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Greg Boris, Ed.D.
South Dakota

Former Senior Policy Analyst, South Dakota Voices for Children

"I have had the great fortune of working with Dr. Gerard Costa for the past 15 years. My first experience with him was when I was the senior policy specialist at South Dakota Voices for Children. There my focus was on developing resources for children’s mental health. We hired Dr. Costa to provide South Dakota ongoing training for mental health professionals in infant/toddler mental health.


I then moved to a similar role at the Center for Disabilities at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. The work of the Center became more involved in children’s mental health. Dr. Costa became part of the Center’s work in several ways.


Over these years Dr. Costa consistently brought the following to the table:


  1. Incredible depth of knowledge about the field of children’s mental health. In my work, the focus was on infants and toddlers. 

  2. The ability to respond to our organization’s needs while at the same time helping us expand our view of what might be possible. Rather than taking the approach of other consultants I have worked with who say, ‘This is what I do and here’s how I do it,’ Dr. Costa took the time to find out what we wanted and partnered with us to develop a program that was unique to us.

  3. The ability to communicate with the audience using language that is understandable and memorable. He speaks directly and uses stories to help convey his message. I remember Dr. Costa’s tangible image of the amygdala using his fist in talking about how it is the processing center for emotions. By extending his fingers, he illustrates how the amygdala ‘flips its lid’ when under stress. 

  4. Dr. Costa plays well with others. In two of our trainings, he partnered with Dr. Robert Block, past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Dr. Gerard Jacobs, a child psychologist with expertise in disaster mental health. His commentary with these colleagues served to complement what they said and add value to the discussion.

  5. The ability to keep the audience on the edge of their seats over many minutes. Dr. Costa’s presentation is more than a presentation…it is a performance. He uses his voice, timing, multi-media, and other tools to keep his audience engaged and wanting more.

  6. Dr. Costa is a quick yet thoughtful responder. At the conclusion of many trainings, the presenter often opens the floor to questions. This can prove difficult with a 100+ person audience. In one of his large trainings, Dr. Costa concluded by having the attendees write their questions on a card. The cards were collected and then all had a chance to visit and enjoy refreshments. During the break, two associates reviewed all the cards and created 8-10 questions that reflected the many questions submitted. When the group returned, Dr. Costa was asked each of the aggregated questions, giving very good responses to what was asked.

  7. Dr. Costa motivates others. In my first training with Dr. Costa a newly hired college professor was among the trainees. She realized that in her new position, she needed to establish a research agenda. She left the training with early childhood mental health as being the center of her professional life. That continues to this day.

  8. Dr. Costa can present trainings in various mediums. Over the 15 years we have worked together, he has effectively used 1:1 face-to-face, small group face-to-face, large group face-to-face, conference calls, and Zoom. 

  9. Recognition of that which both interests or offends the audience. Prior to each training, Dr. Costa would visit with us to get a better feel for who he will be working with. In doing so, he was able to better shape his presentation as well as avoid going down roads that would be unproductive.


Dr. Costa is the consummate trainer. He prepares so the time together flows effortlessly and in meaningful ways. He is able to pivot nimbly to respond to situations that might be unexpected. Those who attend Dr. Costa’s trainings leave not only with what they came for, but often with something more.


I find it a joy to work with Dr. Costa and look forward to future opportunities to do so."

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