Wellness on the Front Line™ 2023
October 17-20, 2023
We will continue to post additional speakers as plans are finalized.
Mari Aborqui, Civilian Investigator, Anaheim Police Department
Mari Aborqui grew up in a home filled with violence and abuse, which included neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. As a daughter of a mentally ill mother and emotionally void/workaholic father, who abandoned the family in her teen years. Her childhood was filled with feelings of sadness, despair and shame. By the age of 19, she was an unequipped mother of 2 daughters and in an abusive marriage. After years of counseling, internal work and cultivating a relationship with God she was able to work through years of personal pain that negatively affected the lives of her and her children.
Today she is employed as a Civilian Investigator at the Anaheim Police Department’s Burglary/Auto Theft Detail. Before her role as an investigator, she was a Victim Advocate and was stationed at the Orange County Family Justice Center (OCFJC). There is where she worked for eight years assisting victims of family violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sexual assault. The chronic childhood trauma that she had experienced came full circle as she was able to use her own experience to be more effective in assisting the victims she came in contact with. In 2011 she joined APD The Peer Support Program and recently assisted in forming WOA (Women of APD) where their mission is “To Empower, Engage and Heal Each Other Through Connection.”
First Responders are fearless and take on the role of facing the demons and monsters of others yet many of us have not faced our own. We have to do for ourselves what we would do for others. “We cannot heal what we cannot speak”. WOA is taking a step in creating a support group so that we can face the demons of our past together and begin the healing process within.
Dr. Tomer Anbar, CEO, Institutes of Health
Dr. Tomer Anbar is CEO of Institutes of Health, specializing in research and the advanced treatment of such conditions as chronic pain, complex PTSD, brain injuries, and related conditions. In 2002 he launched the Mind/Body Health Init iative to more effectively treat the chronic pain epidemic in the workers’ compensation system, and 2008 founded the Interdisciplinary Functional Restoration Program at Scripps Health. As Chief Clinical Advisor of the Employers’ Fraud Task Force, he advised the California Department of Industrial relations on how to systematically improve clinical outcomes employing evidence-based biopsychosocial paradigms. He is former Chairman of the Pain Rehabilitation SIG of the American Pain Society and former Treasurer of the Musculoskeletal Pain SIG of the International Association for the Study of Pain comprised of 125 countries. Dr. Anbar is former Head of Unit of Clinical and Research Psychobiology at the National Institute of Neurology, Collaborative Center for Research and Training in Neurosciences of the World Health Organization in Mexico City.
Chad Bianco, Sheriff-Coroner, Riverside County Sheriff
Chad Bianco was elected Sheriff, Coroner, and Public Administrator of Riverside County in the November 6, 2018, general election, and in June 2022 he was re-elected to his second term. He is a twenty-nine-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. As Sheriff, he serves as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Riverside County.
Sheriff Bianco began his career with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office on December 30, 1993. His first assignment was in Corrections at the Robert Presley Detention Center. He then worked patrol and narcotics in the City of Lake Elsinore. Sheriff Bianco held supervisory and management positions at the Jurupa Valley Station, Moreno Valley Station, Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility, and Hemet Station. Additionally, he served administrative assignments in Internal Affairs, and Corrections Administration and Planning. As the fourteenth Sheriff of Riverside County, Sheriff Bianco also serves as Coroner and Public Administrator.
Sheriff Bianco oversees the county’s five jail facilities, six court buildings, a civil bureau, the Coroner’s Bureau, Public Administrator’s Office, seventeen contract cities, 4000 dedicated employees and an operating budget of over nine hundred million dollars. Sheriff Bianco is a member of the California State Coroners Association, Major County Sheriffs’ Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, Western States Sheriffs’ Association and is on the Board of Directors for the California State Sheriffs’ Association.
