Isaiah B. Pickens, PhD

Assistant Director, Service Systems Program The UCLA-Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress CEO & President iOpening Enterprises

 Dr. Isaiah Pickens is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in consulting, counseling, and educational services for families, teens, and young adults. Dr. Pickens is currently Assistant Director of the Service Systems Program at the UCLA-Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS), the coordinating site of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). In this role he is responsible for supporting diverse national, cross-disciplinary, and collaborative efforts to make child- and family service systems more trauma-informed. He works with researchers, frontline practitioners, family members and young adults, child trauma experts, and partners from juvenile justice, child welfare, education, healthcare, and mental health systems to identify gaps, establish priorities, and implement Network initiatives that will promote the identification, referral and appropriate support for culturally diverse children, adolescent, and families who have experienced trauma. He presents to national audiences on child trauma, creating trauma-informed service systems and programs, trauma-informed organizational assessment, and cross-system collaboration. His publications address trauma-informed approaches to juvenile justice and school settings.


Prior to his role at NCCTS, Dr. Pickens was clinical faculty at New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry where he specialized in treatment of juvenile offenders who have a history of psychological trauma, development of trauma-screening procedures, and mental health service provision capacity-building for the Administration for Children Services of New York City. Dr. Pickens is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader. In this capacity, he works collaboratively with cross-sector scholars and practitioners to promote a culture of health in America.


Dr. Pickens is a former Steering Committee member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ (NCJFCJ) and Office for Victims of Crime’s (OVC) Vision 21: Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth, where he provided consultation in an effort to implement statewide screening for trauma and victimization in Montana and Virginia. Additionally, he is a frequently requested consultant to NCJFCJ and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) on numerous national initiatives. Dr. Pickens currently sits on the National Board of Directors for Communities in Schools and Associate Boards of Boys Scouts of America West LA Chapter and Our House Grief Support Center.


Dr. Pickens has also been awarded the American Psychological Association Early Career Achievement Award and the Black Enterprise BE Modern Man award for his contributions to the field of psychology. Dr. Pickens is also founder and CEO of iOpening Enterprises, a mental health and wellness education company providing training for professionals and multimedia for teens and young adults. In this capacity, Dr. Pickens has developed the Bridge Trauma-Informed Culturally-Responsive (TICR) Program, a multi-day professional development for educators that provides a practical toolkit for managing youth traumatic stress responses in the school setting. iOpening Enterprises has partnered with Professional Development Plus as a training partner and to support curriculum enhancement for educators.


Additionally, Dr. Pickens has developed a full day suicide assessment training for clinical professionals he provides around the nation in partnership with Cross Country Continuing Education, It’s Complicated Teen Talk Show streaming on KweliTV, The Dawn of Generation Why book geared toward supporting young adult identity development in the context of globalization and use of social media, keynoted numerous national events and conferences, and provided ongoing media contributions including the host for TLC’s The Spouse House, a regular contributor to Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and appearing numerous times on national televised media to discuss the psychological implications of current events as it relates to trauma and other mental health issues.

Dr. Pickens and the IOpening Enterprise Team will be leading the Pre-conference Workshop on August 6th

Bridge Trauma-Informed Culturally-Responsive (TICR) Program is a training designed for teachers to develop trauma-informed and culturally responsive classroom strategies that promote students’ social-emotional health and academic achievement. Academic success is substantially impacted by students’ emotional self-regulation and decision-making abilities. The development of these skills is influenced by the student-teacher relationship and an educator’s ability to create a classroom environment that promotes these skills. While naturally gifted teachers may foster a relationship that promotes these skills, this may present a challenge when the teacher lacks the skills to connect with students in a meaningful manner and/or an understanding of the cultural norms that best facilitate student academic achievement and emotional health.  Bridge TICR provides comprehensive training to help teachers working in diverse communities connect with students by better understanding their academic and cultural identities and using this information as a foundation for classroom structure. 

Bridge TICR is divided into four modules: 

Module 1: The Story Behind Our Kids focuses on defining healthy student-teacher connectedness and identifying the aspects of this relationship that foster academic achievement and social-emotional health. This module further explores how daily stressors in diverse communities (and other relevant cultural communities) and psychological trauma impact youth development and cognitive functioning. Participants learn how difficult life experiences can foster resilience.
Module 2: Sharing Our Stories challenges teachers to explore their cultural, gender, and socioeconomic class identities and examine how it facilitates or impedes connectedness with students. Participants explore appropriate levels of disclosure for fostering healthy connections with students and ways to incorporate students’ multifaceted cultural, gender, and socio-economic class identities into the classroom.
Module 3: Putting Together a Plan engages participants in hands-on activities to help them start designing classroom rules and lesson planning using culturally responsive strategies. Given classroom conflict (between teacher/student and student/student) can impede student-teacher connectedness, strategies for using conflict to promote continued connectedness, social-emotional health, and academic achievement are explored.
Module 4: Caring for Self shifts the focus to teacher’s social-emotional health and provides strategies for managing stressors that impact teachers universally and specifically teachers in highly challenging communities. Participants generate and practice self-care strategies that can promote their health throughout the school year.

Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D. 

Founder & Executive Director

Please Pass the Love

Dr. Ulie-Wells is the Executive Director of Please Pass the Love (PPTL school mental health nonprofit based in Des Moines, Iowa empowering school communities to embrace and sustain mental health and wellness supports for their students through education, leadership & advocacy. Each year Dr. Ulie-Wells trains thousands of educators, young people, families, and community providers on a variety of school mental health (SMH) topics.


In 2019, she had the honor of convening the Iowa School Mental Health Alliance (ISMHA) with hundreds across Iowa. In 2018, she launched the PPTL Online School Mental Health Academy and won the National Center for School Mental Health Award for Youth and Family Partnership for PPTL.  


She actively engages in national school mental health capacities including the National School Mental Health State Summit with leaders of federal agencies such as SAMHSA, HHS, HRSA, DOE, DOJ, and the University of Maryland Center for School Mental Health. Her publications include Advancing Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems: Guidance From the Field as a contributor. She is a member of SMH communities of practices and the national Family School Community Alliance with scholars from across the nation.


She has served on a variety of behavioral health related state committees with the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Public Health, and Iowa Area Education Agencies. Her research focuses on racial and marginalized trauma and how to prevent it within school systems.

Contact Us

PHONE: 515.441-9419

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