Sue Abderholden, MPH
Executive Director, NAMI Minnesota
Sue Abderholden has served as the executive director for NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) since 2001. She has held leadership positions with Arc of Minnesota, U.S. Senator Paul D. Wellstone and PACER Center. Sue has a B.A. in political science from Macalester College and a master’s degree in public health administration from the University of Minnesota.
Ms. Abderholden has received numerous awards for her advocacy including the 2020 Esther Wattenberg Policy Award, being named one of the 100 most influential health care leaders by MN Physician, the 2018 Rona and Ken Purdy Award to End Discrimination from National NAMI, Excellence in Mental Health Advocacy and Policy Award from the International African Mental Health Providers, 2013 Gaylord Anderson Leadership Award from the U of M School of Public Health and the National Council for Behavioral Health 2013 Advocacy Leadership Award.
Founder & CEO, Starting With Today (SWT)
Charlyn Anderson is the Founder and Executive Director of Starting with Today, Inc. (SWT) and the visionary of The Shape Up: The Barbershop Talks & #MyHairAppt that makes Black group therapy culturally accessible. Charlyn is an innovative community builder who uses her expertise in data-driven training, employee engagement, and project management in the nonprofit, local government, and corporate sectors to create lasting impacts within her communities through outreach, education, collaboration.
Leigh-Anne Andre, LCSW
Vice President, Clinical Integration & Innovation, Connections Health Solutions
Leigh-Anne Andre, LCSW serves as the Vice President of Clinical Integration and Innovation at Connections Health Solutions. Leigh-Anne brings more than 17 years of experience in the behavioral health field, specializing in psychiatric crisis care, at-risk youth, evidenced-based family therapy, and substance use disorder treatment. Currently, Leigh-Anne monitors clinical key performance indicators and ensures clinical quality and fidelity to the Connections mission and clinical models. Additionally, she supports Connections as a clinical subject matter expert through participation in program and new market development.
Prior to working at Connections Health Solutions, Leigh-Anne managed and supervised Touchstone Health Services’ Tucson location, implementing evidence-based family therapy programs Multisystemic Therapy and Functional Family Therapy.
Leigh-Anne received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Family Studies at the University of Arizona, and her master’s degree in Social Work at Arizona State University. She was also selected to be a part of the University of Arizona’s inaugural Integrative Health and Wellness program developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and completed this program in 2014.
CEO & Founder, Filmmaker, iMPACTFUL
Scilla Andreen, CEO and founder of iMPACTFUL is an award-winning Producer, Director, Author & Founder of ImpactfulFund.org. Working closely with mental health professionals, brain scientists, educators, and experts in Wellness, DEI and HR; she created the Creative Coping Toolkit (CCT): A film-based, interactive, online learning platform built around the mental health film collection, Angst, LIKE, The Upstanders and RACE to Be Human. Using story the CCT is designed to normalize talking about mental health by bringing about awareness, deeper understanding and character building education through engagement tools and support services for educators, staff, students and their families.
Her work has been featured in The New York Times ,Good Morning America and Today. Additionally, she’s produced and/or distributed social impact films, Nevertheless, Screenagers, Empowerment Project and Finding Kind.
Scilla works with corporations, nonprofits and thousands of schools around the world. She loves learning and exploring new technology and uses story to bond, bridge and model empathy to build a more empathetic community. Scilla is a popular speaker at Sundance, Cannes, CES, SXSW, BeBold, Women in Film and now mental health summits, educational institutions and corporate HR and DEIB panels. She is a mother of 6 and resides with her husband Eric and two dogs in Seattle WA. Scilla is on a mission to change the world with film.
Oscar Arango, LPC
Vice President Assets Protection, Target
Oscar Arango is an accomplished executive with 30 years of leadership experience within the retail loss prevention industry. Oscar has spent the last 17 years of his career with Target, a Fortune 50 company.
Oscar is a strategic leader, a creative problem solver, and a genuine communicator with a demonstrated ability to drive strong results, even against a backdrop of uncertainty and rapid growth. He is passionate about people and committed to making sure the business is not only profitable, but equitable. A team focused leader with a proven track record of building and developing high performing teams, Oscar prioritizes talent development and retention and takes pride in the many leaders he has had the chance to develop and promote.
Originally from the Chicago area, Oscar now resides in the Twin Cities with his son Mateo and daughter Kayla. In his free times Oscar enjoys time on the lake with his family, sampling new bourbons, barbecuing and cheering on his favorite Chicago sports teams.
Dr. Nicole Arkadie, EdD, LCSW, PPSC
Assistant Professor, California State University of San Bernardino
Dr. Nicole Arkadie is a Scholar Practitioner who is the first Black Women hired in a tenured ranked position in the School of Social Work at California State University of San Bernardino. She is an Assistant Professor and Licensed Mental Health Therapist who has been in the field of Social & Behavioral Sciences for over 22 years. She holds a Doctorate in Education in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Behavioral Health. Her research focuses on the positive and negative emotional responses of practitioners and effective intervention techniques to assist their mental wellness. She researches maternal health exploring ways to enhance self-care strategies to address mental wellness.
Adrienne Augustus, MPA
Mental Health Programs Manager, City of Hyattsville
Adrienne Augustus is the Mental Health Programs Manager for the City of Hyattsville in Maryland. She first joined the City in 2020 as a civilian at the Hyattsville Police Department (HPD). She quickly developed a comprehensive mental health program that proposed various educational and training opportunities designed to provide Hyattsville police and dispatchers with tools to use on the job and in their personal life. The program includes the development of a formal Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and the creation of the HPD Mental Wellness Check-in Initiative, which requires every officer and dispatcher to meet quarterly with mental health professionals.
Ms. Augustus began her professional career as an Emmy-nominated investigative news journalist. In 2008, she left the industry and moved into corporate communications and public relations. In 2016, Ms. Augustus shifted her career from the private sector to the public sector. She worked for NAMI Nevada and later at the NAMI national headquarters in Arlington, VA. She also volunteered as a NAMI Connection peer support group facilitator for several years. In 2019, she launched A Beautiful Mind Foundation Inc., a volunteer-run grantmaking charity dedicated to funding culturally competent mental health support services and education programs.
Ms. Augustus has mental health crisis support certifications from CIT International, Johns Hopkins University’s Psychological First Aid, the National Council on Behavioral Health’s Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health First Aid for First Responders, and the Assessing for Suicide in Kids (ASK) Workshop. She has served on boards of directors including with Community Crisis Services, Inc., the agency responsible for receiving 988 calls in her region. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
LaGenia Bailey, Pharm.D.,BCPP, C-IAYT
Chair Pride Alliance Business Impact Group & Lead Patient Engagement Medical Affairs, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
LaGenia knows the effect of mental health conditions both personally and professionally. Her lived experience is of 4 family members with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She is a life-long advocate devoted to elevating the voice of those with lived experience. In this devotion, she found her voice as well. Dr. Bailey is the Chair of the Pride Alliance for her company, works as a pharmacologist in the discovery of new medications for SMI, teaches yoga and meditation and practices as a sound therapist/singer. She is a survivor of trauma and thrives in helping people access new tools that help on the road towards wellness and recovery. She has served on two national boards of mental health organizations and appreciates that the movement from I to We is the key to progressing from Illness to Wellness. One of her best times in life was paddle-boarding across the US as a fundraiser for NAMI in 2013.
