My name is Dr. Jei Africa. I am one of the few Tagalog-speaking licensed clinical psychologists who is also certified as a domestic violence and addiction counselor in the San Francisco-Bay Area. I am also a consultant, educator and facilitator on integrating diversity and multicultural-related issues in clinical and organizational practice. As an advocate for providing effective and quality services for the underserved and unserved population, especially Asians and Filipinos, I continue to work with different sectors of the community to educate them about health and mental health issues. In my work, I am mindful of the role and influence of socio-cultural factors on how individuals conceptualize and make meaning of their experience, which in turn influences how they behave.
Will Richey is an award winning spoken word artist, teacher and creative director who has left an imprint across North Texas and beyond by mixing and melding original poetry performances in workshops, speaking engagements and the production of interactive events. The heartbeat of his work engages people of all ages, cultures, creeds and backgrounds, while empowering each unique voice to connect and identify with personal and collective acknowledgment, self-expression and growth. From school districts to art districts, drug and alcohol prevention and recovery organizations to college campuses and churches, Will enjoys cultivating experiences of strength, healing and hope.
The University of Dallas recognized Will in Tower magazine as one of “11 Alumni Who Have Found Success in Uncharted Territory.” Their piece, “How to Guide a Community towards Emotional Literacy,” highlights his work as founder of Journeyman Ink and father of DaVerse Lounge, an under-21 spoken word, live music and visual art event that has been a beacon of intergenerational inspiration since 2005. Co-produced with Big Thought, Will has shepherded the event into a movement with a mentoring program and a “DaVerse Works: Power of Voice” curriculum for schools and youth organizations.
Richey’s delivery is dynamically enhanced with creative partner and multi-disciplinary arts educator, Alejandro Perez, Jr. Friends and collaborators since the early 2000’s, their walk and work together is driven by the core tenet of Emotional Literacy – the bridge between “degrees and the streets,” much less their own personal inherent similarities and overt differences. Together they engage audiences with their infectious, kinesthetic, call and response approach to the Art of Spoken Word as expressed through original stories, poetry and song.
For over a decade, Will and AP have been lead teaching artists in Big Thought’s Creative Solutions, summer theater and visual arts program for youth on probation in Dallas County. They have also partnered with Irving ISD since 2005 with their Write to be Heard and ESL Enrichment Programs, Karen Blessen’s 29 Pieces / MasterPEACE / Dallas Love Project, the Dallas Children’s Theater’s, “Baker Idea Institute,” and as content producers for the Embrey Family Foundation and Dallas Faces Race’s “Implicit Bias” social media campaign.
In addition, their words are often brought to life by nationally renowned, live interpretive painter and scribe David Rodriguez of Dr Gorilla Studio. The three of them not only share in their Puerto Rican heritage, but as story tellers who have showcased their collaborative performances at TEDxSMU: “DaVerse Lounge – The Power of Voice,” the Embrey Human Rights Program’s inaugural “Triumph of the Spirit” awards, The National Race Forward Conference, The National Performance Network’s 25th Anniversary Meeting, and the first ever Extra Yard for Teachers Summit, an initiative of the College Football Playoff Foundation.
Visit the Schedule Page to see which sessions speakers are presenting.
Dr. Ijeoma Achara-Abrahams is the owner of Achara Consulting Inc. She consults with state and local government entities, as well as provider organizations regarding the provision of recovery oriented care and the development of recovery oriented systems of care. She has also served as the director of strategic planning at the Department of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services where she developed strategies to increase the leadership skills of people in recovery and developed peer-based recovery support services. Dr. Achara-Abrahams served on the faculty at Yale where she worked with Connecticut's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to conduct research targeting health disparities, cultural competency and the provision of recovery oriented care. In addition to the systems level work that she currently engages in, Dr. Achara-Abrahams has worked as a provider in various settings including hospitals, community treatment centers, and schools across the country.
Retired Staff Sergeant Eric Alva was the first American soldier wounded in the Iraq War. He is a LGBT civil rights activist and was a national spokesman for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Eric enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1990, and in 2000 he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. In 2003, on the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Eric was with his battalion in Iraq when he stepped on a land mine. The explosion damaged his right leg so severely it had to be amputated. He received a medical discharge and was presented the Iraq War’s first Purple Heart by President George W. Bush. In 2015, Congressman Joaquin Castro presented Eric with the prestigious Chuck Jordan Award by the Human Rights Campaign of San Antonio for his work to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Robert Alvarado is a Prevention Program Specialist V with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. He has been in the field of substance abuse prevention since 1998 and has worked in many areas of the substance abuse field. After a lifetime of weight struggles, tipping the scale at nearly 310 pounds, Robert started a journey in fitness. He began attending group-fitness classes at Gold's Gym, and was so inspired and motivated that he began working towards a certification to become a group fitness instructor. In August of 2014, Robert became certified as a Body Jam instructor through Les Mills International and now teaches Body Jam classes throughout the Austin area at local Gold's Gym fitness centers. He has since incorporated the gym and group fitness into his daily life and is working hard to not only achieve his own personal fitness goals, but to inspire and motivate others to achieve theirs.