Sheriff Bianco is married with four adult children, and two grandchildren. He and his wife, Denise, live in the Woodcrest area of Riverside. Sheriff Bianco believes in service above self, and hopes that his priorities of God, family, and service will provide meaningful guidance and direction as the Sheriff’s Office engages in an unprecedented change of culture to positively influence and engage our community.
Tim Brown, Retired, Decorated 20-Year FDNY Firefighter
Tim Brown is a retired, decorated 20-year FDNY firefighter, a survivor of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, a first responder to the 1993 terrorist attack on the WTC and a veteran of the New York Urban Search & Rescue Task Force team that responded to the 1995 terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. Tim lost 93 of his friends on Sept. 11th, including his two best friends. His last assignment in the FDNY was Rescue Co. 3 in The Bronx. He served as a Supervisor of Field Operations for four years in Mayor Giuliani’s Office of Emergency Management. Tim spent two years on special detail to the federal government, serving as a special assistant to the Secretary of Health and Human Services helping to build command & control, followed by cultural change in the entire HHS Department. While a part of HHS’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness group, he was a founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
On 20 FEB 2003, Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri asked for assistance in dealing with the aftermath of the Station Nightclub fire that killed 100 people. HHS sent Tim to assist the Governor. Tim advised the Governor for nearly two years to help with the disaster as well as to rebuild RI’s homeland security and emergency management organizations.
Since May of 2012, he has been a part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s 9/11 Prosecution Task Force in the case United States vs. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al. Tim is currently the liaison to the 9/11 families, survivors, victims, and witnesses and other US Government departments for the lead Prosecutor. He maintains a TS/SCI clearance.
Christina Dang, Mental Health Life Coach, Paws 4 Success, Inc.
Christina Dang, a dedicated and compassionate professional who has spent over a decade specializing as a mental health life coach. With an unwavering commitment to empowering individuals and helping them navigate their mental and emotional well-being, Christina Dang has emerged as a guiding light for those struggling with trauma, stress, and anxiety.
Through personal experiences, trauma became the catalysts for her profound understanding of the human psyche and the power of resilience. She has faced her own share of personal challenges, which fuel her empathy and provide a unique perspective in assisting others on their paths to progress.
Driven by an unwavering passion for facilitating growth and transformation, Christina finds deep fulfillment in this work.
As a specialized mental health life coach, Christina goes beyond traditional methods, focusing on holistic approaches that encompass a proactive and forward moving method to promote real change.
Matt Fiorenza, Retired Firefighter/Paramedic
Matt Fiorenza is a retired Firefighter/Paramedic that served The City of Anaheim Ca for 22 years. After ten years on the job he began having issues with anxiety, stress, and depression and was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Today Matty is a sober mentor to men and woman in the First Responder community and spent 3 years as a Shepherd at the Save A Warrior program. Matt helped to start a very successful First Responder only Treatment Center in Newport Beach Ca, proactively reaches out to brothers and sisters who may be struggling. He worked as an instructor with Santa Ana College where he facilitated mental health blocks to new recruits so they have healthier coping skills. He has spoken at many different first responder agencies all over the Country and loves teaching meditation. Matt was featured in PTSD911 documentary. His passion is to provide other first responders with education, resources, hope, and a path towards healing.
Axel Rose is Matt’s Service Dog who is trained through the Working Dogs for Warriors organization, a mental health organization that trains dogs. Their unique approach to building community around providing Service Dogs to veterans and first responders struggling with PTSD has been instrumental in Matt’s recovery. Axel Rose had been to Chicago, Dallas and Wisconsin. He also works with Matt at various debriefings and mental health centers where he performs a dual role as a therapy dog. Axel spends his time off chasing the ball and playing tug of war!
Keith Gordon, US Border Patrol Agent
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General
US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General
US General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General
U.S. Border Patrol Agent
US Immigration and Naturalization Service
Team Leader, Weapons Specialist (Army Ranger)
US Army, 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
Bachelor of Science: Sociology and Criminal Justice
William Paterson University
David Harrison, (Retired) Deputy Sheriff, Paws 4 Success, Inc.
