Trainers that work with the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care provide training and consultation on various projects in the community and across the state.

Picture of Suzanne Bissonette.

Suzanne Bissonette

Suzanne has a long history working in nonprofits and government and is an alumna of the UB’s School of Law where she was recognized for her law clinic work developing not-for-profits, as well as environmental strategy and policy development. For over 20 years, she has been the Executive Director for Cazenovia Recovery Systems, a provider dedicated to residential and housing services for individuals with substance use disorders. Increasing the agency’s capacity to three times the number of beds from her start with the agency, Suzanne is avid in her efforts to develop new programs, as well as enhancing the services of current programs, to ensure services which address merging needs. Suzanne, in conjunction with UB’s Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care was pivotal in the initiation of a two-plus-year trauma-informed immersion program within Cazenovia system of care beginning and continues to promote the sustainability of their trauma-informed work.

Suzanne provides assistance with ITTIC program ventures in either new program development or current programs, ensuring there is attention to integrating the trauma-informed approach in evaluation and practice.

Vicki Grant.

Vicki Grant

Vicki Grant is a graduate of the UB School of Social Work and currently the Commissioner of the Allegany County Department of Social Services (DSS), where she has been employed for 31 years.  She was instrumental in bringing Trauma Systems Therapy to Allegany County, a trauma-informed environment to DSS as an organization and in the passing of a trauma-informed resolution to the Allegany County Legislature, making it the first county in New York State to resolve that the entire county will be trauma-informed.  She also initiated a county-wide, trauma-informed coalition named Trauma-informed Care Throughout Allegany County (TICTAC). Vicki primarily works with ITTIC in the capacity of providing SAMHSA trainings, providing training and coaching to organizations and assisting in Champion learning collaboratives.


Elyse Heagle

Elyse is a graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work and past intern at the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care. In the past she has worked with youth, young adults and families in school-based settings. Elyse is interested in working with youth or adults in the field of mental health and trauma. Her current work with ITTIC revolves around training staff and interns on how to provide Seeking Safety infused with mandala work through shadowing, consultation and supervision.


Thomas Dodson

Thomas Dodson is the former Executive Director of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center (BPC), a NYS Office of Mental Health adult facility. He served in this capacity from 2002-2015. Tom has a MA in psychology from Vanderbilt University. Tom was employed by the New York Office of Mental Health for more than 40 years. During his career with NYS OMH, Tom had broad experience in senior leadership positions in community based services, inpatient services, services within the correctional setting, program evaluation, program development, quality management, program operations and strategic planning. He considers his most significant achievements to be the development of a culture at BPC which promoted peer run programs and which valued the inclusion of peers throughout the organization including serving on the executive cabinet.

Prior to and since his retirement in 2015, Tom has been a member of the Advisory Council of the Trauma-Informed Community Initiative of WNY (TICI.) Additionally, through ITTIC, Tom provides leadership coaching and training in trauma-informed care to area organizations.


Megan Kenney

Megan is a 2013 MSW graduate of the University at Buffalo. She currently works for Justice Resource Institute and is a supervisor at the Cape and Island's Community Service Agency. Despite living outside of the Buffalo area, Megan continues to work with ITTIC. She assisted in the development of the Online Trauma-Informed Course: Basics for All Staff and continues to oversee its expansion. Megan is eager for professionals of all disciplines to be aware and recognize the importance of understanding trauma and trauma-informed care. Megan currently works with ITTIC as part of the NYDOH AIDS Institute project team by providing TIC training to peer workers and "TIC Champions" across NYS.


McKenzie Mattison

McKenzie is a 2012 MSW graduate of the University at Buffalo. She currently works at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo as Manager of Volunteer and Family Services. In this role, she coordinates all aspects of volunteer services, the child life department, bereavement services, spiritual care and patient and family centered care. After graduating, McKenzie worked with youth who are living with HIV, who have been sexually assaulted or who are behaviorally at risk for getting HIV or other sexually transmitted infection. She also continues to work with the Erie 1 BOCES program called Leaving Our Legacy (LOL). Her work with LOL focuses on empowering youth to educate peers and adults about adolescent sexual health. Her interest in working with adolescents and refugee youth propelled her affiliation with ITTIC.

McKenzie’s current ITTIC project involves partnership with the NYSDOH AIDS Institute, training peer workers who are currently living with HIV and Hepatitis C about trauma-informed care and empowering them to make change in their community. McKenzie’s affiliation with ITTIC is an opportunity to utilize the knowledge, skills and awareness she has gained through her experience at UB to propel further change in her community.

Dr. Whitney Mendel.

Whitney Mendel, PhD

Whitney is a two-time graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, earning an MSW in 2002 and a PhD in 2015. She is currently an Assistant Professor and the Practicum Coordinator in the Master of Public Health Program at Daemen College. Engaging a trauma-informed lens and fueled by a commitment to health equity, Whitney works alongside a number of organizations across Western New York to support and improve the health and well-being of women and children.

Whitney currently works with ITTIC as a consultant on two health systems initiatives -- working to support hospital staff as they learn about and engage in a trauma-informed approach to care.


Jamy Stammel

Jamy is an LMSW graduate of the University at Buffalo and also received an MA in women’s studies from the University at Albany. She was an adjunct professor at the University at Albany for three years. She is currently working at Lake Shore Behavioral Health as a chemical dependency counselor providing individual and group therapy to adolescents and adults. She also works per diem in the Mental Health program providing Cognitive Processing Therapy, which she is a certified provider of for both adults and adolescents. She is the liaison for her agency and the Hamburg Drug Court program. She is an advisory board member for the Trauma Informed Community Initiative of Western New York (TICI) and is currently an adjunct professor at Simmons College teaching Racism and Oppression in Social Work and Drugs and Alcohol in Social Work. At ITTIC, Jamy is a SAMHSA trainer and a trainer for the NYDOH AIDS Institute project, which entails training peer workers who are currently living with HIV and Hepatitis C about trauma-informed care. 


LuAnn Stevens

LuAnn is a medical social worker at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Her work with ITTIC involves providing trainings around trauma and trauma-informed care locally and being on the NYDOH AIDS Institute project team as a trainer for peer workers and "champions" from across the state. She is passionate about the development of compassionate and empowering therapeutic environments of care and their effects on the transformational process of individuals overcoming trauma and adversity. LuAnn is a 2013 graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. 


Rachel Wilson

Rachel is a 2016 graduate of the University at Buffalo’s Schools of Social Work and Public Health. Rachel’s passion is for enacting policy and improving systems of care to incorporate the principles of trauma-informed care, especially within the medical field. As an intern at the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care, Rachel worked with the Trauma Informed Care Initiative of WNY to support coalition activities including community education and policy research and provided trainings around trauma-informed care to local agencies. Rachel is currently involved with ITTIC through their partnership with the NYDOH AIDS Institute in which she is providing training and consultation to "champions" across the state.