Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Laura will be the keynote speaker at noon on Tuesday, March 9 at noon.

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky is the founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute and author of Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others and The Age of Overwhelm. Widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of trauma exposure, she has worked locally, nationally, and internationally for more than three decades.

Laura found her calling at age 18, when she regularly spent nights volunteering in a homeless shelter. She went on to work with survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, acute trauma of all kinds, and natural disasters. Simultaneously, she has long been active in community organizing and movements for social and environmental justice and has taught on issues surrounding systematic oppression and liberation theory.

A decade into her career, Laura experienced what can best be described as a near-psychotic break—which, she came to realize, was the result of years of witnessing and being intimately involved in trauma while lacking insight into how to sustain herself amidst such conditions. As a part of her attempt to come back from the brink, she began a journey of inquiry into the lasting effects on both individuals and communities of exposure to the suffering, hardship, crisis, or trauma endured by humans, other living beings, or the planet itself.

The book, Trauma Stewardship, was written at the request of fellow colleagues. In 2005, she traveled to post-Katrina New Orleans to help in the aftermath. As Laura was coming to the end of her time there, residents asked if she had anything in writing to leave for them. She did not, but the palpable need for resources on trauma exposure compelled her to collaborate with others to write and independently publish Trauma Stewardship in 2007. Several thousand copies were sold out of her basement. The book immediately was nominated for and received international award recognition and went on to become a bestseller.