Track: All

Every day, 100 people in the U.S. are killed by guns, and many others are injured. This type of violence occurs most frequently in some of the poorest communities, disproportionately impacting communities of color. Gun violence is often a symptom of larger and underlying issues related to poverty and mental health. In fact, gun violence is often associated with people who have experienced toxic stress in childhood, which may have impacted their developmental trajectory. Gun violence creates ripple effects of trauma for survivors, victims, their families, observers, first responders, and the entire community. 

This frank conversation will explore the topic of gun violence in our communities, discuss the impact of gun related trauma as it relates to children and families, and brainstorm the ways we can infuse empathy, therapeutic interventions, and the right training to law enforcement, educators, health care providers, and other community-based systems. We will explore the ways we, collectively, as representatives of communities across the country, can endorse the policy interventions that address root cause issues that prevent violence.

Learning Objectives

  • The impact of gun violence on the communities we serve, with an equity lens
  • Connect brain science research on trauma to these issues, to inform our approaches
  • Ways to facilitate community conversations, policy interventions, and ideas to create systems change in our communities and our country


  • Ilana Levinson, senior director of government relations, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities 
  • Additional presenters to be invited

Ilana Levinson
Senior Director of Government Relations
Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

Ilana Levinson is the senior director of government relations for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. In this role, she represents the Alliance and its strategic action network to Congress, federal agencies, and applicable state government. She also coordinates activities and partnerships with fellow human service organizations and policy coalitions in Washington D.C. to advance aligned goals.

Prior to joining the Alliance, Levinson served as senior director of advocacy and public policy for YouthBuild USA, a national organization focused on reconnecting low-income, out-of-school youth to education and job training. Under her leadership, the organization more than doubled federal legislative support and increased annual federal investment by $12 million, to $90 million annually. She also cofounded the Reconnecting Youth Campaign, a national advocacy campaign focused on creating one million reconnection pathways for opportunity youth each year. She served as a legislative assistant from 2006-2011 in the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), focusing on furthering legislation to expand healthy food access to low-income residents, the promotion of green collar jobs, and efforts to re-engage out-of-school youth in education and employment opportunities. Levinson also spent time working in city government in New York City, organizing hiring events for victims of Superstorm Sandy in severely affected neighborhoods.

She received her master’s of public and nonprofit administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and her bachelor’s in social relations and psychology from Michigan State University.