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The 11th Annual Strengthening Families Summit:
Building Resilient Communities

September 13, 2023
Grappone Conference Center, Concord

The Summit was an engaging experience that explored community investment in family strengthening and community-building throughout New Hampshire. Keynote Dr. Wendy Ellis, assistant professor and director of the Center for Community Resilience at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University lead a series of interactive discussions, activities, and workshops that illustrated the improvement of measurable  health outcomes in NH communities.


Summit Objectives


Explore the elements of a resilient community that support the development of strong families and safe, thriving children.


Identify key community and cross-sector partners to develop strategies and tactics to foster supportive environments for children and families.


Highlight the examples happening in New Hampshire.


Understand the “upstream” role of encouraging positive social norms in creating communities where all children have an equal opportunity to thrive.


Consider effective civic and business policies that contribute to community resilience.


Provide an opportunity for parent leaders and practitioners to recharge and recommit to this important work.

Meet our Keynote Speaker


Wendy Ellis, Dr. P.H.  Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The Center for Community Resilience seeks to improve the health of communities by enabling cross-sectoral partners to align policy, program and practice to address adverse childhood experiences in the context of adverse community environments--or as Ellis has coined it "The Pair of ACEs". This innovative framing of ACEs, with an explicit focus on equity and prevention, has had a substantial influence on local initiatives, programs, public health initiatives and local, state, and federal policy. Using the Pair of ACEs framing, Building Community Resilience networks have successfully led systems and policy change focused on addressing long-standing economic, social and health disparities by partnering with community, integrating service delivery and building political will for change.

Community Resilience in Action in New Hampshire Panel

Eric Adams
Detective - Laconia Police Department
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Detective Eric Adams is a 22 year veteran of Law Enforcement. He has been with the Laconia Police Department since 2012 and is assigned to the Bureau of Criminal Investigations as the Prevention, Enforcement and Treatment Coordinator. This program was created to work directly with individuals and their families who are struggling with substance use and/or mental health disorders as a support network helping to navigate barriers. In 2018 Detective Adams helped implement the A.C.E.R.T. Program in the Laconia community. This program focuses on connecting youth and their families with resources and services through referrals from police departments. In his current role, Detective Adams is working with Amoskeag Health to implement the P.E.T. Program and A.C.E.R.T. Program in 8 communities state-wide.

Victoria Adewumi 
Community Liaison/Community Health Worker - City of Manchester Health Department

Victoria is the Community Liaison for the City of Manchester Health Department. Victoria is responsible for establishing partnerships between local service agencies, nonprofits, hospitals, faith, business and higher education communities to strengthen overall community coordination to reduce health disparities, with a focus on adolescents. She plans and delivers resident leadership programs, leads City-wide initiatives to support the well-being of opportunity youth, and health equity initiatives and training for the Manchester Health Department. Victoria also provide ongoing support for Community Health Workers (CHWs) based in schools and other settings throughout NH, by creating professional development programs, peer connect groups, and CHW program evaluation. Victoria has spent over 12 years working with grassroots organizations that serve New American youth, and is active in helping to build the community and organizational capacity in Manchester and beyond to help young people thrive. 

Brenda Guggisberg
Executive Director - The Upper Room Resource Center
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Erik Shessler, MD
Pediatrics - Dartmouth Health
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Erik Shessler - MD is a general pediatrician who works in Manchester NH. He is the associate medical director for Dartmouth Hitchcock Manchester/Bedford and the immediate Past president for the NH Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Afternoon Workshops

Brenda Guggisberg has been on a journey of residential, institutional, public, and private school work, plus, 21 years in a family resource center.  Great mentors have informed the ideas and strategies she holds today. Early work with industry leaders helped provide a depth of knowledge about person-centered planning. Most importantly those who have allowed her to support a piece of their journey have given her the truest lessons in compassion, humility, resilience, and love. Her 3 heroes, David, Jenny, and Dakota, have taught Brenda how to "practice" being human and walking with.

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Unveiling the Power of Community Building through 'We are the North Country' Campaign
Presented by Jen Buteau, Mollie White, Fay Pierce

This presentation will look at community, and how the “We are the North Country” campaign was built through cross-sector partnerships. They will talk about the work that went in to developing a campaign that brought together parents, schools, social service organizations, philanthropies, businesses, and others, and united them around a common goal of supporting the North Country. They will discuss the power of collaboration, and how, during the construction of the campaign, it fostered a sense of unity and shared purpose. Participants will learn that when they engage all sectors of their community, they can build a dynamic network that leverages the strengths, resources, and expertise of each group!

