2019 Conference Speakers | Mental Health America

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MHA's 2019 Annual Conference Dueling Diagnoses: Mental Health and Chronic Conditions in Children and Adults will feature over 30 breakout speakers, plenary sessions and keynotes. Sign up for News From National here to get the latest speaker announcements. 

Plenary Speakers

Scott Badesch is the President/CEO of the Autism Society of America, the nation’s oldest and largest autism grassroots organization. In his role as President/CEO, Mr. Badesch has transformed the organization to become a national leader in supporting the daily needs of individuals impacted by autism through outcome-based services and support. Since Mr. Badesch became the President/CEO of the Autism Society of America in 2011, the organization has also significantly advanced and enhanced its partnership with its 84 affiliates, maintained a secure funding base, and developed strategic initiatives aimed at advancing the wellbeing of all impacted by autism in America. Mr. Badesch has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for his work.

Prior to his work with the Autism Society of America, Mr. Badesch spent 23 years with the United Way, including time as the President/CEO of the United Way of Palm Beach County, Florida for 14 years, President/CEO of the United Way of South Carolina for six years, and Director of Programs for the United Way of Suburban Chicago for three years. At the United Way, Mr. Badesch was a nationally recognized leader in partnership formation and outcome based funding of programs. 

Scott will be joining Jesse Milan and MHA president and CEO Paul Gionfriddo for an opening panel discussion, Dueling Diagnoses: A Conversation with CEO Leadership on Thursday, June 13 at 12:00 pm. 

Dr. Joshua A. Gordon is the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Gordon received his MD/PhD degrees at the University of California, San Francisco and completed his Psychiatry residency and research fellowship at Columbia University. He joined the Columbia faculty in 2004 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry where he conducted research, taught residents, and maintained a general psychiatry practice. In September of 2016, he became the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Gordon’s research focuses on the analysis of neural activity in mice carrying mutations of relevance to psychiatric disease. His lab studies genetic models of these diseases from an integrative neuroscience perspective, focused on understanding how a given disease mutation leads to a behavioral phenotype across multiple levels of analysis. To this end, he employs a range of systems neuroscience techniques, including in vivo anesthetized and awake behaving recordings and optogenetics, which is the use of light to control neural activity. His work has direct relevance to schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and depression.  Dr. Gordon’s work has been recognized by several prestigious awards, including the The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation – NARSAD Young Investigator Award, the Rising Star Award from the International Mental Health Research Organization, the A.E. Bennett Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and the Daniel H. Efron Research Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 

We will hear from Dr. Gordon on Friday, June 14 at 8:00 am. 

Jesse Milan, Jr. is the president and CEO of Aids United and a tireless community advocate and nationally recognized expert on HIV/AIDS policies and programs. He joined AIDS United in June 2016 as interim president and CEO and assumed the permanent position on November 28, 2016. A person living with HIV for over three decades, Milan is a recognized leader in the HIV community. He brings 30-years of experience in executive roles in the public and private sectors and has directed multi-million dollar budgets and staff for federal, state, local and global public health agencies. Notably, beginning in 2002 he served a five-year appointment as co-chair of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment (CHAC) and in 2007 was designated a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Global HIV/AIDS.

Most recently, Milan has been working as both a leadership development consultant with the Dorrier Underwood firm, and as a subject matter expert consultant for clients including the CDC, NMAC, HRSA and the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health. Further, he currently serves as Chair Emeritus on the Black AIDS Institute board of directors, on the Scientific Advisory Board for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.A lawyer by background, Milan has received numerous honors including the 2015 Public Service Award from the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) and was awarded the HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau Administrator’s Award for his leadership in the global fight against HIV.

Jesse will be joining Scott Badesch and MHA president and CEO Paul Gionfriddo for an opening panel discussion, Dueling Diagnoses: A Conversation with CEO Leadership on Thursday, June 13 at 12:00 pm. 

Katelyn Ohashi is an All - American gymnast and advocate. Best known for tumbling into the perfect drop split, and bouncing back up with the look of sheer joy on her face, Katelyn Ohashi practically broke the internet with her viral floor routine this past January that earned multiple 10.0 scores, and got people talking about something other than abuse, in the gymnastics space.The UCLA gymnast is no stranger to winning.

As an eight-time All-American and a four-time member of USA Gymnastics’ Junior National Team, the 2011 junior national champion was the winner of the 2013 American Cup, defeating Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles to clinch the title. At UCLA, Ohashi majored in Gender Studies and became very involved with homeless shelters, even spearheading a fundraiser for Bruin Shelter, a student-run shelter for homeless students at the university. In addition to writing poetry on body shaming and empowerment, participating in speaking opportunities and volunteering time with Project Heal, a non-profit focused on recovery from eating disorders, she invested countless hours in the gym and was rewarded with 11 career perfect 10s (9 on floor, 2 on beam), recognition as Pac-12 Specialist of the Year (in 2018 and 2019), and became Co-Champion on floor in 2018 from the NCAA and Pac-12 as well as 2019 Pac-12 Co-Champion on floor and beam. Ranking No. 1 in the nation on floor, and No. 2 on beam, Ohashi took first place on her first seven routines of her senior year season and was largely responsible for delivering sell-out crowds at Pauley Pavilion.

In partnership with The Players Tribune, Katelyn will be joining us for the Closing Luncheon on Saturday, June 15 at 1:00 pm.

This event is included in the general conference registration, but individual tickets may also be purchased for $50. Attendees will also have a chance to meet Katelyn after the lunch concludes during a Meet and Greet session.

Justin Peck is a world-renowned off-road and desert driver and owner of Race Pro Technologies racing team. A risk taker all of his life, Peck took his most significant gamble when he drove to the top of a mountain, put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the gun did not go off, and he had a second chance at having a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Today, when not dodging others and jumping at high speeds through blinding dirt on the track, Peck is a mental health advocate, speaker and author whose life mission is to raise awareness surrounding mental health issues. A suicide survivor who battles class one bipolar disorder, his platform represents raw truth and passion for a movement of inspiration versus despair during media appearances and before audiences nationwide. Peck is a proud ambassador for MHA. Peck's "Bulletproof" memoir shares his lifelong story that highlights bipolar disorder, addiction and the daily struggles of both diseases.

