Executive Staff


Executive Director/Co-Founder


Elaine Miller-Karas, MSW, LCSW


Elaine Miller-Karas is the executive director and co-founder of the Trauma Resource Institute.  Ms. Miller-Karas has 30 years experience in health education, teaching, social work and advocacy.  She has co-created the Trauma Resiliency Model® (TRM) and the Community Resiliency Model® (CRM) and its adaptations for active duty military and veterans.  She has shepherded the Trauma Resource Institute since its birth in 2006 into a worldwide organization, bringing resiliency skills to the underserved.  Elaine, because of her social entrepreneurship, was invited to the International Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  Elaine has presented at major conferences including the Skoll World Forum, the Transformational Resilience Coalition, the Annual Conference on Global Affairs at the University of Colorado, ISTSS and the Psychotherapy Networker.  She authored a chapter in the book, “To the Rescue: Stories of Healthcare Workers at the Scenes of Disaster” and her book “Building Trauma Resilience, the Trauma and Community Resiliency Models”, was published by Routledge in March of 2015.  

Ms. Miller-Karas has traveled internationally and trained mental health, health professionals and community leaders in social service agencies, hospitals and community organizations.  She was TRI’s Project Manager for a State of California Innovations Grant in San Bernardino County, training community members in CRM® skills. Her work has taken her to Thailand after the tsunami of 2004, to Louisiana after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, to San Bernardino County after the 2008 Fires, to China after the Sichuan earthquake, to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake and to Kenya, Africa after the post-election violence.   Elaine has led TRI’s Global Trainers to Guatemala, Nepal,  Germany, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Tanzania, Rwanda, Turkey and the Philippines to continue to expand the mission and vision of TRI, bringing biological-based skills to the world community. 

Elaine’s father served in the US Navy and she has a strong commitment to our military to destigmatize the impact of combat zone trauma and other traumas that can occur while serving.  She has presented TRM® and CRM® Skills to Edwards Air Force Base, Fort Drum and the Marine Base in Barstow, California. Elaine is working on projects to bring CRM® skills to other military installations.  She presented CRM® at the Wounded Warrior Chronic Pain Conference in San Diego and Washington D.C.  

She was the Associate Director of Behavioral Sciences at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center’s Family Practice Residency Program from 1994 until she resigned in 2006 to start TRI.   Earlier in her career, she did her graduate internship at Stanford University’s Perinatal Outreach Program and worked there as clinician and lecturer. She was the founder of Helping after Neonatal Death in Santa Clara County, California and directed it for six years.  She is also an adjunct professor at Loma Linda’s School of Social Work and Social Ecology. She now lives in Claremont, California with her husband, Jim and father-in-law, Kenny.  She has a wonderful family that includes, two children, Erik and Jessica, their spouses, Tanja and John, and a granddaughter, Madison.

Associate Executive Director


Michael Sapp, Ph.D.


Dr. Michael Sapp is the Associate Executive Director of the Trauma Resource Institute. Dr. Sapp received his M.A. in General Psychology and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The New School (formerly The New School for Social Research) in New York, NY. After earning his degree, Dr. Sapp worked as a supervising psychologist at the Child and Family Guidance Center in Northridge, CA, for three years before going into private practice and teaching as an adjunct professor at a nearby university.

Dr. Sapp has worked with TRI since 2010 and is now a TRM® and CRM® Master Trainer.   As a TRM® and CRM® Master Trainer, Dr. Sapp has helped train clinicians and non-clinician community leaders both locally and internationally. He has helped provide trainings throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles, Claremont, San Bernardino, Oxnard, and San Diego. In January 2014, he was part of the TRI team that traveled to Cebu City where leaders from various NGOs throughout the Philippines were trained as CRM® Skills Trainers to help communities impacted by Typhoon Yolanda. The following year, he was part of a training team that traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, to introduce CRM® to various community leaders working with Syrian refugees. He returned to Turkey later that year to provide follow-up trainings for some of the members of that original training. That same year, he helped Ms. Miller-Karas provide TRM® Level 1 training to clinicians and non-clinicians in London, England, who work with victims of trauma. In 2016, Dr. Sapp was team leader for two follow-up enhancement CRM® trainings in Kathmandu, Nepal, for community leaders who continue to work with those impacted by the 7.8 earthquake in April, 2015.

