as a scientific consultant for Pixar’s film Inside Out. He is featured in Tom Shadyac’s documentary I Am. He has twice presented his research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of a continuing dialogue between the Dalai Lama and scientists. Dacher has received outstanding teacher and research mentor awards from UC Berkeley, and seen 20 of his PhD students and post-doctoral fellows become professors.

Dacher is an outstanding speaker who has received several national research and teaching awards. Wired magazine has rated the podcasts of his “Human Emotion” course as one of the five best academic podcasts in the country. The Utne Reader named Dacher as one of its 50 Visionaries of 2008. In April 2020 he was voted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Presenting: Awe, Transcendence, and Psychedelics


Dr. BJ Miller, M.D., is a leading expert in the field of palliative and end-of-life care and speaks about living well with illness and disability. With a passion for minimizing unnecessary suffering and maximizing quality of life, he is a dedicated advocate for healthcare systems that prioritize patient well-being.

As an author, Dr. Miller’s first book, The Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, offers a comprehensive and compassionate guide to the end-of-life experience. As a CEO, he co-founded Mettle Health, a company providing personalized, holistic consultations for patients and caregivers navigating serious or chronic illness, end-of-life and disability.

Dr. Miller has received numerous awards for his work, including the William Osler Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as the AAHPM/Project on Death in America Palliative Medicine Community Leadership Award.

Presenting: Irreducible


Dr. Jeffrey Swanson is a professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine and a faculty affiliate of the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law School.

He earned a PhD in sociology from Yale University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in mental health services and policy research at Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Swanson is the author or coauthor of over 250 publications focused on the epidemiology of violence and serious mental illnesses; effectiveness of community-based interventions and services for adults with schizophrenia and other serious psychiatric disorders; laws and policies to reduce firearm-related violence and suicide; involuntary outpatient commitment; and psychiatric advance directives. He received the 2020 Isaac Ray Award from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law for outstanding contributions to the psychiatric aspects of jurisprudence. He received the 2011 Carl Taube Award from the American Public Health Association for outstanding contributions to mental health services research.

Swanson serves on the Executive Steering Committee of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy. He previously served as a member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mandated Community Treatment and the Methods Core of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Public Health Law Research Program. He has delivered prestigious endowed lectures including the P. Browning Hoffman Memorial Lecture in Law and Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Law and the Raymond W. Waggoner Lecture on Ethics and Values in Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Swanson has discussed his research on numerous national TV appearances including CNN, the PBS News Hour, MSNBC, CBS News, and Bloomberg News, and his research has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, The New Yorker and other national news outlets. He frequently serves as a consultant to public policymakers at the state and national levels.

Presenting: Gun violence, mental illness, and the law: Balancing risk and rights for effective policy solutions


Dr. Anna Malaika Tubbs holds a Ph.D in Sociology and Masters in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies from the University of Cambridge in addition to a Bachelors in Medical Anthropology from Stanford University. Anna’s research, writing, and talks are centered on gender and race issues in the U.S., especially as these relate to the erasure of Black women. Anna’s debut book, The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation is a New York Times Bestseller as well as a New York Times Editor’s Choice and an Amazon Editor’s Pick.

Anna was also previously the First Partner of Stockton. In her role, she co-authored the “Report on the Status of Women in Stockton” to help guide future policy decisions with the experiences of diverse women in mind. Her work has been featured on/in CBS This Morning, Good Day LA, Oprah Daily, People Magazine, USA Today, The Skimm, Fortune Magazine, MSNBC, C-Span, NPR, Forbes, The 19th News,, Yahoo News, The Washington Post, Southern Living Magazine, and more. You can listen to Anna’s TED Talk here.

Presenting: The Power of Recognition


Meet Our Event Host and Moderator

Our host, Beth Holden, MS, LCMHC, LADC, is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the state of Vermont. She holds a Master of Science degree in community counseling from the University of Vermont. She has worked as a clinician, supervisor, and administrator in the mental health and substance use fields with adults, youth, and families for 30+ years.

Beth is Howard Center’s Chief Client Services Officer and previously held the position of Director of Home and Community Services, as well as serving in the Children’s Co-Director role in the state designated agency system. She has specialty training in emergency mental health services, co-occurring disorders, trauma integrated practice, managing suicidality and supervision.

Beth is a believer and supporter of community mental health services and provides leadership in developing increased competencies for all staff providing integrated services, trauma informed practice, and suicide care. She is level two trained in EMDR, a certified state of Vermont Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) trainer and has been a clinical supervisor for 25+ years. Beth is an experienced presenter and provides workshops on many topics related to trauma-informed practice and mental health. She has also served an instructor for the UVM Graduate Counseling Program and taught classes on trauma-informed care and counseling children and adolescents. She previously served her disciplines on the Vermont Addictions Professionals Association Board and the UVM Graduate Counseling Program Advisory Board.

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. Jude and the Abundant Sun team have been supporting Howard Center’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives since 2015. Jude will serve as our conference moderator.