Anxiety Survivor/Speaker/Podcaster, Pain to Power, LLC
Justin Banks has specialized in turning his pain into power. Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, Justin has turned this diagnosis into purpose, becoming a speaker and advocate for mental health equity, a fitness professional and podcaster. Justin speaks about the turnaround and the overcoming of an anxiety disorder. He also analyzes the triggers and systems that give birth to mental illness, and how we can all work together to improve mental health for all.
Director of Education and Support, NAMI Keystone, PA
Aleta Barnett, BA, graduated from Edinboro University with a Bachelor in Sociology. Aleta has a long history in social services, working with people experiencing homelessness, addiction, and mental health challenges.
In 2019 Aleta started at NAMI Keystone as the Mental Health advocate and was able to assist many families and individuals with information around mental health and provide resources. In 2021, Aleta was promoted to Director of Education and Support and now works to provide NAMI signature classes and trainings across the state. Aleta also is passionate about educating minority communities with information and resources about mental health.
Young Adult Program Assistant, NAMI CT
Torry has worked in the mental health field as a peer for the last 8 years. Torry’s passion stems from lived in experience in the mental health system and the foster care system. As the Young Adult Program assistant for NAMI CT, Torry have been able to support youth navigate their way through their own journeys in life. Torry is on the CTSAB Lived Experience Committee, where the goal is to educate and speak about the unique perspective of those who have attempted/survived suicide or have thoughts of suicide. Torry has presented at conferences, workshops, schools and many more.
Paige Bichler, MSN, RN
Vice President, Clinical Operations, Connections Health Solutions
Paige Bichler, MSN, RN is the Vice President of Clinical Operations for Connections Health Solutions in Montana bringing more than 18 years of experience in the healthcare industry, specializing in emergency services and psychiatric crisis care. In her role, Paige provides clinical and operational oversight over the Company’s services ensuring that the highest quality of care and treatment is delivered to individuals who are experiencing a crisis.
Prior to joining Connections, Paige served as the Nurse Manager for Emergency Services at Bozeman Health, where she was responsible for clinical and operational oversight of an entire service line while successfully aligning with organizational parameters for productivity. Her career began as a nurse at Mayo Clinic in Florida.
Paige graduated from the University of North Florida with a B.S. in Nursing. She received her MSN in Leadership and Management from Western Governors University.
Dawn P. Brown
National Director, NAMI HelpLine Services
After years of working in business and non-profit management, Dawn was drawn to NAMI and the mental health field following her son’s schizophrenia diagnosis. Since joining NAMI in 2012 as the manager of the NAMI HelpLine, she has had the opportunity to apply her business skills and passion for helping others to her work. In her current position as NAMI’s National Director of HelpLine Services, Dawn and HelpLine team assisted 100,000 help seekers in 2022 in finding the information, resources, and support needed to advance their recovery or support the recovery of a loved one.
Dawn has a deep understanding of the challenges, needs, and dreams of people who live a life impacted by mental illness because of her lived experience and daily connection to the NAMI Community.
President, Accel Consulting
Douglas Brush is a federally court-appointed Special Master, and Court Appointed Neutral expert in high-profile litigation matters involving privacy, security, and eDiscovery.
He is an information security executive with over 30 years of entrepreneurship and professional technology experience. He is a globally recognized expert in cybersecurity, incident response, digital forensics, and information governance. In addition to serving as a CISO and leading enterprise security assessments, he has conducted hundreds of investigations involving hacking, data breaches, trade secret theft, employee malfeasance, and various other legal and compliance issues.
He is the founder and host of Cyber Security Interviews, a popular information security podcast.
Douglas is also committed to raising awareness about mental health, self-care, neurodiversity, diversity, equity, and inclusion, in the information security industry.
Michael T. Compton, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Columbia University
Michael T. Compton, M.D., M.P.H. is Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. He is also a Research Psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He has maintained continuous National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) research funding for more than 15 years, and his research has led to more than 250 publications. He is a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Prairie Conlon, LCMHC, LPC, NCC
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Prairie Conlon Mental Health Services LLC
Prairie Conlon is a licensed mental health professional and is considered the world’s leading expert on Emotional Support Animals. She is the Clinical Director of CertaPet, one of the largest telehealth companies in the nation. Prairie was featured on LifeTime TV’s Military Makeover and The Guardians documentary as an ESA expert. Prairie is certified as an equine assisted therapist and consults for nonprofits for veterans and first responder trauma.
Jason Craige Harris
Managing Partner, Perception Strategies
Jason Craige Harris is a voice for healing and transformation. He works in a variety of contexts, with a range of constituents, and across industries to promote dignity and belonging in business, technology, government, law, media, education, nonprofits, and faith communities. He brings together insights from diverse fields as a mediator, circle keeper, coach, storyteller, and strategist. As a researcher and educator, Jason holds expertise in the psychology of leadership; the social sciences of identity, group dynamics, and inter-group dialogue; inclusion strategies; conflict transformation; and restorative justice. Jason regularly advises leaders on how to solve big challenges and pursue lasting change. In all of his work, Jason draws on a deep well of research, practice, and mindfulness to transform leaders, managers, and workplace cultures.
Jason is a Managing Partner at Perception Strategies, a consulting firm working with institutions around the world to promote data-driven solutions to gaps in dignity, belonging, and accountability. He also serves as a Senior Advisor at Perception Institute, a research consortium prioritizing equity in social systems. In addition, Jason is a member of the speakers bureau at Pollyanna, a national organization working to promote racial literacy and cultural competency.
Jason is the author of the following pieces: “The Paradox of Isolation” (Friends Journal), “Between Love and Truth––Navigating Racial Conflict Using Restorative Justice” (CSEE), and “Black or Bruised” (AMBO). He is also the Social Impact Producer for a new documentary with Impactful entitled Race to Be Human, a film on how to talk about race and mental health.
Previously, Jason was the director of diversity and inclusion at a NYC independent school, where he co-led the school’s peace, equity, and justice department, and taught courses at the intersection of ethics, history, and religion. Jason sits on the boards of Seeds of Peace, Hidden Water, and Getting to We.
Taylor Crouch-Dodson, MPP
Strategic Partnership Manager, Canopy Roots
As an innovative problem solver, Taylor improves processes through intentional research, stakeholder engagement, and strategic planning. Taylor’s multidisciplinary professional expertise includes policy analysis, program evaluation, performance management, and human-centered design. Taylor has managed and redesigned services and programs, addressed racial disparities, and developed process solutions for complex and growing community needs. Taylor is driven to build safer, more just, and sustainable communities worldwide through creativity and collaboration.
