Who We Are
About the Attachment & Trauma Network
EMPOWERING TRAUMA-INFORMED FAMILIES, SCHOOLS, AND COMMUNITIES
At the Attachment & Trauma Network, it is our mission to promote healing of children impacted by trauma through supporting their families, schools, and communities.
- We believe that children impacted by trauma and those with attachment disorders can heal.
- We believe that parents, who are supported and taught therapeutic parenting, are the best healing agents of their traumatized child.
- We believe that children impacted by trauma need trauma-informed, attachment-focused therapies.
- We believe that all children learn best in trauma-sensitive schools where strategies are in place to help the children and adults feel safe, stay regulated, get connected, and not be re-traumatized or triggered. We believe trauma-informing schools empower trauma-responsive educators.
- We believe that providing resources to the families from the start (once a traumatized child has been identified) is the best way to minimize crises, reduce disruptions and promote healing.
- We believe that ongoing parent-to-parent support is critical in arming the families with strategies, tools, and strength to persevere daily.
- We believe that “touching trauma at its heart” is more than a tagline, it’s a healing mission.
Where It Began
In 1995, three mothers, who were parenting children diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder were connected by their children’s therapist. The goal was to support each other, and as they realized how similar their journeys were and that they truly were “Not Alone,” ATN was born.
Initially organized as the KC Attachment Network, these mothers found that families from all over the United States were looking for ways to connect with others raising children struggling with early trauma and attachment disorders. The founding members began providing a “warm line” to adoptive parents in the area. They offered assistance in finding resources and support as parents navigated the challenges of finding residential treatment, considering adoption disruptions, marital strain, searching for respite, and frightening encounters with child protective services due to false allegations of abuse. This small, dedicated group of volunteers spent countless hours supporting others and realizing how many thousands of families needed the support. ATN’s first 2-day educational workshop was held in October 1995, with both parents and professionals attending.
In 1999 the KC Attachment Network, led by Executive Director Nancy Spoolstra (now known as Nancy Thomas – married in 2020), had incorporated as a non-profit and then merged with the Attachment Disorder Parent’s Network, developed by Gail Trenberth of Colorado, changing its name to the Attachment Disorder Network, Inc. (ADN).
In early 2004, ADN developed a long-term strategic plan that emphasized a three-prong mission of Support, Education and Advocacy and organized the all-volunteer board and staff into work groups based on these mission areas. From 2006-2008, ADN hosted the Parenting Traumatized Children Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2007, ADN changed its name to the Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc. (ATN) to reflect the growing understanding through neuroscience that early childhood trauma (attachment trauma) was at the root of the struggle that traumatized children have with attachment disorders.
Focusing on providing Support, Education and Advocacy nationwide (and in some cases internationally), ATN’s services and programs rely heavily on the internet and virtual communication to reach the most families possible. Upon Nancy Spoolstra’s retirement in 2009, Julie Beem, a long-time ATN volunteer, parent of a traumatized child and successful business owner took over the Executive Director role. In 2010, ATN’s volunteers led the organization to receive a Pepsi Refresh grant that enabled the organization to design and implement the ATN Learning Center to provide webinars and other online training materials to help parents learn Therapeutic Parenting as well as educational resources for families and professionals on attachment & trauma in general. In 2012, ATN’s Advocacy efforts began to formally organize.
In June 2014, ATN hosted the first National Attachment Trauma Awareness (NATA) Day. In 2018, the first issue of the Therapeutic Parenting Journal was published. In February 2018, ATN held the first international Conference for Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools. The result of years of online summits and dedicated team of educators, the Conference brought educators from around the world to Washington D.C. Each year the CTSS Conference grows exponentially.
In March 2020, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation gave ATN a large grant to expand the Parenting Program. Projects, such a comprehensive, searchable Resource Directory of trauma-informed, attachment-focused services is underway.
Where We've Been
Where We're Going
ATN has grown into the VOICE for traumatized children and their families, schools and communities. With membership that reaches around the world, we are proud to be the premier support, education and advocacy system for those raising or educating traumatized and attachment-disordered children.