David Harrison is a retired law enforcement officer with almost 18 years of experience in the field. As a former Deputy Sheriff, David has seen firsthand the toll mental health issues can take on individuals. He has witnessed the devastating impact it can have on people’s lives and families. After retiring from law enforcement, he and his wife, Nicole, started a nonprofit called Paws 4 Success. The mission of Paws 4 Success is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing them with highly trained and skilled service dogs who can offer them independence, improved mobility, and psychological support. The mission of Paws 4 Success also includes programs that promote mental wellness for all.
David realized his true passion was helping others cope with the aftermath of trauma and mental health conditions. He became a certified mental health coach and now works with individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. David uses his experience in law enforcement to connect with his clients, understanding the unique challenges and stresses of the job. He is a compassionate and empathetic listener who helps his clients explore their feelings, develop coping mechanisms, and build resilience. David is committed to making a difference, one client at a time. David has combined his passion for coaching and horses to help develop the Equine-Assisted Learning program at Paws 4 Success. David is passionate about providing underserved communities access to resources and opportunities to succeed.
Angela Hearns, Chaplain
Angela is the youngest of six children born to Bishop Henry (a pastor) and Essie Hearns (an elementary school teacher). She grew up in a home filled with love, fun and music, which is where her passion for people began. Angela grew up in the Antelope Valley, in California, and she attended local schools until she entered her college years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Radio-Television and Film from California State University at Northridge. She was one of the few persons of color to be an on-air news reporter for Channel 3 News in the early 1990’s. She was a substitute teacher for the Antelope Valley Union High School District as well as Los Angeles County Office of Education. Angela also taught Adult Basic Education II at the California State Prison, Lancaster, for five years. Ms. Hearns felt a calling to return to school to pursue a Master’s Degree in the field of Social Welfare, as it would equip her to fulfill her passion to help people. She graduated from UCLA in 1998 with her MSW. She was hired by the Los Angeles County Probation Department in 1999, where she is currently employed.
Angela is also a recording artist, who completed her first CD, ARISE, in 2010. Her video aired on BET, and her songs were aired on Music Choice, KJLH in Los Angeles and other stations in various states. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, shopping and interior decorating.
Deana Kahle, M.S., LMFT, The Counseling Team International (TCTI)
As a first responder to first responders, Deana has provided critical incident stress management (CISM) for many major mass casualties throughout the country. Her professional experience has focused on the treatment of post-traumatic stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, and grief.
In addition to psychotherapy and stress management services, Deana provides subject matter expert training and keynotes on the topics of resilience, wellness, and peer support.
Having worked for The Counseling Team, Intl for over 10 years she has had the privilege and honor of providing services to city, state and federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, Federal Air Marshal Service, and the California Highway Patrol.
Deana is passionate about her mission “to alleviate suffering one person at a time”.
Visit www.aboveboardconsulting.com for more information.
Darrin Lee, District Commander, Anaheim Police Department
Lieutenant Darrin Lee has been a law enforcement officer for close to 30 years. Currently assigned as a District Commander and Peer Support Team Coordinator at the Anaheim Police Department, Darrin has witnessed the police culture change from one that embraced autonomy, bravery, and secrecy to one that has started to value emotional wellness, vulnerability, and support.
Darrin started his career in 1994 as a police officer with the Covina Police Department (CA). He spent seven years there as a Patrol Officer, D.A.R.E. Instructor, and Gang Detective. In 2000, he began employment with the Anaheim Police Department where he was assigned as a Community Policing Officer, Field Training Officer, Arrest and Control Instructor, Burglary-Auto Theft Sergeant, Training Sergeant, Emergency Management Sergeant, and Patrol Watch Commander.
