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New Jersey Appoints National ACEs Expert to Head Office of Resilience
Executive to Lead New Jersey’s Efforts to Become a Trauma Informed State

TRENTON, N.J. (June 9, 2020) – The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) today announced that Dave Ellis has been named as Executive on Loan to the State of New Jersey, functioning as the first Executive Director for the Office of Resilience within DCF. Ellis will share his expertise with the state and coordinate statewide efforts to prevent, protect against, and heal from the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

ACEs are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse, neglect, household substance use, and parental separation, which affect children’s brain architecture and have negative, lifelong effects on health and well-being. Some children also face exposure to toxic stress from historical and ongoing traumas due to systemic racism and the associated impacts of poverty resulting from disparate educational and economic opportunities.

"New Jersey is taking a momentous step towards tackling childhood trauma before it manifests into negative health outcomes. The DCF Office of Resilience will be another critical Nurture NJ partner as we work to break the cycle of trauma that has resulted from centuries of systemic racism and discrimination, and to address the mental and physical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must be proactive to ensure healthy women, become healthy pregnant women and ultimately healthy mothers,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Dave Ellis is joining the team at a critical time, and his expertise will ensure New Jersey is a leader in addressing ACEs.”

The Executive Director of the Office of Resilience will report to Commissioner Christine Beyer and liaise between State government and the Funders from the New Jersey ACEs Collaborative (the Collaborative) – the Burke Foundation, The Nicholson Foundation, and the Turrell Fund – in support of statewide ACEs-related policy and programming. This public-private alliance seeks to dramatically increase public awareness of ACEs and activate members from sectors such as health, business, education, child welfare, government, nonprofit and philanthropy to coordinate in addressing ACEs.

“DCF welcomes Dave Ellis to this new and critical role,” said Christine Beyer, Commissioner of DCF. “To say our country is at a crossroads would be an understatement as we are in the midst of battling two pandemics – COVID-19 and racism. The timing could not be more perfect for an expert in ACEs to help guide New Jersey through one of the most medically, emotionally, and psychologically traumatic times we have experienced in recent history. Together we will work to help our communities heal from the social and emotional impacts of ACEs, COVID-19, systemic racism, and other sources of toxic stress that challenge families’ ability to thrive.”

In the summer of 2019, the Collaborative published a report, Adverse Childhood Experiences: Opportunities to Prevent, Protect Against, and Heal from the Effects of ACEs in New Jersey, which launched a statewide discussion around addressing ACEs. The report’s findings will continue to inform the Executive’s work to engage public and private partners in the development of a Statewide Action Plan to address ACEs. The Action Plan will provide guidance that will address the needs and strengths of New Jersey's children and parents.

"I am very excited to help lead New Jersey to become a trauma-informed state and continue the great work that has already been done,” said Dave Ellis. “Through this partnership across the public, private, and philanthropic sectors, we will focus on resources, innovation, and expanded leadership to determine our course forward."

Ellis is a national leader in providing trainings and facilitating conversations regarding toxic stress in the lives of young children and the lasting impacts of ACEs and generational trauma. He has worked with both families and organizations to prevent ACEs and advance research and survey efforts. His prior experience in several Minnesota government initiatives also included facilitating community dialogues and public-private partnerships to promote wellbeing across Minneapolis. Most recently, he worked as a lead trainer and facilitator on ACEs with the New Jersey Education Association.

“We are fortunate to have Dave join the Collaborative to bring his knowledge and passion to develop programs that will transform the lives of New Jersey’s children and families,” said Dr. Arturo Brito, Executive Director of The Nicholson Foundation.

Among the duties of the Executive Director, Ellis will facilitate a cross-sectoral committee comprised of New Jersey leaders to coordinate statewide work related to ACEs, including the implementation of the Action Plan. In addition, he will represent New Jersey’s ACEs initiatives both locally and nationally, identify grassroots and community-led ACEs efforts, and offer technical assistance and strategic support for organizations to implement the Action Plan.

“We’re very excited to welcome national ACEs leader, Dave Ellis, to our public-private partnership incorporating his invaluable expertise and talent. This marks a huge step forward in our effort to raise awareness of ACEs and strengthen protective factors in order to help our communities prevent, protect against, and heal from the damaging effects of ACEs,” said Atiya Weiss, Executive Director of the Burke Foundation.

In response to COVID-19 and the increased stressors on families, communities, service providers, and state systems such as health care and early care and education, this role and the facilitation of cross-sectoral partnerships will also shape New Jersey's response and ensure a healing-centered approach.


The New Jersey ACEs Collaborative is a partnership between The New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the Burke Foundation, The Nicholson Foundation, and the Turrell Fund. The Collaborative shares a deep commitment to building a brighter future for children in New Jersey and seeks to support statewide efforts around ACEs by coordinating current and future investments in this vital work.


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