You are here

2017 Affiliate Conference Information

2017 Conference Logo

The Basics
MHA affiliates recieve a special discounted price for registration -- check your email for special discount code to enter durin
g registrationYour registration includes the Affiliate-only Pre-Conference Day, Media Awards Luncheon, Clifford W. Beers Awards Dinner and a special evening event. Additional tickets can be purchased for family members or guests.

Pre-Conference Day for Affiliates
This year, MHA is pleased to be joining forces with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) for a joint Hill Day. For those participating in Hill Day activities, the day will kick-off with an advocacy briefing with special guest speakers before heading off to Congressional visits to engage policy makers. Legislative packets with briefing information, talking points, maps and other materials will be provided to assist participants in preparing for their respective meetings. On the heels of our successes in 2016, this year is proving to be one of the most active legislative years for mental health advocacy in a long time, and it is critical that our members of Congress hear from their local constituents on behavioral health policy. Please plan to have at least one person from your affiliate join us! Stay tuned for more information about Hill Day as it becomes available. 

The rest of our Pre-Conference Day activities will be focused on exciting new initiatives, and you may want to have a couple more staff people present for those.  This year’s Pre-Conference Day sessions will be held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and include the following:

  • A full-day devoted to MHA’s newly launched advanced-level National Certified Peer Specialist credentialing program.  If you are interested in using the peer credentialing program as a business opportunity, you will not want to miss this full-day session. In it, we will be helping you to define your affiliate’s role in the program, discuss how to work with healthcare systems that might employ peers, give you information to explain to community partners what makes this certification unique, do an in-depth review of eligibility standards, cover the costs and potential revenues associated with training and testing - including information about scholarships - explore the opportunities you will have to provide ongoing support and technical assistance to peer workers and the entities that employ them, and much more.
  • An in-depth look at the MHA Screening Program, including its value to you as “big data” proprietary to MHA and its affiliates, and the new value for individuals to be created through the new S2S (Screening-to-Supports) platform we’re building.  You’ll learn more about how to use the to-date 2.5 million responses to understand the screening population and target interventions to them, to track your results against the entire group, to learn why other nonprofit, for-profit and governmental entities have a growing interest in collaborating with us around screening and S2S, and to explore how screening data can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of local interventions. We will address questions such as: What is screening and what information is collected? How are data used in research, grants, and programming? How affiliates can get connected to MHA Screening. How affiliates can conduct advanced statistical analysis of MHA Screening data. What is Screening to Supports? How affiliates can get involved with Screening to Supports?
  • In keeping with our overall conference theme, a workshop session on prescription cost challenges faced by individuals today and ways that MHA affiliates can work with an MHA national partner to address this problem.
  • Because so many funders ask about this, or evaluate programs on this basis, a down-to earth session on how to define and demonstrate cultural and linguistic competency, during which you’ll learn to how to train your staff, your Board and others with tools for increasing your diversity, inclusion, equity, to embrace cultural and linguistic competency standards in order to be more culturally and linguistically responsive organizations. (This session is perfect for folks with HR responsibilities – including those who do not do this work full-time.) 

Our Pre-Conference Day speaker lineup includes both MHA and outside voices, including:


Carolina Fojo, MSW, is the Manager for Community Engagement at FamilyWize Community Service Partnership. She has been with FamilyWize for 2 years and has been active in the social service sector since she was 14. In the past decade, Carolina has worked with a number of different populations including women and children experiencing homelessness, women struggling with domestic violence, immigrants, farmworkers, and the Deaf. Across all populations, the common theme in Carolina’s work is ‘filling in the gaps.’ Unfortunately, in our society there are people and populations who consistently fall through the cracks and Carolina’s passion is addressing those needs areas so that people can live healthier, happier, and more resilient lives.
Carolina received her BA in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis, and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Carolina is fluent in English and Spanish, and conversational in French and American Sign Language.
At FamilyWize, Carolina works with community based organizations across the country to address a very specific, but very real, “gap” issue—the rising and increasingly inaccessible cost of prescription medication. Carolina collaborates with organizations such as Mental Health America (MHA), the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the American Heart Association to increase access to affordable medications to the clients and individuals these organizations serve. With her background in Social Work, Carolina is particularly passionate about the mental and behavioral health populations, and deeply values the partnership with MHA. 


Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, is Vice President of Policy and Programs for Mental Health America (MHA). Theresa works to improve access to mental health care through policy and programming. Her areas of special interest include prevention, early intervention, education, and building a full recovery-oriented mental health system of care. Along with supporting MHA’s federal and state policy agenda, Theresa manages various programs including MHA Screening, The State of Mental Health in America, and Workplace Wellness. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she has over 11 years of experience in mental health as a clinician, educator and advocate. Her clinical experience focused on working with children and adults with serious mental illness, homelessness, dual diagnosis treatment, and early intervention of psychosis. As an advocate, she worked to build a consumer based mental health workforce, to improve access to treatment through community based and recovery oriented mental health programs, and to address needs of underserved communities. She was an adjunct professor in California and North Carolina teaching Mental Health Recovery, Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Social Welfare Policy.  Prior to joining MHA National, Theresa worked at both MHALA (Los Angeles, CA) and MHAOC (Orange County, CA). 