Residing between Salt Lake City, Utah, where he lives with his four children, and Los Angeles, CA. He continues to travel the country helping others who share similar mental health "blessings." According to Peck, "Raising mental health awareness, burying stigmas and rallying others to reach out for help with their struggles is truly my purpose on this planet. If just one life is saved by my message, it will have been worth it."

We will hear from Justin on Saturday, June 15 at 8:00 am. This event is included in the general conference registration, but individual tickets may also be purchased for $35

Holly Rowe celebrates over 20 years as one of ESPN’s most versatile announcers. Covering a wide variety sportsfor ESPN, Rowe joined the network full time in August 1998 after appearing on select ESPN telecastsin 1997 and ABC Sportsin 1995- 96. Rowe is one of the lead reporters on ESPN Saturday Night Prime College Football, Big Monday College Basketball, Women’s Final Four, Women’s College World Series, NCAA Volleyball Indoor and Beach National Championships and the lead WNBA announce team. Holly Rowe has also provided play-by-play commentary for women’s college basketball,softball, volleyball and gymnastics. In addition, Rowe has covered soccer,swimming, track & field and the Little League World Series of baseball and softball for ESPN.

Rowe has also provided play-by-play for women’s college basketball and women’s college volleyball for Fox Sportsfrom 1993-2003. Rowe was one of four play-by-play announcers on ESPN’s coverage of the 1998 Women’s World Cup and has hosted ESPN’s coverage of the Running of the Bulls. She was also the analyst for the WNBA’s Utah Starzz until the franchise moved to San Antonio. Rowe served asthe play-by-play voice for BYU women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnasticsfrom 1993-2009 and as a BYU and Air Force footballsideline reporter for the Blue and White Sports Network from 1993-97. Rowe has worked as a sportsreporter and anchor for outletsin Salt Lake City including KSL Radio, Fox 13 TV, KBYU TV, BYU Sports Network and KFNZ Radio.

She graduated from the University of Utah with a broadcast journalism degree. While at Utah, Rowe was a sportswriter for the Daily Utah Chronicle and the Davis County Clipper, and anchored the campus TV station news. Emmy-nominated Rowe is a producer and writer of documentaries and featuresthat have aired on KBYU TV, ESPN and FOX 13 TV in Salt Lake City. Having just completed her last treatment for Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma, Rowe has become tireless advocate for Cancer research and prevention.

Holly will be interviewing Katelyn Ohashi during the closing luncheon on Saturday, June 15 at 1:00. 

Dr. Timothy Shriver is the Chairman of the Board of Special Olympics. Shriver leads the International Board of Directors and serves together with over 5.6 million Special Olympics athletes in 172 countries to promote health, education, and a more unified world through the joy of sports.

Shriver joined Special Olympics in 1996. He is a leading educator who focuses on the social and emotional factors in learning. He co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading school reform organization in the field of social and emotional learning. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Co-Chairman of the National Commission on Social and Emotional Learning, President of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, Member of the Board of Directors for the WPP Group, LLC, and is a co-founder of Lovin’ Scoopful Ice Cream Company. Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Master's degree from Catholic University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut. He has produced 4 films, is the author of the New York Times Best Selling book Fully Alive – Discovering What Matters Most, has written for dozens of newspapers and magazines and has been rewarded with degrees and honors which he happily accepted on behalf of others. Shriver and his wife, Linda Potter, reside in the Washington, D.C. area and have five adult children.

We will hear from Dr. Shriver during the 4:00 pm hour on Thursday, June 13.

Musical Performer 

Shanta Atkins, sister to the Grammy Award winning Gospel duo "Mary Mary", is no stranger to the world of music. Born into a family full of gifted singers she is the youngest of 9. Her professional singing career began at 14 as a supporting vocalist. She can be heard on recorded projects with Mary Mary, Al Green and Dorinda Clark-Cole. She has performed at BET Awards, Soul Train Awards, the Arsenio Hall & Jay Leno Show. She has graced the stage with music legends such as Natalie Cole, U2, Yolanda Adams and BeBe Winans where she was invited to sing for Oprah Winfrey as a supporting vocalist. Shanta is a licensed minister, educator, philanthropist & social media influencer. She is active in the local church and abroad in many nations. Shanta has a heart for missions and has been serving in the area of foreign missions for 8 years. She is the founder of her non-profit Melodies for Missions Inc. which focuses on the spiritual, emotional and mental empowerment & prosperity of all people through love. MFM Inc. provides spiritual counseling, life coaching, mentorship programs, vocal coaching & development, summer music programs, opportunities to serve in foreign missions & monthly clothing giveaways for the homeless.

Shanta will be performing on Thursday, June 13 at the Clifford W. Beers Awards Dinner. 

Breakout Speakers

Dr. Robert Accordino, a physician and champion of mental health parity, is Quartet’s Chief of Behavioral Health. Robert is a practicing pediatric and adult psychiatrist, on the faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital. He founded the US nonprofit, Music for Autism. He has actively engaged in clinical research resulting in over 35 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and articles. Robert was previously appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a White House Fellow, where he focused on improving access to mental health care for service members and their families and received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Oladimeji Akinboro, M.D. had his medical training at the University of Ilorin College of Health Sciences, Ilorin, Nigeria. He completed his residency training, and chief residency in internal medicine in the Montefiore Health system – the university hospital system of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. He holds a Master of Public Health degree, with concentration in Biostatistics, from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX. He is currently a fellow in hematology and medical oncology at Boston Medical Center – the primary teaching affiliate of the Boston University School of Medicine.

Justin Birckbichler is a men’s health activist, testicular cancer survivor, and founder of aBallsySenseofTumor.com. In 2016, he was diagnosed with stage II testicular cancer at the age of 25. Throughout his diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and being cleared in remission in March 2017, he has been passionate about sharing his story to spread awareness about testicular cancer and promote open conversation about men's health. Justin's writing has appeared in Cure Magazine, I Had Cancer, The Mighty, Stupid Cancer, and more. His work with awareness of men's health has been featured by British GQ, Healthline, Ball Boys, and various other organizations.