Dr. Candace Baker has worked as a special education teacher and school psychologist for over 18 years, serving many P-12 students with autism and other developmental disabilities. She has presented nationally on positive behavior supports and teacher preparation for autism. Dr. Baker helped develop the standards for individualized positive behavior supports for the Association of Positive Behavior Support (APBS). In 2009, Dr. Baker was awarded a federal grant to develop a master's degree in autism for Texas A&M International University. Currently Dr. Baker serves as the director for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Behavior Supports and Crisis Center within Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Sara Becker is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, where she plans to pursue a Bachelors of Science in Human Biology. Her involvement in Communities in Schools and National Honors Society have given her skills for helping youth with the challenges and concerns they face when it comes to mental health. Sara joined ACCEPT because she wanted to help the youth in the community know that they are important and have a say in matters that affect them.
Darrion Borders experienced homelessness, addiction, and trauma at a early age. He became involved in the community and engaged with peers and other leaders by promoting community awareness, youth leadership, responsibility, and social change through hip-hop. He has worked with the Cipher-Austin Hip Hop Project peers to create, produce, and publish two albums: 'From Soldiers, To Warriors' and 'Lyrical Lessons'. Darrion performs in the Austin area often and has substantial experience with youth leadership and mentoring through creative and artistic outlets. Being so greatly connected by networking and reaching out, he began working with the city of Austin's Health and Human Services Commission on HIV/STD prevention. As an advocate and mentor to other artists in the communities, he implemented hip-hop to bring awareness to the youth. In December 2016 he joined LifeWorks in Austin as a Peer Support Specialist to work with youth 16-21 years of age dealing with addition, trauma, homelessness and mental health issues. Darrion's current goals include continuing his education and work in music or video production with a positive youth focus.
Mr. George Braucht is a licensed professional counselor whose experience includes psychotherapy, clinical supervision and peer performance support, along with program evaluation, research and continuous quality improvement. George enjoys teaching psychology and facilitating behavioral health and social justice trainings. His career so far includes designing and implementing an enhanced supervision program training and peer coaching initiative with Georgia’s Department of Community Supervision for officers, counselors, and other community reentry service providers; a statewide parolee recovery and offense desistance outpatient counseling program and the transitional housing for offender reentry directory with the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles. In 2010 George co-founded the Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist Academy for peer recovery coaches that operates in several states. He serves on the board of the Georgia Association of Recovery Residences, is a charter board member of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences, is a Georgia peace officers standards and training council senior instructor, and he is a certified trainer with the Heart and Soul of Change Project whose Partners for Change Outcome Management System is listed in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. Many tools that George developed for professional and peer service providers are available as free downloads at www.brauchtworks.com.
Kay Brotherton is Director of Special Programs and Change Initiatives for the Rural Counties’ Initiative at Central Plains Center in Plainview, Texas. She has over 25 years of experience working as a leader and advocate for rural community behavioral health and wellness, with a proven career dedicated to developing and promoting comprehensive recovery-oriented resources based on the values and principles of System of Care. Through grant writing, program implementation, and coalition building, Kay continues to be instrumental in generating local resources, including recovery support services, prevention and treatment services, juvenile justice programs, and systems change initiatives. She is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, co-founder of the Llano Estacado Alliance for Families, and a member of the Panhandle Behavioral Health Alliance. Kay has a Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology and Family Studies) from Texas Tech University and is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor.
For over 20 years, Dr. Suzanne Button has provided direct care, management, training, supervision, and consultation in behavioral health care, social service, and educational settings. As director of program improvement with Astor Services for Children & Families, Dr. Button was the lead in the agency’s early adoption of the CANS-MH for use as a collaborative treatment planning and total clinical outcomes management tool. Dr. Button has experience in the implementation of large-scale procedural and practice changes in behavioral health, social service, and educational settings. Her work as an assistant executive director with Astor Services for Children & Families in New York State has included lead roles in the transformation of Astor into a lead agency in the evidence-based and data-informed practice movement. She is currently a policy fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
Aaron Caldwell is planning coordinator for Disaster Behavioral Health Services in Texas. He has expertise in program management and continuous process improvement in healthcare. Aaron's experience includes working with crisis counseling programs, administration, finance, writing performance measures, and facilitating strategic planning sessions. He is also a mentor with the Seedling Foundation, a program for children with incarcerated parents.
