Roundtable: Colorado Crisis Education and Response Network: 20 years of evolving and sustaining a state's disaster behavioral health partnership

Aimee Voth Siebert, Curt Drennen, Nancy Lewis, Melissa Zotara, and Ian AndersonConstitution Hall Room 1

Abstract: The Colorado Crisis Education and Response Network (CoCERN) is a statewide asset based in community partnerships formed to deliver effective, efficient and professional disaster behavioral health services. Since its beginning, CoCERN's strength lies not in members' strict adherence to its protocols and guidelines, but in its sustained convening and relationship building. Organizations whose psychosocial missions, jurisdictions, and skills could compete for disaster status or funding instead strengthen the social fabric and natural resilience of distressed communities though collaboration. Across time, staff turnover, and changing disaster priorities, CoCERN has helped ensure that Colorado disaster systems keep disaster behavioral health capacity and considerations in focus.

This roundtable will feature voices and insights from CoCERN's diverse geographic and disciplinary membership. The roundtable participants will examine CoCERN's origins in disorganized, competitive community responses and how the network's framework aims to create partnership and structure from chaos. Stories from the field and training initiatives from CoCERN partners, such as:

  • Expectations of disaster behavioral health in rural response
  • Navigating DBH responsibilities and community care in mass shootings
  • Disaster spiritual care vis a vis disaster behavioral health

Planning for disaster behavioral health in Denver’s metro region will highlight how CoCERN has evolved and how it benefits individual member organizations when they are leading a disaster behavioral health response. Roundtable participants will focus discussion on a collective approach to "self-care" and how CoCERN coordination can inject helpful norms and capacity to protect DBH providers during early and long-term response and recovery efforts.  Symposium attendees will leave the roundtable with innovative partnership ideas to source disaster behavioral health capacity in their own communities, effective planning and convening practices to keep improving disaster behavioral health work, and resources to cultivate a collective self-care model among DBH providers that helps sustain us all in continuously challenging times.



  • Name: Aimee Voth Siebert
    • Title: Disaster Behavioral Health and Inclusion Program Manager
    • Bio: Aimee joined the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response in Colorado’s Dept. of Public Health and Environment in May 2012. Aimee holds a Masters in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver and has grown multi-disciplinary emergency knowledge and experience in both domestic and international settings. In her role with the state Disaster Behavioral Health team, Aimee supported Colorado responses to the 2012, 2013, and 2018 Wildfire Seasons, the September 2013 floods, multiple Colorado shootings, and the COVID-19 response. In 2015, she deployed with CDC's Ebola Response in Sierra Leone as a Health Promotion Specialist and in October 2017, she led a Colorado disaster mental health team to support Puerto Rico's response to Hurricane Maria. Aimee promotes a people-centered and adaptive functioning lens in emergency planning and response. She helped develop and contributes ongoing leadership to Colorado’s Access & Functional Needs Program, which began in 2018. She trains diverse community and emergency organizations in disaster behavioral health, access & functional needs, community inclusion, and crisis communications. She is certified as a State Crisis Counseling Program trainer and grant writer, a CDC Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Trainer, a Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience Practitioner and an Advanced Public Information Officer.


Curt Drennen

  • Title: Disaster Behavioral Health and Recovery Chief
  • Bio: Dr. Curt Drennen is a licensed clinical psychologist working for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response as the state’s Disaster Behavioral Health and Community Recovery Branch Chief. In this role, he supports the Disaster Behavioral Health and Community Inclusion Program and the Healthcare Worker Resilience and Retention Initiative. In addition, he has lead the long-term development of the State’s disaster behavioral health system through community partnership and education and integration into ESF 8. Curt has led the Colorado behavioral health response to over 13 events of significance including natural disasters, public health crisis and major community violence. Dr Drennen has led 9 CCP programs and has trained dozens of other programs across the country over the past 21 years. In addition to facilitating all five components of the CCP curriculum, he trainings groups in PFA, Disaster Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and Responding effectively to Stress, in addition to being an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver’s MA in International Disaster Psychology teaching Disaster Mental Health. Dr. Drennen received his Masters and Doctorate from the University of Denver in Clinical Psychology in 2000 and 2001, his Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the University of Kansas in 1992 and his Bachelors of Science in Psychology, Chemical Science and Pre Medicine from Kansas State University in 1989. In 2020, Dr. Drennen became a certified Emergency Manager.

