California Southern University has named Heather Williams the recipient of the 2017 CalSouthern Difference Award, presented annually to a CalSouthern alumnus who has made a difference in his or her profession, field of study or local community through distinguished work, scholarship, innovation or service. Heather will be presented with the award at the university’s 2017 commencement ceremony, held at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on August 5th.
Heather was a Program Director with CSP Victim Assistance Programs for 14 years and oversaw all special victim programs which include: Homicide, Sexual Assault, Gangs, and Domestic Violence. In 2003, after responding to an active shooter event in Irvine, CA she created the CSP Crisis Response Team.
As the coordinator of the Crisis Response Team, Heather spent 10 years responding to a number of critical incidents including homicide, murder-suicide, and workplace violence incidents to mitigate the trauma experienced by victims, witnesses and the community. In 2011, she responded to the Salon Meritage mass casualty in Seal Beach, CA.
In 2014, Heather was hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as the Regional Peer Support Coordinator. Heather coordinates a team of 100 OCSD personnel, provides crisis counseling, critical incident debriefing and coordinates an Emotional Wellness Campaign. She is the Co-founder of the Orange County Association of Peer Supporters (OCAPS) and works in partnership with a number of police departments to help develop and sustain peer support programs and provide critical incident debriefing following a traumatic event. In addition, Heather provides training on a number of topics that include, “The Impact of Trauma for First Responders,” “Building Resiliency in Law Enforcement Professionals,” and “Employee Wellness.”
For the past 4 years Heather and Investigator Shane Millhollon-SWAT Team Leader have presented “Active Shooter Response & Impact of Workplace Violence” in California and at conferences nationwide. After the San Bernardino terrorist attack in December of 2015, Heather and Shane were tasked by the County of Orange CEO’s Office to train county employees. In 2016 they conducted 85 presentations to county employees, community members, business owners, County contracted programs and at a number of different conferences.
Heather is passionate about empowering and preparing employees to take charge of their physical and emotional survival, ultimately reducing stress, living happier more fulfilling lives and building inner resiliency.
California Southern University is a regionally accredited university, offering undergraduate and graduate online degree programs in law, business, criminal justice and law enforcement, psychology, education, and nursing to a nationwide and international student body. CalSouthern is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, #100, Alameda, CA 94501, (510) 748-9001. To learn more about online education at CalSouthern, please visit www.calsouthern.edu.