James Campbell has been working professionally in the human services field with addictions, children, and families for over 22 years. His passion is helping people heal and assisting them in building on the strengths they possess. He currently serves as the adolescent residential manager of the Phoenix Center, founder of Family Excellence, Inc., and director of Family Excellence Institute, LLC. James is certified as an instructor of de-escalation techniques, and is a gifted communicator and trainer on a range of topics including addiction, adolescence, spirituality and addiction, family treatment and engagement, holistic recovery, the wounded healer, team building, addiction and domestic violence, leadership, and de-escalation.
Dr. Jessica Duncan Cance joined Texas Health and Human Services Commission after working six years as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She has over 15 years of experience working in adolescent and young adult health promotion, including epidemiological research, program implementation, coalition building, and national evaluation projects. Dr. Cance earned a BS in Chemistry from Georgia Tech, her MPH from Emory University, and her PhD in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Laura Carpenter is team supervisor of the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) for Hays and Blanco Counties’ Hill Country Community MHDD Centers. Laura has worked as an adult and children's recovery coach, and a Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments recovery coach. As the MCOT team supervisor, Laura oversees mental health crisis intervention services provided in the communities of Hays and Blanco Counties. She works closely with local law enforcement agencies, local hospitals, and community agencies to ensure crisis services are provided to individuals in the least restrictive environment. Laura is a certified trainer for counseling on access to lethal means and trained in the use of cognitive behavior therapy for suicide prevention, she has nine years of experience in the community mental health field.
Sierra Castedo has been part of the collegiate recovery field since 2012, first as a student helped by a collegiate recovery program, and now as the director of a program at one of the largest universities in the country. She has been involved at the national level as a board member of the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, serving as the Southwest Region representative since May 2016. Sierra has experience working with diverse campuses across Texas. At the local level, she has been involved in multiple collaborations, including the formation of the Recovery-Oriented Community Collaborative and the Youth Recovery Network, which frequently involve extensive work with recovery high schools. She is the co-author of the book chapter “Collegiate Recovery” to be published in Emerging Adults in Substance Use Disorder Treatment: Developmental Considerations and Innovative Treatments later this year.
Alisia Clark is the current Project Director for the Ohio Access to Recovery Grant, and the Housing Policy and Resource Administrator for the Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services state department. Alisia has given over 25 years of public service to the citizens of Ohio. She played an instrumental role in the development and implementation of Ohio’s new voting systems in 2004, as the Manager for the Office of the Secretary of State. She has also been instrumental in forwarding housing options for Ohio citizens recovering from the brain disease of addiction. Throughout her leadership as the Project Director of Ohio’s ATR grant, the citizens of Ohio were afforded access to treatment and recovery support services that otherwise would not have been given the opportunity to receive the necessary assistance. As a mother of two children, Alisia understands the responsibility to give back to the community. She has exemplified that by volunteering her time and the time of her children back into her community working with the homeless population, food shelters, and the Faith Mission.
Dr. Crystal Collier has been working with adolescents and adults suffering from mental illness, behavior disorders, and substance use disorders since 1991. She has been licensed by the State of Texas as a professional counselor since 1999 and counselor supervisor since 2008. Her areas of expertise include adolescent brain development, prevention programming, and parent coaching. Dr. Collier is currently the director of the Behavioral Health Institute and the Choices Prevention Program for The Council on Recovery. Her innovative, comprehensive prevention program, Choices, recently was selected for the 2015 Prevention and Education Commendation from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The Choices program is currently being implemented in eight local schools. In addition, Crystal teaches counseling skills and addiction as an adjunct professor for Sam Houston State University, Springfield College, and The University of St. Thomas.
Harry Cunningham is the director of consultation, education and research at The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (MHCGM). His duties include providing consultation and training services to assist human service agencies to implement various effective practices, especially as they relate to evidence-based practices. He is also the coordinator of the Research Department at MHCGM. Harry has worked in the mental health field for 35 years. He previously worked for Riverbend Community Mental Health Center in Concord, New Hampshire, and The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. He also worked at the Psychiatric Research Center of Dartmouth College from 2002 until 2007 as a consultant and trainer for the development and implementation of major evidence-based practices including evidence-based supported employment, motivational interviewing, and illness management and recovery. Harry has led trainings in 20 states and in Denmark.
Nigel Cunningham Williams is a peer recovery coach at the Youth Recovery Community Center (YRCC) in San Antonio, Texas. He enjoys working with at-risk youth in his community and hopes to make a difference in their lives. Nigel joined ACCEPT because he wants to make a positive impact on his community in any way possible. In his free time, Nigel enjoys making music and watching movies.
Teresa de la Garza has been a certified group fitness instructor for seven years, and certified Yoga instructor for three years. She also has 10 years of experience working in the healthcare industry as a medical assistant for both family practice and pediatric clinics.
