Michigan ACE Initiative conference highlights

For the past several weeks I have had “writers block” and  I wanted to immediately communicate with folks following our May conference. I was (and still am) basking in the energy, networking and statewide interest in our Initiative, took some time off to “recharge” and began quiet discussions regarding our future.  First, some thanks are in order.

The conference evaluations tell us that we were largely on target with presenters and information. Is there anyone who wasn’t “blown away” by Christina Bethell’s passion, compassion and encyclopedic research findings? I had the pleasure of picking her up at Detroit Metro Airport and sharing two hours of discussion on not only her findings but her involvement in this issue.  To say I was impressed is woefully understated.  We intend to keep her close to our initiative and will try to bring her to Michigan for a more intensive series of meetings and strategic planning on ACES (Something she is currently doing for the State of California).

Our data panel highlighted the current status—and I know there will be more variations of this presentation, so stay tuned (thanks to Jodi and Justin (and Phyllis Meadows for moderating).  Thanks also to Lynn Waymer for her perspective from KPJR films and for supporting us in her newsletter (that reaches millions nationally).  She was the ideal person to introduce our new video—available on Facebook as well.  There will be more videos in our future—stay tuned there as well.

Boots on the ground is the mantra of many and having now over 130 Master Trainers in place (5 cohorts) and the growing number of community champions is simply a testament to need and thirst for information.  Thanks to Rich, Amanda, Jason, and Teresa for being on our panel and for Laura Porter for moderating.

Of course, having Sheri Jones as our Event Emcee was a great move and her enthusiasm and passion is always contagious.  Finally, where it all started for us—having Dr. Anda provide some commentary at the beginning—we will always be thankful for him.

The poster boards that were created during the conference remain an outstanding feature and is available on the google drive for master trainers—I have to admit I discouraged having this feature—but was overruled fortunately.

For those who have ever planned and implemented an event as large as ours you will certainly appreciate the behind the scenes administration, registration, meal planning and logistics.  Our hearty thanks to Diane Drago and her colleagues for providing this service—I have worked with Diane for nearly 20 years and she never fails to “make it happen”.

So what does this all mean? What’s next?  What can we expect?  these are questions that I have and assume others as well.  So, here is what I think:

Now more than ever, ACEs and related interventions (resilience) constitute a path forward in addressing many of the current state and national policy challenges:  Social determinants of health, integration of services, safety net, intergeneration impact—including disparities. 


1. It is time to become more aggressive in our approach—the time is now;
2. It is time to line up more local and statewide partners where we have common agendas;
3. It is time to identify and breakdown “silos”;
4. It is time to capitalize on innovation in the delivery of current services that can address ACEs, new and expanded communication tools, increased social networking; and to promote and use common language on trauma and ACEs.
5. It is time to address long standing issues—including those we heard at the May 23 conference on intergeneration equity.

I don’t think this is bold when you look at the facts.  Indeed, it is catching up to a frank and open discussion and programming that we have long needed.  Having said that, there are still too many who have not strategically thought about ACEs in our society and how they may get involved.  That may be on us—and we must be up to the challenge of bringing more of these voices forward.

My next blog will identify 10 key steps we should consider in going forward and the strategic elements that we will consider as we plan on the next five years of the Michigan ACE Initiative.

By Rick Murdock