Lara Bloom is the international Executive Director of the Ehlers-Danlos Society and responsible for globally raising awareness of rare and invisible diseases, specializing in the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD), and related disorders. Lara manages coordinated medical collaboration, raising funds for research, and focusing on the global progression of EDS and HSD. She speaks at conferences all over the world, lecturing to medical students and professionals, and supports specialists in the field by offering her experience as a leading patient expert. From 2013–2015, Lara was part of the specialized rheumatology CRG (Clinical Reference Group) working with the NHS and she regularly works with umbrella organizations lobbying in parliament. She is a member of the Patient Empowerment Group for Rare Disease UK and the Rare Disease International Patient Advocacy Committee.

Elizabeth Breier, MAHAP, is a Training and Implementation Specialist at The Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery. She collaborates with New York City behavioral health providers on enhancing access and quality of person-centered and recovery-oriented services through her provision of trainings and technical assistance. She has worked in Behavioral Health for close to twenty years in a variety of supervisory and leadership roles in Florida, New Jersey and New York. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master of Arts in Health Advocacy from Sarah Lawrence College. Additionally, Liz is a Certified Health Coach with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute and is working toward a certification in nutritional psychology.

Latifa Boyce serves as the Director of the National Resource Center on Lupus for the Lupus Foundation of America. Her expertise in epidemiology, health promotion and health marketing and communications supports the growth of the National Resource Center on Lupus that provides trustworthy, reliable and high-quality resources, programs and emotional support services to anyone seeking information about lupus.

Marianne Buchanan has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of North Carolina since 2001.  Currently, she works as a social worker in the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the University of North Carolina Healthcare in Chapel Hill, serving approximately 300 patients.  She provides case management services as well as mental health assessments and treatment.  She has participated in multiple Quality Improvement projects within the UNC CF Center, including a program to address food insecurity as well as Advanced Care Planning.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Virginia and a Master of Social Work degree from Boston College. 

Chris Calitz is Director of the Center for Workplace Health Research at the American Heart Association. Before joining AHA, Chris was a health policy analyst for the Vitality Group and he co-founded the MEND Program, one of the largest community-based childhood obesity programs in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Chris has published original research, commentaries, and statement articles on disease prevention and workplace health promotion in Circulation, Health Affairs, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. He has served as an expert panelist on workplace wellness for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the national advisory board for the Corporate Health Leadership Program convened by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Chris has expertise in policy analysis, workplace health research and evaluation, program development, implementation science, and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Ruben Cantu is a program manager on Prevention Institute’s Safety and Wellbeing team. He has more than 20 years of experience in public health, mental health, and health equity. Previously, Ruben was Associate Director at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) and advocated for constituents of the state’s largest multicultural health policy organization. As CPEHN’s lead on mental and behavioral health, he authored the state’s strategic plan for reducing mental health disparities, a part of the California Reducing Disparities Project. A native Texan and graduate of the University of Houston, he has served on several state mental health advisory committees.

David Charles, M.D. is the Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt University Clinical Neurosciences Institute. Dr. Charles is a national leader in Movement Disorders research. He took leave from his practice in 1998 and spent a year on the staff of U.S. Senator Bill Frist, where he served as a health policy advisor. Following this experience in Washington, Dr. Charles conducted Parkinson’s disease research in France as a Fulbright Senior Scholar.

Barbara Coffey M.D., M.S., is an internationally known specialist in Tourette syndrome (TS) and related disorders, such as ADHD and OCD. Dr. Coffey is Chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and former Chief of the Tourette Association of America Center of Excellence at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Dr. Coffey is the author of more than 150 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, abstracts and book chapters, and a featured speaker at conferences all over the world. Her research has focused on the clinical course, psychiatric comorbidity, phenomenology, and novel treatments of TS.

Suzi Craig is the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships and Policy of Mental Health Connecticut. She brings more than 20 years of strategic planning, marketing, creative direction, fundraising, and community engagement expertise to MHC. Her ability to cultivate trusted, mutually beneficial relationships has resulted in a long track record of wins at MHC and at her previous positions in both the business and non-profit worlds, including book publishing in NYC, strategic brand consulting, public broadcasting, and Connecticut’s startup eco-system. Suzi is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and is a nationally certified yoga teacher.

Rebecca David brings 10+ years’ experience in health systems financing, addiction and mental health parity, integrated care and Medicaid to her role as Vice President of Policy & Advocacy for the National Council for Behavioral Health. She provides strategic guidance and support to community-based addiction and mental health providers, educating organizations on trends inside and outside the Beltway while helping them prepare for major policy changes ahead. Ms. David works directly with Members of Congress, congressional staff, and regulatory agencies to track and influence public policies that affect providers’ ability to deliver timely, high-quality services to vulnerable individuals.

Michelle Eakins, M.D. is an Associate Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and the Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Adherence Research Center. She is a clinical psychologist with expertise in dissemination and implementation of evidence based counseling interventions to improve respiratory and mental health.

Sabrina Farina LMSW is a Social Worker with 20 years’ experience working with health care multidisciplinary teams. She services patients throughout their life span diagnosed with bleeding disorders.  She has served as Co-Chair for the National Hemophilia Foundation, Ethics Working Group as well as a Social Work representative on the NHF, Social Work Working Group. Sabrina is the recipient of the National Hemophilia Foundation, Social Work Excellence Fellowship Award for 2018. 

Scott Fadness is the Mayor of the City of Fishers, Indiana.  Fadness became Mayor of the City of Fishers, Indiana on December 22, 2014. As the City of Fishers’ first Mayor, he manages the day-to-day operations of the City and leads a team of 12 department directors. Prior to his election as Fishers’ first mayor, Scott Fadness served as Fishers’ Town Manager from 2011-2014 and Deputy Town Manager of Operations from 2009-2011 overseeing the day-to-day operations of public works, engineering, fleet management and parks and recreation. As Town Manager, he reorganized town departments to streamline government services, create greater efficiencies and save Fishers’ taxpayers millions of dollars - all while doubling Fishers’ cash reserves. His dedication to fiscal responsibility earned him the Government Finance Officers’ Association “Distinguished Budget Award” three years in a row. Fadness holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University and is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), and the Indiana Controllers Affiliate Group. He lives in Fishers with his wife, Aunna and son Lincoln.

