Brett A. Loftis, JD
It doesn’t take long after meeting him to understand Brett’s passion for protecting the most vulnerable children. As the Chief Executive Officer of Crossnore Communities for Children, Brett Lofits leads an organization that is dedicated to growing healthy futures for children and families. His experience working in a residential program for at-risk children and as a Guardian ad Litem in South Carolina; a youth minister in Texas; and an attorney and the Executive Director of the Council for Children’s Rights in Charlotte, NC positioned him well to assume the executive role at Crossnore in 2013.
Brett’s executive leadership and strategic planning with the Board of Trustees led Crossnore to a successful merger with The Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, NC to become Crossnore School & Children’s Home in 2017. Services have expanded to underserved counties in western North Carolina through a satellite office opened in Hendersonville, NC in early 2018. He co-founded the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities, a program of Crossnore School & Children’s Home, in 2018. The Center for Trauma Resilient Communities helps organizations embed and embody the science of trauma resilience. Brett works across the nation training organizations to become trauma-informed and to build trauma resilience for their staff and clients. Crossnore successfully rebranded to Crossnore Communities for Children in 2021.
Brett received his undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Political Science from Furman University. His passion for children eventually sent him to Wake Forest University School of Law to continue his career in child advocacy. In 2018, he was appointed to the North Carolina Child Well-Being Transformation Council by Senator Philip E. Berger and in 2019, he was asked to serve on the Board of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice. He is past chair of the Board of Trustees for Benchmarks NC, an alliance of agencies helping children, adults and families. Locally, Brett also serves on the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Board of Directors and is past president of the Avery County Rotary Club. Brett also speaks statewide and nationally about child welfare, trauma and resilience, as well as leadership development.
Brett and his family live on the Avery county campus of Crossnore Communities for Children and in his free time, he loves to coach youth soccer and basketball. Brett’s greatest love is his wife, Sally, and their three sons, Will, Elijah, and Lawson.
David McCorkle is a veteran Broadway performer who brings training to life wherever he goes. As a senior faculty member at the Sanctuary Institute in Yonkers, New York, David trained organizations in The Sanctuary Model® across the United States and in Malta, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. His experience with organizations caring for victims of trauma in domestic violence shelters, homeless and migrant shelters, psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers, schools, community mental health, and family support centers has given David a unique insight into the effects of trauma across a diverse spectrum of people and organizational situations.
David has been the principal trainer of The Sanctuary Model® for Crossnore Communities for Children since 2008. David and the Crossnore Sanctuary trainers devised the Train the Trainer program so that ongoing training could be offered to staff year-round. He co-founded the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities, a program of Crossnore Communities for Children, in 2018.
In addition to his work with the Sanctuary Institute and Crossnore, David maintains a private therapy practice in New York City. He has been published in Psychiatric Quarterly, The International Journal for Therapeutic and Supportive Organizations, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, and he co-wrote a chapter on traumatic loss in Loss, Hurt, and Hope: The Complex Issues of Bereavement and Trauma in Children by Lorelei Atalie Vargas and Sandra L. Bloom. He is also the co-author of two Sanctuary psycho-education curriculums, Learning SELF Through Films and Youth Training Manual: Learning from our Heroes. David has been the keynote speaker at the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care and has presented on non-violence and conflict resolution at conferences, on webinars, and in person at many agencies throughout the Sanctuary network.
David is a native of North Carolina and graduated from Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. He is a proud father and grandfather and lives in New York City with his husband, Ernest Hood. He taught Sunday School for 20 years and is active at St. Marks in the Bowery in their Arts and Social Justice outreach ministries.
Senior Director of Program Development
Beatriz Vides shares the story of resilience and survival with the many children and families she has worked with throughout her career. She was a child during the civil war in El Salvador before moving to the United States, giving her a distinct and personal understanding of the effects of trauma.
As a faculty member for the Sanctuary Institute in Yonkers, NY, Beatriz achieved prominence in adapting the theories of The Sanctuary Model® into daily practice in multiple settings. Her work in schools, residential programs, community-based programs, and hospitals has helped to create healing communities across the United States. Beatriz has worked as a consultant with Crossnore Communities for Children since 2014. She co-founded the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities, a program of Crossnore Communities for Children, in 2018.
