‘Tools for Moving Through Trauma’ hosted by Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy

As incidents of mass violence continue to rise across America, countless families and communities are left grieving. After the Covenant School shooting in Nashville in March 2023, the public conversation quickly, and understandably, turned to firearm legislation. While legislation is a crucial topic of discussion, the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy saw a need to pause for reflection on the traumatic events our community has experienced and to provide tools and resources to navigate healing.

The Unity Project hosted a panel of experts with backgrounds in counseling, psychiatry, socioeconomics and conflict resolution to provide expert advice on coping with community trauma, supporting friends, family and colleagues, processing these events and affecting change as individuals and community members.

Learn more about the moderator and panelists:


Samar S. Ali, co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy and founder of Millions of Conversations, conducts research that focuses on positive compromise through promoting conflict-resolution best practices among people, communities and nations experiencing polarization due to the connection between violence and labeling.


  • Jonathan Metzl has written extensively for medical, psychiatric and popular publications about some of the most urgent hot-button issues facing America and the world. He serves as the director of Vanderbilt University’s Department of Medicine, Health and Society and is the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Medicine, Health and Society and a professor of psychiatry.
  • Nicole Cobb is a former school counselor and is still very involved in this area of work. Cobb is associate chair and associate professor of the practice of human and organizational development at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College.
  • Yara González-Justiniano is an assistant professor of religion, psychology and culture at Vanderbilt University. Her most recent work wrestles with what hope looks like amid socioeconomic crises. Her interdisciplinary approach to this inquiry grounds itself in ethnographic research with the aim of finding practices that enable a hope that can sustain the collective.