Dana Fields-Johnson is a Program Manager at Prevention Institute, a national nonprofit center dedicated to advancing primary prevention. At Prevention Institute, Dana works to promote healthy community environments, with a focus on strategies to address community determinants of health and multi-sector strategies to prevent injury, violence and trauma. Dana has more than 25 years of professional experience and has worked across the public health arena to address health equity, mental health, maternal and child well-being, chronic disease prevention, community safety and violence prevention, healthy eating and active living with an emphasis on policy, systems and environmental change.

Ryvell Fitzpatrick, J.D. is the Assistant Ombudsman for Public Education in the DC State Board of Education where he mediates concerns between schools and families, helps families navigate the education landscape, and helps develop policy recommendations for elected officials and stakeholders to increase equity in public education.  Dr. Fitzpatrick obtained a B.S. in Education from Mississippi State University and a J.D. from Howard University.  While in graduate school, he worked with the Mississippi Center for Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, Amara Legal Center, and the Office of the Student Advocate within the DC State Board of Education. 

Elizabeth Franklin, LGSW, ACSW, is Executive Director of the Cancer Policy Institute (CPI) at the Cancer Support Community (CSC). CSC is the largest provider of social and emotional support services for cancer patients and their loved ones in the United States. Elizabeth is responsible for all aspects of the CPI including legislative, regulatory, policy, and research priorities as well as operations, fundraising, and management. Elizabeth was previously Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at CSC. Elizabeth was formerly Director of Policy and Engagement at the George Washington University Cancer Institute where she worked at both the macro level, developing and implementing the Institute’s policy agenda, and at the micro level, working with the patient-centered care team to ensure that all patients had access to high-quality, timely cancer care. Previously, Elizabeth was Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy with the Prevent Cancer Foundation as well as Special Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer at the headquarters of the National Association of Social Workers.

Tonya Fulwider is the program director at MHA Franklin County. In this role, Tonya oversees the agency’s myriad of support groups, the Get Connected program, educational programming, and teaches De-escalation and Work-Life Balance workshops. Tonya is a Certified Mental Health First Aid USA Instructor. She is the co-founder and director of Perinatal Outreach and Encouragement for Moms (POEM), formerly a nonprofit organization now within MHAFC’s umbrella of services. POEM is the only comprehensive pregnancy and postpartum program of its kind in Ohio and has provided support and education for nearly 17 years. Tonya is the Central US Regional Coordinator for Postpartum Support International (PSI). She is a co-author of the PSI Guidebook Developing a Sustainable Perinatal Support Network in Your Community and lectures regularly on the topics of perinatal mental health and social support.  She was a recipient of the 2009 PSI Jane Honikman Award, recognizing her “outstanding contributions to the goal of increasing emot  ional health related to childbearing.” She is a graduate of The Ohio State University in Political Science and Communications, and lives in Columbus with her husband and daughters.

Anne Marie Galanis, RN, is chief clinical officer at FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and insurance information. With over 30 years’ experience in the healthcare industry, she applies clinical expertise to sales and solution design processes to help FAIR Health deliver custom analytics that meet customers’ needs. Previously, she worked for McKesson, where she led new product research and teamed with US and UK healthcare organizations on implementing medical management programs. Anne Marie also worked with the government contractor responsible for reviewing the appropriateness and quality of care provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients. Her clinical experience ranged from medical/surgical nursing to critical care to behavioral health counseling. Anne Marie has a BS in Nursing from the University of New Hampshire and an MA in Counseling Psychology from Antioch New England Graduate School.

Lisa Giles is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Pennsylvania. She recently relocated to Virginia when her husband accepted a position in Washington. While in Virginia, Lisa has taken a break from the field to care for her son. In Pennsylvania, Lisa worked as a Behavioral Health Consultant in a Community Health Center as a consultant to medical providers and assisted with behavioral health concerns. Lisa also has experience as an In-home Therapist and managed a Truancy Prevention Program in Philadelphia. Lisa earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from George Mason University and a Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Thomas Hart, J.D., has spent more than a decade advocating for individuals with lived experience in facing barriers related to poverty, health, and housing. Thom has worked closely with providers, policy makers, agencies, allies and self-advocates, to inform the programs that serve and support people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders, improving outcomes for the community. Specific projects include the successful launch of a social enterprise offering housing, employment, and health home connections for individuals with a history of chronic homelessness and incarceration; permanent supportive housing for young adults and youth-headed families with successful demonstrations of programs to interrupt generational homelessness; and new models of public/private partnerships dedicated to ending the experience of chronic homelessness using integrated care and peer-led engagement. Thom has a BA in Bioethics from Wittenberg University and a JD from the University of Miami School of Law, where he earned honors as a Senior Fellow at the school’s Center for Ethics and Public Service. Thom has also clerked for the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation and served as Minnesota Justice Foundation Staff Attorney at the University of Minnesota Law School, leading the school’s public interest and pro bono programs.

Mary Jones is currently the President and CEO of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas and is part time faculty at Friends University where she teaches and provides clinical supervision. Mary has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wichita State University and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Friends University. She is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor. Her professional highlights include over a decade of housing development for people with severe mental illness and seniors, opening and expanding outpatient treatment facilities including therapy, medication services and treatment for substance use disorders. She has served on the Kansas Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Board as Secretary until its dissolution in 2017. She sits on the Marriage and Family Therapy Advisory Board for the BSRB and is a Board Member of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition. 

Clarence Jordan leads Beacon Health Options’ national Wellness & Recovery Program. Jordan received the Consumer Leadership Award at the SAMHSA 2010 National Voice Awards, as well as its 2012 Voice Awards Fellowship. In 2014, the National Council for Behavioral Health named him its Peer Specialist of the Year. In 2015, Jordan was selected to serve on the Committee on the Science of Changing Behavioral Health Social Norms by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. In 2016, the Committee released its study on “Ending Discrimination against People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders.”

