2016 Conference Workshop Presenters

“Working with the Homeless:

How to Survive & Thrive in the Trenches”

June 13-14, 2016
Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA

Workshop presenters at Saffron Strand’s 7th Annual Homeless Workforce Conference are nationally renown and San Francisco Bay Area authorities in services for vulnerable populations. Their brief biographies appear below.

Matt Bennett

“Trauma Informed Care” & “Trauma Informed Excellence — TIE — Leadership”

As the Chief Innovation Officer of the Coldspring Center in Denver, Colorado, Matt Bennett specializes in the development of trauma informed care, quality improvement, and results-based leadership and clinical practices. With an MA, MBA, and nearly 20 years of experience improving the social, emotional, and physical health of individuals and communities, Matt is a dynamic thinker and trainer. In addition to the work at Coldspring Center, Matt’s expertise has taken him around the country to speak on topics including trauma, leadership, quality improvement, Motivational Interviewing, and resiliency. Matt has successfully combined his academic pursuits as a researcher and published author with his practical experience in leading nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to develop researched based solutions to improve the health of individuals, organizations, and systems.

Susan Forster

“Workplace Bullying: What It Is and What To Do About It” — Parts 1 & 2

Susan Forster is the founder and principal of Core Change Work Consulting, which works with Senior Leaders and Human Resource professionals in the Bay Area to implement research-based programs and best practices that prevent and respond to workplace bullying and other forms of harassment. Susan provides change leadership services that promote a happy, productive, and healthy workplace while saving the costs due to counterproductive behavior. She works with government agencies, private corporations, associations, and non-profits. Her clients include The Bar Association of San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Planned Parenthood, and East Bay Municipal Water District. Susan is certified as a Senior Professional Human Resource Professional (SPHR) and as a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). She is an affiliate of the Workplace Bully Institute and a member of the International Association of Workplace Bulling and Harassment. Susan has Masters in Education and is a graduate from Boston University. She is the author of Transformational Leadership: A Guide to Developing Your Leadership Skills Using Personality Type.

Benita Hopkins

“The Power of Music”

Benita Hopkins is a performing artist whose career includes music instruction and acclaim as an activist for human rights, safety, and dignity. Her experience in bringing public awareness and targeted education to the crisis of human trafficking includes working collaboratively with more than 30 agencies in the greater Bay Area. Last year, she received the Abolitionist of the Year Award from the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. Currently she is the Director of Education & Community Activism at Love Never Fails, the non-profit in Dublin, California dedicated to the restoration, education, and protection of those involved in domestic sex trafficking or at risk of becoming involved. Benita also is a member of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking and San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. Since her youth, during education in Bible Studies at Sierra Pacific Bible College, and throughout her career as performer, educator, and activist, Benita has shared the power of music.

Judith Jones

“Who, Me? Take Care of Me?”

Judith Jones is a Drama and Expressive Arts Therapist with a Master of Fine Arts degree and more than 30 years of experience working in Community Mental Health. She was part of the Expressive Arts team at West County Day Treatment in Richmond from 1987 to 2006 and worked with mentally ill inmates at Martinez Detention Center from 2007 to 2010. Judith taught Clinical Supervision in the Expressive Arts Therapy program at California Institute of Integral Studies from 2005 to 2007 and has been supervising students, trainees and interns for many years. She currently maintains a private practice in Berkeley and continues to work with Contra Costa County consumers through the Contra Costa County Health Plan.

Gregory Kloehn

“Homeless Homes Project: Innovative, Mobile Shelters for the Homeless”

Gregory Kloehn is an artist and tiny house builder in Oakland, California, whose unique designs and use of “found materials” caught national attention in 2011, when he built a home in Brooklyn, New York out of a dumpster. The Dumpster House was outfitted with granite countertops, hardwood floors, a rooftop deck, and plumbing. By contrast, the homes he donates to the homeless in the Bay Area often incorporate illegally dumped materials and usually cost less than $100 to build. Gregory has an art degree and extensive experience in conventional house construction. His Homeless Homes Project has enabled him to combine his love of building with the creation of art and the joy of helping others.

