Debra Chaves Norwood is an attorney, writer, public speaker and World Laughter Tour certified laughter leader–expert level practitioner in therapeutic laughter and positive activities interventions. She is currently a Family Law, and Juvenile Court attorney in Lexington Tennessee, and was a volunteer attorney for WRAP (Women’s Rape Assistance Program) in Decaturville, Tennessee. As a strong advocate against women’s discrimination and child labor practices, Debra’s focus has included minority rights, immigration, family law, conflict resolution, cultural diversity training and studies on post -traumatic stress due to political violence as well as armed conflict or domestic abuse. Concerned about the effects of on childhood developmental milestones, as well as the effect of stress on professionals and caregivers whose careers require high levels of resilience and efficacy–Debra has created a compassionate persona –“Laughter Lawyer USA “ which gives her a forum to conduct what she calls her unorthodox Conflict Resolution Skills Training Playground –programs for children and the “child-at heart.”
Ms. Norwood frequently serves as a court appointed Guardian- at -Litem in Juvenile Court in potential child abuse and dependency and neglect cases. Debra is currently working on a legal prospectus on the use of Positive Activities interventions and trust building exercises for Guardian ad-Litem cases in Tennessee. As a result of her interest in fighting child abuse since her early years as a Juvenile Court volunteer in law school, Debra’s focus is to change the fate of children who have been scarred by domestic or armed conflict. Her experience with children includes teaching assistant to elementary school-children in ESL programs in Escuela Campo Alegre in Caracas, Venezuela as well as serving as a volunteer community liaison for Porter Leath’s Children’s Center in Memphis, Tennessee. She was a former Board member of Saint Peter’s Home for Children, and former board member of the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross as well as a volunteer for the Fire Safety House, a trailer designed to teach children how to react to emergencies and natural disasters. Debra has also created the first LDS faith -based parenting program to be approved by the State of Tennessee. As Laughter Lawyer USA Debra’s first CLL outreach was to teenagers, who, in her words, “are the most equally stressed group as lawyers”. She has conducted workshops for hundreds of high school students entering the Health Occupations Services in Tennessee. (HOSA) in laughter club presentations which are all day workshops held for consecutive years at Riverside High School in Decaturville, Tennessee. Ms. Norwood’s law practice includes fighting for minority rights for numerous nationalities and subgroups, such as Ukrainians, Latinos, and Native Americans on a national and international level. She is a former International Humanitarian Law instructor for the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross, and currently serves on the board of Human Friends International, a not-for profit interfaith harmony and human rights organization that recently testified before the United Nations regarding the use of unjust rape laws in Pakistan. Ms. Norwood chairs the HFO section on Gender and Child Labor Law and has assisted in fundraising efforts to empower women in Pakistan. Human Friends Organization International also has a strong inter-faith harmony initiative for Christians and Muslims.
As a facilitator for the LDS Addiction Recovery Program in Linden, Tennessee, Ms. Norwood aids family members of addicts as well as addicts through a faith-based recovery program endorsed by Alcoholics Anonymous. She has also created her own adjunct support mechanism for post- traumatic stress, addiction and anxiety, called “Spiritual Laughter” which is intended as an additional vehicle for physical healing, emotional leveling and sobriety. The program is NOT intended as a substitute for counseling, or 12-step programs. Spiritual Laughter is an alternative, evidence -based support for sobriety through belief in a power beyond one’s own, as well as the use of emotional clearing exercises. As a certified laughter leader expert level practitioner certified by the World Laughter Tour, as well as a member of the Positive Psychology Association, NAMI, Cutting Edge Law, The Peace and Collaborative Network and the Association of Applied Therapeutic Humor (AATH) Ms. Norwood firmly believes that that “every person is entitled to a happy childhood!” She further believes that if in real life one’s childhood has not been happy that there are means that a person can, as an adult, “create” their own happy childhood by getting in touch with their “inner child”. Through the use of applied positive psychology, emotional intelligence skills training and mirthful laughter these hurting adults are taught to develop a child-like wonder and renewed love for life.
Ms. Norwood is the mother of four and has raised 7 children, three of which have special needs. She is married to Dan Norwood, a labor and employment and public interest lawyer from Memphis Tennessee. Together they consider themselves “Workplace interventionists” and advocate the use of a holistic practice for their clients. Ms. Norwood is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and Chair for WLT (Women in the Law), a faith based program for women attorneys that is a branch of the J.Reuben Clark Society. She has served as General Counsel for Fashion Academy and currently serves on the Executive Council of Business Over Coffee International, a Social Media Networking Company. She is the host of two Internet radio shows: Look Good! Feel Good! Segment of Your True Colours Image Radio on www.blogtalkradio.com/businessovercoffee and a bilingual radio show Mi Vida(My Life) also on BOCI Radio.