Mike Koprowski is the National Campaign Director of Opportunity Starts at Home.  Most recently, he lived in Dallas, TX where he worked as the executive director of Opportunity Dallas, an organization focused on building local coalitions to promote greater economic mobility by tackling concentrated poverty and segregation through housing policy. Prior to Opportunity Dallas, Mike was the chief of transformation and innovation in the Dallas school system, where he led the development and execution of the district’s Public School Choice initiative focused on socioeconomic school integration. Prior to his career in education and housing, he served in the U.S. Air Force, where he was the chief of intelligence for an F-15E fighter squadron while it was deployed to Afghanistan. He holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Duke University, and Harvard University

Lisa Kugler, PsyD. serves as the Vice President/ CEO of the Beacon Health Options Maryland Division.   Prior to her position at Beacon Health Options, Dr. Kugler was head of the behavioral health and physical health integration team for a community based out-patient clinic and team lead for the Center for Treatment of Addictive Disorders at the Pittsburgh Veteran’s Administration.  Dr. Kugler has provided services to adults, veterans, inmates, adolescents, and children.  Dr. Kugler has presented locally, regionally, and nationally on topics focused on substance abuse concerns, motivational interviewing, and recovery and resiliency.

Brooke Lawson serves as the Mental Health and School Counseling Coordinator for Hamilton Southeastern Schools and oversees and helps coordinate mental health services and school counseling for the school district. She works closely with more than 40 school counselors, providing supervision related to mental health and student support. Brooke works with students and staff to create stigma-free environments in their school and community regarding mental health. She is also a resource to support teachers and staff on social emotional learning and trauma informed practices.  She is also active in making connections between the school district and community to create systems of support for students and families.

Simone Lambert, Ph.D. is currently serving as the 67th President of the American Counseling Association. She is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor. She is a core faculty in counseling at Capella University. Dr. Lambert has supervised counselors-in-training for the past two decades. Her research interest includes addiction prevention, wellness, chronic illness, sensory processing disorder, and issues related to children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Lambert's past clinical work and publications have primarily focused on issues related to mental health, addiction, youth and families. She is a former president of the International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors and was the recipient of the 2010 IAAOC addictions/offender educator excellent award.

Sarah Leathers is the co-founder and CEO of Healing Meals Community Project (“Healing Meals”), a non-profit affiliate of Ceres Community Project, a national organization. Their dual mission is to provide 100% organic meals for families facing a health crisis, while grooming the next generation of leaders through youth volunteering. Sarah’s engineering and wellness education and her passion for education, helping others, and building strong organizations fuels her leadership at Healing Meals. Sarah is a graduate of Union College with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach. 

Al Levin is an assistant principal at an urban, public elementary school. He’s been in education for nearly twenty years. Al has recovered from a major depressive disorder, an illness that was quite debilitating for nearly six months of his life. Through this experience, he has become passionate about learning more about mental health and supporting others with a mental illness, particularly depression. Al created a blog and podcast called The Depression files, in which he interviews men who have struggled with depression.

Tim Livengood is an accomplished health care marketer and a previous healthcare administrator. He currently serves as a marketing and business development professional for a national healthcare organization. Mr. Livengood’s expertise is in new market development, social and digital media, network engagement, contract negotiation, strategic messaging, and organizational branding. Timothy currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for Mental Health America of Eastern Carolina, Chairman of the Awareness, Engagement, and Education Committee at Mental Health America, and presides on the Board of Directors for the national organization (MHA), in Washington DC. Mr. Livengood is also is the former Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Pitt County Coalition on Substance Abuse.

Junqing Liu is a Research Scientist at NCQA. Dr. Liu leads quality measure development and testing efforts in the area of behavioral health. She serves as a project director and researcher on several federally funded child and adult behavioral health measurement projects at NCQA. As the lead of NCQA’s behavioral health measures, Dr. Liu guides the re-evaluation and updates of HEDIS behavioral health measures. Dr. Liu’s research focuses on access to mental health services, evidence-based treatment for behavioral health problems, and child welfare services. Prior to joining NCQA, Dr. Liu was a research assistant professor at University of Maryland School of Social Work and conducted the evaluation of a federally funded research project on the implementation of evidence-based practices in child welfare systems in six states. She holds a Ph.D. and a master’s in social work from University at Albany, State University of New York.

Charlie Lucas is the co-founder for the NotOK app and is at 13-years-old is a self-taught coder, proficient in Swift, Java, HTML, and Python. Along with his sister Hannah, he has earned MHA’s 2018 mPower Award, NAMI GA’s Young Leader Award, and the National Black History Blacks in Tech Award, all in 2018.

Hannah Lucas the co-founder for the NotOK app and has a passion for both mental health advocacy and business. At only 16-years-old, Hannah brings that passion and optimism into play in every area in her life. She is an active member of DECA and has been awarded along with her brother Charlie MHA’s mPower Award, NAMI GA’s Young Leader Award, and the National Black History Blacks in Tech Award, all in 2018.

Marcia Meier has been involved in the nationally renowned program for ED-DMT1 at Melrose Center in a collaborative effort between the International Diabetes Center, Endocrinology and the Melrose Center at Park Nicollet since the inception in 2005. She is involved in the development of programs/educational materials, sees patients individually and in groups and is a speaker and contributing author of several publications, including “Eating Disorders and Diabetes” in Summer 2009 Diabetes Spectrum, and “Eating Disorders and type 1 Diabetes” in March/April 2014 issue of Practical Diabetology. She received Nurse of Excellence award in 2006 for her work at Park Nicollet.

Anna Mendez joined Partner for Mental Health as Executive Director in 2016 after a decade of providing and managing mental health services. Before coming to Charlottesville, Anna was the Director of Consumer Affairs for a regional public mental health authority where she worked to develop a recovery oriented and trauma informed continuum of mental health services. Anna is currently serving on the Board of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Mental Health Therapeutic Docket, and is the Board president of Mental Health America of Virginia where she also serves as chair of the policy committee.

Lauren Metelski is a Registered Nurse and Manager of the National Health Education network at the Lupus Foundation of America. Her team of health educators offer tailored education and resources to people with lupus and their caregivers by answering over 400 calls and emails each month. In addition, the health educators are actively involved in the Foundation's program planning and educational events on both local and national levels as well as managing their new online support community, Lupusconnect, in partnership with Inspire.com.

