Our Story

At a Community Public Health conference in 2007, Dr. Robert Anda challenged individuals by saying, “Go home and make something happen”. Teri Barilla did just that – with the help of Annett Bovent and Mark Brown, CRI was born. Together with local community members, CRI started as a grassroots movement to inform its local community about the negative health effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) if left unaddressed. 

Over a decade later, CRI is now a nonprofit organization conducting trauma-informed training online and in person, across the continent. CRI is recognized as a leader in trauma-informed training and offers several levels of training based on Knowledge, Insight, Strategies and Structures (K.I.S.S.), its blueprint for building community capacity. 

Our Core Values


Relationships are the number one protective factor. Humans are social and crave to belong and be loved.


Culture is diverse and many communities are multicultural and we believe culture has to be fluid.


We believe diverse communities are resilient communities. Variation is the norm.


Knowledge is power and enables people to make informed decisions based on the current science.


Resilience is a skill that must be modeled, taught and practiced. Everyone has the capacity to build resilience.


Sustainability is paramount to transforming systems for healthy and equitable communities.


Every person has the right to thrive, be happy, and be healthy.

Our Team


Theresa Barila

Founder and Ex officio Board President

Theresa Barila (she/her) is the founder of the Community Resilience Initiative (CRI). Teri earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from American University and a Masters of Science in Fisheries Management from the University of Maryland. Teri spent 20 years as a Research Biologist with the Federal Salmon and Steelhead recovery program in the Pacific Northwest. Her experience in that field helped her bridge science and practice when she changed careers and moved into community engagement work 22 years ago.

Recognized internationally for her work with CRI, Teri frequently travels, training communities to develop their own blueprint so that “Resilience Trumps ACEs.” Teri is involved extensively in training, consulting, writing, and researching in trauma, resilience, and community capacity building. Her work has attracted attention in various venues, in part due to the focus Teri places on grassroots organizational development and the focus on the hope of resilience.

Teri is mom to two children, a son and daughter, and was pleased to add the title grandmother in 2018. Experiencing a special needs child’s world has significantly shaped Teri’s thinking on systems, education, resilience, and advocacy for children. 


Rick Griffin

Director of Training

Rick (he/him) is the Director of Training and Curriculum Development for CRI. Rick holds a Masters degree in Education and uses his education to develop cutting-edge content and to deliver engaging presentations. He speaks to thousands of groups from all over the country and is widely recognized for his work with trauma-informed practices. His experience allows him to consult seamlessly with schools, businesses, and community organizations.

Ursula Volwiler

Ursula Volwiler

Director of Community Engagement

Ursula (she/her) joined CRI in 2020 after spending many years as a linguist in the corporate world, and then as an educator both at the elementary school and community college levels, working primarily with immigrant children and their families. No matter where her career took her, the concept of resilience was always on her mind along with the question: Why do some people survive the most challenging environments, and even thrive, while others do not?  With her background in language management and education, she greatly enjoys working with her CRI team on developing new courses, adapting previous courses to changing needs, and sharing all of CRI’s work both in the classroom and during public events.  

Board Members


Colby Kuschatka

Board President

Colby (he/him) operates cdk imaging, a commercial photography and video company based in Walla Walla, Washington and a Sherwood Trust Community Leadership Program graduate. He has been helping CRI with marketing, design, and website management for the past 4 years.


Heather Rodriguez


Heather (she/her) currently works as an Assistant Professor of Social Work at The Wilma Hepker School of Social Work and Sociology at Walla Walla University and has her own part-time, mental health private practice, Restore & Evolve, LLC. She has worked in the mental health field with children and families for the past 20 years, specializing in the area of trauma treatment. She is the co-founder and former Program Coordinator of Children’s Home Society’s Triple Point program in Walla Walla serving youth who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community.


Sonia Cole


Sonia (she/her) supervises public child welfare in Walla Walla & Columbia Counties in WA state. She has worked in public child protection and welfare for over 30 years. Since her introduction to CRI in 2008, Sonia has used the knowledge and insight about trauma and resilience to help shift the local agency practices.


Kelly Jedd McKenzie

Senior Social Science Research Analyst

Kelly (she/her) is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst at the Administration for Children and Families in Washington DC, where she works on research and evaluation related to home visiting, child welfare, and human trafficking. Kelly’s involvement with CRI began in 2010 when she became an intern with CRI as a Whitman College student. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Child Development from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, where she researched the impacts of adversity and trauma on brain development. Kelly was a Fellow with Doris Duke and the Society for Research in Child Development.


Nikki Sharp

Nikki (she/her) graduated from Walla Walla University with a master’s degree in Social Work. She has served the Walla Walla Community in the mental health setting for over 15 years and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is passionate about improved integration of services and trauma-informed care across all aspects of health. Nikki is originally from the westside of Washington, but when she moved here 20 years ago she decided to make Walla Walla her home. Nikki enjoys in her spare time pursuing fitness through CrossFit, time with her family and friends, and enjoying activities outdoors.

Norma Arceo

Norma (she/her) is a co-owner with her sisters and the General Manager of Chiquillas Mexican House in Walla Walla. She is also the Founder and Director of Las Chiquillas Ballet Folklorio. History, family, and tradition are extremely important to her. Check out a video of Las Chiquillas Ballet in action.

CRI helped me get the help that I needed - both in physical needs and also in helping me come to understand how to build the positive into my life.
Annett Bovent
Director & Founder of Hope Heals, Walla Walla