Who We Are

University of Maryland School of Medicine:

Laurel Kiser, Ph.D., M.B.A, Principal Investigator and Strengthening Families Coping Resource Team Leader, is an Associate Professor in Psychiatry at UMSOM. Her career focus has been on the provision and evaluation of treatment for youth living in poverty, victims of trauma, domestic violence, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, with psychiatric and behavior disorders always with a commitment to keeping children at home with their families. She served as the FITT Center Co-Principal Investigator from 2007 to present. She led the FITT team in the development of a conceptual model of complex trauma in families and in construction of the FANS-T. She participated in many NCTSN Committees including the Steering Committee. She developed and piloted SFCR with support from an NIMH K-Award. She receives support from The Krieger Fund for replicating SFCR regionally. Dr. Kiser provides SFCR training locally and nationally and consults with multiple child services systems implementing SFCR. She co-directs the UMMC Child Trauma Clinic and leads Maryland’s workforce development initiatives regarding child trauma. She provides trauma education to the community and to UMSOM staff. She has published articles on childhood trauma, family stress and trauma, family rituals/routines, and outcomes evaluation. She is co-author with Charles Figley of the second edition of Helping Traumatized Families. She co-chairs the ISTSS’ Family Systems Group. Contact Dr. Kiser

Kay Connors, LCSW-C, Project Director, is an Instructor of Psychiatry at UMSOM, Program Director of the Taghi Modarressi Center for Infant Study (CIS) and Project Director for the FITT Center since 2007.  She has 26 years of experience as a clinical social worker working with families experiencing trauma and loss in a variety of settings, including primary care, hospital, emergency departments, residential, private practice, clinic, home, and early childhood and school-based programs. She trains psychiatry fellows, medical students, nursing, psychology and social work interns through the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine’s Early Childhood Mental Health Seminar and the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work’s Trauma Education Connections Initiative.  She directs post graduate training programs in trauma focused, family therapies and early childhood mental health interventions.  She leads mid-Atlantic Child Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaboratives and the University of Maryland’s Early Childhood Mental Health Certificate Program.    She has extensive expertise in collaborating with community, legal and social service agencies.  She has contributed to the scientific literature and dialogue through publications and trainings in child maltreatment, early childhood mental health and family informed trauma treatment, and is an investigator on several trauma treatment and pediatric mental health research projects.  She is an active member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and is a national trainer for Child Parent Psychotherapy. Contact Ms. Connors


University of Maryland School of School Work:

Kathryn Collins, MSW, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Evaluator and Trauma Adapted Family Connections Co-Leader, is an Associate Professor at UMSSW. The focus of her academic career centers on social justice, disparities in access to trauma based mental health services, and developing trauma focused family based social work interventions for vulnerable and oppressed populations such as minority children, women, and families surviving poverty and chronic violence. Her commitment to the field is long standing with over 15 years of community based clinical social work practice with children and families who have been diagnosed with PTSD and other disorders. She has numerous publications and has been the PI or Co-PI on state and nationally funded research. She earned an extramural research award in the NIH, National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program for her research focusing on children from minority communities. Recently, she implemented Trauma Education Connections Initiative (TECI) in the UMSSW and earned the Dean's Teaching Award for its implementation. She served as FITT Center Co-Principal Investigator from the UMSSW; participated as an active member of the FITT Steering, Administrative, Intervention and Evaluation Teams. She was responsible for the coordination, development and piloting of TA-FC, including developing the family and youth partnership group of TA-FC. She trained child welfare workers in Maryland on the NCTSN Trauma Informed Child Welfare Toolkit.  Further, she brings her research scholarship, practice and life experience to the classroom where she has received several teaching awards. Contact Dr. Collins

Frederick H. Strieder, Ph.D., M.S.S.A. Trauma-Adapted Family Connections Co- Leader, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the UMSSW where he is the Director of FC/GFC/TA-FC and the site PI for a multistate NIH grant to implement and research group interventions for grandparents raising grandchildren. Over the past 32 years, he has provided services as a practitioner, supervisor, and administrator; served as a committee chair and board member on regional and national levels regarding the development of outcome evaluation strategies specific to treatment foster care; developed and directed intern training programs at FC-KKI and FC programs; developed best practice models for children and families who have been the victims of maltreatment; and developed community-based service models for families who struggle to meet the needs of their children. His publications and presentations focus on the needs of children placed in the child welfare system and in community-based programs. He was responsible for development, implementation, and evaluation of TA-FC; provided direct supervision of TA-FC staff members. He participated on the FITT Toolkit and FANS-T teams. He co-trained child welfare workers on the Trauma Informed CW Toolkit and was a trauma instructor for SSW Child Welfare Academy. Contact Dr. Strieder


Family Center at Kennedy Krieger Institute:

Sarah Gardner, LCSW-C, FamilyLive Developer and Trainer, is the Director of Outpatient Clinical Services at the Family Center at Kennedy Krieger Institute.  Ms. Gardner has 25 years of experience with direct service, supervision, consultation, emergency management and administration in an urban mental health clinic serving traumatized children and families involved with multiple systems.  Ms. Gardner’s primary area of expertise is intergenerational trauma patterns and engaging families from racial and ethnic minority populations. Ms. Gardner developed FamilyLive, an innovative family therapy model which helps caregivers with unresolved trauma histories develop parenting skills. 

Ms. Gardner, co-chair of NCTSN’s Partnering With Youth and Families Committee, has led national efforts and developed multiple resources to reduce cultural barriers to accessing mental health services through consumer partnerships.  Ms. Gardner has delivered dozens of professional presentations and co-authored articles on family trauma in peer reviewed journals. Contact Ms. Gardner