Matt Miclette is a military veteran and a psychiatric and mental health board certified registered nurse. During his tenure in the U.S. Army he provided direct patient care for service members that sustained physical and psychological trauma during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. These experiences led Matt to become intimately involved in developing and evaluating mental health and substance use disorder policies at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and as a subcommittee member on the Philadelphia Mayor’s Opioid Task Force. He has won multiple awards and has published peer-reviewed studies for his work on policies related to the opioid epidemic. Matt earned a Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.

Christina Miller, Ph.D., is President and CEO of Mental Health America Los Angeles. A licensed psychologist with over 25 years of leadership experience, she previously held positions at OPCC, UCLA, Didi Hirsch, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  At OPCC, she moved the agency from a 7-person mental health team to a Department of Mental Health MediCal Certified program with multiple integrated behavioral health programs. She developed a “Wellness Model” which received special commendation from SAMHSA as a model program of integrated care. She started UCLA’s Ashe Behavioral Medicine Program, which integrated medical and behavioral healthcare for 38,000 consumers. She has trained dozens of physicians, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals in the behavioral health aspects of medical care. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Psychology from UCLA and is past Board Chair of LA’s Westside Coalition and past SPA 5 Representative to the LAHSA Coordinating Council. She has also been a columnist for national publications and a radio talk show host.

Jessica Miller has been a behaviorist and advocate in the field of developmental disabilities and child and adolescent psychology for over 10 years now. She attended Loyola University in Maryland and graduated with a MS in Psychology and obtained a License in Mental Health Counseling. Her experience has run the gamut from school settings, psychiatric facilities, group homes and outpatient clinics. Jessica's tenacious strength based approach has fueled her work and helped her build strong programs and train families, staff and community members across the field. Her approach has made a lasting change on the system's impacted and brought wellness and quality of life to the program participants.

Rwenshaun Miller is a therapist and speaker who creates safe spaces for open and honest dialogue about mental illness. He uses his personal experiences living with Bipolar Disorder to educate others and break the stigma associated with mental health challenges.  He is the author of Injured Reserve: A Black Man’s Playbook to Manage Being Sidelines by Mental Illness. In 2013, Rwenshaun founded Eustress, Inc., a nonprofit that raises mental health awareness through educational content, workshops, and annual multi-city “Let’s Talk About It” walks. Rwenshaun has been featured on various media platforms, including Huffington Post, Power 105.1FM’s “The Breakfast Club,” Blavity, and The Good Men Project. He is also the recipient of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation award for Advancing Minority Mental Health.  In 2018, Rwenshan became a Private Clinician Cohort Member of activist and musical artist Chance the Rapper’s new mental health initiative, “My State of Mind” via his non-profit organization, “SocialWorks.” Rwenshaun holds a BA in Sociology and African-American Studies from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Montreat College. 

Luis Montes is the Chief Service Officer Of MHA Los Angeles North County works with adults impacted by mental health issues. His lifelong mission is to help those he serves gain full lives in a community of their choice. Luis brings 22 years of experience as a service provider and administrator in outpatient mental health. As a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner he brings expertise in providing mental health recovery services and trainings on recovery oriented practice. Luis holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a Master's degree in Business Administration.

Margaret Morrison is an adult Cystic Fibrosis social worker at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. Margaret is a licensed clinical social worker and has degrees from Duke Divinity School and the UNC School of Social Work. Margaret has worked for the past six years at UNC Hospital as both a clinic social worker and an inpatient social worker/case manager, helping patients transition from the hospital back into the community.

Siobhan Morse spearheads research, clinical operations management and new product development for Foundations Recovery Network, the Addiction Services Division of Universal Health Services, Inc. Siobhan presents original research worldwide and has published multiple articles in peer reviewed scientific journals. Ms. Morse holds a Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from Florida International University and also taught Program Planning and Evaluation there. She holds her certifications as an ARISE Interventionist and Master Addiction Counselor and currently serves as voluntary adjunct faculty at Baylor College of Family Medicine.

Brandon Newsome, M.D. did his medical training at the University of South Alabama. He is currently in his 3rd year of the General Adult Psychiatry Program at Boston Medical Center and plans to do a Child Psychiatry fellowship afterwards. As an advocate, he works strongly with the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness to reduce stigma in the diverse communities of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury Massachusetts. As a researcher, he studies the effect of micro-aggressions on the mental health of young adults. He has a special interest the interplay between chronic physical conditions and mental health.

Amy Oestreicher is an Audie-Award nominated PTSD specialist, artist, author of "My Beautiful Detour," Huffington Post contributor, TEDx (amyoes.com/tedx) and RAINN speaker, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright.  She’s headlined international conferences with her signature keynotes, and as star of Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman musical autobiography, since its NYC debut in 2012.  Her writings have appeared in over 70 online and print publications, and her story has appeared on TODAY, Cosmopolitan and CBS.  She's currently touring her mental health/sexual assault awareness programs & #LoveMyDetour movement to colleges nationwide.

Steve Orusa serves as the Project Leader of the Fishers Mental Health Task Initiative. He has served as the Fire Chief for the Fishers Department of Fire & Emergency Services since 2011.  Chief Orusa’s day is spent supporting the men and women in harm’s way with leadership and resources to safely, effectively, and efficiently serve the community. Orusa previously served as the Deputy Fire Chief at the Fishers Department of Fire & Emergency Services; Fire Captain, Training Officer, Waukegan Fire Department, Waukegan; Deputy Fire Chief, Waukegan Fire Department; Fire Lieutenant, Waukegan Fire Department; and Firefighter/Paramedic, Waukegan Fire Department.

Ellen Palmer is the co-founder and COO of Healing Meals Community Project (“Healing Meals”). Ellen’s former corporate career in healthcare and her work as a Certified Holistic Health Coach come together at Healing Meals, where she utilizes both her business and her health coaching skills to build the internal and external infrastructure, processes, and systems for a sustainable model for community care, youth empowerment as well as health improvement and advocacy. Ellen studied Business Administration at St. Michael’s College and Holistic Health at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. 

Dr. Naomi Pollock is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with individuals and families as a therapist, supervisor, and director in community-based mental health settings for more than 10 years.  She currently serves as Director of Clinical Content Development for AbleTo, where she previously held roles as a Clinical Supervisor and a Clinical Manager. Dr. Pollock earned her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Syracuse University and her Doctorate in Clinical Social Work (DSW) from the University of Pennsylvania.  She has trained in both systemic family therapy and in clinical supervision through the Philadelphia Child & Family Therapy Training Center and has taught in the MSW programs at the University of Pennsylvania and Bryn Mawr College.