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Jen Buteau - Consultant / Strategy Manager - Impact Consulting 

Jen Buteau brings over a decade of nonprofit experience, focusing on genuine family engagement and leadership. Formerly the Family Support Director of The Family Resource Center, she now runs Impact Consulting and serves as a strategy manager for The Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families. Growing up in the North Country and raising her own family there, the "We are the North Country" campaign holds deep personal meaning for Jen. Her dedication lies in centering families and empowering parents and caregivers to shape coalition initiatives. With 20+ years in the nonprofit sector, Jen is a trusted advisor and consultant. She understands the unique challenges nonprofits face and guides them towards their full potential. Jen's commitment to social impact fuels her drive to empower mission-driven organizations.

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Fay Pierce - Parent Partner - Family Resource Center Gorham

Fay Pierce is a mother with lived experience in many areas that will be discussed. Fay is ten years sober, in long term recovery as a "disabled" single mother of two. Due to this lived experience she has worked as a community listener for The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation surveying parents across the state in barriers to success then, analyzed all of the data to create a strategic planning report. Fay has done the same work for CCAOA Childcare Aware of America and is now part of their parent advisory board. Her full-time position is with The Family Resource Center as a Parent Partner supporting parents in their reunification journey. She is trained in different areas of mental health, behavioral health, and trauma informed care, as well as some early childhood education, and Substance use disorders as a CRSW certified recovery support worker helping parents and families towards reunification. Fay is also a Health and Human Services Assistant licensed through The United States Department Of Labor. 

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Mollie White - Lead Consultant - Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families

Mollie has been the lead consultant for the Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families since 2018.  The work of the Coalition is to facilitate early childhood system changes with a cross-sector of partners to maintain and expand a comprehensive and integrated system of supports for young children birth to 8 years.  Mollie is the co-author of the State of Child Care in Coos and co-founder of WREN - Women's Rural Entrepreneurial Network

Refugees in New Hampshire: Building Community
Presented by  Richard Minard , Vijay Bhujel, Eric Irakiza, Lillya Mavevsky, and Kateryna Nazarova

Thousands of people have come to New Hampshire as refugees, but outside of Manchester, Nashua, and Concord, most New Hampshire residents were unaware of them until Afghans and Ukrainians arrived. Employers across the state want them, but don't always know what it takes to recruit and retain them. Most communities seek their youth, diversity, and vitality, but are unsure about how to bridge language and cultural barriers. We will focus on what it takes to make connections that will support New American families and enrich the communities in which they live through small group conversations hosted by Building Community in NH staff.

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Rick Minard, Executive Director, Building Community in New Hampshire

For nearly five years, I've managed Building Community in New Hampshire, a nonprofit organization that helps refugees navigate their way to safe, healthy, prosperous, productive, and connected lives in New Hampshire. My staff, all refugees themselves, work with families as they try to get established, cope with language barriers, and relatively low incomes, and watch their school-aged children transform into Americans. We have also watched as many New Americans leave New Hampshire for cheaper housing in other states. Our challenge is to make it possible for them to stay. In previous work, I was deeply involved in housing policy (at the NH Community Loan Fund) and in a broad range of issues relating to families and children (at the NH Center for Public Policy Studies). 

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Vijay Bhujel, Deputy Director, Building Community in New Hampshire

Vijay became the deputy director of BCNH in May.  He is is originally from Bhutan and spent 22 years in Jhapa Refugee Camp, Nepal, awaiting resettlement before coming to the United States in 2012.  He was trained in Nepal and India as a math and physics teacher. Upon arrival in New Hampshire, he worked at Wal-Mart and as a substitute teacher in the Concord School District.  He joined the staff at Ascentria Care Alliance, a refugee resettlement agency in Concord, in 2013, and served there as a community health worker, case manager, and team manager until May.

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Eric Irakiza, Case Manager, Building Community in New Hampshire

Eric joined the BCNH staff in 2020 as a case manager working with the Congolese community and other African refugees in Manchester and Nashua. His work at BCNH includes outreach for the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eric came to New Hampshire as a refugee in 2014. While a refugee in Rwanda, he earned an associate’s degree in computer science. He learned English as a student in the criminal justice program at NHTI.