Beatriz also has 30 years of experience working with children and families in New York City, as well as rural upstate New York, and around the country. She served as Director of Child Care Services for Astor Services for Children. Her work has also taken her to Nepal and South Africa. Beatriz is a sought-after trainer who uses experiential methods and creativity to create a learning community and she has helped create trauma-informed schools in New York State, New York City, and North Carolina.
Beatriz earned her B.A. from Hunter College and SUNY Albany and has completed additional graduate studies at SUNY Albany. She is active in rescuing abused and neglected animals.
Lina E. Pasquale
Senior Director of Strategy, Development and Operations & Faculty
Lina is a mission-driven leader with over two decades tenure in the social and human services sector, advancing positive youth development, traumatic stress theory and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) awareness into practice across multi-service agencies. She utilizes a strengths-based and resilience-centered approach to promote wellbeing and social-emotional learning for direct service participants and the professionals working within these organizations. Lina also served as a senior administrator and executive of child welfare and residential services programs throughout her career – bridging theory into direct practice along the way.
In 2000, Lina began working alongside Dr. Sandra L. Bloom to adapt and research the efficacy of the Sanctuary Model of Trauma-Informed Care and to codify the model for use in creating healing environments for youth impacted by adversity and trauma. She served as a faculty member of the Sanctuary Institute since its inception. In 2014, Lina was awarded the opportunity to participate in the Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge, resulting in the development of the Center for Trauma-Informed Practice. She has provided trauma-informed and trauma-responsive implementation expertise to organizations and communities throughout the US and Internationally. She has held leadership positions in direct service organizations in NYC and CT and has held positions as a researcher and training specialist for Columbia University and Fordham University and has taught as an Adjunct Faculty at Iona College.
Lina currently serves on the Board of Directors of the national Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice and is a Senior Advisor to the Contemplative-Based Resilience Project of the Garrison Institute. Lina, a former AmeriCorps volunteer, remains active in her local community as a Girl Scouts troop leader, a Lion’s service member, and volunteering alongside her children at the local food pantry, nature center, and animal rescue shelter.
Lina holds two graduate degrees in Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and The New School for Social Research.
Jennifer Middleton, MSW, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Research
Jennifer Middleton is an Associate Professor in the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville (UofL) and Director of the UofL Human Trafficking Research Initiative. Dr. Middleton’s research, teaching, and service activities all focus on partnering with communities to develop trauma-informed approaches to working with children and families impacted by trauma, substance abuse, and other adverse childhood experiences. In addition, her collaborative efforts aim to address the cumulative impact of working with traumatized populations on the professionals and organizations who serve them. Dr. Middleton leads multiple federally-funded, interdisciplinary research projects examining the impact of trauma-informed organizational change interventions within systems of care that serve sex trafficked populations and address community violence within refugee, Tribal, urban, and rural community contexts. She recently completed a five-year $3.9M federal grant project that created a trauma- informed system of care for children directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Middleton is currently the Director of Implementation for a new five-year $5M SAMHSA grant aimed at addressing community violence, trauma, and inequities in west and south Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Middleton is also the Principal Investigator of two recently funded research projects which aim to address child sex trafficking: 1) Project STAAR: Survivors of Trafficking Creating Art, Advocacy, and Resilience, a qualitative study which utilizes photovoice methods to explore the lived experiences of child sex trafficking survivors, and 2) Project PIVOT: Prevention and Intervention of Victims of Trafficking, a comprehensive case review of all reported child sex trafficking cases over a 5-year period in Kentucky. Middleton is an active member of numerous local, state, national, and international human trafficking initiatives and is fully trained in the Sanctuary Model. During her forensic social work career, Dr. Middleton interviewed and provided services to over 4,000 sexually exploited and trafficked children and youth.
Marni Eisner, J.D.
Director of Business Development
Program Coordinator for Louisville TRC Project
Cynthia weaves trauma-informed practice within cultural and historical trauma while applying a lens towards future, growth and change. She serves as an adjunct faculty at NYU Steinhardt School, Department of Teaching and Learning and is a member of the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities teaching faculty.
Cynthia is a public historian and interpretive specialist focused on Afro-American, American, urban, and museum studies as well as historic preservation and instructional technology. She is also president of the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History. Cynthia has worked extensively with the New York Historical Society, including the direction of a digital learning project featuring collections that illustrate the story of the American Revolution. She has curated many exhibitions, including Before Central Park: The Life and Death of Seneca Village.