Nancy Lewis

  • Title: Former Director, Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance
  • Bio: Since January 2023 Nancy is a consultant with Valor Technical Cleaning doing training and building relationships with victim advocates across the US.
  • Nancy was the Executive Director for the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA) for 28 years. COVA is a membership agency dedicated to building a collaborative environment where all crime victims are given the best opportunity to heal and restore balance to their lives. COVA hosts an annual conference with over 1000 attendees, a basic and advance academy and training in the Victim’s Rights Act, Vicarious Trauma and Cultural Considerations. COVA responded to mass tragedies in Colorado and, provided a crime victim emergency fund of over 1 million dollars annually, provided paid internships for students interested in victim advocacy, provided case management for Human Trafficking Victims and monitored legislation that dealt with crime victim issues.
    Other employment consisted of being the Training Director of Callanetics Franchise Corp, The Executive Director of WomanSchool and Westminster Youth Resource Center, the Training Coordinator of Models at Prevention, teacher at the Training Resources for Youth in New York City and a case manager in Harlem for New York Department of Social Services. Nancy started her career at a very early age.

Melissa Zotara

  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Title: Disaster Coordinator, WellPower/Mental Health Center of Denver
  • Bio: Melissa has been with Wellpower since May 2014 and was working in Risk Management when the opportunity to take over the Disaster Behavioral Health coordination arose. Working for the last 8+ years to create a robust disaster behavioral health and emergency preparedness program for Wellpower, she also serves as a leader in the region for DBH and the integration of behavioral health resources into emergency management.She received her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Masters in Leadership of Healthcare Organizations from the University of California, San Diego. Working across the healthcare spectrum for over 20 years she has unique perspectives into many types of healthcare operations, patient care delivery systems, direct patient care, healthcare finance and the patient experience.Melissa's goal is to continue to advocate for the inclusion of behavioral health and DBH into emergency response and planning.
  • Website: WellPower

Ian Anderson

  • Title: COVOAD Co-Chair/The Salvation Army
  • Bio: Ian Anderson is a US/UK citizen with over 14 years of emergency management experience. Currently working for The Salvation Army's Intermountain Division, Ian is the Director of Emergency Disaster Services and Service Extension, covering CO, UT, WY, and MT. He also serves as the Chair for Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD), a forum where CO NGOs share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle. Ian worked for The Salvation Army in New York City as the Response Coordinator and New York City Regional Manager, as well as serving as the Co-Chair for the Donations and Logistics Committee within NYC Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) and liaison to the NYCEM Citywide Logistics Committee. Ian works in close collaboration with partner NGOs, for-profits, and government sector partners to maintain vital relationships and plans. Large-scale international disaster response experience includes deployments to Haiti following the earthquakes in 2010 and the earthquake, tsunami, and liquefaction in Indonesia in 2018. Ian's domestic experience ranges from serving as the Incident Commander for TSA's Hurricane Harvey response, to taking on the role as the Logistics Chief in New York City and the surrounding region following Hurricane Sandy. Ian has received training in multiple FEMA IS courses, Amateur Radio (KO2IAN), TSA/Mental Health Psychological First Aid, HSI Medic First Aid Train the Trainer, as well as training on the Sphere Project and Standards in International Disaster Response. Ian has earned an Executive Master’s Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management at Georgetown University as well as a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Emergency Management & Business Continuity at Metropolitan College of New York.
Sun 12:00 am - 12:00 am
100 max
collaboration, colorado crisis education and response network, roundtable