Melissa Dalhoe, MSW, LICSW
NAVIGATE Director & Trainer, University of Minnesota
Melissa Dalhoe is a licensed independent clinical social worker who has been affiliated with the University of Minnesota’s (UMN) First Episode Psychosis Programs since 2015, and operating as director and family clinician with the UMN’s original NAVIGATE team since 2017. Melissa also provides national consultation and clinical supervision in the area of first episode psychosis. She has become a trainer for the national NAVIGATE training team delivering training in the overview of NAVIGATE, team training, and family training.
Director, Recovery Project at Florida Studio Theatre
Sean Daniels is an internationally known theater director, writer, and Artistic Director, known for new work and innovative community-based leadership.
He is a person in long term recovery, who has been a public advocate for change in the arts field. His play, The White Chip, a NYTimes Critics Pick https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/theater/the-white-chip-review.html has been performed around the world as a catalyst for community conversation and connection.
He’s been a NYTimes Critic Pick as a director and a writer and was profiled in the NYTimes and other magazines as a leading voice in the sober theater community.
“How Sean Daniels Stages Recovery. One Show At A Time.”
“The treacherous path to sobriety in American theatre”
“The Sober Reality for Theatremakers in Recovery”
“With recovery no longer so secret, a new wave of plays dealing with its realities has started to emerge. Some of the playwrights have drawn from their own lives.”
Over the past27 years, Daniels has worked at organizations which are 27M a year in size and has been the Co-CEO of organizations which are 8.2M a year.
His work has been seen in Scotland (Traverse, Tron) United Kingdom (St. James, Southwark Playhouse) and was the first American director asked to direct at the Baltic American Playwrights Conference in Hiiumaa, Estonia.
In the United States at Manhattan Theatre Club (The Lion, Drama Desk Award & Theatre World Award, nominated for Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle), 59e59 (NYC, I and You, nominated for Outer Critics Circle) Lynn Redgrave (NYC) The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), St. James (West End, London – The Lion, winner of Best New Musical), and at many wonderful regionals (Old Globe, ACT, Geffen, Cleveland Playhouse, Milwaukee Rep., Long Wharf, Alliance, and the Neo-Futurists in Chicago).
In addition, Sean has been an Artistic Director (Co-CEO) at Arizona Theatre Company, Merrimack Repertory and Dad’s Garage (which he co-founded), and Associate Artistic Director at California Shakespeare Theatre and Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Sean has been named “one of the top fifteen up & coming artists in the U.S., whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come” & “One Of 7 People Reshaping and Revitalizing The American Musical” by American Theatre magazine.
As a playwright, his work has been produced in multiple theaters over the country including a commercial Off-Broadway run of his sober dark comedy The White Chip which was produced by Tony Award winner Tom Kirdahy. It is currently being adapted for a book and a movie and playing in multiple cities around the globe.
Todd Donovan, Lt. (Ret.), MSLD
Board President, NAMI New Hampshire
Todd Donovan is a former Lieutenant/Paramedic (Retired) with the Derry, NH Fire Department and has been with the department for 20 years but has been a paramedic for 30 years. He lives in Chester, NH, with his wife, Nicole, of 30 years with four great children, all grown.
CEO, NAMI Orange County
Amy Durham is the CEO of NAMI Orange County, CA. Ten years ago Amy joined NAMI Orange County to work on their fundraising efforts. After starting at NAMI, three of her family members were diagnosed with a mental health condition and her passion to educate the community on mental health blossomed. Amy has created programs for teens and young adults, mentoring opportunities for families and peers, is certified to teach Mental Health First Aid. Additionally over the last 3 years, she has collaborated on creating, writing and facilitating a 40 hour CIT program, CIT Youth, CIT dispatch & CIT corrections training for Orange County.
Amy has worked for non-profits most of her career, with a focus on development and programs. She has enjoyed furthering organizations missions and helping people feel heard, supported and connected to their communities.
Katie Dzurec, JD, MPA
Regulatory &Policy Engagement Specialist
Katie Dzurec is a Regulatory and Policy Engagement Specialist for Regulatory Insurance Advisors, LLC. She has served as Assistant General Counsel for the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority and Senior Advisor to the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner. For over a decade, Ms. Dzurec has helped lead efforts to address health coverage access and compliance issues. In addition, Ms. Dzurec has directed inter-agency and inter-state collaboration on mental health parity enforcement and compliance efforts. She is regarded as a subject matter expert in the areas of healthcare reform, mental health parity, and health market conduct examinations.
She holds a B.A. degree in linguistics from the University of Oregon, a law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Maine. She is currently engaged in coursework toward a Master of Laws in Insurance at the University of Connecticut. She resides in Washington, DC, with her daughter, two dogs (Beezus and a greyhound named Dave the Dog), and a COVID rescue cat called Einstein.
Founder and Lead Communicator, Recklessly Alive
Sam Eaton is an author, speaker, and founder of Recklessly Alive, a suicide prevention organization sprinting toward a world with zero deaths by suicide. Sam has spoken at over one hundred and fifty events throughout the U.S. sharing his story of battling depression and suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Victoria Harris
Speaker / WA NAMI PLC Representative, NAMI Spokane
Dr. Victoria Harris is a retired hospital-based psychiatrist with a background in academic psychiatry, forensics and general medical practice. She is an engaging, dynamic speaker, known for her ability to relate to her audience. Dr. Harris brings a keen, open mind to presentations – aware, respectful & grateful of learning opportunities from audience members. She is excited to bring current research in the field of psychedelics and mental illness, to those wanting to learn about the forefront of this re-opened field.
Head Campus Captain, The Hidden Opponent
Dexter Hein-Harrison recently graduated from Coe College where he raced in cross country and track. While completing his Kinesiology degree, he discovered The Hidden Opponent which allowed him to share his story & express his passion for mental health. He has been a Head Campus Captain for three years and intends to pursue a Master’s degree in Athletic Training at Winona State University. He plans to continue to advocate and support athletes’ mental health through his future profession.
Senior Lieutenant Allen G. Herring
Community Engagement Section Executive Officer, New Castle County Police
Senior Lieutenant Allen Herring obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Shippensburg University in 1998. Allen has been in law enforcement in Delaware for 24 years and proudly served in the Army Reserve as a member of the Military Police Corps for 13 years. Obtaining the rank of Staff Sergeant, Allen served overseas tours in Kosovo and Iraq.
As a police officer Allen served as a Detective with the New Castle County Police Narcotics Unit prior to Street Crimes Unit and then returned to Narcotics. Allen was promoted to Lieutenant in 2017 were he supervised a Patrol Squad prior to his current position as the Behavioral Health Unit Executive Officer. His experience enforcing drug laws gave him a front row seat to observe the need for better connection to resources for individuals struggling with Substance Use Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorders. This experience has proven the need for integrated police and healthcare partnerships to truly meet individuals in the field. This concept drives the mission of the New Castle County Police Behavioral Health Unit.