Mark Disselkoen is project manager at the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT). He has worked in the field of substance use and mental health treatment for over 20 years. Mark oversees certification and training/technical assistance contracts in Nevada and provides training's for the National Rural and Frontier Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC), Central Rockies ATTC, NWATTC and National Institute on Drug Abuse Blending Initiatives throughout the west.
Dr. Lisa Dixon is a professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center and the director of the Division of Mental Health Services and Policy Research within the Department of Psychiatry. She also directs the Center for Practice Innovations (CPI) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Dixon is an internationally recognized health services researcher with over 25 years of continuous funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the VA. As CPI director, she oversees activities for the New York State Office of Mental Health in implementing evidenced based practices for persons diagnosed with serious mental illness. She is leading the innovative program, OnTrackNY, a statewide initiative designed to improve outcomes and reduce disability for the population of individuals experiencing their first episode of psychosis. In 2014, she received the National Alliance on Mental Illness annual Scientific Research Award.
Josh Drean travels internationally speaking to hundreds of schools and thousands of students each year to help them handle life’s challenges in a positive way. He draws upon his experience as a college mascot to teach individuals how to develop resiliency, empathy, and improve their self-worth. Josh has been featured on NBC, FOX News, and ESPN and runs a nationally acclaimed YouTube series called You Got Served. Coming from Boston, Josh is pursuing a master’s degree at Harvard University.
Dr. John Dyben serves as the clinical director for Hanley Center at Origins. In this capacity, he provides leadership to all of Origins' clinical programs in Florida, including the flagship program for the treatment of addiction and co-morbid conditions in older adults. Dr. Dyben's academic background includes degrees in psychology (BS), conflict (MA), management (MS), and a doctor of health science, with his doctoral practicum having focused on the dynamics, epidemiology, and treatment of substance abuse and addiction in older adults. He is an ordained pastor, clinically trained chaplain, and board certified as both a Master Addictions Professional and a Mental Health Professional in Florida.
Jennifer Ragan Eckols received her BA in psychology from Baylor University in 2002. Then, she moved to San Antonio and immediately began working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After three years working in the field, she entered graduate school at Webster University, while continuing her work with individuals with mental health diagnoses. Upon graduating in 2007 with a MA in counseling, she began working at an in-patient psychiatric hospital providing individual, family and group therapy to children and adolescents in a long-term residential setting. During the next nine years, Jennifer continued her therapeutic work, as well as took on managerial roles within the hospital. In 2016, Jennifer accepted a newly created position as crisis intervention specialist with Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers in Kerrville,Texas.
Kama Einhorn is the senior content manager at Sesame Workshop. She develops and creates multimedia resources and materials for the Workshop's mission-based outreach initiatives. Kama holds an M.Ed. in education from University of California at Berkeley and an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University.
Dr. Marc Fagan, Vice President of Clinical Operations and Youth Services at Thresholds in Chicago, oversees comprehensive programs for emerging adults with mental illness and traumatic histories, teen parents, and homeless youth. Dr. Fagan presents to audiences nationally regarding youth in transition to adulthood, and participates in numerous workgroups dedicated to improving outcomes for emerging adults and young people in care. He was honored to speak at a Congressional briefing in Washington D.C. in support of the Healthy Transitions Act for youth with serious mental health needs. As a certified consultant for the National Network on Youth Transition, Dr. Fagan also trains audiences and supports organizations in the Transition to Independence Process (TIP), an evidence-informed framework for assisting emerging adults with emotional disorders and mental illness.
Dr. David Fawcett is a substance use disorder expert, certified sex therapist, and clinical psychotherapist in private practice in Ft. Lauderdale specializing in gay men’s health. He is the author of Lust, Men, and Meth: A Gay Man's Guide to Sex and Recovery, which was named "Best Nonfiction Literature for 2016" by POZ Magazine. He has worked in the areas of mental health and substance use disorder for more than 30 years in numerous settings, including inpatient and outpatient programs. He currently maintains a private psychotherapy practice and consults with numerous organizations. Dr. Fawcett frequently presents workshops on issues concerning substance use disorder, mental health, and chronic illness, both nationally and internationally.
After spending her adolescent years in and out of many institutions and involved with the juvenile justice system, Brooke Feldman entered into long-term recovery at the age of 24. Since that time, much of her energy and efforts have gone into advocacy and action work geared toward making long-term recovery accessible to all. Having spent the past decade working in various direct care, community outreach, program coordination, and training roles under some of the field's highest regarded leaders, Brooke has combined her lived experience with a wide spectrum of professional experience to serve as a support to those in or seeking recovery. As the director of recovery support and health promotion initiatives for Achara Consulting Inc., Brooke consults with and trains agencies and systems across the country in improving behavioral health care services.