Over the three decades that Darrin has served the public, he has been involved in a significant number of traumatic events. Darrin has also witnessed the emotional and mental decline of close colleagues, some of whom have divorced their spouses, committed suicide, buried their own children after teen suicides, or lost their jobs due to substance abuse and other crimes. In 2012, tired of simply watching his co-workers suffer alone, Darrin joined the newly-established Peer Support Team at the Anaheim Police Department. He soon became one of its coordinators, discovering the value of fostering a work environment that inspires fellow employees to take care of one another, and promoting the idea that the quality of one’s home life is correlated with the quality of one’s work life. Wanting to expand the reach of the Peer Support Team, Darrin collaborated with first responders from other agencies to start the department’s first Therapy Dog Program in 2020.
When Darrin is away from work, he enjoys volunteering as a Tester/Observer with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and he sits on the board of directors with Paws 4 Success, a non-profit organization that connects service dogs with military veterans, first responders, and other individuals with special needs. Darrin also holds a master’s degree in Sociology, teaching Sociology and Criminal Justice at California State University, Fullerton.
Lisa Morales, Detective, Miami-Dade Police Department (Florida), Special Victims Bureau
Detective Lisa Morales is a recently retired 32 year veteran of the Miami D ade Police Department. For the last 21 years of her career, she was assigned to the Special Victims Bureau, Vulnerable Victims Unit where she investigated criminal allegations of physical abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, disabled and elderly persons. After her retirement, she remained attached to the Miami Dade Police Department as a Police Reserve Officer in the Special Victims Bureau (SVB) and continues to assist the full time SVB detectives with their investigations. Detective Morales is also a certified criminal justice instructor who teaches Child/Elderly/Disabled Abuse investigations to police recruits and in service personnel at the Miami Dade Public Safety Training Institute (MDPSTI). Additionally, she conducts training and presentations for civilian groups and community organizations on the topics of child and elderly abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Troy Rodgers, Psy.D., Public Safety Psychology Group LLC, New Mexico
Dr. Rodgers is a police and public safety psychologist who has been practicing in the Southwest for the last 20 years. He has been the Agency Director for Public Safety Psychology Group LLC (PSPG) since 2004. At the present time, he works as a consultant/psychologist for over 140 local, state, and federal law enforcement, fire, and corrections agencies. He is an active member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriff’s Association, the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, and the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology.
Dr. Rodgers is a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Phoenix and he has also taught at the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College. Dr. Rodgers has a master’s degree and a doctorate in clinical forensic psychology from the University of Denver. He is currently licensed in New Mexico as a Psychologist. In the past he was licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor, School Psychologist, and School Counselor.
In 2016, Dr. Rodgers was awarded a Diplomate in Police Psychology from the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology. He was appointed in 2014 by Governor Susana Martinez to the NM Sexual Offender Management Board. In 2019 he became an ethics committee member for the International Association of Chiefs of Police-Police Psychology Section. He is currently a board member for the National Sheriff’s Association-Psychology Section. He is also certified as a Master Professional Lecturer by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Training Academy.
Dr. Rodgers has particular areas of expertise that include substance abuse prevention, law enforcement training, school psychology, police psychology, law enforcement assessment, offender treatment and evaluation, violence risk assessment, school and workplace violence, crisis intervention, behavioral profiling, peak performance training, corrections psychology, and stalking. He is trained in hostage negotiation. Dr. Rodgers has extensive experience in the development of training curriculum for prevention programs and law enforcement and in the actual training of law enforcement personnel, civilian employees, adolescents, and teenagers. Dr. Rodgers is currently completing his Certified Prevention Specialist application. He has been working with children and adolescents for over 30 years. He is one of the founding members of PSPG.