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Liliya Mayevsky, Case Manager, Building Community in New Hampshire

Liliya joined the BCNH case-management team in June to deliver a wide range of services to her fellow Ukrainians.  She came to Manchester in 1996 as a refugee from Ukraine with her parents, two siblings, and two grandmothers. Liliya married another refugee from Ukraine and they have raised three children in Derry. Liliya was a case manager at the International Institute of New England (Manchester) from 2005 through 2008, helping resettle refugees from many nations.  She went on to serve as a legal, medical, and business translator and interpreter and has worked at Fidelity Investments as a 401k specialist.

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Kateryna Nazarova, Case Manager, Building Community in New Hampshire

Kate is one of the hundreds of Ukrainians who sought safety in New Hampshire in 2022.  She has lived in Exeter since August 2022 and immediately began using her strong English skills and business experience to help other Ukrainians get established here.  She joined the BCNH staff on January 3, 2023, with a focus on supporting families enrolling their children in schools. That part-time assignment became full-time work on May 31, 2023, when the State of New Hampshire contracted with BCNH to provide comprehensive resettlement services to Ukrainians.

Fun & Games for Mental Health: Games to promote individual and family resilience through play
Presented by  Loretta Brady Ph.D. and the Social Equity Lab

This workshop will feature a brief review of games in promoting mental health and family resilience. Examples of commercially available games to promote connection and resilience will be shared. Original games designed by the Community Resilience & Social Equity Lab will be available to play. A closing reflective debrief to review important considerations when using games with families and individuals will be provided. 


Loretta L.C. Brady, Ph.D., - Professor of Psychology - Saint Anselm's College 

Loretta is a clinical psychologist, writer, and Professor of psychology at Saint Anselm College where she directs the Community Resilience & Social Equity Lab.  Loretta is a licensed clinical psychologist and Professor of psychology at Saint Anselm College where she directs Community Resilience and Social Equity Lab (CRSEL). She previously served as co-director for the Center for Teaching Excellence. She serves on the boards of several task forces and local non-profits including youth serving organizations and healthcare systems. She is the author of Bad Ass & Bold: A Transformative Approach to Planning with Your Loves, Dreams, and Realities in Mind ( Her award-winning writing has been recognized by the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Jack Jones Literary Arts, and the New England Press Association. Her work has appeared in New Hampshire Business Review, Business NH Magazine, and she has been a source for the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post. She lives in Manchester, NH, with her family and dog, Zelda.

Impact Monadnock Business Ambassadors - Family Friendly Practices
Presented by Mandy Grenier, Emily Hall Warren, Heather Bell , Dominic Perkins

Join Mandy Grenier in a joint presentation with Impact Monadnock Business Ambassadors (IMBA) sharing how they launched the program in 2017 and leverage its vast pool of expertise in business to support other local businesses in creating family-friendly practices and support early childhood development through their StartSmart Birth Gifts program. The Impact Monadnock Business Ambassadors are a group of business leaders who work with Monadnock United Way’s early childhood initiative, Impact Monadnock. They are committed to bringing more family-friendly workplace policies to our region. These policies are proven to enhance employee morale, improve retention and help recruitment efforts. Workers in all industries value employers that offer flexibility and recognize the importance of work-life balance.

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Mandy Grenier - Program Manager - Impact Monadnock

Prior to joining Monadnock United Way, Mandy worked at a school for eleven years serving children from preschool through eighth grade that has prepared her well for her role at MUW. She also spent three years as an assistant preschool teacher before transitioning to administration managing marketing, communications, and welcoming new families.

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Emily Hall Warren - Director of Administration - W.S. Badger

Emily Hall Warren is the Director of Administration at the W.S. Badger Company, a family owned and family friendly business built around healthy living in the workplace and in the community. Badger is known for its certified organic and truly natural personal care products, employs 85 full- and part-time workers, and is a certified B Corporation – which adds transparency to the company’s social and environmental business practices. Prior to Badger, Emily specialized in training and Organizational Advancement for the Claremont Savings Bank and more recently The Timken Company.Emily has an extensive background in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP) and a Master’s Degree in Organization and Management from Antioch New England University. She serves as a Board Member for Greater Monadnock Collaborative - Regional Chamber of Commerce, as well a member of Impact Monadnock Business Ambassadors. 