CookAndrea Crook is the Consumer Advocate Liaison for Mental Health America of Northern California and Sacramento County’s Division of Behavioral Health Services. Andrea has a B.S. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from the University of San Francisco, is an Advanced Level Wellness and Recovery Plan (WRAP) Facilitator, and Mental Health First Aid trainer. Andrea is also the Program Manager for Mental Health America of Northern California ’s Sacramento County peer run programs, and serves on Mental Health Services Act Oversight and Accountability Commissions, Client and Family Leadership Committee. Andrea spent years on her own journey to wellness and recovery prior to entering the behavioral health field. Her personal and professional experience has encouraged her to advocate for clients’ rights and she continues to advocate for those who are stigmatized and marginalized within our society. Education, advocacy and social inclusion are the areas of her focus.

Amy FarringtonAmy Farrington is the Director of Certification for the Florida Certification Board (FCB) and its wholly owned subsidiary, the New York Certification Association (NYCA).  Amy holds a Master’s degree in Instructional Systems Design and brings over 20 years of statewide and national experience developing and administering professional adult education, training, and certification programs.  Since 2006, when she joined the FCB, she has developed and implemented the first professional certification programs in the country for individuals providing peer recovery services within the public and private mental and behavioral health systems.  As a result of this project, Florida became the first state in the nation to psychometrically establish the core competencies of peers working in the separate, yet related fields of mental health recovery and substance abuse recovery.  These credentials have been used as a baseline for multiple state and national peer recovery credential development efforts.  Amy has been directly responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the following peer recovery credentials:

  • Florida: Certified Recovery Peer Specialist – Adult (Mental Health focus); Certified Recovery Peer Specialist – Family (Mental Health focus); Certified Recovery Peer Specialist – Veteran (Mental Health focus); Certified Recovery Support Specialist (Substance Abuse focus)
  • Illinois: Certified Family Partnership Professional (Mental Health focus); Certified Recovery Support Specialist (Substance Abuse focus)
  • New York: Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (Substance Abuse focus)

Through this work, Amy became actively involved in the addiction and mental health recovery and resiliency movement learning firsthand how critical it is to face the stigma associated with addiction or mental health diagnosis head-on and has served on both the Florida Peer Network and the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Council.

Susan Gallagher

Susan Gallagher has been the Executive Director of Mental Health America of Northern California for over 19 years, and has been the driving force behind the growth and development moving the agency into a leadership role in the peer support and advocacy movement in California.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Management and Public Administration.  Her own personal lived experience with a mental health disorder undergirds the program development and strategic implementation of the agency’s core mission and vision.  She has led the agency from a small local peer led nonprofit to a dynamic nonprofit with a statewide presence and annual budget of nearly $4 million.  

Pam GionfriddoPam Gionfriddo has served as Chief Executive Officer for Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, Inc., since 2009. Pam has more than 20 years’ experience working with the nonprofit, public, and philanthropic sectors nationally. Before moving to Florida eight years ago, Pam was the Director of Consulting for a Management Support Organization in Austin, Texas where she provided board development, planning, evaluation, fund development, and organizational consulting for health and human service agencies, housing, environmental, education, public agencies, and cultural groups. Pam is one of the leading advocates for improving mental health services in Palm Beach County.  She resides in Lake Worth, FL, with her husband, Paul, who is the President and CEO of Mental Health America and author of Losing Tim.  They have five adult children - one with schizophrenia, and two grandchildren. Pam received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Texas, and her Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Texas.


Patrick Hendry is Vice President of Peer Advocacy, Supports and Services for Mental Health America (MHA). Patrick is the former director of the National Consumer Supporter Technical Assistance Center, one of five SAMHSA-funded national technical assistance centers. He also served as the Associate Director of the SAMHSA Statewide Consumer Network TAC. He has led MHAs development of a national peer support certification.
Prior to his work at MHA, Patrick worked as a mental health advocate in Florida. In 1992, he co-founded the first peer-run organization in Florida to contract directly with the State for the provision of peer-run services. Patrick helped rebuild the Florida Self-Directed Care program, which affords people with the opportunity to direct their own services. This program has served as a model for self-directed care programs across the nation and internationally.  He then served as the program’s Southwest coordinator and State spokesperson.

NguyenNhat Nguyen, MSW, is a first-generation Asian American who arrived in America with his family as refugees from the Vietnam War. After settling in Virginia, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology from George Mason University.  He received his Master’s in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Nhat has worked for the Fairfax County Community Services Board (CSB) for nearly 22 years providing clinical services to a diverse population and settings.  Currently he works as a clinical supervisor with the Adult Behavioral Health Outpatient Services to provide substance abuse services to individuals with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders with mental illness.
Nhat’s personal experience as a refugee has greatly influenced his clinical practice and heightened his passion to provide services in a culturally and linguistically competent (CLC) manner.  He has been involved with the CSB’s Diversity Community and CLC projects.  Nhat has also served on several local, regional and state-wide committees.  He served on the regional planning committee to develop and host three Language Access Leadership Conferences.  He also served on the Department of Behavioral Health Developmental Services (DBHDS) CLC Steering Committee and Coalition for Refugee Wellness.
Nhat has presented on various topics related to Cultural and Linguistic Competence to include: Stigma of Mental Health Among the Asian Americans; Substance Use Disorders Among Refugee Population; Qualified Bilingual Staff faculty and trainer; Interpretation in Mental Health System of Care; Disparities Across Systems of Care; and Competent Care and Cross-Cultural Communication.  He is a Level I facilitator through the VA Tech and DBHDS CLC Facilitator training program.

500 Montgomery Street, Suite 820
 Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone (703) 684.7722

Toll Free (800) 969.6642

Fax (703) 684.5968

Text Resize

-A +A

The links on this page may contain document data that requires additional software to open: