Trauma and Grief Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion

Join us for a film screening and expert panel discussion on using trauma and grief-informed responses to heal community loss. The event will begin with a screening of Newtown, a documentary examining how families and community members cope with their individual and collective losses after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion of experts in trauma, bereavement, and education. The discussion will highlight how trauma and grief-informed responses can help mental health professionals appropriately respond to the needs of survivors, families, and communities, especially in the wake of community violence and loss.


Jacob Burns Film Center

364 Manville Road

Pleasantville, NY 10570

Directions & Parking

5:30pm – 6:30pm Registration & Networking

6:30pm – 8:00pm Documentary Viewing

8:00pm – 9:00pm Panel Discussion


Dana Marlowe, Clinical Associate Professor, Fordham University GSS

Thomas Demaria, Psychologist & Fellow, American Psychological Association

Joe Primo, CEO, Good Grief


Donna A. Gaffney, Psychotherapist & Managing Director, Project Rebirth


Westchester Community Foundation, New York Life Foundation and Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) are excited to be co-sponsors for this event to help develop teaching tools for effective instruction and skills development using documentaries.

Recognizing the critical need to provide greater support to grieving children and their families, the New York Life Foundation established childhood bereavement as a funding focus area in 2008. As their commitment to the bereavement “field” has grown, they’ve been proud to serve not only as a funder but as an active partner to a wide range of nonprofits, helping to raise public awareness about grief’s impact as well as build communication and collaboration among grantees. The issue is at the heart of their company’s mission and day-to-day business, resulting in robust employee engagement across the country in support of grieving children.


1 CEH is available to licensed social workers in attendance.


This program will introduce participants to the power of film as they witness life-changing journeys of ordinary people during extraordinary times. The documentary Newtown offers a profound case illustration of community violence, trauma, loss, and grief. The film raises awareness and underscores the need for trauma-informed and grief-informed interventions. Panel experts will provide an opportunity to discuss strategies for assisting individuals, families, and communities as they cope with trauma, traumatic loss, and grief in the aftermath of disaster and mass casualty events.


At the completion of this screening and panel presentation the participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the dynamics of trauma, loss, traumatic loss and grief responses among children, families, and communities.
  2. Compare grief-informed and trauma-informed interventions.
  3. Discuss the impact of media, social media and communication during a community tragedy.
  4. Discuss community approaches in the aftermath of disaster and mass casualty events.
  5. Recognize how vicarious trauma presents as a result of this work and identify self-compassion and self-care strategies.


THOMAS DEMARIA, Ph.D. is a New York State licensed Psychologist and a Fellow of the Trauma Division of the American Psychological Association. He is the Director of the Psychological Services Center of the Doctoral Psychology Program at Long Island University Post and founder of the Graduate Student Trauma Response Team which was awarded the Innovative Program Award from the National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology. Dr. Demaria has over twenty years of hospital behavioral healthcare leadership experience including the management as vice-president of inpatient psychiatric and behavioral medicine consultation services as well as outpatient mental health and substance abuse programs. Dr. Demaria currently serves on the Professional Advisory Board for the National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement and is involved in training initiatives for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students. Dr. Demaria has earned numerous awards for leading hundreds of community disaster counseling responses during the past 30 years and served as a volunteer for Greater New York and Nassau County Red Cross and the Salvation Army. He provided guidance during the planning of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum, is a two-time recipient of the prestigious New York State Liberty Award for community service in New York following the World Trade Center terrorist attacks and in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina and the winner of a Humanitarian Award by the Center for Christian & Jewish studies for his work with Holocaust survivors. Demaria was co-recipient of International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence for his clinical work with World Trade Center families and 9/11 First Responders and later earned an ISTSS Distinguished Mentor Award for his teaching of students in the field of trauma.

  1. DONNA GAFFNEYhas long addressed trauma, loss, and grief in the lives of adults, children and their families. As a psychotherapist, she has counseled young people in the aftermath of individual tragedies and national disasters such as the Challenger explosion, the Pan Am 103 crash, and Hurricane Katrina. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 Donna was a member of the New Jersey Traumatic Loss Coalition and the State of NJ Disaster Mental Health Services, working with communities, families, and professionals. Donna served on the Families of September 11 advisory board, facilitating one of the first online support groups for family members affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Much of Donna’s work takes place in communities and school systems. She integrates literature, film and theater in her practice and educational programs; curating appropriate materials and writing discussion guides for children’s and young adult literature, film and theater. Donna created and administered the AAUW-funded bibliotherapy program “Growing Heroines” at one of New York City’s largest elementary schools to focus on the issues of trauma and loss facing young girls in urban communities. She has written teaching/discussion guides for young adult books (911: The Book of Help and Breath to Breath). Donna has also developed educational guides for documentaries, Rebirth and The Second Day. In 2005 Donna worked with New York Reads Together to bring Laurie Halse Anderson’s book “Speak” to high school teachers and students in New York City. In preparation of the ten year commemoration of September 11th, she was an advisor to The New York Council for the Humanities’ 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance Community Conversation program, in which she wrote facilitator tips and parent guides for the children’s books in the program. She is on the advisory board of The Shared Grief Project, writing and supervising the development of discussion guides for the video narratives.