Remaining true to the vision of our founder, Nancy Spoolstra, our focus is on helping children impacted by trauma and struggling with attachment by equipping the adults — the parents, caregivers and teachers.
Today, our Board of Directors and a growing team of staff, consultants and volunteers reaches out to families and schools who are meeting the needs of our most precious resource — our children — who struggle with the impacts of their early trauma.
Through it all, our message is simple and has remained the same for over 25 years: “You are Not Alone” and there is “Hope for Healing”.
Meet your ATN team
Empowering Trauma-Informed Families, Schools & Community
Meet Julie Beem
Julie Beem has been the Executive Director of the Attachment & Trauma Network since 2009 and an active member and volunteer since 2005. Julie lives
Meet Stephanie Garde
Stephanie Garde volunteered with ATN for 9 years and was a Board Member before becoming the Operations Manager in 2018. She and her husband are
Meet Lorraine Schneider
Responsible for much of the behind-the-scenes administration of ATN, Lorraine is an experienced administrator, bookkeeper and business manager. “Trying to parent my daughter, I thought
Meet Ginger Healy
Ginger Healy received her master’s degree in social work from UNLV in 1999 and began practicing as a licensed clinical social worker in 2001. She
Meet Kirsten Murdoch
Kirsten is a mother to 4 kids (2 adopted and 2 bio). Kirsten started her career over 20 years ago working for nonprofits and providing support
Meet Casey Coombs
Casey Coombs’ passion for mental wellness fuels her creative work as a social media pioneer and talented communications guru. Her experience includes authentic storytelling for
Meet your ATN Board
Empowering Trauma-Informed Families, Schools & Community
Meet Janyne McConnaughey
Janyne McConnaughey, Ph.D., award winning author and trauma-informed advocate builds on her forty-year career in teaching, teacher education, and an expertise in early childhood development
Meet Charlene Winley
Dr. Charlene Winley is a speaker, author, CEO and founder of ReScripted Life Coaching. Through her own experiences of sexual and mental abuse, homelessness, divorce
Meet Danny Pancratz
Danny Pancratz is the Director of Community for Unqork, a no code application development platform. His background directing online communities and organizing conferences and events
Meet Tom Kulesa
Tom Kulesa joined the ATN Board of Directors in 2021 and currently serves as Treasurer and is a member of the finance resource committee and
Meet Taneesha Thomas
An educator with a passion for developing trauma-informed leaders, Taneesha is the CEO and Founder of Focused Minds Education Group in Atlanta, GA. Taneesha’s professional
Meet Jennifer Wheelehon
Jennifer Wheelehon has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, relationship building, event planning and fundraising. She has spent much of her career connecting
Meet Sandra Lake
Sandra Lake is the K-5 STEAM & Technology Coach for Brumby Elementary in the Cobb County, GA School District. She has spent nearly two decades
Meet Kimberly Smathers
Kimberly Smathers has 20 years of experience – as a business leader, advocate, consultant, and researcher – in working toward person-centered and equitable approaches to
Meet Nicole Tuchinda
Nicole is an Assistant Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans and is devoted to improving the lives of vulnerable young children. Her work and
Meet Tracy Leonard
Tracy Leonard is the Content and Partnerships Manager at Darkness to Light. She has been a Stewards of Children® Authorized Facilitator since 2014, a Certified
Meet Keisha Varnell-Coleman
Keisha Varnell serves as Director of Program Operations at Methodist Children’s Home in Jackson MS. As an advocate for children in the child welfare system
Meet Bill Zee
Bill is the Chair of the Education Law Group at Appel, Yost & Zee, LLP in Lancaster, PA. He has over 15 years of experience
Meet ATN's Advisory Council
Meet Melissa Sadin
Melissa is a mother to two sons (one adopted and one bio), a wife, and a life long educator. She began her career as a
Meet Ross Greene
Dr. Greene is the originator of the innovative, research-based approach now known as Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS), as described in his influential books The
Meet Susan Craig
Dr. Craig is the founder and president of SEC Enterprises, Inc. A career educator, author, and public speaker, she is nationally recognized as an expert
Meet Adam Pertman
Mr. Pertman is president of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency (NCAP) a national non-profit focused on shifting child welfare policy and practice from the traditional “child
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