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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Darnell

Trauma and the Role of Healing in Systems Change, with Dr. Hasshan Batts

The Zulu meaning of the word Ubuntu is “I am because we are, therefore, because we are I am,” giving witness to the fact that we exist through our relationships with others. The Sankofa Bird of Ghana is based on a mythical bird with its feet firmly planted forward with its head turned backwards. Thus, the Akan believe the past serves as a guide for planning the future. To the Akan, it is this wisdom in learning from the past which ensures a strong future.

Together with Hasshan Batts, we explored the idea that to be truly effective, our systems work must be rooted in our interdependence as well as an examination of the past. We explored the role of relationships, self reflective practices and systems change in healing from individual, collective and organizational trauma.

Download the slide deck we used in this session and review the collective wisdom and resources shared during the session.


Hasshan is a prison survivor, healer, son, father, brother, husband and friend. In addition, Hasshan is a Community Epidemiologist, community based participatory researcher and leading expert on Trauma Informed Care, Reentry and Community engagement. Hasshan is the Executive Director of the Promise Neighborhoods of Lehigh Valley, adjunct professor, Lehigh University post-doctoral Research fellow, Rider-Pool Collective Impact fellow, Practitioners Research and Scholarship Institute Writing fellow, distinguished Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader, founding member of the Society for the Healing and Study of Historical Trauma, founding board member of the NE Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers and board member of Resurrected Community Development Corporation and Penn State Extension.

Hasshan holds a joint MSW from North Carolina A&T and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a post graduate certificate in Global Health and Doctorate in Health Sciences from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Learn more about Hasshan and watch his recent TedTalk on Radical Welcome.



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