In her work at Project Rebirth Donna initiated and developed educational materials and led workshops based on the Peabody Award winning documentary Rebirth and its nine short films. Through Project Rebirth, she assisted in the development of the first Project Rebirth-Ride 2 Recovery Women’s Initiative for active duty women and veterans. Donna is a member of the Expert Panel on Military and Veterans Health at the American Academy of Nursing.

In addition to academic publications, Donna is the author of The Seasons of Grief, Helping Children Grow Through Loss. She has a long history in classroom, experiential and online education, having taught and developed programs at the International Trauma Studies Program, Columbia and Seton Hall Universities. Donna holds masters degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University and Rutgers University and earned her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. Her post-doctoral work includes the Prudential Fellowship for Children and the News at Columbia Journalism School and the International Trauma Studies Program. In addition to her role as Managing Director, Education and Programs at Project Rebirth, she is a consultant for the New York Life Foundation and consults with families, schools and professionals affected by trauma, loss and violence.

DANA MARLOWE received her PhD in 2000 from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service; a Master of Social Work degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo (1992); and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton (1990). She has been an Assistant Clinical Professor at Fordham GSS since 2005. She teaches Generalist Practice With Individiuals, Families, Groups, Organizations I and II, Social Welfare Policy and Services, Social Policy Analysis, Advocacy, and Practice, Human Rights and Social Justice, Evidence Based Practice With Children and Families (advanced clinical elective), and the Trauma Concepts Elective (advance clinical elective).

Dr. Marlowe has professional practice experience in both clinical and administrative areas. Her professional practice has been in the field of mental health and health, specifically in the field HIV/AIDS. She began her clinical practice working in the field of substance abuse, primarily with children whose parents were substance abusers. She also worked with helping children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster from 1992-1995, making three humanitarian missions to Belarus.

In 1995, Dr. Marlowe began working as the Program Coordinator for the Nyack Hospital Pediatric AIDS Program, providing both direct services and administrative oversight. She became the Clinical Coordinator of Together Our Unity Can Heal, an HIV/AIDS service organization in 1998. In 2000, she returned to Nyack Hospital, again providing coordination to the Pediatric AIDS Program. During her time at Nyack Hospital, she served on Ryan White Title I and Title II Steering Committees. She also implemented an HIV counseling and testing program for children and adolescents in foster care. During this time, she lead the hospital in obtaining a five year grant for a comprehensive family centered HIV/AIDS medical program. Her dissertation, written while she was earning her doctorate at Fordham University, examined factors affecting social workers’ decision to breach confidentiality of HIV-positive clients in order to warn third parties.

Since 2000 Dr. Marlowe was a trainer for the New York City HIV/AIDS Service Administration, teaching workshops in HIV and families and cultural competence. In 2010, Dr. Marlowe returned to Nyack Hospital as a consultant to be the lead administrator in the process of closing their comprehensive HIV/AIDS medical program.

Dr. Marlowe is an active member of the Child and Family Evidence Based Practice Consortium, presenting at the national child, adolescent, and young adult behavioral health conference and speaking in two national webinars on evidence based practice implementation in 2015. Her current research looks at evidence based practice content in graduate programs.

Dr. Marlowe currently works under the Fordham University Trauma Center as a consultant in helping organizations to implement evidence based trauma treatments. She is also an active member of the CSWE Trauma Competency Workgroup, helping to develop advanced trauma competencies for schools of social work.

JOE PRIMO is the CEO of Good Grief in Morristown and Princeton, New Jersey. Good Grief’s mission is to provide unlimited and free support to children, adolescents, and families after the death of a parent or sibling through peer support programs, education, and advocacy. Primo is the author of What Do We Tell the Children?: Talking to Kids About Death and Dying. He received his masters of divinity from Yale University and was a hospice chaplain at both the Connecticut Hospice and the Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut. Primo, the former president of the National Alliance for Grieving Children, is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the Option Borganization.