Robert Pompa serves as Behavioral Change Specialist in a hospital-based HIV clinic since 2011.  Rob currently serves on the State of PA HIV Planning Group as well as the Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Council. Rob also serves on the CDC's Medical Monitoring Project HIV Consumer Advisory Board.  Rob was selected Honoree for POZ Magazine 100 top advocates for HIV in 2018. Rob regularly presents on the topic of HIV and Trauma Informed Care at international, national, and regional conferences.

Alejandra Posada serves as Chief Operating Officer for MHA of Greater Houston. Since 2010, she has led the organization’s integrated health care programming. Beginning in 2015, she brought together stakeholders to develop consensus recommendations for sustainable integrated health care with a focus on financing and workforce development. Alejandra has presented multiple times at the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association (CFHA) conference, and she co-chaired the 2017 CFHA conference in Houston. Alejandra has over 15 years of experience in the non-profit and education sectors. She holds a Master of Education from Loyola University Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts from Rice University.

Katherine Pruitt has worn many hats in her 25 years with the American Lung Association, and developed expertise on a range of topics from air quality to smoking cessation to health equity. In her current role, she is focused on developing education and support programs to improve health outcomes and quality of life for people living with chronic lung disease.

Madi Rajulapalli, M.D. serves as Chief Medical Officer for Aetna Better Health of Louisiana. Dr. Rajulapalli directly and in-directly manages and provides direction to utilization management, case management, quality, pharmacy, provider relations, contracting, behavioral health, population health and health equity. Prior to joining Aetna, she served as Chief Medical Officer for CHRISTUS Health, managing Medicaid, Medicare advantage, HIX and US Family Health Plan. Prior to CHRISTUS Health she served as Chief Medical officer for Community Health Care Center. Madi received bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from Kurnool Medical College, India. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at Texas Tech University Health sciences, El Paso, Texas and Master’s in Business administration from Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas. Recently she graduated from Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School.

Sherwood Randolph Jr. is a native of Virginia, husband and father, and is a graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work, where he obtained both his BSW and MSW degree. Sherwood later attended Virginia Union University obtaining his Master of Divinity. Sherwood serves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Capital Area Health Network and the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls. Sherwood also serves on the Board of Directors of the South Richmond Adult Daycare Center. Sherwood is an adjunct faculty member at Bryant & Stratton College and serves the community as a Mental Health First Aid (Adult) instructor.

Luther Richert is the Chief Service Officer of the South County for Mental Health America Los Angeles. For over 20 years he has dedicated himself to building community and enhancing the quality of life for low-income individuals. He employs a holistic multi-disciplinary approach offering a wide range of fully integrated services. He has worked as both a direct service provider and senior manager supporting individuals in every capacity of social services including housing, employment, education, case management and defining, developing and supporting street based medicine (in both the capacities of mental and physical health). Luther has a BA in Communications from the University of Colorado. Prior to entering the field of social services, he was a radio news correspondent for KPFA in Berkeley and hosted his own show focusing on poverty and social justice for KGNU in Boulder.

Dakota Rosenfelt is currently in his 4th year of Pharmacy School and is the founder of HemoTool, an app created to help those living with bleeding disorders better manage their condition. He is a TEDx speaker and a national leader in the bleeding disorder community.

Seth Rotberg is a rare disease advocate and motivational speaker who is passionate about bringing his personal experience to better support the health community. He has done over 18 talks, with the most notables ones being at TEDxNatick and Global Genes Patient Advocacy Summit. Seth’s passion is driven by his mother’s 17 year battle with the rare, genetic disease known as Huntington’s Disease (HD). At the age of 20, Seth also tested positive for the disease and is a gene carrier. He is an active member of the HD community and currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Huntington’s Disease Youth Organization (HDYO).

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D. serves as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Prevention and Chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the American Heart Association (AHA). Prior to joining AHA, he served as Vice President and CMO for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) where he focused on worker and worksite wellness, clinical prevention, and chronic disease management, particularly diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Sanchez led the Institute for Health Policy at the University of Texas (UT) School of Public Health as Director from 2006 to 2008. From 2001 to 2006, he served as Texas Commissioner of Health, Texas’ state health officer. He led the Texas Department of State Health Services from 2004 to 2006 and the Texas Department of Health from 2001 to 2004. He served as the local public health officer in Austin-Travis County from 1994 to 1998. Dr. Sanchez currently serves as Chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition (TPHC) and the National Commission on Prevention Priorities (NCPP). He co-chairs the Dallas Health and Wellness Alliance for Children. From 2008 to 2012, he served as chair of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He serves on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Obesity Solutions and on the Board of Directors of Trust for America’s Health, AcademyHealth, and the CATCH Global Foundation. He is a member of the National Quality Forum (NQF) Disparities Standing Committee on and the IOM Committee on Evaluating Approaches to Assessing Prevalence and Trends in Obesity. He serves on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow Advisory Board.

John Schall is the Chief Executive Officer of the Caregiver Action Network and is the organization’s content expert, responsible for articulating CAN’s vision, developing the organization’s strategic plan and leading the organization’s advocacy efforts. Recognized nationally as a thought leader on caregiving issues and trends, John effectively links private sector goals with health care public policy. John leverages his 30+ years of expertise in a wide range of policy fields, including healthcare, labor, education, economic development, taxation, and budget policy, to develop programs and strategies to solve the nation’s looming caregiver crisis. John also brings a wealth of experience in senior federal government positions, including serving as former Sen. Bob Dole’s chief budget advisor; chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Labor in the early 1990s; and as deputy of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President George H.W. Bush. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Rebecca Palpant Shimkets has 20 years of experience in the behavioral health field. Over the past decade and a half, she oversaw a major international initiative for former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter that included program development globally, project management, strategic planning, and advising on media depictions and campaigns related to mental health and substance use conditions. In recent years, as a two-time cancer survivor, Palpant Shimkets also has been writing and speaking publicly about her health experiences and serving on advisory boards related to cancer survivorship and increasing the quality of life for patients and their family members during and after treatment. Today, Palpant Shimkets is an independent consultant focusing on behavioral health and oncology research, education, and advocacy specializing in providing strategic and project planning, research and report writing, and technical advice on public health campaigns. Special interests include reducing the stigma around seeking mental health care for cancer survivors and supporting research and policy to ensure evidence-based mental health services are available for survivors upon departure from treatment.