Stephen Findley, aka Shakha, is a laughter yoga teacher, pastor, and chaplain. Shakha means "Wise Warrior" which was the name bestowed upon him in 2010 during his initiation as a laughter yogi. He is also the founder and director of The Shakha Zone which offers presentations and workshops in spirituality and health topics. More recently, he was named an ambassador of laughter by Laughter Yoga International for his selfless service to spreading laughter and wellness. Shakha is also employed at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as a chaplain where he provides spiritual care and support to patients, caregivers, and staff. Trained in the art and practice of pastoral care, Shakha brings a wealth of experience speaking on topics related to religious, spiritual, cultural, and health issues.
Dr. Stuart Gitlow is the executive director of the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease, which he started in 2005 to ensure medical students have access to training that stimulates them to develop and maintain interest in working with patients with addiction. Dr. Gitlow lectures internationally on topics in addiction medicine and addiction-related disability. His specialties are addiction medicine, addiction and forensic psychiatry, and behavioral management of personnel conflicts and related difficulties. Dr. Gitlow is the past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the past chair of the American Medical Association's (AMA)Council on Science and Public Health, and serves currently as ASAM’s delegate to the AMA. Board certified in general, addiction, and forensic psychiatry, Dr. Gitlow has an active addiction medicine practice.
Lori Jean Glass is an educator, mentor, relationship coach, and public speaker offering solutions for people having relationship challenges. Lori Jean works diligently to repair and restore relationships, both personal and in the workplace. She is a trained interventionist and certified relationship, professional, and bereavement coach. She has facilitated trainings to help clinicians see a different perspective when diagnosing and treating process addictions (love addiction, love avoidance, sex addiction and co-dependency). Lori Jean is the CEO and founder of PIVOT, a relational alignment group, comprised of certified and trained coaches and therapists who help individuals, couples, families, and businesses. She is also the executive director of clinical operations for Five Sisters Ranch, a relational treatment facility for women and men.
Dr. Corinne Graffunder is director of the Office on Smoking and Health within the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. She is responsible for providing broad leadership and direction for all scientific, policy, and programmatic issues related to tobacco control and prevention. Prior to her current position, she served as the deputy associate director for Policy in CDC’s Office of the Director, working to strengthen collaboration between public health, health care, and other sectors to advance CDC’s population health priorities. She has more than 25 years of experience working with national, state, and local prevention efforts and with the U.S. Surgeon General and National Prevention Council, and led the development of the first ever national prevention strategy: America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness.
As family coordinator with Via Hope, Barbara Granger facilitates best practices for family leadership development. She also serves as family involvement specialist with Texas System of Care, assisting communities in identifying and cultivating strong partnerships between families and systems. Barbara has been in advocacy work for more than 12 years and has had the privilege of working with multiple states in their efforts to transform children's mental health.
Dr. Mary Sue Green is a researcher, instructor, and substance use disorder counselor. She completed her doctoral internship at Mid-Iowa Family Therapy before starting her faculty career in Texas. She has researched and published on the topics of diversity in clinical and supervisory practices, collaborative research, and mentoring. Dr. Green was hired by the Helen Farabee Hardeman-Foard Center to begin an outpatient substance use disorder treatment program in Quanah, Texas. She teaches for Capella University's Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)-accredited program and maintains a part-time private practice.
Christianna Hale is a Licensed Masters Social Worker and Certified Family Partner. She is a Program Specialist V with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in the Child and Adolescent Services Unit. Christianna has been a Social Worker since 2001 and a Family Partner since 2007. Her key initiatives are workforce development of Certified Family Partners, increasing family voice, and Wraparound Fidelity. Christianna’s lived experience with her son began in early childhood and continues now into adolescence with a new focus on transition services. She joins her background in social work with her lived experience to ensure best practices in mental health care and recognition of family voice and choice throughout the state. Her goal is that all children and families in Texas will be able to identify and use their strengths to develop the resilience needed in order to achieve mental wellness.
For the past five years Cheryl Ann Hall has been in private practice, as well as a licensed professional counselor for 33rd Judicial District Juvenile Probation, working with juveniles and their families, and a counselor for Bluebonnet Trails Community Services. She is the owner of OO Yoga Studio, a Registered Yoga Teach (RYT) 200, and also knits for the Prayer Shawl Ministry at St. Mary's Episcopal Church.
Dee Harrison currently serves as the Emergency Management Specialist for Williamson County. Prior to joining the Williamson County Office of Emergency Management, she was the Policy and Plans Supervisor at the Texas Department of Emergency Management at the Texas Department of Public Safety. She was awarded her CEM® in February. Prior to entering the field of Emergency Management, she spent nearly 20 years in the field of Adult Corrections, working for the State and local government agencies.