Raul V. Rivas, Retired Agent, Ambassador with LightHouse Health and Wellness
Raul Rivas grew up in the Orlando area. After graduating high school, he attended college and obtained an Associate Degree in business. Raul then enlisted in the Army Reserve, and served overseas during Desert Storm. Raul was sworn into the Orlando Police Department in 1992. He was first assigned to midnight patrol. Then he had stints on the bicycle squad and gang unit, before moving on to a multi-agency undercover drug task force named the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI). Raul was a field training officer and developed an interest in investigations and Swat. Raul spent 12 years in the robbery unit with cross-sworn duties with FBI Safe Streets and ATF Violent Crimes task forces. At the same time, Raul was an assault team member on the Swat team. Raul moved to the Fugitive Investigations unit and was cross sworn with the U.S. Marshals.
Raul has received numerous awards and accolades including the Award of Valor, Field Training Officer of the Year, Swat Operator of the Year, and Florida Governors Award. Raul currently sits on the Florida Swat Association, Swat Roundup International committee.
Raul Rivas served 18 years with Swat team and served as an Assistant Team Leader. Raul was one of the Swat team members involved during the “Pulse nightclub incident” shooting in Orlando, Florida. Raul received an Award of Valor for his actions and involvement in the Pulse Incident. Raul retired from the Orlando Police Department in 2019. Raul went through his own mental health challenges and with the help of others, found ways to cope with his inner demons. He then joined the Trauma Behind the Badge (TBTB) team in 2020. TBTB helps to raise awareness among first responders, veterans, and their families about mental health resources. Raul is part of the TBTB weekly webinar that consists of 4 first responders discussing all aspects of PTSD in first responders and veterans. Raul also sits on the board of the Survive First Foundation. Survive First Foundation provides support to first responders, veterans, and their families navigating mental health challenges. Raul is also a product ambassador with Lighthouse Health & Wellness, a 100% confidential health and wellness app platform at no cost to public safety agencies.
Shelley Townley, Child Welfare Supervisor, Ventura County Children and Family Services
Shelley Townley is a Child Welfare Supervisor with Children & Family Services in Ventura County California. She has thirty years of Child Welfare experience, including supervision of the following programs: Emergency Response, Placement, Children and Family Team Meetings, Emergency Response, Training and the Youth Services Division. In 2017, secondary trauma and its impact to staff lead to the development of a Peer Support Program. She was nominated by her peers to be one of the first peer supporters and was instrumental in the growth and development of the program. Currently, she is a co leader of Peer Support. The Peer Support Program offers individual peer support, resiliency support groups, mindful meditation groups, a day with therapy dogs. We also helped in the creation of a greater all County Peer Support Coalition with Law Enforcement and Fire to collaborate in major events such as the Borderline shooting and the Thomas Fire.
Betsy Watson, MSW, Emergency Response/After Hours Supervisor, Ventura County Children and Family Services
Betsy Watson is a Child Welfare Supervisor with Children and Family Services in Ventura County, California. She has been in child welfare since 2001 and started her career working in Minneapolis, Minnesota in case management and moved to Oxnard, California in 2005. She has worked as an ongoing case manager, emergency response on dayshift and after hours, and has been a supervisor in Emergency Response since 2014. She was nominated by her peers in 2019 to be a peer supporter and was the first supervisor to be nominated to the team. Currently, she is also a co-leader of the Peer Support program. Betsy believes secondary trauma is something we talk about in Child Welfare but until the peer support program was developed we did not have a uniform way to support staff. The Peer Support program is having an impact and the Director to all of Human Services Agency is looking to implement the program throughout the entire agency.
Dan Willis, Retired Captain, Founder of First Responder Wellness
Captain Dan Willis (ret) served with the La Mesa Police Department for 30 years as a crimes of violence-sexual assault-child molest-homicide detective, SWAT Commander, Wellness Unit coordinator, and Peer Support team leader. He’s a graduate of the FBI National Academy and is an international instructor on trauma recovery, resilience, and wellness – having trained over 10,000 peace officers in 39 states, Canada, and New Zealand. He’s the author of “Bulletproof Spirit”, which is required reading at the FBI National Academy, as well “Police Resilience.” He is the founder of FirstResponderWellness.com.
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