Vice Chair of NAMI’s SMVFC, NAMI Alaska
Raised in the predominantly Yupik Community of Dillingham Alaska, Nick is a veteran of the United States Navy where he served as an Engineman 2nd Class conducting bulk ship to shore movements and anti-piracy operations with Assault Craft Unit 2 (ACU2). After getting out of the Navy Nick chose to serve again first as a preschool teacher and then as an Educator and Direct support Professional for people who experience disabilities. he is a person who himself experiences mental illness and has been connected to NAMI as a group facilitator, member of the state board, and as the Vice Chair of the Service Members Veterans and Family members Council (SMVFC).
Splunk Neurodiversity ERG Founder/Leader
Stefanie Hofman is a writer, speaker, film producer and mental health activist. Hoffman is the founder of the Employee Resource Group (ERG) on Neurodiversity at unified security and observability firm Splunk. Hoffman has also served on the board of directors for the San Francisco chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and helped create and facilitate the [email protected] program that provides mental health education in the workplace. She has spoken on mental health at the NAMI California 2020 conference and Splunk. conf21 Conference, and continues to speak at many high schools, universities and corporations. She has also presented nationally syndicated videos through teen advocacy organization Teen Esteem. Her writing on mental illness has appeared in various publications including KQED, Elephant Journal and The NAMI Advocate and travel anthology “Deep Travel: Souvenirs From the Inner Journey.” She is currently writing her first book, a memoir, on navigating her daughter’s bipolar disorder and their encounters with a fragmented mental health and juvenile justice systems.
Marissa Howdershelt, BA
Changemaker, Center for Law and Social Policy
Nonbinary disability justice and mental health advocate with lived experience of mental illness. She is abolitionist and believe we are not free until everyone is free.
Serena H. Huang, Ph.D.
Founder and Chief Data Officer, Data With Serena and Abe.Work
Dr. Serena Huang is the Founder & CEO of Data With Serena and the Chief Data Officer of ABE.work. She is a thought leader and professional keynote speaker in people analytics, employee experience, and mental health. Dr. Huang brings deep data expertise from her experience as the Global Head of People Analytics across large multinationals, including PayPal, Kraft Heinz, and GE. She is an in-demand speaker and writer on workplace mental health and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She will be releasing a new course on how to leverage data analytics to improve employee wellness later in 2023 available to millions on LinkedIn Learning. In her LinkedIn Influencer capacity, Dr. Huang partners with brands that utilize advanced data and technology to improve the wellbeing of people.
Stacey A. Isaacson
Program Manager | Northwell Health
Stacey Isaacson is a Program Manager in the Community and Population Health department at Northwell Health, largely focusing on youth mental health and educational programming. She recently coordinated the health system’s Covid-19 public vaccination efforts in New York’s Westchester County and served as administrative lead for vaccine points of dispensing. Stacey received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing careers in advertising and finance before receiving her Master of Arts in education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She taught literature, writing, American history, and electives within New York City public schools, and she was individually featured in a 2011 New York Times column detailing her work. Stacey went on to found Poughkidsie, a mixed-use recreational space aimed at increasing educational and creative opportunities for Hudson Valley families and communities. In 2017, Stacey was awarded a “Movers and Shakers” award and named to Dutchess County’s annual “40 Under 40.” Her commitment to community wellness and mental health is highlighted in her work with Crisis Text Line, where she has proudly served as a Crisis Counselor and a Coaching Assistant in training new volunteers. She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, vivacious children, and two well-meaning but loud dogs.
Founder | Executive Director, Black Intergenerational Zeal (BIZ) Stoop
Desiré has been committed to peer leadership and intergenerational community healing for over a decade. Her work began as a youth organizer advocating for education justice, environmental transformation, and increased community access to resources that foster self sufficiently. She’s align her dreams and lived experience navigating mental health as a TAY, and now leads a statewide social enterprise that empowers community care through youth leadership and social entrepreneurship.
Research Assistant, The Center for Law and Social Policy
Emily Kim is a research assistant for CLASP’s youth policy team, with a focus on supporting A New Deal for Youth and youth mental health. She graduated summa cum laude from Lafayette College with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology & sociology and government & law in 2018.
Valerie Lepoutre, RSS
Senior Manager of Peer Initiatives, Education & Training, NAMI Connecticut
Valerie Lepoutre is a certified Recovery Support Specialist who brings her personal expertise into her professional role as Senior Manager at NAMI Connecticut by inspiring, advocating for, and educating others about mental health and suicide. In addition to being the co-chair for the Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board’s Lived Experience committee, she also partners with local NAMI Affiliates, organizations, and healthcare systems to develop programs and training for those working with the emerging adult population and people impacted by suicide.
Allen Lipscomb, PsyD, LCSW (he|him)
Associate Professor, CSUN
Allen E. Lipscomb, PsyD, LCSW is an Associate Professor and Director of Online and Offsite MSW Programs at California State University Northridge in the Department of Social Work. Dr. Lipscomb is a clinical psychologist by highest degree earned and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of California. Dr. Lipscomb specializes in providing anti-oppressive and inclusive mental health services to individuals, children, youth, and families of color. His areas of research are centered on the psychiatric epidemiology among racialized and marginalized individuals who have experienced trauma (i.e., complex trauma, traumatic-grief, and race-based trauma). Specifically, Dr. Lipscomb has conducted numerous qualitative research studies on racialized Black identified men across the Black/African Diaspora exploring their grief, loss, and complex-trauma experiences. His pedagogy is centered on cultural anti-oppressive and clinically responsive inclusive practices with communities of color. Dr. Lipscomb maintains a private practice; conducts local, national, and international trainings; is a clinical consultant and keynote speaker. Dr. Lipscomb has numerous peer review journal articles that centers Black male grief experiences and has a published two books titled: Black Male Grief Reaction to Trauma: A Clinical Case Study of One Man’s Treatment; and BRuH Approach to Therapy (BAT) and Other Related Services to Promote Healing of Traumatic Grief Among African American Men and Youth: A Clinical Practice Guide and Workbook: Honoring-Based Practice Approach.
Felicia Luo, LPC
Assistant Clinical Director, Mango Tree Counseling and Consulting
Felicia is a Philadelphia based Licensed Professional Counselor. Felicia received my master’s degrees in mental health counseling (MSEd. & MPhilEd.) from the University of Pennsylvania. Felicia has worked with a diverse population and settings, including substance use programs, post-incarceration, and private practice. Felicia’s clinical interest focuses on working with individuals struggling with attachment-based issues, depression and anxiety, problematic sexual behaviors, sexual orientation and gender identity, intimate relationships, and trauma. Having lived in different countries and navigated different cultures at different stages in her life has allowed the exploration and understanding of my racial and cultural identity as a Third Culture Kid, and as an immigrant. It is due to these experiences that Felicia is passionate about being able to help clients to process and navigate their own identities and sense of belonging.