Paul Garber

“Drum Circle: Tuning Into Your Playfulness”


“The Stories We Carry: A Circle for Catch and Release”

Paul Garber, BA, MA is a Certified Co-Active Life Coach for individuals and teams. He has been cross-trained in several artistic disciplines and therapeutic modalities, both here in California and in Paris, France. Complimenting his coaching business, Paul facilitates healing drum circles and circles for therapeutic creative writing. Each of Paul’s experiential workshops seeks to build upon a person’s capacities for recollecting, reconnecting, and re-vitalizing unique, personal, creative potential. Paul says his workshops “hopefully empower us to engage with greater presence that informs the healing, transformative work we offer to communities in need.” He is married to Siu Ming Leung Garber, who presents the “Artistic Healing” workshop.

Siu Ming Leung Garber

“Artistic Healing”

Siu Ming Leung Garber was born in Hong Kong when it was a British colony. She was one of six daughters in a Chinese family that celebrated Chinese culture but also participated in multi-cultural community events. At the age of 13, she became an apprentice at Atelier 341, the studio of master artist and professor Michael Wong Cheung. Siu Ming became his assistant and later a lead teacher in the studio. In 1987, she moved to Paris, where she studied with the renowned printmaker, Stanley William Hayter at his Atelier 17, and met her husband, Paul Garber. Paul introduced her to the field of Art Therapy — how visual art can be used to treat and support people with psychological problems and emotional distress. Returning to the U.S., Siu Ming began her career in therapeutic art, including the practice of Chromotherapy, Transformational Self Portrait Therapy, and Self-Discovery Art Therapy. She also founded Soluna Visions in Oakland, which is both a multi-media art studio and a vehicle for art education and community involvement in creative expression.”

Amy Lynch

“Somatic Movement for Self-Care and Care for Others”

Amy Lynch is the Founder and President of ARM of Care in Northern California. ARM (Art, Recreation, Movement) of Care partners with agencies serving commercially sexually exploited youth and those at risk for exploitation to bring trauma-informed creative arts programs and activities for restoration and empowerment. Amy’s undergraduate work is in Recreational Therapy and her graduate work is in Movement Therapy. She has worked for 30 years bringing inspired approaches to those she serves. She has practiced and continues to practice expressive arts therapies as a tool for her own healing and offers the same to those she serves. “Because the trauma is unspeakable,” Amy says, “so is the remedy….”

Chysandra Nair

“Labyrinths for Healing, Meditation, Relaxation”

Chysandra Nair is the Program Manager and a founding Director of Saffron Strand, Inc. based in Point Richmond. Chi works full-time as a dispatcher at the Richmond Police Department. Prior to moving to California, Chi worked in Wisconsin as the statewide coordinator of the Minority Counselor Training Institute of the Wisconsin Association on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and as a laboratory technician in the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. In volunteer work, she has helped rebuild homes destroyed by a hurricane, cooked meals in a center for abused children, and helped the victims of vehicle collisions, heart attacks, and attempted suicides as a firefighter and emergency medical technician. Working with the homeless members of Saffron Strand, Chi helps them use their time productively, improve their social and vocations skills, and interact in positive ways with their communities. She takes a special interest in the power of labyrinths for relaxation, meditation, and healing.

Larry Robbin

“Management Strategies for Reducing Stress and Burnout among Homeless Service Provider Personnel”

Larry Robbin, Executive Director of Robbin and Associates based in Oakland, has over 45 years of diverse experience in workforce development and social services. He is widely regarded as a national expert in the workforce field with extensive experience working with people who are homeless and improving the programs that serve them. He has experience as a direct service provider, program manager, program designer, staff trainer, and management consultant. His services have been used by the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as non-profits and local government agencies.

Vanessa Scott

“Billowing: Connecting to Your Place of Peace”

Vanessa Scott is the founder and leader of the volunteer non-profit organization Love Never Fails, based in Dublin, California. Her expertise in helping people connect to their “place of peace” stems from her success in restoring, educating, and protecting youth involved or at risk of becoming involved in domestic sex trafficking. In 2011, Vanessa learned that one of her young high school students was being exploited and “sold” throughout the Bay Area. After consulting her spiritual leader, she rallied 150 volunteers and founded and launched Love Never Fails or LNF. Since then, LNF has fed, clothed, and prayed with thousands of homeless youth and other vulnerable people. LNF also opened I AM House, a much-needed safe house and emergency shelter for women and their children. In 2013, Vanessa received the Jefferson Award for her frontline work against human trafficking and modern-day slavery and in 2015 she received the Jesse Curtis Award for Homelessness Advocacy in Action.