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Transform Trauma: Reimagining America’s Approach to Well-Being

(Washington, DC)—The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP), in

partnership with DDC Public Affairs and Ketchum, today released Transform Trauma:

Reimagining America’s Approach to Well-Being, a discussion that promotes community-led, trauma-informed, prevention-oriented, resilience-focused, and healing-centered approaches to prevent, mitigate, and address the negative impacts of trauma.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma as an event, series of events, or circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, and social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.

“Trauma is a major underlying cause of some of our nation’s most pressing challenges, including substance abuse, suicide, gun violence, and poor health outcomes,” said Jesse Kohler, Executive Director of CTIPP. “We cannot solve these challenges with the same thinking that created them, so we need a paradigm shift in our approach, especially in traditionally underserved communities, to improve our society’s health and well-being.”

Seventy percent of U.S. adults have experienced at least one traumatic event, 46 percent of

U.S. children have experienced at least one by age 18, and over 20 percent have experienced at least two. Trauma can disproportionally affect traditionally underserved and marginalized communities, and preventing trauma is cost- and resource-effective.

“Every American holds immense value and should be considered as such in our societal value proposition,” said Nolan Rollins, consultant to DDC Public Affairs and former CEO of the Urban Leagues of New Orleans and Los Angeles. “No one should be left behind or overlooked, as the trauma experienced by an individual inevitably becomes shared nationally. Recognizing the intrinsic worth of each person is not just a moral imperative, but also a necessity for a healthier and more harmonious society.”

“Keeping your North Star firmly on your people is essential to navigating what can feel like a ‘perma-crisis,’ said Lauren Butler, Managing Director of Employee Engagement at Ketchum. “It’s time for communities, organizations, and businesses to shift their thinking. A trauma-informed approach provides the path forward to operate with empathy and understanding, enabling you to meet any challenges faced by your employees, clients, customers, and the communities we serve.”

The main discussion centered on the need for community-led solutions that break down silos across systems, sectors, and generations to build long-term capacity and change.

“To ensure trauma-informed policies transform into practice, we’ve found that maintaining a delicate balance between state support with local control can make all the difference,” said Peter Buckley, Program Manager of Southern Oregon Success (Medford, OR). “The state (and federal) government should continue to support investment and resources that provide locals the autonomy to make informed decisions that best serve their communities. The more we can facilitate this symbiosis, the more progress towards creating healthier, more resilient communities.”

It was noted that systemic challenges rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion impact everyone, regardless of birth or circumstance.

“The health outcomes of impoverished individuals in rural Missouri are just as dire as those in our urban communities,” said Jennifer Brinkmann, CEO of Alive & Well Communities (St. Louis, MO). “We like to use the quote from the People's Institute: 'White people aren't poor because of their race, but they are poor because of racism' to underscore the fact that racism is at the root of poor health outcomes across the board. It's important to understand that these systemic issues affect us all, regardless of where we live or what community we belong to.”

Another critical insight centered on the need to co-create with those who have experienced trauma or live in trauma-impacted communities to create policies that make a lasting difference.

“Co-creation is not just a buzzword; it's the cornerstone of impactful policymaking,” said Father Paul Abernathy, CEO of the Neighborhood Resilience Project (Pittsburgh, PA). “Engagement isn't just about inviting people to the table–it's about making the table accessible to them, both physically and metaphorically. It's a deeply relational process that demands us to step out of our comfort zones and into the lives of those we're trying to serve. We often seek quick policy fixes to problems that have been generations in the making. We must challenge this mindset and invest the necessary time and effort into genuine engagement to co-create policies that are human-centered, equitable, and truly democratic.”

Looking towards the future, the participants expressed great hope for America’s future.

“Despite the many challenges we face–from teacher and nurse burnout to a youth mental health crisis–there's a growing recognition that trauma-informed care must be part of the solution,” said Brinkmann. “These pressing issues, while daunting, are driving more and more people to consider alternative approaches and new ways of thinking.”

“I think this conversation is the most encouraging one happening throughout this country‌,” said Father Abernathy. “So many are committing to become trauma-informed, and we should celebrate that. We mustn't squander this opportunity, and indeed, we have to lean into it. Now is the time to build our ranks to move this trauma-informed work forward.”

“I’m bullish on our future because leadership today is increasingly decentralized and localized, with leaders emerging from unexpected places,” said Rollins. “And diversity in voice compels us to rethink our value systems and expectations for the future. We must remember that even in the midst of turmoil, we have made progress, and it's our responsibility to build upon these victories to make even more strides for future generations.”

Explore the discussion and access resources at

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committed to creating a trauma-informed society where individuals, families, and communities have the opportunities and support necessary to thrive. Through advocacy, activism, and education, CTIPP is building a movement that integrates community-led, trauma-informed, prevention-oriented, resilience-focused, and healing-centered approaches across all sectors and generations.

DDC Public Affairs is the leading full-service public affairs firm in North America, with a team of more than 120 political, communications, creative, digital, and technology experts and a

network of more than 400 local partners reaching into every state and congressional district.

We design and execute custom, stakeholder engagement-focused programs and campaigns for corporate, non-profit, trade association, and government clients.

Ketchum is one of the most creatively awarded firms in our industry. We’re equal parts human-centered and business-focused, empathetic, and intelligent. As a global communications consultancy, we combine the deep industry and specialty expertise of boutique firms with global reach to find unexpected connections that lead to lasting relationships and work that matters.


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