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Debra Cady, LCSW

Founder & CEO




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Work Biography: Debra Cady

Debra Cady is CEO and Founder of Silver Linings International, LLC.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is a facilitator of strength-based, positive change for individuals and organizations.  Debra is a certified appreciative inquiry facilitator, an on-course designer, coach, consultant, and an enthusiastic trainer!


Her approach to positive change is built on foundations of Trauma-informed Principles, Social Learning Theory, TTM stages of change, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, The Theory of Constraint, Transformational Relationships, Appreciative Inquiry, and Positive Psychology.


She has used those foundations and her significant work experience to create several innovative training programs, all designed to help adults working with children, youth and young adults create positive outcomes in their workplaces and their communities.


What is behind Debra’s desire to create and deliver high impact training?


She is an adaptive, creative, and compassionate leader who is driven to help communities plan and implement practices and policies for youth and young adults (16-26) with mental health challenges.


Debra created the Launch My Idea™ Academy (2020) to teach practitioners, coordinators, and program managers to implement an 8-step best practice process for effective, safe, and ethical involvement of youth/young adults or other vulnerable population; the first and only Academy of this type in the nation.

She co-developed the Trauma-informed Method of Engagement (TIME) model for Youth Advocacy in 2010, a 90-minute workshop, to heighten awareness of the risk of re-traumatization of youth and young adults who share their lived experiences for system change on panels, committees, and boards. She presented the model over the last 10 years at countless national, state, and local workshops and webinars, including speaking at the International Foster Care Organization Conference in the UK. 


Debra expanded on the TiME model in 2020 to create Trauma-Informed Youth Engagement™ (TIYE) to increase youth and young adult participation by teaching practitioners how to improve youth self-efficacy through trauma-informed, social learning, and transformational relationship lenses. This focus is on engagement, so before an evidenced-based or practice-informed intervention is implemented, the first step is engagement.


Debra understands it is essential to build upon the strengths of individuals and of the community and hear the voices as a collective whole. She is a Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator who helps communities and individuals analyze ‘what works’ to improve service systems in order to build effective and culturally responsive services and supports that create positive and sustainable change. She provides appreciative inquiry facilitated summits, workgroups, workshops, and consultation to help system’s reach their highest aspirations.

Over the course of Debra’s career, she’s supervised well over 100 staff professionals and paraprofessionals in the human services/mental health field.  In her experience, at least two-thirds of those staff had some kind of lived experience and/or trauma backgrounds. So she created Trauma-Informed Supervisor’s 101 (foundations) and Trauma-Informed Teams virtual courses. These trainings are appropriate for anyone who supervises people or teams because it is good for everyone.

What makes her an expert… and an amazing trainer?


Debra is a national expert in the area of youth and young adults transitioning into adulthood with 35 years of experience in behavioral health. She is experienced in everything from direct service to senior level management roles within multiple child, youth, and young adult serving systems. Debra's direct service experience includes individual and group behavioral outpatient therapy, residential, care management, and mobile mental health crisis services. 


As a manager, she provided trauma-informed supervision to a diverse workforce to include mentoring, coaching, and clinical supervision for licensure. Debra provides strategic consultation to states and communities to improve programming for youth and young adults.


As a senior level manager, in both child welfare and juvenile justice, she created and implemented policy and practice changes with the active involvement of key stakeholders. She has worked in private and community mental health, non-profits, higher education, state child welfare, State juvenile corrections, and the federal government.


While at the Federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Debra authored the first Healthy Transitions (HT) SAMHSA RFP, an innovative grant opportunity to serve youth and young adults of transition age (16-26 yrs) with mental health challenges. 


She’s been focused on sharing her knowledge and effecting positive changes her entire career.


As a previous Assistant Professor at Georgetown University and Director of Child Welfare Policy, Debra provided training and technical assistance to children's mental health System of Care grantees and facilitated strategic planning and learning communities. Debra was the child welfare/mental subject matter expert for the National TA Center for Children’s Mental Health at Georgetown.


She organized and facilitated a six-part national webinar series and a 2-day Summit for the Federal Administration of Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) on use of psychotropic medications and impact on the foster care system for state child welfare, mental health and Medicaid directors.


 Silver Linings International is a training and consultation organization, which a Certified Woman-Owned Small Business. She currently resides in Rochester, NY.

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