Dr. Karyn Harvey is the assistant executive director of quality supports at The Arc of Baltimore and is an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore’s graduate psychology program. She has also consulted with the Hogg Foundation and provided numerous trainings around Texas. Dr. Harvey has worked in the field of intellectual disabilities for over 30 years. In that time she’s published two books, as well as numerous articles, on therapeutic interventions for individuals with IDD. Positive Identity Development: An Alternative Treatment Approach for Individuals with Mild and Moderate Intellectual Disabilities (2009) covers topics on theory and guidance for clinicians utilizing therapy for individuals with IDD. Trauma-Informed Behavioral Interventions: What Works and What Doesn’t (2012) presents a trauma-informed care approach to working with individuals with IDD both programmatically and clinically.
Dr. Wiley D. Harwell is the executive director of the Oklahoma Association for Problem and Compulsive Gambling. He has served as the director of employee assistance programs for 20 years and has provided counseling to employees and family members for over fifty companies. During that time he has provided training programs to these companies and currently leads trainings for tribal casinos, as well as continuing education for mental health professionals on problem gambling. Dr. Harwell administers the Oklahoma Helpline, leads training for certification to become a certified gambling counselor, works with tribes to promote responsible gambling, and promotes awareness for problem gambling to the public and government officials. In July 2012, Dr. Harwell was elected to serve a three year term as a board member of the National Council on Problem Gambling and serves as the chair of the Affiliates Committee.
Mr. Hatton is a Peer Recovery Coach with Abilene Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ARCADA). He has been a coach professionally for three years. His job duties entail helping people manage and overcome substance abuse issues. He also provides post incarceration mentoring and utilizes an achievement-driven, life-purpose goal planning method. Also, Mr. Hatton enjoys public speaking and group facilitation.
Dr. J. David Hawkins is the endowed professor of prevention and founding director of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington School of Social Work. His research focuses on understanding and preventing child and adolescent health and behavior problems. He seeks to identify risk and protective factors for health and behavior problems across multiple domains, and to understand how these factors interact in the development of healthy behavior and the prevention of problem behaviors. He develops and tests prevention strategies which seek to reduce risk through the enhancement of strengths and protective factors in families, schools, and communities.
Kelli Haynes works with HIV Connection training behavioral health providers across the state about HIV prevention, harm reduction and mental health. She started her career in Botswana working with a village on their HIV prevention initiatives by partnering with the schools, clinics, social workers and non-governmental organizations to evaluate their education and outreach efforts. Afterward, she taught preparation for adult living to youth aging out of foster care in Central Texas. Before HIV Connection, she was running an after-school program in an under-served community in Guyana for orphans and vulnerable children infected and affected by HIV. Kelli holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. In her spare time, she volunteers with her local Harm Reduction Coalition.
As a former senior administrator and chief student affairs officer at West Texas A&M University, Mary Hill was responsible for developing and enforcing the underage drinking laws and policies. The university police, judicial affairs, and all student service departments were under her supervision. She was also associate emeritus for the U.S. Department of Education, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Prevention and served as chairperson for the 1997 and 2003 U.S. Department of Education’s National Meeting for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention. She was a member of Texas Drug Demand Reduction Advisory Committee administered by the Department of State Health Services and the International Advisory Council for Stetson College of Law for Higher Education. Mary is presently a trainer and consultant for Texas A&M Transportation Institute and is assisting many colleges and universities to comply with federal regulations and mandates.
Dr. Lori Holleran-Steiker became a researcher in 1996 for an extensive multidisciplinary project called the Drug Resistance Strategies Project in Arizona, which has touched the lives of approximately 8,000 students since 1997. She completed her federally funded K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse during which she received training and continued her research in culturally grounded substance use disorder prevention with high-risk youth. She facilitated the adaptation and evaluation of the keepin’ it REAL (kiR) project for youth in community settings including low income housing youth at YMCA and LifeWorks Homeless Youth Shelter. She is presently leading community efforts to create the first university-based Recovery (sober) High School in Austin.
In addition to being a person in long-term recovery from mental health and substance use disorder issues, Jason Howell is a peer recovery specialist and state approved trainer. He is the executive director of SoberHood, a recovery community organization that administers the Texas Recovery Oriented Housing Network, which is the state affiliate of the National Alliance of Recovery Residences, as well as two SAMHSA supported initiatives: RecoveryPeople, the statewide peer recovery network, and Texans for Recovery and Resiliency, a collaboration between the statewide peer recovery and the youth and family mental health networks. Jason is also a founder and the former board president of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR). In addition, he is a member of the Texas Health and Human Service Commission’s Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, serves on the Block Grant Committee, and is a SAMHSA Recovery Month planning partner.
Kathleen Hubbard is the crisis services specialist at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission with the Child and Adolescent Unit. Kathleen has a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and has over 13 years of mental health work experience. She currently monitors the In-Patient Care Wait List to support treatment and placement of youth waiting for a psychiatric bed in a state institution; oversees and monitors programs related to transitional age youth; assists with developing and monitoring contract standards for psychiatric emergencies; and participates in suicide prevention and postvention efforts. She previously oversaw the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, Hotline, and Mental Health Deputy programs in the Crisis Services Unit, where she assisted with Crisis Expansion Projects and developing new standards for Crisis Stabilization Units. Her past experience includes roles as a rehabilitation specialist, vocational specialist, case manager, and advocate for people with severe and chronic mental illness. She has experience and training in crisis intervention, crisis emergency response and critical incidents. Ms. Hubbard practices mindfulness and meditation in her work and personal life, enjoys spending time with her family, loves dogs, and drinks too much coffee.
Dr. Sachin Kamble is the peer policy fellow for Texans Standing Tall (TST). He considers himself to be a person in long-term recovery for both mental health and substance use disorder. His journey has led him to personally experience numerous challenges ranging from various institutions and eventually to a life in recovery. As a result of his experiences, he realized the importance of serving as a strong advocate on issues that pertain to mental health and substance use disorder policy in the state.
Tim Keesling is the Director of the Veterans Mental Health program at the Texas Veterans Commission. This program is focused on providing training and technical assistance to those who serve in support of veteran mental health. These programs include the statewide Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN), Peer Service Coordinators and Peers at the local mental health authorities. Included in this program are community centers, licensed mental health providers, and community faith-based organizations, which deliver services to the Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF), impacted by military-related traumas. The program also provides support to incarcerated veterans through the Texas Criminal Justice System, justice involved veterans (JIV). In his capacity as Director of VMH Program, Mr. Keesling serves as a resource to the State Legislature, public and private sector entities, and non-profit organizations which provide supportive services to SMVF. Tim also serves as a Texas delegate subject matter expert (SME) for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) SMVF Suicide Awareness and Prevention Implementation and Technical Assistance Academy. Tim is the Chair of the Texas Coordinating Council for Veteran Services’ mental health working group, and represents the Texas Veterans Commission at the Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council. During his 20-year career in the active component of the US Army, he served in multiple locations throughout the world, both in peacetime and in combat. His military honors include the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, and the Combat Action Badge.
Chelsea Keyt, LCSW-S, is the program manager for the RA1SE team. She has been with Integral Care for almost 10 years and has extensive experience working with children, adolescents, parents, and adults in the areas of crisis/suicide prevention and intervention. Chelsea is a Texas Board Certified Supervisor and provides clinical supervision for social workers. She is a senior trainer for Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid and is fiercely committed to providing unique and innovative services that meet her community’s specialized needs.
Mark Kinzly has worked in the field of harm reduction and public health for the past 25 years bringing innovative prevention/interventions to the drug using and recovery community. He is currently a national trainer and consultant on the issues of substance use disorder ranging from HIV/AIDS and Hep C interventions to the development of appropriate responses to syringe exchange and overdose prevention. Mark is a trainer for the National Harm Reduction Training Institute in New York City and serves on the advisory board for the North American Syringe Exchange Network, as well as a former board member for A Better Way Foundation. He is also a co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative which brings overdose awareness and trainings to Texas. He currently is on the curriculum development team for overdose prevention/education for SAMHSA, and sits on the board of directors for the National Harm Reduction Coalition.
Nicole Knowles is a certified instructor at Gold's Gym and teaches the Body Jam dance class. Nicole's commitment to dance began in 1997 when she took a hip hop cardio class at Gold's Gym, where she consistently attended for six years. In 2003 after the instructor quit unexpectedly, Nicole was 10 pounds heavier and she still hadn't found a workout that she enjoyed as much as dancing. When a new class called Body Jam was offered, she loved it so much that she wanted to become an instructor. She has been thrilled to teach Body Jam for the past seven years.
Dr. D. Shane Koch's professional background includes extensive work with consumers diagnosed with primary and coexisting alcohol and other substance use disorders. While on faculty at the University of North Texas, Dr. Koch served as coordinator of rehabilitation studies and co-director of the Institute for Studies in Addictions. He served as a past vice president and board member of the National Association on Alcohol, Drugs, and Disability (NAADD) and as a board member on both the Texas Certification Board of Addictions Professionals and the International Coalition of Addiction Science Educators. Dr. Koch served as the editor of the Journal of Teaching in the Addictions from 2005 through 2009, and serves as the co-editor for the Rehabilitation Counselors' and Educators' Journal. He is currently a professor in the College of Education and Human Services at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Christi Koenig Brisky is the research and program specialist for Texans Standing Tall. She joined the organization with several years of experience in researching, analyzing, and writing on complex legal and psychological issues, which include federal and state competency issues as well as various aspects concerning eyewitness reliability and psychopathy. After spending the first 18 years of her life near Washington, D.C., Christi moved to Texas. It was during her years in academia that Christi discovered her passion for studying mental illness and substance use disorder in the criminal justice system.
