First 5 Mendocino Hosts Another Successful Children’s Mental Health Summit

Contact: Megan Carson, Community Education Manager 
(707) 462-4453 |

Ukiah, CA – We are thrilled to announce the incredible success of the State of the Child Summit, which took place on March 6 and 7 at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center. The summit brought together nearly 150 professionals, representing 42 different agencies, serving Mendocino County families to hear from renowned experts and speakers, including Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, MaryCatherine McDonald, PhD, Georgie Wisen-Vincent, and Gaelin Elmore, to address critical issues related to children’s mental health and well-being.

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is an internationally recognized speaker, psychotherapist, and co-author of New York Times best-selling books, like The Whole Brain Child and No Drama Discipline. For this presentation, she primarily pulled from her book The Power of Showing Up to provide valuable insights and practical tips to parents, educators, and professionals on better supporting and understanding the children in their care. “Dr. Bryson is engaging, down-to-earth and so relatable as a fellow parent, that I could listen to her for hours and not notice the time passing,” shared Megan Carson, Community Education Manager with First 5 Mendocino.

Dr. MC McDonald, trauma researcher, professor and author of Unbroken: The Trauma Response is Never Wrong, brought a unique blend of academic insight and practical and personal wisdom to the summit, focusing on empowering us as individuals and professionals who work with families in our efforts to destigmatize trauma, build resilience, and foster mental well-being. “There is so much hope in MC’s research on trauma and healing from trauma in ways that you really are empowered to take back your life,” expressed one participant following the training session with Dr. McDonald.

Georgie Wisen- Vincent is a licensed child and adolescent psychotherapist who has focused her work on helping kids grow in confidence, character, and creativity using a child-centered approach to therapy. She specializes in play and creative arts therapies for children from the early years to adolescence. One participant shared: “I love how interactive and fun Georgie’s session was, illustrating with playful examples how to use specific toys and props in properly implementing play therapy strategies that are child-directed and trauma-informed.”

Gaelin Elmore, professional speaker, retired National Football League athlete, and former foster youth, is on a mission to erase the belonging gap for youth with adverse backgrounds. His personal journey and advocacy for children’s mental health highlighted the significance of empathy, support, and resilience in healing and recovery. “Gaelin’s story is so inspiring! I can’t listen to his personal experiences navigating the difficulties he experienced growing up in multiple foster homes and not come away inspired to show up with more kindness and compassion for all kids, especially those who may need it a little more,” shared First 5 Mendocino’s Executive Director, Townley Saye.

The summit featured a wide range of topics, including empowering individuals and communities to destigmatize trauma, nurturing resilient and emotionally healthy children, and integrating traumatic experiences in healthier ways. The knowledge gained and the connections made during this event will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for all children in Mendocino County. Townley Saye wrapped up her vision of the conference: “we are ready to take on the charge from Dr. Bryson to become ‘integrationists’, pulling all of this information together and as a community of professionals and partners across multiple agencies, let this conference inspire us to be even more effective in the work we do, improving the systems and outcomes for all children in our community.”

First 5 Mendocino would like to express gratitude to all the speakers and participants for their invaluable contributions, so grateful and hopeful that this summit will serve as a catalyst for positive change in our community. We also extend gratitude to the Ukiah Valley Conference Center, who hosted the event, Kristin Gilmore of Potter Valley Café Catering, who provided the catering, Holiday Inn Express and Vichy Springs Resort, who provided accommodations for our presenters, community partners, and all participants who contributed to the success of the Children’s Mental Health Summit. First 5 Mendocino remains committed to advocating for the well-being of children and plans to continue to host informative events that empower individuals and communities.

For more information about First 5 Mendocino and its upcoming initiatives, please visit


About First 5 Mendocino
First 5 Mendocino is a leading organization dedicated to improving the lives of children ages zero to five in Mendocino County, California. Through innovative programs, strategic partnerships, and community engagement, First 5 Mendocino promotes early childhood development, supports parents and caregivers, and advocates for policies that prioritize the needs of young children.

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