Keynote Speakers

Dr. Patricia Watson, Ph.D 

Patricia Watson, Ph.D. is a senior educational specialist for the National Center for PTSD, and assistant professor at Dartmouth Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry. Her education includes a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from The Catholic University, internship and eight years of service in the Navy, and a postgraduate fellowship in pediatric psychology at Harvard Medical School. 

She has co-edited three books on disaster behavioral health interventions, and co-developed educational training materials in post-disaster, military, and first responder settings, such as the Psychological First Aid (PFA) Field Guide and the Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) Manual, Combat Operational Stress First Aid (COSFA) Field Guide, as well as Curbside Manner and Stress First Aid for Firefighters and Emergency Services Personnel, law enforcement personnel, and rail personnel.



 Joshua L. Miller, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Joshua Miller is a professor at the School for Social Work, Smith College, Massachusetts . He teaches courses on psychosocial capacity building,  anti-racism course and cultivating client resistance. He has responded to and served as a consultant for many disasters, including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Aurora shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Asian Tsunami, the Haitian earthquake, armed conflict in Northern Uganda and the Sichuan province earthquake in China. In 2008, Dr. Miller was appointed as an Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University where he co-teaches every year.  He serves as the principal investigator for the U.S. Department of State-funded Professional Fellows Program: Tolerance and Conflict Resolution in Uganda and Rwanda.

Dr. Miller has authored Psychosocial Capacity Building in Response to Disasters, a comprehensive book that integrates Western mental health approaches and international models of psychosocial capacity building within a social ecology framework, providing practitioners and volunteers with a blueprint for individual, family, group, and community interventions. He has also co-authored Racism in the United States: Implications for the Helping Professions with Ann Marie Garran, and co-edited School Violence and Children in Crisis. 



Laurie Pearce, MSW, MA, PhD, RSW 

Laurie Pearce has specialized in disaster management and traumatic stress for over 25 years. She is a member of the World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM), the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists, the International Disaster Sociological Association, the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network, and is a volunteer with the Disaster Psychosocial Services Program.

Laurie is the Research Chair at JIBC, an Associate Faculty member at Royal Roads University, and an adjunct faculty member at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. She is completing her research at JIBC on the Simulation Training and Exercise Collaboratory (SIMTEC): Enhancing CBRNE Psychosocial Capacity and Capability Management project. This $3.6 million project has explored the stressors and strategies for dealing with the trauma experienced by first responders and others in Emergency Operations Centres and in the community. She is currently working on the Aboriginal Disaster Resiliency Project.

She was re-elected to Canada’s National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2014 and chairs the Resilient Communities Working Group.

She is a partner, with her husband, Larry Pearce, at Pearces 2 Consulting Corporation based in North Vancouver and provides consultation on business continuity, emergency management and exercises.



Jeffrey Stiefel - Executive Coordinator, Climate Change and Human Health


Dr. Jeffrey Stiefel is the Executive Coordinator, Climate Change and Human Health within the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs. In this role, Dr. Stiefel provides guidance and direction for the development of a National Community Health Resilience Initiative.

The intent of the Initiative is to operationalize Community Health Resilience by developing a Guide and Toolkit to coordinate and integrate the US Nation’s Community Health resilience activities in cooperation with the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Federal, State/regional/Local and Tribal partners, as well as leaders within the Private Sector, Educational Institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations. He recently started a Children’s Disaster Resilience Work Group, Psychosocial Resilience in Disaster Group, and a Geriatric/elder Resilience group, bringing interested practitioners together to discuss their emerging or current work in order to facilitate collaboration. Dr. Stiefel was recently detailed to the DHS Resilience Policy Office to provide expertise on health resilience and assist in drafting the DHS Resilience Strategy and DHS Resilience Strategy Implementation Plan. He was instrumental in drafting the updated DHS Climate Change Action Plan. 

Dr. Stiefel retired from the United States Army in 2004 after 31 years of service.  He participated in a variety of scientific, acquisition and operationally based efforts.  Dr. Stiefel was also assigned as Executive Officer to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for the Elimination of Chemical Weapons and as the Special Assistant for Chemical and Biological Affairs to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology).