Center for Optimal Brain Integration®
Dr. LaWanda Wesley
Dr. LaWanda Wesley works at the Child Care Resource Center as Director of Government Relations. She helped to form a policy coalition, Black Californians United for Early Care and Education that centers a 10 Point Plan for children, families and the workforce. Dr. Wesley also co-directed a statewide leadership fellowship titled the California Consortium for Equity in Early Childhood Education Fellowship, and was the Co-Founder and Co-Director for the Center for Equity in Early Childhood Education (CEECE) in service of disrupting race inequities at its root cause. Dr. Wesley was voted and appointed to the California-Hawaii NAACP State Executive Committee as the Community Coordinator Chair, and as of October 2022 was also appointed as Education Chair. In 2021, Dr. Wesley was selected by the National Black Child Development Institute as one of 14 Policy Fellows across the country for 2021-2023 cohort. Lastly, she is the co-author for both Culturally Responsive Self-Care Practices for Early Educators and Trauma-Responsive Practices for Early Childhood Leaders: Creating and Sustaining Healing Engaged Organizations. To date, Dr. Wesley continues to advocate and remain in the service of children and families most impacted by historical and structural oppression, and yet sees them most at-promise.
Valentina Torres, MFT
Valentina Torres MA, LMFT is the Co-Clinical Case Manager of the Families in Transition Program with Family Paths. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. Valentina is bilingual and speaks Spanish fluently. She has worked with various populations doing Early Child Mental Health consultation in preschool, family and child psychotherapy, individual psychotherapy, developmental playgroups and parenting groups. Additionally, she provides reflective supervision to early childhood clinicians. She is an authorized and mentor trainer with the Center for Optimal Brain Integration. She is certified as a Circle of Security Educator, a Fussy Baby Specialist with Fussy Baby Network from the Erikson Institute and an authorized trainer and coach of the CA CSEFEL Teaching Pyramid. Valentina received her BA in Theater Arts from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2005. She received her master’s in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Drama Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2009. Valentina is deeply passionate about providing high quality services to our most marginalized communities to heal trauma and create change by uplifting the voices of our young children, their families and the people and systems that support them. She is a mentor level trainer with the Center for Optimal Brain Integration®.
Dr. Crystal McClendon-Gourdine
Dr. Crystal McClendon-Gourdine, is an educational consultant lending over 25 years of experience in early childhood, K-12, and post-secondary education to partnerships with non-profit, district, and private early childhood programs. Prior to consulting, Crystal directed a Spanish-immersion family childcare program for 10 years and also served as the Senior Research Associate and Family Childcare Specialist for WestEd's Center for Child and Family Studies in partnership with several California Department of Education projects. Since that time Crystal provides consultation to early care and learning state and local organizations offering program assessment, professional learning communities and coaching in early childhood through a race equity lens.
Formerly a high school teacher and college professor, Crystal describes herself as a thoughtful guide and mentor to early childhood educators, administrators and stakeholders. Through her masterful coaching and facilitation Crystal has provided direct support in more than 100 infant/toddler and preschool programs. She holds both a doctorate and master's degree in Human Development/Educational Psychology from University of Maryland, College Park; a master's degree in Leadership in Early Childhood Education from Mills College; and a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Spelman College.
Rainbow Markell is a long-term trainer and Early Care and Education specialist. With her Master’s in Non-Profit Administration and years of experience with young children, she brings deep understanding of social emotional and a trauma lens to everything she does. She is currently the Trauma-Informed Care Training & Coaching Coordinator for California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Trauma-Informed Training is her passion and she is involved with many efforts to promote trauma informed care and resilience including running a Training of Trainer’s certification program for the CA Resource and Referral Network, delivering Trauma-informed training with a specialized lens for the LGBTQ community and race equity. Rainbow is authorized and a Mentor Level trainer with the Center for Optimal Brain Integration®.
Silvia Bonilla has over 30 years of experience in the early childhood field. She is bilingual and bicultural and is most proud of being a grandmother! She is currently working on her bachelor’s degree and maintains an associate degree and is credentialed with a teaching permit and site supervisor permit. She is certified as a trainer in Abriendo Puertas, Touch Points, Teaching Pyramid Social Emotional Curriculum, Protective Factors and Strengthening Families Framework and Trauma-Responsive and Healing Engaged Modules 100 and 200 with the Center for Optimal Brain Integration®. She is certified with an Adult Education Teaching Credential. Silvia is experienced in planning and facilitating curriculum for children ages 2-5, parent support groups and parent training as well as training early childhood teachers. Silvia knows how to mobilize community support in times of stress, and she is a grounding force for those who are experiencing individual and collective trauma.
Jennifer Silverstein is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and California endorsed Infant Family Mental Health Specialist and Reflective Practice Facilitator. She has over 2 decades of experience in fostering early childhood mental health. She specializes in work with young children with complex developmental trauma and works extensively with children in the foster care system. She provides dyadic (relational) therapy to children and their caregivers, designed to promote healthy attachments and support mutual regulation. She provides mental health consolation to preschool providers. Jennifer has advanced training in the impact of childhood adversity on the developing brain. She is a frequent lecturer on Trauma Informed Care and is actively involved in community efforts to promote early childhood mental health through public education and the strengthening of service systems. Jenni is authorized by the Center for Optimal Brain Integration to train on Module 100 in Trauma-Responsive and Resilience Building Practices.
Jill St. Peter
Jill St. Peter has worked in early childhood education for over 30 years, gaining experience through her positions as a teacher, director, trainer, and quality improvement coach, and most recently, as a trainer for COBI. She holds BA in child development and is currently pursuing her MA in early childhood education with a focus on trauma-informed education. Her commitment to education is a result of her search for continued professional development in early care and education, which drives her passion for assisting others in meeting their career goals while increasing the quality of the services they provide.
Jill continually coaches early learning providers through a trauma-responsive lens and provides support to teachers, administrators, and other staff that encourages the development of trauma-informed mindsets, systems, practices, and school-community partnerships.
Jill is an active member of the California Coaching Advisory Committee, the Sonoma County Coaching Collaborative, and the Hope and Healing Collaborative allowing her to continue to lead systematic change and provide support to early childhood providers in her community.
Jill is inspired daily by her husband and daughter. In her free time, Jill likes to binge-watch baking shows, explore local wineries, and hike with her pit bull, Faith.
Lisa Lewis-Cogswell, MS, MA, has been a speaker, trainer and coach for individuals and groups for over 20 years. She has taught meditation, mindfulness, and stress management, among other topics in the fields of personal growth and well-being. Lisa has advanced degrees in Clinical as well as Transpersonal Psychology, and did her undergraduate work in Human Development. She has experience training on mindfulness and self-care with a trauma informed lens.