Tanya Blackford, LCSW, MPA
Faculty, Executive Director-Western Region Crossnore
Tanya has been fortunate enough to have spent the last 25 years helping to bring opportunities, hope, and services to adults and children with over 20 years of experience in leadership roles focused on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. It has all been about hope and healing for those most in need. Tanya’s drive is about the opportunity: the opportunity to heal, overcome, become, change, be better, and achieve. Tanya uses her personal and professional experiences to support others to begin to embed new and creative ways to embody this work throughout their systems. Tanya is a licensed social worker (LCSW) and holds graduate degrees in Social Work and Public Administration.
Shantel Crosby, Ph.D., LMSW
Shantel Crosby, Ph.D., MSW is an Associate Professor in the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville. She previously practiced as a community mental health clinician, working with children and families in Detroit, MI. Dr. Crosby’s on-going research is interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on the intersections of race, gender, and trauma exposure among youth. Her scholarship focuses on childhood trauma and trauma-informed interventions (e.g., trauma-informed teaching) in an effort to inform practice and policies in schools and other youth-serving organizations. She has been an investigator on multiple federal grants, and currently serves as a co-investigator and evaluator on a 5-year, federal, trauma-focused grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, focused on developing a city-wide, culturally-relevant and trauma-informed, system of care across Louisville, KY through the Louisville Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.
Dr. Crosby’s research has been cited in multiple state-level policy and practice briefs, and also informed the proposal of a federal bill, H.R. 1757-Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act of 2017. Her work has also been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Review of Research in Education, Preventing School Failure, and the Kentucky Teacher Education Journal. She has also made numerous presentations, both nationally and locally, to train educators from various districts/venues on childhood trauma, race, and trauma-informed practice. Along with her research, Dr. Crosby teaches Social Work courses in the Kent School’s MSSW, PhD, and DSW programs.
Director of Experiential Learning
Andrew Florence is an experiential educator, trainer, and practitioner, with more than 15 years in the field. As a trainer, Andrew seeks to incorporate embodied practices to enhance learning and amplify presence, as well as engaging exercises to remember the healing and resistant power of play. Andrew’s primary focuses are on the importance of connection and engagement within communities and teams, as well as creating and sustaining cultures of restoration and healing.
In addition to being a CTRC trainer, Andrew is the Director of Experiential Learning for Crossnore Communities for Children, overseeing the Miracle Heights Adventures program, and Miracle Grounds Farm.
Andrew is a proud graduate of Appalachian State University (BS, Outdoor Experiential Education) and Clemson University (MS Youth Development Leadership).
Margaret Wheatley once said, “When we take a step or make a decision, we are tugging at webs of relationships that are seldom visible but always present.” Sally Loftis is tugging at the webs of relationship that hold our systems of injustice in place through consulting.
Her professional experience lies mostly in human resources roles while her lifelong volunteer experience spreads across social justice causes. Sally has worked in strategic roles for a Fortune 50 corporation, a boutique consulting firm, and the largest non-academic craft school in the US. She sees a need to bring equity and inclusion work into all levels of organizations through brave practices, community safe spaces, shared power, active vulnerability, and consent culture.
Meribeth Robinson has a passion for training staff on the science of trauma as it relates to the brain. She believes as we understand what happens to a child’s brain when they have experienced trauma, we will change the way we work with these children, and possibly change policy that affects all aspects of our caregiving. Her 30-plus year career as a therapist has given Meribeth a unique window into family and organizational systems, providing a deep understanding of the effects of trauma and the ways to build trauma resiliency in our homes, schools, and communities.
Meribeth began her clinical career with The Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, NC, eventually becoming the Clinical Director. In 2008, Meribeth established her own private counseling practice where she continues to see clients today. For more than a decade, she has provided therapeutic services to families, healthcare agencies, psychiatric practices, and schools on issues surrounding trauma, chronic stress, depression, and anxiety.
In 2015, Meribeth returned to The Children’s Home, now known as Crossnore Communities for Children, serving as the Executive Director of the Triad Region through 2022. In this position, Meribeth partnered with Crossnore’s Executive Team to grow a trauma-informed sanctuary for children, families, and staff. She was instrumental in providing program development to support a trauma-informed agency.
Meribeth is a native of Winston-Salem, NC and graduated from Nova Southeastern with an M.S. in Child and Youth Care Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a founding member of the National Association for Multiple Family Group Therapy. Meribeth is married and the couple have one adult daughter. She is an advocate for self-care who enjoys running and lifting weights.