ACET Staff Highlight: Lisa Perkins Smith
Lisa Perkins Smith is an Event and Technical Assistance Specialist at ACET, where she serves as lead for a variety of projects while improving efficiency, increasing engagement, and utilizing unique strategies and tools to work smarter. Since joining ACET in 2019, Lisa has spearheaded several internal initiatives in addition to completing client projects. One of those projects is Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR), a train-the-trainer initiative hosted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) aimed at equipping community members with practical tools and skills to combat stress and anxiety.
MDH’s SPR initiative was born in the early aftermath of the COVID pandemic, amidst rising awareness that community members throughout Minnesota—and especially youth with disabilities and complex health needs and those who care for them—were experiencing skyrocketing rates of stress and trauma. In 2022, MDH contracted with ACET to facilitate a series of seven trainings based on the SPR curriculum designed to help increase people’s ability to address their own needs and concerns in coping with distress following disaster and trauma.
Lisa coordinated a team of trainers and facilitated recruiting attendees for the seven training sessions. Attendees included care coordinators, behavioral health service providers, and other community stakeholders. Lisa, along with MDH and ACET team members, prioritized building strategies to help the trainers keep their audience engaged. These included offering stipends to attendees, developing and reviewing scripts before each training, providing attendees with paper materials ahead of time, leveraging breakout sessions, and minimizing any potential frustrations by ensuring—with her tech team—that the whole process was smooth.
The results were excellent: 141 registrants at the seven trainings developed skills that enabled them to reach an estimated 522-698 community members. Unlike many training series that see a large drop-off rate, most attendees returned for all seven components. “I’m really proud of the continued engagement, the people who kept coming back each week,” Lisa says. “For one thing, it showed that there was a great community need, that people were thirsty for this information.”
After the success of the initial trainings, MDH began planning for Round 2, and Lisa strategized ways to increase both the reach and sustainability of the effort. Instead of focusing on one-time trainings, the team re-packaged the material as a series of videos and other resources in a learning management system called Talent LMS. “To allow us to capture the information for years to come, developing the LMS seemed like a great way to use our time,” Lisa says. Today the LMS trainings are available to the general public at www.mnpedcares.com/spr-training.