Training Institute

Our Instructors

Shauna L. Figueroa

Lead Adjunct Trainer

Shauna L. Figueroa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years of experience in various settings, including state-funded programs and academia. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Springfield College and is licensed in multiple states. With expertise in child welfare and experience in addressing issues such as homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse, Shauna has managed macro-level systems and provided direct therapeutic interventions to individuals, couples, and families. Currently, she serves as the Vice President of Housing Services at Friendship Place in the District of Columbia, where she works to end homelessness. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor, a field placement supervisor at Sacred Heart University, and a clinician in private practice. Shauna is dedicated to social justice and has provided numerous trainings on various topics related to mental health and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys activities like reading, painting, and practicing yoga and meditation, especially near water.

Jamell Farmer

Lead Adjunct Trainer

Jamell Farmer, LPCA, is a dedicated mental health professional with a rich and diverse background in counseling and therapy. He earned his Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Western Connecticut State University, where he honed his skills and passion for helping others. With over a decade of experience, Jamell has cultivated a versatile approach to therapy, working with individuals facing complex challenges such as substance abuse, homelessness, and HIV/AIDS.

His commitment to serving marginalized communities is evident through his work with the LGBTQIA+ population, where he provides affirming and compassionate care. Additionally, Jamell has been actively involved in mentoring and sports programs for youth in Danbury since 2006, offering guidance and support to young individuals navigating life’s challenges.

With a profound understanding of the therapeutic power of play, Jamell possesses the equivalent experience of a Registered Play Therapist, utilizing creative techniques to engage clients of all ages in the therapeutic process. He is adept at addressing a wide range of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and anger management, among others.

Jamell’s therapeutic approach encompasses various clinical techniques, including Counseling, Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Play Therapy, Mentoring, and Life Coaching. This eclectic blend allows him to tailor his interventions to meet the unique needs of each client, fostering growth, healing, and resilience.

Overall, Jamell’s dedication to empowering individuals, families, and couples to overcome obstacles and achieve mental wellness shines through his comprehensive skill set and unwavering commitment to compassionate care

Jonathan Travis

Lead Adjunct Trainer

Jonathan Travis is a dedicated professional with two decades of experience in the public sector, primarily in Child Protective Services, where he has held various positions aimed at advocating for families and at-risk youth. Prior to his tenure at CPS, Jonathan worked directly with at-risk youth at a residential facility, further solidifying his commitment to making a positive impact in their lives.

Jonathan is a proud graduate of Morehouse College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, and Rutgers University, where he obtained his master’s degree. His academic journey has equipped him with a deep understanding of socioeconomic justice, a cause he is passionate about championing.

As a community activist and Black American scholar, Jonathan is deeply invested in exploring and addressing the complexities of the Black experience in America. Through his thought-provoking blog, hosted at www.blackinamerika.com, he shares his personal insights and perspectives on various issues relevant to the Black community.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Jonathan finds joy in the art of acting and writing plays. He wrote his first play three years ago, which delves into themes surrounding the Black experience in America, and he is currently working on his second production. Through his creative endeavors, Jonathan continues to shed light on important narratives and stories within his community.

Carmen Duarte

Adjunct Trainer

Carmen’s professional journey in child protective services (CPS) spans over a decade, Carmen began her CPS career in 2007 with the New York City (ACS), and In 2012, Carmen transitioned her expertise to Connecticut, where she joined Family and Children’s Agency (FCA) as a mental health counselor specializing in Intensive In-home Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services (IICAPS). This role allowed her to provide crucial support to families navigating mental health challenges, further broadening her perspective on the interconnectedness of mental health and child welfare.

However, Carmen’s commitment to making a meaningful impact in the lives of children led her to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) in 2016.  Carmen’s dedicated to nurturing the next generation of CPS professionals as she provides invaluable guidance and mentorship to aspiring CPS practitioners, ensuring they are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the intricacies of the field effectively.

Moreover, Carmen’s fluency in Spanish serves as a valuable asset, enabling her to effectively communicate and advocate for Spanish-speaking families.   

Academically, Carmen’s has an undergraduate degree in criminology and forensic psychology,  and later attended Jay College of Criminal Justice, earning a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Criminal Law and Procedure, further sharpening her analytical and critical thinking skills.

Additionally, Carmen is deeply committed to causes close to her heart, particularly advocating for fatherhood engagement and promoting racial justice, reflecting her broader commitment to social equity and inclusion.

Outside of her professional pursuits, Carmen finds solace and joy in spending quality time with friends and family.

Kaela Minerly, MSW

Adjunct Trainer

Kaela Minerly, MSW is a dedicated social work professional with over ten years of field experience including work with child welfare, corrections, adults with differing cognitive abilities, and the Women, Infant and Children Program. 

 

Kaela has consistently brought the focus of social work back to the unique individual; assuring that service providers understand the individualized needs of each client and/or client system within the context of their humanity and culture. Kaela has experience co-facilitating group and individual sessions to identify specific behavioral goals/needs and advocating for access to services that are equipped to meet the individual where they are at. Kaela has been a part of implementing agency and program changes aimed to improve outcomes related to safety and well-being, recidivism, access to treatment, and a community approach to wellness.  

 

As a child welfare professional, Kaela has had the opportunity to partner with child and family client systems with cultural integrity to asses risk and safety and ensure child safety and well-being. Much of Kaela’s work has focused on the engagement and equitable inclusion of Fathers in the lives of their children. Kaela is an advocate for understanding that men are a necessary part of any healthy family system, and recognizes that the healthy growth and development of children is impacted directly by the connectedness and relationship they have with their Father and adult male caregivers. Kaela co-leads the Fatherhood Engagement Leadership Team, to assure that Fathers are included at all levels of child welfare work and that Fathers have a distinct voice at the table in decision making. This work aims to close the gap in equitable service provision for men/Fathers and hopes to result in necessary policy and practice change. Kaela has acted as a bridge between children, caregivers and communities to prioritize health, safety and education while strengthening community and family connectedness and advocating for human rights. 

 

Why Choose the Training Institute?

Our trainers utilize adult learning theory to support the education and growth of participants across generations. We are committed to providing an enriching and empowering educational experience.

Experience the Welcome 2 Reality Training Institute Advantage

Top-Notch Learning:

Access high-quality learning opportunities designed to advance your knowledge and skills.

Expert Trainers:

Learn from experienced trainers with a background in collegiate-level teaching.

Culturally Relevant:

Explore topics through a culturally diverse lens, fostering understanding and inclusivity.

Engagement:

Striving to provide a high-energy, interactive, and engaging learning experience.

Accessibility:

Ensuring that our content is accessible and relevant to individuals from various backgrounds.

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