Chief Policy Officer
David Lloyd is the Chief Policy Officer at The Kennedy Forum. Mr. Lloyd is an expert on a range of behavioral health policy issues, including insurance coverage and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. He has led successful state and federal policy initiatives, including enactment of nation-leading insurance legislation in California, that have increased access to mental health and addiction care for millions of Americans. Mr. Lloyd also has expertise on budget and tax issues and previously served as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. He has a bachelor’s in History from Cornell University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Executive Producer, Principle Pictures
Jennifer Marshall is the Creator/Founder and former Executive Director of This Is My Brave, Inc., the leading platform for individuals to share their story of overcoming mental illness through creative expression. Jennifer gave a TEDx talk in October of 2016 entitled “Mental Illness: Being Brave Saves Lives,” and the following year she spoke at the National Council on Mental Wellness. She speaks regularly at mental health and storytelling conferences.
Babu George Mathew
President, NAMI Colorado
Babu has been serving on the NAMI Colorado Board Directors from October 2018, as Vice President in 2019 and as President from January 2020. He is also serving his second term as Secretary on the Executive Committee of the NAMI State President’s Council. From January 2019, Babu has been serving as a member of the national Advisory Group of NAMI Faithnet.
Babu grew up in India. Prior to moving to the U.S.A. in 1994, he had over 2 decades of experience in Sales & Marketing in Graphic Arts & Printing Industry and, later from the U.S. in Prepress Systems and Semiconductor and Packaging Supplies to the Asian Subcontinent and Far Easter countries.
His lived experience as a family peer for over a decade has given him the calling to be a passionate Mental Health Advocate. For 5 years from 2010, Babu had collaborated with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), connecting with their Support Groups in the region. From May 2015, the local NAMI Family Support Group has been a safe sanctuary and source of support for him in this journey. He is a certified teacher for the NAMI Family-to-Family program and Program Leader for the NAMI Family & Friends. He has completed the Mental Health First Aid training, as well. Babu has been attending the NAMI National Conventions from 2016 and has attended the 2020 CIT International Conference.
For 2 years from 2014, he had led a Refugee Mentoring Project from his church in collaboration with the Lutheran Family Services and the Denver Rescue Mission. He lives in Morrison, Colorado with his wife of 40 years.
Ray Merenstein, M.A.M.C.
Executive Director, NAMI Colorado
In 2002, Mr. Merenstein returned to his native Denver after a decade of health care advocacy work in Washington, DC. Over the course of the next four years, he served as Vice President for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation’s $250 million Imagine the Miracles comprehensive campaign.
In December 2005, Ray launched RDM Communications tying his political, media and fundraising acumen into one package on behalf of government, non-profit and corporate clients. He has guided capital campaigns from $250,000 to $25,000,000 as well as lead consultant on strategic plans, communication audits, annual funds, endowment campaigns, and board development. Ray became Executive Director of NAMI Colorado (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in January 2021.
He holds a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Tulane University. He has been quoted or published in the Wall Street Journal, Science, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Business Week, USA Today, and Nature as well as testified before Congress.
Mr. Merenstein presents regularly to health and communication groups locally and nationally. He served as chair Colorado’s Special Education Advisory Committee, and currently sits on Colorado’s Rare Disease Advisory Council. Ray and his wife, Ilana Steinberg, live in Denver and have one son and two daughters. Ray loves Paddington and Lemon Meringue Pie.
Program Manager, NAMI Orange County
Austin Messick has been with NAMI Orange County since 2019. He started as a volunteer and has worked his way up to the Program Manager role overseeing all classes, support groups, and presentations. His previous roles at NAMI-OC include Development Assistant and Events Coordinator. Austin created innovative mental health education programs for teens, young adults, and elementary school children, contributed to fundraising and outreach efforts, and organized family friendly social events. Austin has experience with mental health as a family member and a peer.
Gino Mortillaro, MD
Assistant Chief of Psychiatry, Kaiser Permanente SCPMG
Gino Mortillaro, MD, is the Assistant Chief of Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente San Bernardino County. In this role, he sees a wide variety of patients in the pediatric consultation service as well as the general mental health and adult autism outpatient clinics. He also serves as core faculty for the residency and fellowship programs and associate clinical professor at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. Dr. Mortillaro is also a member of AACAP’s media committee and chairs a Kaiser Permanente national initiative aimed at reducing mental health stigma in the video game community.
Dr. Mortillaro was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He stayed in New Orleans to complete his college and medical schooling at Tulane University before moving to Boston to complete his residency and fellowship with Harvard Medical School at the Harvard South Shore and Boston Children’s Hospital programs, respectively.
Founder, Principle Pictures
Beth is mom to a brave teen daughter and athlete who struggled with depression, anxiety and disordered eating during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. She is also the founder of Principle Pictures, a media and impact company dedicated to storytelling for social impact—through films, podcasts, news reports, and complementary impact campaigns. Her work premiers at top-tier film festivals globally and can be found across national and international media outlets, including PBS (FRONTLINE, POV, Independent Lens and NewsHour), The New York Times Op-Docs, TIME, History Channel, The Sundance Channel, Discovery Networks, Lifetime, ABC News, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, The Washington Post, PRI The World, NHK, Canal Vie, and many others. Her honors include: Emmy Award, World Press Photo Award, Overseas Press Club Award, Scripps Howard Award, National Headliner Award, Webby Award, RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award, AWRT’s Gracie Allen Award, One Shared World International Outreach Award, and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.
CEO, NAMI San Diego
Cathryn Nacario is the Chief Executive Officer of NAMI San Diego & Imperial Counties. NAMI SD/IC is a peer lead organization providing peer assisted mental health services to all those affected by mental health concerns. She is passionate and dedicated to serving all those impacted by mental health challenges. Her fusion of nonprofit and for profit work is an excellent combination for bringing business acumen and compassion together for business growth and prosperity to serve more individuals and their caregivers living with mental health concerns. Cathryn has her BSN-RN and a Masters in Healthcare Administration. Cathryn sits on numerous community boards including the NAMI national Board of Directors where she holds the office of Secretary and she was recognized by the San Diego Business Journal as one of the 500 most influential business leaders in San Diego in 2021 & 2022. She has received numerous awards for her work and can often be seen on local media normalizing the conversation on mental health. She is currently earning a certificate in Integrative Nutrition from UCSD.
Sergeant, USMC (Ret.)
Joel is a clinical social worker from Cleveland, Ohio and former Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. He is the current Vice Chair for the Service Members, Veterans, and Families Council here at NAMI. Joel is a former Veteran Treatment Court (VTC) participant and current VTC Mentor. He works in community engagement and organization and has a passion for bringing people together.
Chief Paul Pazen (retired)
Police Chief (retired), Denver Police Department
Chief Pazen (retired) led the creation and expansion of innovative programs with a focus on sustainable, holistic approaches to complex issues. These programs include a comprehensive suite of alternative response models including spearheading the creation of the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program, Outreach Case Coordinators (case managers) and the Domestic Violence Prevention Program. He directed the significant expansion of the mental health clinician Co-Responder Program, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), the implementation of a forward-thinking use-of-force policy and training curriculum. Chief Pazen also created new specialized units; the Firearms Assault Shoot Team (FAST), Bias Motivate Unit, and the Human Trafficking Unit to drive measurable results. Chief Pazen expanded annual department training from 24 hours to 80 hours, including implementing Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) and Integrating Communications Assessment and Tactics (iCAT). Chief Pazen also demonstrated compassion for Denver Police Officers and Professional Staff by creating the Reintegration Program for officers involved in critical incidents and expanding the department’s Resiliency and Wellness program to ensure full and productive careers and personal lives for those who serve their community.
