- Join us for an intimate screening of the film, “Speaking Through Me”, followed by a conversation around navigating grief and education around substance use with the director, Dr. Kristen Gilliland.
- Learn important information about the developing brain and how prevention and education can help youth make healthy choices.
About the presenter:
Kristen M. Gilliland, Ph.D. Director of Outreach and Advocacy Programs
Kristen earned her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She later served as an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo.
During her professorship at Cal Poly, she taught Organic Chemistry, Neurochemistry, and the Chemistry of Drugs and Poisons. After Kristen’s son was diagnosed with cannabis-induced
schizophrenia at the age of 17, Kristen joined the Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Vanderbilt University (2018) to research new treatments for schizophrenia. Kristen
delivered a TEDx presentation titled Rewiring Revolution: Neuroplasticity’s Impact on Wellbeing in 2018, as well. Tragically, Kristen lost her son to an accidental overdose in 2019 after his
mental health severely declined and he became addicted to opioids and stimulants. Kristen then changed the trajectory of her life to utilize her scientific teaching, presentation, and research
skills to educate adolescent-aged children, young adults, and their parents on mental health challenges and how it can lead to substance use and/or substance use disorder. As the Director
of Outreach and Advocacy Programs for the Warren Center, Kristen presents to middle schools, high schools, community centers, and recovery programs across Middle Tennessee. In addition,
she has developed an educational documentary aimed for adolescent-aged children titled Speaking Through Me which was released in August of 2023. The documentary and Kristen’s
presentations focus on the developing teenage brain and neuroplasticity, the structural and functional changes that occur in the brain when under repeated stress and anxiety, the impacts
of high potency cannabis on the adolescent brain, the neurobiology of addiction, and the dangers and prevalence of fentanyl. Lastly, the documentary and presentations also include
mindful methods to address everyday stressors or adversity along with teaching self-compassion techniques to wire healthy connections in the developing adolescent brain.