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. Ms. Miller-Karas, because of her social entrepreneurship, was invited to the International Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She 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. Ms. Miller-Karas 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.
Ms. Miller-Karas' 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. Ms. Miller-Karas 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.
Ms. Miller-Karas 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.
Chief Executive Officer
Michael Sapp, Ph.D.
Michael Sapp is the Chief Executive Officer 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.
Chief Operating Officer
Lindsay Vos, Executive MBA
Lindsay Vos is the Chief Operating Officer of the Trauma Resource Institute. Her responsibilities include managing all finances, developing human resource policies and procedures, and identifying strategies for scaling the organization.
Ms. Vos has an Executive MBA with a concentration in non-profit management from the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in government and economics from Claremont McKenna College. She is also a Senior Certified Professional through the Society of Human Resources Management. Ms. Vos first heard about TRI from a course at Drucker in 2009 and has followed the development of the organization since that time. She has been trained in TRM® level 1.
Ms. Vos previously worked at World Vision International, a large relief, development, and advocacy organization focused on children and dedicated to helping communities overcome poverty and injustice around the world. She worked in global human resources where she was responsible for using analytics and reporting to drive evidence-based decision making through a culture of data excellence. She was also a global project manager for key HR initiatives with significant scope and value to the organization. Previously, Ms. Vos led strategic projects for World Vision’s Global Supply Chain Management department, including playing a key role in developing a new humanitarian industry fourth party logistics service provider and leading global procurement process improvement projects.
As part of her work at World Vision, Ms. Vos served as a peer supporter, providing psychological first aid to staff members going through any kind of stress or trauma, as well as providing staff well-being education to staff members. She was also part of a surge capacity team that was tasked with deploying to emergency responses within 24-48 hours of a major disaster to oversee the set-up of non-food item distributions.
Prior to joining World Vision, Ms. Vos worked in economic litigation consulting, investment management, and financial media and news. Her interest in full-time humanitarian work first began after she volunteered at Ground Zero following the events of September 11, 2001.
Master Trainer Consultant
Jennifer Burton, LMFT
Jennifer Burton is the Master Trainer Consultant for the Trauma Resource Institute. Ms. Burton 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, Ms. Burton previously worked for nine years at Sherman Oaks Hospital Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Program serving adults suffering from chronic mental illness. She has a private practice in Encino specializing in trauma and attachment issues with children, adults, couples, and families. Amongst her many trainings post licensure, Ms. Burton 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.
Ms. Burton 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. Ms. Burton led TRI’s training team in Orlando, Florida, following the Pulse attack.
Ms. Burton 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.
Ms. Burton lives in Reseda, California with her two children, Sam and Sarah.
Director of Program Development
Nick Skenderian, M.Sc.
Nick Skenderian is the Program Manager of the Trauma Resource Institute. Me. Skenderian 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.
Education and Training Manager
Alena Cansler, MSW
Alena Cansler is the Education and Training Manager of the Trauma Resource Institute. Ms. Cansler completed her Bachelor's Degree in Social Work at Fresno State University in 2008 and her Master’s in Social Work (direct practice concentration) and the Early Childhood-Social Emotional Behavioral Regulation Intervention Specialist Certificate (EC-SEBRIS) at San Diego State University in 2014. Ms. Cansler's experience includes working with high risk, developmentally delayed, and foster children ages 1-18 in their homes, schools, and in the community using a wide range of modalities. She is currently registered as an Associate Clinical Social Worker with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and over the past few years has worked as a Mental Health Practitioner with preschool-age children in Head Start.
Ms. Cansler was certified as a Teacher of CRM® and TRM® in 2015 and has been involved with CRM® trainings ever since. She has trained more than 100 professionals working with children from her local community in the CRM® skills. Ms. Cansler has also been involved in trainings with Crestwood Behavioral Health, Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness, Santa Barbara County SELPA office, Aspiranet in Camarillo, CA, and multiple school districts in California. In August 2017 Ms. Cansler was part of the TRI team that trained the Asheville City School District in the CRM® teacher training curriculum. She is currently working as a part-time CRM® Teacher and Facilitator for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley in order to continue to spread the CRM® skills in her community.
In October 2017, Ms. Cansler joined the TRI team in order to assist with curriculum development and other special projects as TRI expands domestically and internationally.
Ms. Cansler lives in Santa Maria California with her husband and family.
Deenise Kosct is the Training Coordinator for Trauma Resource Institute. She is responsible for coordinating TRM and CRM trainings in the United States as well as other countries around the world. She works with the CE companies as well as the participants/staff in receiving their CE’s. She is involved in setting up retreats and training venues, and has also been involved in facilitating CRM Trainings. Ms Kosct has been involved with TRI since 2012 and "loves" being part of the fast growing TRI Team.
Ms. Kosct has always been an advocate for people with learning disabilities. Both of her children were born with learning disabilities and she was active with them from a young age. She also worked as a Teacher's Assistant for children with learning disabilities and has advocated for other parents in helping them with IEPs for their children. In addition, Ms. Kosct has been involved in starting two Parent Participation Schools: one for preschool aged children and the other for elementary school children in the San Francisco area. She successfully homeschooled her two children from grades 6-12 and was actively involved in supporting their participation with sports, volunteering and church activities. Both children have gone on to attend college and both are continuing in their education; one as a teacher and the other as an electrical engineer. She has been married to her husband for 29 years and currently lives in the Sacramento area on 12 beautiful acres. She describes her title in life as "Domestic Social Engineer."
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 coordinates referrals about Trained TRI Practitioners for those who are looking for a TRM- or CRM-trained therapist in their area.