Chief Pazen graduated magna cum laude from Colorado State University – Global with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership, holds a Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School, and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Executive Institute (NEI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy (FBINA) and the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) through the Police Executive Research Forum. Chief Pazen served in the United States Marine Corps and is a Veteran of the Gulf War.
Lisell Perez-Rogers, MA
Program Manager, Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Lisell serves as a Program Manager for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, where she leads the Foundation’s emerging mental wellness programming for military and veteran caregivers. In addition to her work in mental wellness, Lisell supports the expansion and outreach of the Campaign for Inclusive Care to new and existing healthcare systems. Before joining the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Lisell worked in the mental health field, serving as a Residential Counselor at a children’s hospital and as a Mental Health Counseling Intern at a university counseling center. Prior to pursuing clinical training, Lisell worked at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), where she served as the Research and Training Coordinator followed by the Grants and Research Program Manager.
Originally from Woodstock, New York, Lisell graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society from American University and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College.
Head Campus Captain, The Hidden Opponent
Morgan Philliber is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Superior where she played soccer. Morgan earned a degree in Exercise Science and minors in Health and Coaching. Her desire to work with people as a coach influenced her decision to prioritize mental health and the conversation around it. Morgan is passionate about supporting and advocating for college students and has been with The Hidden Opponent for three years. She is now pursuing a college coaching career at the University of Minnesota – Crookston.
Deborah L. Plummer, PhD
Psychologist/Founder & Executive Director, Getting To We, Inc.
Deborah L. Plummer, PhD is Founder/Executive Director of Getting to We, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to helping people understand their shared, core identity as humans and relate to each other without fear.
As a psychologist, university professor, and author, she speaks on topics central to racial equity, inclusion, and mutual respect. Debbie is most passionate about creating inclusive organizations and building peaceful communities and draws her energy from engaging others in workshop settings and through her writings.
An international leader in the field of diversity and inclusion, she brings her deeply humanist and Gestalt-trained skills to workshop participants and readers to examine themselves as social beings in relation to our programmed fear of “otherness.” Her work and writings introduce a relational model for managing differences that support the development of the competencies necessary to live authentically out of one’s core identity as a human being and master the challenges of diversity dynamics.
Debbie has held past roles as staff psychologist, hospital system chief diversity officer, and was the founding director of the master’s degree program in diversity management at Cleveland State University. She was named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the Top 15 Chief Diversity Officers to Know.
As principal consultant for D.L. Plummer & Associates (DLPA), she has supported over 100 organizations in the U.S., Canada, U.K, and India. She has developed several widely-used assessment tools: Diversity Inclusion Belonging Survey (DIBS), Diversity Engagement Survey (DES), Racial Identity Status Self-Assessment (RISSA) and Antiracist Style Indicator (ASI).
Her book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships (Beacon Press) presents an insightful look at how cross-racial friendships work and fail within American society. Debbie is also the editor of the Handbook of Diversity Management (Rowman and Littlefield; Half Dozen Publications) and author of Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race Relations through Friendships (Pilgrim Press) which received the publisher’s Mayflower Award for best publication in the category of Church and Society. She has authored several book chapters and published numerous journal articles to the professional community on racial identity development, diversity metrics, and managing diverse work environments. She has published articles in Diversity Executive and the Boston Globe Magazine. Other publications include Advancing Inclusion: A Guide for Effective Diversity Council and Employee Resource Group Membership (Half Dozen Publications) and her essay, “The Girl from the Ghetto” published in the anthology All the Women in My Family Sing (NBTT Publications). She currently writes essays for Medium publications, An Injustice! and Age of Awareness.
Debbie serves on the Board of Directors of Facing History and Ourselves, Positive Education Program (PEP), and Reflection Point.
She lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, Michael Bussey. In her next life, she plans to come back as a master chef (think Ina Garten) or a singer, dancer, and entertainer (think Beyonce).
Leah Pope, PhD
Assistant Professor, Columbia University Department of Psychiatry
Leah G. Pope, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Behavioral Medicine in the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry (Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research). Trained as an anthropologist, Dr. Pope has extensive experience conducting mixed methods research in public mental health and criminal justice. She is currently leading an implementation study of the 988 crisis line in New York State and a co-investigator on several additional studies related to crisis response for people with mental illnesses.
Edward James Portillo M.A.
Assistant Program Manager, NAMI Orange County
This Los Angeles native found his niche in the unique ability to take a great idea and bring it to life. This has been a hallmark throughout his career in the non-profit, education, and entertainment fields. He holds a Masters Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. His work has been acknowledged by Latino Leaders magazine and featured as a young leader to watch.
Cherylyn Rahr-Wood, MSW
Regional Behavioral Health Coordinator, Nevada Rural Hospital Partners
Cherylyn Rahr-Wood is one of five Nevada Regional Behavioral Health Coordinators for the Northern Rural Behavioral Health Region, which encompasses Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, and Story Counties. In this position, Cherylyn has stepped into this role with both feet running. Collaborating closely with community stakeholders and state partners, including law enforcement, EMS/Fire, social services, mental health, substance use providers, and family and peer advocates, to collaborate in developing and coordinating behavioral health resources within each county and across the region. In this capacity, Cherylyn also serves as a liaison between the five counties and state agencies while supporting the established Northern Regional Behavioral Health Policy Board.
She was born in California into a military family, where relocating was a familiar event in her house. Blessed to see various cities, states, and countries. A “military brat” gives her a well-balanced idea of where she calls home, Reno, Nevada. As a Social Work graduate from the University of Nevada Reno, she is enthusiastic about participating in public service to improve the quality of life across the state. As the recent Zero Suicide Statewide Coordinator, she earned a place at the table as a suicide prevention SME. Her work with the Zero Suicide project is where the creation of the Nevada Caring Contacts program was developed, along with a solid relationship with the existing NAMI Western Nevada Warmline program. As the new Regional Behavioral Health Coordinator, she will focus on empowering communities and stakeholders by understanding their needs and priorities and supporting them in achieving their goals.
Cherylyn serves as Secretary and voting member on the Board of Directors for NAMI Western Nevada. She has also a member of the VA/SMVF SAMSHA Governors Challenge Team focused on reducing rates of suicide in our Veterans, Service Members, and Family populations. She enjoys working closely with the UNR School of Social Work in providing suicide prevention training as well as working to improve Nevada’s workforce concerning behavioral health and suicide prevention.
Francesca Reicherter, MS
Founder, Inspiring My Generation Corporation
Francesca Reicherter is the Founder and President of Inspiring My Generation, a 501(c)3 on a mission of suicide prevention through awareness, conversation, education, and support. She holds an MS in Information Systems and Operations Management from the University of Florida and is a current MA in Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage, Family, and Therapy Counseling student at Pepperdine University where she was recognized in a Student Spotlight. Inspired by her mental health journey, Francesca works to make resources and information accessible.