Dr. Sapp co-authored a chapter with Dr. Geoff Goodman entitled, “Maternal Depression, Preschool Children’s Representations of Attachment Disorganization, and the Development of Aggression and Depression: A Mediational Model” in C. Yoon (Ed.) Focus on Family Relations in the 21stCentury published in 2007. He also recently co-authored a chapter with Elaine Miller-Karas entitled, “The Nervous System, Memory, and Trauma” in Ms. Miller-Karas’ book Building Resilience to Trauma: The Trauma and Community Resiliency Models published in 2015.

He currently resides in Upland, CA, with his wife, Shannon, and two sons, Christian and Caleb.

Director of Education and Training


Jennifer Burton, LMFT

Jennifer Burton is Director of Education and Training for the Trauma Resource Institute. Jennifer was licensed in San Francisco and worked with families and children at TALK Like Family Support Center before relocating to her hometown of Los Angeles in 2001. While she now focuses primarily on her work with TRI and private clients, Jennifer previously worked for nine years at Sherman Oaks Hospital Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Program serving adults suffering from chronic mental illness. Jennifer has a private practice in Encino specializing in trauma and attachment issues with children, adults, couples, and families. Amongst her many trainings post licensure, Jennifer is certified in EMDR, Expressive Arts Therapy and Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ Models. She integrates TRM® and CRM® into all of these modalities.

Jennifer has worked with TRI since its inception in 2006, and is a CRM® and TRM® Master Trainer. She has been instrumental as one of TRI’s lead trainers in bringing the Community Resiliency Model® to underserved populations throughout the United States. She has been a part of trainings for Ventura and Oxnard County Fire Department, Peace Over Violence, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Southern California Counseling Center, San Bernardino Departments of Behavioral Health and Child and Family Services, and Crestwood Behavioral Health. She has presented CRM® and TRM® Orientations throughout California, including the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist’s 2015 Annual Conference. Most recently, she led TRI’s training team in Orlando, Florida, following the Pulse attack.

Jennifer recently co-authored a chapter with Elaine Miller-Karas entitled, “Attachment Strategies and Adult Behavior” in Ms. Miller-Karas’ book Building Resilience to Trauma: The Trauma and Community Resiliency Models published in 2015.

She lives in Reseda, California with her two children, Sam and Sarah.

Program Manager


Nick Skenderian, M.Sc.

Nick Skenderian is the Program Manager of the Trauma Resource Institute. He received his B.A. in Biology from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and subsequently an MSc. in Global Health, with an emphasis in global mental health, from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. In the course of his Master’s degree, Mr. Skenderian also carried out an internship with the Mental Health Program of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe as well as performed freelance work for the Health Systems Governance Program in the area of health system performance assessments.

Mr. Skenderian has been affiliated with TRI since 2014, initially as an intern, then as a project consultant and now as the organization’s program manager. He is a certified CRM® skills trainer and has been trained in TRM® level I. In 2015, he travelled twice with training teams to Istanbul, Turkey in order to introduce CRM® to a group of multinational community leaders working with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. In early 2017, Mr. Skenderian engaged in the development of a partnership between TRI and the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, in order to enhance the scientific and cultural development of CRM® within Germany and throughout Europe.

Training Coordinator


Deenise Kosct


Deenise Kosct is the Training Coordinator for Trauma Resource Institute. She coordinates all the trainings on the website for TRI in the United States.   If you have any questions about trainings on the website she can assist you in registering, paying, add you to a wait list, questions about CEUS, future trainings, helping you with troubles registering or paying on website, Certificate of Completions for trainings on the website. Deenise can be reached at traincoord@communitytri.com or 408-315-6499.

Administrative Assistant


Karen Chatt


Karen Chatt is the Administrative Assistant for the Trauma Resource Institute. She manages the TRI Office Monday-Thursday. She Coordinates with Trainers all the materials  that are needed for trainings. She also handles all the merchandise on line if you have questions in regards to online purchases. In addition she also handles referrals about Trained TRI Practitioners if you are looking for a therapist in your area. Karen can be reached at admin@communitytri.com or  at the TRI   Office at 909-626-4070.