16th Annual, 2018 Great Plains Disaster Behavioral Health Conference


The Great Plains Disaster Behavioral Health Conference is for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health care providers, public health officials, nurses, clergy, emergency managers, and first responders to learn and recognize how to prepare and respond to the psychological effects of disaster and mass casualties.

Conference Theme: Building Resilient Communities

Click Here for the Conference Brochure.

Click Here for the Save the Date Notice.
Click Here to Register.
Scholarship Recipients Click Here to Register.

Date and Location

Date: July 20, 2018

Location: Hilton Omaha, 1001 Cass Street Omaha, NE 68102
To make a reservation, click here.
Hotel reservations must be confirmed no later than June 22, 2018 in order to qualify for the discounted conference rate. 

Parking: The Hilton has an attached garage available for the event. Please ask for a validation pass at the conference registration desk to receive a 50% discount on event parking.

Google Map Directions to Hilton Omaha
Hilton Conference Center Floor Map – Blackstone Ballroom

Continuing Education

The University of Nebraska Public Policy Center (NUPPC) is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The NUPPC maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Application has been made for 5.25 hours of APA approved Continuing Education.

Conference Objectives

1. Recognize the importance of cultural inclusion and how inclusiveness increases community resilience.
2. Identify the role of faith organizations in promoting community resiliency.
3. Examine the critical elements of social connection in disaster preparedness, response and
recovery.
4. Discuss ethical considerations and challenges in providing disaster behavioral health services to a community.

Conference Speakers

Click here to download electronic note pages.

Kimberly Nelson, LAC, MPA
Regional Administrator, Region 7, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

DeeDee Bennet, Ph.D.

Disaster Vulnerability and Understanding Community
Dr. Bennett is an Assistant Professor, Emergency Services Program in the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. She specializes in the areas of Emergency Management, Mobile Wireless Technology, Social Vulnerability in Disasters, Response and People with Disabilities, Social Media Platforms during Disasters, and Race/Ethnicity in Disasters.

Peter Gudaitis, M.Div.

The Role of Disaster Spiritual Care and Religious Literacy & Competency in Building Resilient Whole Communities Mr. Gudaitis currently serves as President of the National Disaster Interfaith Network (NDIN), Executive Director and CEO of New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), and Chair of New York VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). He has over 30 years of experience in chaplaincy, disaster emergency management, faith-based philanthropy, program management, and social services administration – including almost a decade in Emergency Medical Services. Mr. Gudaitis holds a B.A. from Kenyon College, and a M.Div. from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church.

Brian Houston, Ph.D.

Communication and Connections: Fostering Community Resilience to Disasters Before and After Events
J. Brian Houston, PhD, is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication at the University of Missouri and is Director for the Disaster and Community Crisis Center (DCC) at the University of Missouri. He is Core Faculty in the University of Missouri Master of Public Health Program. Houston's research focuses on communication at all phases of disasters and on the mental health effects and political consequences of community crises. Recent and current research projects have examined the impact of media coverage of terrorism on children and adults, the role of new media during disasters, and the capacity for using information communication technologies to increase community resilience.

David Carter, Ph.D.

How Behavioral Health Should React Ethically in a Disaster
Dr. Carter is the Peter Kiewit Professor and Clinical Coordinator in the graduate program of Counselor Education at the University of Nebraska - Omaha. He is a past Chairperson and member of the Professional Ethics Committee for the American Counseling Association and the Nebraska Counseling Association. He has served as an ethics consultant at the federal, state, and local levels fort over 30 years.


Conference Sponsors
Bryan LGH DHHS OMMR PPC