On January 20, 2019, Francesca lost her uncle to suicide. Just 27 days before that, she had attempted suicide for the first time, and he was the one who supported her to find hope. After losing him to suicide, Francesca’s world fell apart. Today, Francesca is a 3x suicide attempt survivor and the Founder of a national nonprofit organization, Inspiring My Generation.
Dedicated to ending the stigma, Francesca hosts Normalize The Conversation, a podcast series amplifying the voices of mental health professionals, advocates, and any individual interested in sharing their story. There are over 100 episodes currently available with new episodes every week.
In 2021, Francesca published, “You Are Not Alone: The Workbook,” as a guide to help the reader build a coping toolbox. At the beginning of 2022, Francesca published “I AM,” an interactive workbook to help the reader build the tools needed to advocate for their mental health. In October 2022, Francesca published, “How Are You?” as an interactive guide to checking in with your mental health. Francesca then turned these workbooks into virtual and in-person workshops to further the reach of her work.
In addition to developing resources, Fran is a speaker spreading hope, most known for her keynote speech at NAMI CA 2022 Annual Youth Conference. She presented a session on Mental Health Conversations at the NAMI FL 2022 Annual Conference. Francesca was also a panelist at the When The Music Stops 2022 Annual Summit. Furthermore, she recently spoke on virtual panels for Magellan Health and for the National Federation of Families.
Her work has been featured in the Kindness Channel and IDontMind Journal. She was a top finalist at the RevolutionHER 2022 Summit for Impact in Leadership and was honored as a Peer Recovery Champion at the NAMI FL 2022 Annual Conference. Her organization was featured on NBC6 South Florida in September 2022. In 2021, Francesca was named an Amplifier by the ConversationaLIST Awards.
Francesca’s mission is to make preventative resources available, eliminate barriers, and normalize the conversation so that no one else will lose themselves or a loved one to suicide.
Partner, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
Caroline helps lead the nation’s only legal practice that is systematically challenging insurers’ behavioral health policies. She was the lead trial lawyer in Wit v. United Behavioral Health and has brought numerous other actions against insurers for violating their mental health legal obligations. This work led to her being named the 2021 Lawyer of the Year by the Autism Law Summit and being recognized with top awards from Law360 and the National Law Journal.
Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, BAE Systems, Inc.
Dana Rixter is a thoughtful, strategic and compassionate leader with over two decades of experience leading diversity, equity, inclusion, change management and culture efforts and initiatives. Dana currently serves as the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at BAE Systems, Inc. where she is responsible for building trust across cultures and organizational levels and aligning people and goals to achieve business objectives.
Megan Rochford, PCC-S
Director of Operations, NAMI HelpLine
Megan Rochford, PCC-S is a clinical counselor with 25+ years’ experience as a clinician and organizational leader in the community mental health field. She is the Director of NAMI Helpline Operations, where she oversees service delivery and ensures that the HelpLine provides high-quality, trauma-informed, and culturally competent service. Megan also directs NAMI HelpLine’s clinical oversight and quality assurance programs to ensure those efforts are consistent with best practices and advance recovery. Prior to joining NAMI national in 2022, Megan served as Program Director for NAMI Greater Cleveland from 2019-21.
Advocacy Director, The Hidden Opponent
Andy is a former football student-athlete from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. He earned his degree in Health Promotion and Wellness, where his passion for mental health started to grow. Andy started with The Hidden Opponent (THO) as a Campus Captain, THO’s term for their student-advocates. In his current role as Advocacy Director at THO, Andy oversees the Campus Captains program. This includes organizing events, reaching out to athletic administration, supporting our advocates with the creation of on-campus chapters, and assessing programs that will improve our non-profit. He is extremely passionate about THO’s mission to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health in athletics and he wishes to have a positive impact on every campus across the country.
Abbie Shain MSW LICSW
Therapist and Community Organizer, Aviva Therapy & Healing
Abbie is a therapist, community organizer, and ritualist who believes in healing. Abbie weaves activist and clinical lineages to nourish people and organizations creating social change. Abbie is an adjunct at the Augsburg University School of Social Work and the University of Minnesota School of Social Work where she teaches about trauma healing and antioppressive social work practice.
Abbie attended Macalester College and studied English and Comparative Religions. She earned her Masters in Social Work from the University of Minnesota School of Social Work where she was awarded the Excellence in Evaluation award and served as a research assistant for the then Director of the School of Social Work, Dr. John C. Bricout. During that time, Abbie was also a community organizer for the Minneapolis Poor People’s Campaign and the field director for Mark Haase for Hennepin County Attorney.
Abbie is a contract therapist at LynLake Centers for Wellbeing and the Institute for Integrative Transformation with clinical expertise in complex trauma, spiritual abuse, gender and sexuality, and psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. Abbie’s theoretical framework as a therapist comes first from relationships, then from community organizing, and finally from narrative therapy and healing justice frameworks. In this way, Abbie is committed to resisting therapy as a mode of social control and investing in alternative models of resourcing and collaboration to support self confidence, self determination, and self compassion. Abbie completed a year of formal training with the Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, earned a certificate in the yearlong program from the Evanston Family Therapy Center in Narrative Therapy, completed EMDR Level One training, AIR Network training, and Level One training for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.
National Senior Manager, Field Resource Development, NAMI
Morgan Sills is a National Senior Manager for the Field Resource Development Team. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Morgan has spent the last 11 years in fundraising positions for major nonprofits and has worked on a variety of successful peer-to-peer events.
Deputy Division Director, Council of State Governments Justice Center
Ernest (Ernie) Stevens is a published author with a #1 best selling book on Amazon titled: Mental Health and De-escalation: A Guide for Law Enforcement Professionals. Ernie was also a contributing author for, Police Mental Barricade. Ernie was a police officer for 28 years, serving 26 of those years with the San Antonio Police Department where he was a founding member of the Mental Health Unit. Ernie has been featured on the Emmy Award Winning HBO Documentary, Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops. He has also been featured in NBC’s documentary, A Different Kind of Force. Ernie was interviewed by ABC’s Nightline’s Byron Pitts, and featured on officers trained to respond to mental illness calls. Ernie has been featured in over 27 publications and deemed an expert in Crisis Intervention Training. He is a graduate of Wayland Baptist University and holds a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice.
He is married to his wife Lisa who he attended school with since elementary school. He has two incredible children, Reed and April. Ernie continues to law enforcement agencies aound the nation by providing technical assistance and best practice approaches to mental health crisis calls. Ernie currently serves as the deputy director of law enforcement for the Council of State Governments Justice Center.
