Our Trauma Informed Care Team

Karen Johnson, MSW, LCSW, Director of Trauma-Informed Services

Areas of expertise: Trauma-informed organizational change, Trauma & children/ family services- including Child Welfare, Impact of trauma on children


Karen brings to the National Council over 19 years of clinical and administrative experience in child welfare and community-based mental health.  Karen is also the parent of an adult child with severe and chronic mental illness.  She recently relocated to Washington, DC from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she worked at SaintA as the Division Director of Community Services.  While at SaintA Karen became certified in the Child Trauma Academy’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and was integrally involved in SaintA’s journey to become a more trauma-informed organization.  Karen spearheaded the development and implementation of housing and supportive services for former foster youth and worked to strengthen systems serving this vulnerable population.  With her joined professional and lived experiences, Karen brings a distinct perspective to mental health and addiction disorders work.  She intimately understands the inherent challenges providers and organizations face and the significance of ensuring those affected by mental health challenges and addiction disorders, and their families, have access to and receive high-quality, trauma-informed services.

Linda Henderson-Smith, PhD, LPC, Director of Children and Trauma Informed-Services

Areas of expertise: Children & Trauma Trauma Informed Care Implementation, Historical, Intergenerational & Racial Trauma


Linda has over 14 years of clinical and administrative experience in community-based mental health.  She joined the National Council in May 2016 after working at the Georgetown University National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health as the Director of Mental Health Planning and Policy.  While at Georgetown she helped develop training regarding Trauma-Informed Systems, especially for people with co-occurring developmental and behavioral health disorders.  Prior to working at Georgetown, Linda worked at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities in numerous roles, the most recent being the Director of the Office of Children, Young Adults and Families, where she spearheaded the implementation of high fidelity wraparound, care management services, and mobile crisis services throughout the state, and worked with other state agencies to strengthen the service systems for vulnerable populations.  As a trauma-survivor herself,   Linda brings a distinct perspective and knowledge base to mental health and addiction disorders services and is passionate about helping organizations and systems move towards becoming trauma-informed.

Cheryl Sharp, MSW, ALWF, Exclusive Consultant for Trauma-informed Service

Areas of expertise: Trauma-informed organizational change management, workforce development & integration of peers into the workforce, creating safe & secure environment, impact of trauma across the lifespan

Cheryl holds the unique perspective of a person who has recovered from significant mental health challenges, a trauma survivor, a family member of a loved one who died as a result of mental health challenges, and a provider of substance abuse and mental health services. Sharp has worked with adult trauma survivors for over 30 years and trains and speaks internationally on trauma-informed care and suicide prevention. She has worked as a hospice/medical social worker and as a director of social services for a skilled nursing facility and is an ordained minister. She received a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Voice Award in 2015 for her work and personal stories educating the public about behavioral health and the Lou Ann Townsend Courage Award for her contributions to persons with psychiatric disabilities. As an exclusive consultant to the National Council’s Trauma-Informed Care Learning Communities, Sharp has led over 700 organizations in the implementation of trauma-informed care.

Reba Smith, MS, Consultant for Trauma Informed Services

Areas of expertise: interpersonal neurobiology, addiction, managing complex change 

reba-smith-2Reba has a deep understanding of trauma informed care both for individuals and organizations. Upon completion of her Master’s degree, she taught psychology and social science courses to both University and Community College students. She then provided clinical program oversight for residential and outpatient treatment programs. She was the Program Leader in her agency for the adoption of trauma-informed care through the National Council’s Trauma Informed Care Learning Community of 2012-2013 and received a nationally recognized “Best in Class” distinction for her work. In 2014, she was named a Fellow for the Council of Clinical Innovators by the Oregon Health Authority’s Transformation Center in which she brought together multiple agencies across community sectors to implement a strategic shift in client care to improve health outcomes of vulnerable populations. She currently chairs a tri-county community of practice for trauma-informed care comprised of 25 organizations including federally qualified health centers, county mental health, community justice, and addictions.

Sharday Lewis, MPH, Project Manager of Trauma-Informed Services 

sl-picSharday serves as a Project Manager of Practice Improvement at the National Council for Behavioral Health where she manages multiple National Council initiatives, including Trauma Informed Care Learning Communities and SBIRT. Prior to her work at the National Council, Sharday worked with the Miami Coalition as a Senior Program Specialist and SBIRT Coordinator where she oversaw programmatic operation of a two-year SBIRT project targeting adolescents. She has experience in other areas of health practice improvement, specifically HIV/AIDS, through her work as Senior Training Manager of the High Impact Prevention (HIP) Project at Danya International, Inc. where she provided technical assistance and overall training management for newer and more complex HIP Project interventions [ARTAS, MIP, Nia, and SHIELD] and contributed to national diffusion through the successful execution of over 40 HIV prevention intervention trainings annually. She also served as Senior Program Associate for the Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions (DEBI) Project at AED-Center on AIDS and Community Health, where she provided administrative, programmatic, operational, and technical support for eight HIV prevention interventions that make up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-funded DEBI Project. She holds a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management from the University at Albany, School of Public Health and a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Management from Howard University. She is passionate about social justice and advocating for vulnerable populations, most specifically adolescent wellness and the elimination of health disparities resulting from racism, classism and other systems of inter-connected oppression.

Sarah Flinspach, Project Coordinator of Trauma-Informed Services 

Sarah Flinspach serves as a Project Coordinator of Practice Improvement at the National Council for Behavioral Health. She provides logistical support for trauma-informed services trainings and technical assistance, coordinates the Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) training program, and manages the National Council’s official partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Prior to joining the National Council, Sarah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In addition to her studies, Sarah served as a sexual assault crisis counselor and coordinated the University’s bystander intervention and sexual violence education program, training more than 1500 students, staff, and faculty in the topics of sexual assault, relationship violence, and consent. She is dedicated to understanding the intersection of health and social justice and to changing the health care system to increase access to and improve quality of care, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized populations.


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