Tanya Sockol is a national and international advocate for individuals and families whose lives are affected by Tourette Syndrome/Chronic Tic Disorders and their associated conditions. She serves as a board member of the Florida Chapter of the Tourette Association of America; a founding board member of the Tourette Alliance of Northern Ireland; a founding member of Chicks With Tics, an advocacy group for women and girls with TS; and, a founding member of Hope Tics, which works to address issues of faith and fellowship for those with TS. Tanya is passionate about securing identification, support and acceptance for those living with TS worldwide. She is a founder of the global advocacy coalition, OST, which helps organize Tourette advocacy groups in nations with no existing support infrastructure. She is also the author of a popular blog.

Andrew Sperling has been Director of Legislative and Policy Advocacy at NAMI since 1996. In that role, he oversees NAMI’s federal policy agenda in Congress and before federal agencies. He also serves as a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and as co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force. Andrew received his B.A. from Tulane University, his M.A. from The George Washington University and his J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center.

Timothy State Tim is Senior Vice President, Associate Health and Well-being at Humana, a US-based Fortune 56 health and well-being company. Humana has a goal of improving the health of the communities it serves, and that commitment begins with its own associates. He is passionate about well-being in the workplace and its power to impact the destiny of individual employees, as well as the organizations and customers they serve. He is a strategic Human Resources leader with over 20 years of experience within multiple industries, and he has led innovative, large- scale transformative change in areas including Health and Well-being, Benefits, Compensation, Positive Performance, Employee Engagement, and Human Capital Strategy. 

Denise Takakjy is a licensed professional counselor in Pennsylvania. She has been working as a counselor for over 6 years and has worked with children, adolescents, transitional-aged youth, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Denise obtained her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Walden University and is currently pursuing her doctorate in counselor education and supervision. In her practice, Denise specializes in treating children and adolescents with a variety of mental health diagnosis including depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, and intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as those with an extensive trauma history, where she shares the experiences of her family’s journey with Tourette and is a frequent speaker on TS/CDT issues.

Amanda Talty brings over 15 years of experience developing and implementing strategic programs designed to spark organizational growth and sustainability. Prior to her appointment as President and CEO on June 1, 2018, Amanda served the organization for two years spearheading development, marketing and chapter relations initiatives. She was responsible for the implementation and development of a fundraising program which attracted new industry partnerships and led to double digit year-over-year increases in revenues as well as improved ratings on GuideStar and Charity Navigator. Prior to joining the Tourette Association of America, Amanda served as Senior Major Gift Officer at the American Red Cross on Long Island where she facilitated over $1 million in new revenue within the first year. Her development experience encompasses organizations big and small, public and private and she is passionate about bringing values to life through philanthropy. Amanda received her BA in Sociology and Communications from Hofstra University and her MPA from Baruch College.

Dawn Taylor, Psy.D is the Manager of the Intensive Residential and Residential units at Melrose Center. As a psychologist, her primary focus of practice has been the treatment of eating disorders with an emphasis on the care of those with the dual diagnosis of type 1 diabetes & eating disorders She is the team lead in the advancement of a center of excellence for people with this dual-diagnosis. Dawn was a speaker for 10th London International Conference in March 2011 on “Type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder: assembling the treatment of this Complicated Dual Diagnosis” and co-authored “Eating Disorders and Type 1 Diabetes.” Practical Diabetology March/April 2014.

Renae Vania Tomczak joined MHA of Greater Houston as President & CEO in July 2018. Previously, she served as CEO of MHA of Northwest Indiana, where she was co-founder of the Indiana MHA Executive Roundtable. Renae also served as Chief Planning & Development Officer for a community mental health center, where she led the development of a permanent supportive housing project. In addition to her non-profit leadership experience, Renae has experience as a consultant to non-profit organizations and an entrepreneur. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations from Purdue University and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Mario Tovar is a clinical psychologist in Texas, and serves as the director of behavioral health and substance abuse treatment at the Valley AIDS Council, an outpatient multidisciplinary clinic that offers services to individuals diagnosed with HIV+ or who are at risk of acquiring this condition. As a faculty member, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses of Anthropology, Psychology, and Counseling and Guidance at different institutions. He is currently Faculty of Counseling and Guidance and Outpatient Educational Supervisor for Psychiatry Residents, and Clinical Assistant Professor for the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

Karin Tse is the Health Outcomes and Research Coordinator at the Lupus Foundation of America. Karin brings her experience in program development, qualitative and quantitative research to support the Foundation’s robust research and evaluation efforts. Karin is passionate about minority health issues and holds a Master’s in Public Health from the George Washington University.

Amy Wassmann has a Masters in Social Work and has been working on mental health, substance abuse, social/emotional learning, character ed/developmental assets and Whole Child (formerly Coordinated School Health) topics with schools for over 19 years. Prior to her work with schools, she was a Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist/Substance Abuse Treatment Therapist and an Intensive Home-based Adolescent Therapist. She is a current trainer for Michigan Model for Health, ACEs Community Champion and HIV/Sex Education, and a former trainer for CPI's Non-Violent Crisis Intervention.

Nadine Wilches is a champion of systemic interventions and interweaves treatments into the practice to optimize the outcomes. She does so by tapping into sensory regulation, emotional regulation, brain functioning and wellness strategies. Nadine has over 15 years’ experience in clinical and program management/development aspects of mental health particularly in working with co-occurring developmental disorders and mental health disorders. Many of those years she worked concurrently as a Behavior Analyst specializing with children on the autistic spectrum and their siblings. She has worked abroad supporting community and children's educational programs in 3 different countries. In the United States, she has helped shape non-profit programs in foster care, criminal court (victim services), non-public schools, and community and home-based programs. Nadine is energized by challenges and has a fearless determination for success.

500 Montgomery Street, Suite 820
 Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone (703) 684.7722

Toll Free (800) 969.6642

Fax (703) 684.5968


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