Next Gen Advisor, NAMI
Sophie Szew (she/they) is a Jewish Latina Los Angeles-born mental health activist, writer, and public speaker. She was a youth leader at MTV’s Mental Health Youth Action Forum at the White House where she shared her story with President Biden and helped guide the administration on how to best serve the needs of youth in the mental healthcare system. Sophie is also a 3-time intern at the U.S. House of Representatives and an internationally recognized poet, winning the 2021 Woorilla Poetry Prize and serving as an inaugural poet for Mayor Karen Bass. She has advised numerous organizations including Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, Mental Health America, and the California Mental Health Consortium. As a first-year student at Stanford University, she hopes to double-major in American Studies with a concentration in mental healthcare justice and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, with two minors in Human Rights and Creative Writing. Sophie is an eating disorder survivor and combines their own experiences with injustice brought about by mental healthcare inequity with her passion for writing, advocacy, and leadership to uplift the voices of those with lived experiences and fight for the systemic destigmatization of marginalized bodies.
Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy
Kayla Tawa is a policy analyst on CLASP’s youth policy team, focusing on youth mental health, particularly equitable school-based mental health, mental health and climate change, and practices outside western medicine. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2018 earning a degree in English and Anthropology.
Bettina Thompson (she/her)
Program Manager DEI, Amazon
Bettina Thompson (she/hers), Program Manager at Amazon, focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She is passionate about equitable hiring practices for underrepresented populations and marginalized voices. Currently, Bettina is leading global development of Neurodiversity and PWD programs for All Amazon. She also serves on the Global Board of Directors of Amazon’s Affinity Groups for People with Disabilities, as a Director for Recruiting and Neurodiversity, and is a founding member and Corporate Communications Director for the Mental Health and Well-Being group.
Mental Health Advocate, Gifts of Hope
Tori is a 19-year-old mental advocate & suicide survivor. After Tori’s suicide attempt at 13-years-old, Tori realized that there is a stigma surrounding mental illness. After spending time in multiple inpatient psychiatric hospitals during that year, Tori wanted to make a difference. Tori started an organization called Gifts of Hope in 2018 at 14-years-old. Gifts of Hope gives gifts to kids and teens currently staying In inpatient psychiatric hospitals. Tori has a deep desire to advocate for those that feel alone in their journey and bring them hope and encouragement. Tori feels called to start sharing my story of loss, pain, hope, and healing with others.
Siska Treacy, MBA
Principal, Behavioral Health Benefit Programs, US, Amazon
Siska Treacy is the Principal for US Behavioral Health Benefit Programs at Amazon. Siska holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Washington and began her career in healthcare where she served as a leader, incorporated innovation, and obsessed over a customer-centric approach across specialty and primary care delivery models. When Siska joined Amazon she and a small team of volunteers served as the spark for what has become the Mental Health and Wellbeing affinity group that has grown to more than 15,000 members globally; Siska now serves as an Advisor to the Board. Siska also led the implementation of an enhanced Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in the US that includes integrations to improve access to mental health services for Amazonians and their families. Among these integrations is the recent partnership with NAMI. Siska identifies as a mother, a wife, an advocate for mental health awareness, and an ally.
Michelle Wagner, MS (she/her/hers)
Community Educator and Peer Services Coordinator, NAMI New Hampshire
Michelle Wagner, MS (she/her/hers) is a Community Educator and Peer Services Coordinator at NAMI New Hampshire (National Alliance on Mental Illness) where much of her time is spent supporting the State’s First Episode Psychosis/Early Serious Mental Illness initiative. Her personal experiences in recent years shaped her professional path, leading her from the medical world to mental health education and advocacy. She identifies as a person with lived experience of mental health challenges and also as a family member. Michelle’s current educational pursuits include working toward a Master’s in Theological Studies at Boston University with a goal of identifying opportunities for incorporating spirituality into the mental health conversation.
Amy C. Watson
Professor, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Amy Watson, Ph.D., is a Professor at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Trained as a mental health services researcher, she has focused on the experiences of and interventions to reduce the involvement of people with serious mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager, BAE Systems, Inc.
Tyece Wilkins is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at BAE Systems, Inc. In this role, she is responsible for managing strategy development and implementation for BAE Systems’ eight Employee Resource Groups, ensuring alignment to the broader business objectives and priorities.
Tyece joined BAE Systems in 2017, originally as a senior communications specialist. During her tenure with the company, she had the opportunity to undertake an international assignment with the BAE Systems Australia team and she also previously served as President of the African Americans Committed to Excellence (AACE) Employee Resource Group. Prior to joining BAE Systems, she held internal communications roles at Gartner and Raytheon.
Tyece holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Maryland and a master of business administration at George Mason University. She lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband Jason, and she enjoys journaling, reading, getting a good ride in on her Peloton, and connecting with family and friends.
Family Clinician, University of Minnesota Physicians
Anne Williams-Wengerd is a masters-level licensed psychologist who recently started with the NAVIGATE program in November of 2022. Prior to starting at NAVIGATE, Anne worked for over 13 years in community mental health treatment. In addition, Anne recently completed her PhD in Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota where she wrote her dissertation on grief in parents of adults experiencing early psychosis. In her role at NAVIGATE Anne works both with families providing family education and with individuals providing individual resiliency training. Anne co-facilitates a group for families of individuals experiencing early psychosis and hopes to develop a group curriculum for families which addresses the complex emotional experience families experience following the onset of psychosis.
Executive Director, NAMI Western Nevada
Laura Yanez is the Executive Director for NAMI Western Nevada and state certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist Supervisor. She has worked in community-based non-profits for 25 years, including over 15 years with NAMI. She created the Nevada Warmline and co-developed the Nevada Teen Peer Support Text Line. She also led the team that created Nevada Caring Contacts. As a peer and a family member of someone with a mental illness, she brings a unique perspective of both lived and professional experience.
Psychologist, The Neurodiversity Collective
Matthew Zakreski PsyD (known as “Dr. Matt”) is a high energy clinical psychologist who specializes in working with gifted and other Neurodivergent kids and their families. Dr. Matt has spoken on serving Neurodiverse people over 250 times all over the world. He is an advocate, trainer, author, and professor in addition to being a therapist. Dr. Matt is the co-founder and lead clinician at The Neurodiversity Collective.
Scott Zeller, MD
Vice President, Acute Psychiatry, Vituity
Scott Zeller, MD is Vice President for Acute Psychiatry at the multistate multispecialty physician group partnership Vituity; a University of California assistant professor; Past President of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry; Past Chair of the National Coalition on Psychiatric Emergencies; and former Chief of Psychiatric Emergency Services for the Alameda Health System in Oakland, CA, where he developed the “Alameda Model.” He has authored multiple textbooks, book chapters, and peer-reviewed articles, lectures internationally, and is known as the co-inventor of On-Demand Emergency Telepsychiatry and the creator of the EmPATH Unit (Emergency Psychiatry Assessment, Treatment and Healing Unit) model for behavioral health emergency care. He led Project BETA (Best Practices in the Evaluation and Treatment of Agitation), which produced guidelines that have revolutionized the care approaches for agitated individuals worldwide, towards far more humane and far less coercive interventions.. He was awarded the 2015 USA Doctor of the Year by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the 2019 California Hospital Association Heerman Award for making a landmark contribution to improving California healthcare, and in 2020 was named one of the “ten most influential people in healthcare design” by Healthcare Design Magazine.