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Heather Bell - Vice President - Electronic Imaging Materials, Inc

Heather is Vice President and Co-Owner of Electronic Imaging Materials, Inc. in Keene, NH, and a member of the Impact Monadnock Business Ambassadors. She is committed to improving families’ lives through best practices in business policy and community involvement. She draws on her experiences of owning and operating a business with 45 employees, while parenting three children and fostering several others in her community.

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Dominic Perkins - Senior VP of Retail Administration - Savings Bank of Walpole

Dominic Perkins is an 18-year veteran of Savings Bank of Walpole. He is a member of the bank’s Senior Management team and various bank and holding company committees. He is a graduate of Keene State College and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking and has led the SBW Retail Department since April 2015. He recently completed the year-long Leadership New Hampshire program and is a past participant of Leadership Monadnock.

He is an active member of the Monadnock community, and has lived and worked in Keene for the better part of 35 years. He is also a committed board member and volunteer for various organizations and events in the area. His current board activity includes the Historical Society of Cheshire County, Impact Monadnock Business Ambassadors, Southwestern Community Services, Southwest Region Planning Commission Brownfields Advisory Committee, and the Spofford Yacht Club.           

He is a veteran of the US Navy where he served in our country’s submarine program in Hawaii and across the Pacific. He is an avid sailor and enjoys international travel with his family. He lives in Keene with his wife, Dierdre and two daughters, Grace and Marilyn. 

Housing Opportunities and Challenges, an Interactive Panel Discussion
Presented by  - Rob Dapice, Tom Furtado and Sarah Marchant
Facilitated by  - Becky Berk, M.Ed.

The lack of affordable housing in NH is a problem from multiple perspectives: economic development, community health, family stability and more.  Join this interactive panel discussion on the root causes of the current housing crisis, its ripple effects through communities, current resources and approaches,  and core actions that participants can take at the local, regional and state level to address the problem.


Rob Dapice, Executive Director/CEO, NH Housing Finance Authority

Rob joined New Hampshire Housing in 2014 and served in various roles in the Multi-family Housing Division until 2021.  Before that, Dapice was a project manager for North Branch Construction. He also was a captain in the U.S. Army and served in Iraq. 

Dapice serves on various boards, including the Board of Directors of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, Waypoint Board of Trustees, and his town’s Planning Board. A resident of Contoocook, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, and a master of business administration degree from the University of New Hampshire. He is a member of the Leadership New Hampshire Class of 2017 and a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School.


Tom Furtado, President and CEO, CATCH Neighborhood Housing

Tom serves as CATCH's President and CEO. He is responsible for the overall operations and management of CATCH Neighborhood Housing, Alliance Asset Management, and Impact Development Associates. 

Tom joined the team in February 2017 when he was hired as CATCH's Senior Vice President, Director of Real Estate Development and Asset Management. Tom brings over 25 years of experience in finance and real estate knowledge from working for various companies across Southern New England. 

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Sarah Marchant, Chief of Staff and VP of ROC-NH, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund

Sarah Marchant, AICP, joined the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund as Chief of Staff in 2021. She is responsible for business management, executive communications, and cross-organizational strategic initiatives. n 2022, Sarah was elected to the American Planning Associations AICP Commission for Region 5 and serves as the Professional Development Officer of the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA) (having served as president from 2015 to 2021). She also serves on the Executive Committee of the New Hampshire Planners Association (NHPA) as Federal Legislative Liaison and served as President from 2010-2014. In 2019, Sarah was appointed to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA) Board of Directors.


Becky Berk, M.Ed. Impact Director and Interim Programs Director at NH Children's Trust

Becky Berk re-joined the New Hampshire Children's Trust team in 2020 after serving with the agency from 2010 to 2014. Becky has a 30-year history of working with NH non-profits whose mission is supporting children, families, and education in the broadest sense of the word. With a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College, Becky initially taught physics and biology in Cairo, Egypt. With a return to New Hampshire and a Master’s degree in Organizational Development and Leadership from Antioch University New England, she morphed into all aspects of non-profit program management. Becky has two grown children and lives with her husband in the NH countryside. When not reading or bird-watching, she can be found solving games of logic and puzzles of all kinds.




Welcome and Keynote




Panel and Interactive Discussions








Plenary and Reflection

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Dr. Wendy Ellis delivered her Keynote speech.


Thank you to our Sponsors!

Community Sponsors

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Family Sponsors

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Friend Sponsors

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Neighborhood Sponsors
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For sponsorship opportunities CLICK HERE, or please contact Diane Hastings, Community Relations Coordinator at

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