Call & Response

An oil painting of a green tree lit by moonlight

From the Call and Response exhibit by Howard Center Arts Collective


The Howard Center Arts Collective collaborated with the Fleming Museum for an exhibition titled “Call and Response”. Artists selected pieces from the museum’s online collections to create new original works. Fleming staff retrieved the selected pieces for artists to view, sketch, and photograph in April 2022. The new works were displayed alongside the archival pieces that inspired them, along with a 12-minute video documentary of the unique, collaborative process. The video will be showcased at the 2023 Howard Center conference, where attendees can view the artwork and learn about the process.



Phoenix Books is our conference book seller and will be onsite at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Burlington with our speakers’ most recent books. Some speakers will offer in-person book signings throughout the daylong event. Speaker books are available for purchase through Phoenix Books here.


Thanks to our 2023 Conference Sponsors

Howard Center Conference Sponsors

More Conference Details:

Accommodations Needed?

If you need support with accommodations, please contact; 802-488-6912.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be offered for both the in-person and livestream options.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

We will offer CEUs for attendees for the following professional disciplines. We will post the CEUs available as soon as we receive approval. CEU certificates will be available following the conference by emailing

Howard Center Conference CEUs

Hotel and Travel

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Burlington will accommodate our event in their conference center at 870 Williston Road, South Burlington, VT 05403. The Howard Center room block is sold out but you may contact the hotel for overnight accommodations.

The Burlington International Airport serves the region as the closest airport and is two miles from the conference center.

Substitution Policy

Paid registrants unable to attend the conference may send an alternate. Requests must be made in writing and may be accommodated until April 13.

Cancellation Policy

Paid registrants may cancel for a refund, less a $25 administrative fee until March 15. 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.

Health and Safety

We are committed to the health and safety of all conference attendees. We will follow all local and state health and safety guidelines at the time of the conference.


Speaker Presentations

Nadine Burke Harris, M.D.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and Toxic Stress

Dr. Burke Harris’s presentation will include an overview of ACEs and Toxic Stress including how common they are, what it means to experience them, and how people respond to them. She will discuss the long-term impacts of ACEs and toxic stress on individuals and share recommendations from: Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General’s Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress and Health.

Dacher Keltner, Ph.D.

Awe, Transcendence, and Psychedelics

In this talk Dr. Keltner will outline how experiences of awe enable better mental and physical health and will outline studies of how awe does this through shifts in the body, sense of self, community, and meaning. He will apply this thinking to the latest science of psychedelics, exploring the promise and perils of these new medicines.

BJ Miller, M.D.


Dr. Miller will discuss the current state of palliative and end-of-life care and speak about living well with illness and disability. With a passion for minimizing unnecessary suffering and maximizing quality of life, he will share his views on creating a healthcare system that prioritizes and delivers patient well-being.

Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D.

Gun Violence, Mental Illness, and the Law: Balancing Risk and Rights for Effective Policy Solutions

When media reports of yet another horrifying multi-casualty shooting fill the national news, outraged calls to “fix the mental health system” tend to collide in the public square with proposals to expand and enforce gun control laws. Developing public policy solutions to significantly reduce firearm-related violence and suicide is especially challenging in the United States where private ownership of firearms is highly prevalent, culturally entrenched, and constitutionally protected; where violent acts are associated with multiple non-specific risk factors, making them difficult to predict at the individual level; and where public mental health services systems tend to be fragmented and under-resourced. This lecture will describe firearm-related violence and suicide in America as a major population health problem, and as a complex puzzle for public policy and practice. The lecture will present research evidence to support practical solutions that balance risk and rights. The presentation will highlight one promising ‘puzzle piece’ in particular—the Extreme Risk Protection Order, a civil court order to temporarily remove firearms from persons who are deemed to pose a significant risk of harming others or themselves. Importantly, the new laws are designed to appropriately balance public safety concerns with the right to possess a gun—without stigmatizing people with mental illness or criminalizing the respondent—and using a process that may enable the person to obtain necessary treatment and support. New research evidence will be presented on the implementation and effectiveness of these laws, especially in preventing gun suicides.

Anna Malaika Tubbs, Ph.D.

The Power of Recognition

In Dr. Anna Malaika Tubbs’ presentation –The Power of Recognition – she will draw on stories from the lives of the mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Malcom X; and James Baldwin to highlight the importance of giving recognition where it is due. Seeing someone is humanizing them. Tubbs will share the stories of these three women whose lives have largely been hidden as a basis for a discussion about correcting marginalization by first recognizing the lives and contributions of those who are traditionally overlooked and underrepresented like Black women and mothers. She will ask participants to think about and pay attention to these groups and think about the impact and intent behind denying them recognition.

Previous Conferences










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


2022 Conference

Vision, Visionaries, and Voices
April 9, 2022

The 5th annual Howard Center Spring Conference, Vision, Visionaries and Voices, was held virtually and featured international speakers discussing topics like COVID-19 and health inequities, gender violence and inequality, self-inquiry, drug policies, and trauma and resilience. The conference was moderated and hosted by esteemed professionals and the speakers included Mary Bassett M.D., M.P.H., Anita Hill, Byron Katie, Ethan Nadelmann and Tara Westover.

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.