Wildland fire mental health and well-being
Presenters: Suzanne Connolly. Suzanne specializes in treating trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is passionate about sharing her effective methods with professionals and leaders around the world. Researcher, author, speaker, Adjunct Professor, therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Suzanne Connolly has been in private practice working with adults, adolescents, couples and families in Northern Arizona since 1987.
Marc Titus, Staff Specialist – Fire Adapted Communities, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Nevada Division of Forestry. Marc Titus currently works as the Nevada Division of Forestry’s Fire Adapted Communities Staff Specialist and is completing an MS in Psychology from Arizona State University. His journey of recovery from PTSD is thought-provoking, alarming and yet filled with hope. Being intimately involved in the 2008 Iron 44 Fatality Incident ultimately took its toll on Marc and after many years of degradation, he was finally diagnosed with PTSD in December 2014. Losing everything from his career as a wildland firefighter, Marc rebuilt his life around his recovery and new yoga businesses he and wife, Heather Shereé Titus owned and operated in Sedona, AZ. He has been an advocate for understanding PTSD and providing tools and
practices that combat traumatic stress and mental health issues in First Responders. He now lives in Carson City, NV with his wife and dog, Boon and can finally think about (and plan for) the future again.
Nelda St. Clair, Owner of firemind. Nelda started her career with the Forest Service in 1979 on the Medicine Bow National Forest. She moved on to the BLM as a Unimog Operator and over the years held various positions including Fire Operations Supervisor, Helitack Manager, Assistant FMO and FMO. She spent 14 years as the Center Manager at the Western Great Basin Coordination Center. She retired in 2019 from the BLM National Office as the National CISM Coordinator. Nelda is completing a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is the National CISM Coordinator (Contract) for the BIA. Nelda also owns firemind® a mental health referral service for wildland firefighters.
Shawna A. Legarza, PsyD, Director of Emergency Management, Office of Emergency Management, La Plata County, Colorado. Shawna was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern Nevada and entered the firefighting profession as an engine crewmember for the Bureau of Land Management. She has recently retired as the National Director of Fire and Aviation for the United States Forest Service, where she worked for four years in Washington, DC. She spent 31 years working for the federal government in fire and aviation management. Shawna held numerous leadership positions across the Country for both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. These positions include Incident Commander, Operations Section Chief, Safety Officer and many years working as a hotshot crew member. Shawna started the San Juan Hotshot crew as the Superintendent in 2002, worked as the Dispatch Center Manager in Grand Junction, was the District Fire Management Officer in Bayfield, CO, and the Forest Fire Management Officer on the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California. Prior to her position in Washington DC, she was the Regional Fire and Aviation Director for the Forest Service in California. In addition to her fire experience, she worked at the World Trade Center 9/11 recovery efforts, Hurricane Rita and the Greensburg Tornado. She has also traveled internationally to the recent fires in Australia, Brazil and Mexico. Shawna has a Doctorate in Psychology, a Master of Science in Kinesiology and a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Physiology and Teaching. She is a graduate of the National Wildland Fire Apprenticeship Program Academy.