Linda Kurland is an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certified speech/language pathologist with over 20 years of experience in healthcare management. Currently, she is the senior director for the START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment) Program through My Health My Resources (MHMR) of Tarrant County.
Sarah Kuykendall earned a B.A. in Psychology in 2004 and a M.S. in Psychology in 2014. She has nearly 10 years of experience working with children and adults with mental health (MH) diagnoses, as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Sarah joined Integral Care in 2015 as a START Coordinator providing systemic consultation, crisis prevention planning, and training to increase the community’s ability to support adults with co-occurring IDD and MH diagnoses. In February 2017, Sarah accepted the position of Crisis Intervention Specialist Team Lead and now supports individuals aged 3-99 with IDD who have experienced, or who are at risk of experiencing, a crisis through identifying crisis prevention strategies and providing linkage to long-term services. She has experience collaborating with local Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams and Law Enforcement in serving individuals with IDD experiencing crisis. This includes providing education regarding the unique needs and considerations for individuals with IDD.
Rebecca Levin, MPH, is the strategic director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She directs the Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY) violence prevention collaborative, which is building capacity among stakeholders in multiple sectors to connect, collaborate and mobilize around a public health approach to violence prevention. She is leading development and implementation of the Juvenile Justice Collaborative and is the principal investigator on the NIH-funded Community-Academic Collaboration to Prevent Violence in Chicago. Before coming to Lurie Children’s in 2011, Ms. Levin worked at the American Academy of Pediatrics for 12 years, overseeing all violence and injury prevention efforts. Ms. Levin received her bachelor’s degree in integrated science and biology from Northwestern University and her master’s degree in health policy and administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Gwen Lister is a Training Specialist at the Texas HIV Connection where she provides training to various health professionals on topics related to HIV prevention, substance use, harm reduction, gender/sexuality, and mental health. Gwen and her team also provide technical assistance to HIV providers across the state. She previously worked as an HIV prevention worker, and substance use counselor/case manager, in detox and residential facilities in Denver, Colorado. Gwen is actively pursuing an MPH from Johns Hopkins University.
Jackson Longan has been in long-term recovery since January 2006 and has worked with professionals in the field of substance use disorders opening Oxford Houses since 2007. In 2010, he was promoted to regional outreach manager, supervising the outreach workers located in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Oxford House is a concept in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In its simplest form, an Oxford House describes a democratically run, self-supporting and drug free home. This publicly supported, non-profit 501(c)3 corporation is the umbrella organization which provides the network connecting all Oxford Houses and allocates resources to duplicate the Oxford House concept where needs arise.
April Macakanja is the Clinical Team Leader for the First Episode Psychosis (FEP) Program of Harris County within The Harris Center for Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She has worked with The Harris Center for over nine years and has over 14 years of experience working in mental health. April is a Texas Board Certified Supervisor and provides clinical supervision to LPC Interns. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Alaska- Anchorage in 2003 and received her Master of Arts in Counseling from the University of Houston- Clear Lake in 2008. April is passionate about the FEP Program and the positive impact it has on individuals involved and the community.
As a psychotherapist at Refugee Services of Texas, Kay Mailander provides mental health services for displaced persons resettled in Austin, Texas. She is also the supervisor of their community wellness program. Kay has supervised case managers who do intensive case management with survivors of human trafficking and long term case management with refugees and asylees. She has also been the chair of the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Georgia Marks is the youth engagement specialist at Texans Standing Tall (TST). She comes to TST with several years of community organizing experience. Her passion is helping communities be actively engaged in shaping their community. Georgia comes from Northwest Arkansas but has come to think of Austin as home over the last three years.
Dr. Jane Carlisle Maxwell is a research professor with the Addiction Research Institute at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been a member of the SAMHSA and National Advisory Council, a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration, and a member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Community Epidemiology Work Group and National Drug Early Warning System. She has over 40 years of experience monitoring changes in drug use patterns in Texas, the U.S., and internationally. She has been an investigator studying patterns of methamphetamine use in the central Texas area, routes of administration of heroin, dependence on methamphetamine, and is now principal investigator on a grant from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse to study factors in recidivism for impaired driving offenders who have been in substance use disorder treatment.
Kimberly May earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in counseling in 2009. She is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Kimberly has many years of experience of conducting individual, couples, family and group counseling in a variety of settings. Prior to working with Austin Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC), she worked as the Clinic Supervisor for a drug treatment program utilizing evidence-based harm reduction practices for several years. Kimberly joined the ATCIC as the clinical supervisor for the START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment) program in June 2015, where her primary focus is clinical supervision, systemic consultation, and clinical training for both staff and the community to enhance the ability to support individuals with dual-diagnoses.
Patty McCarthy Metcalf is the executive director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, the nation's leading recovery advocacy organization since 2001. Her work focuses on public policy, public education, community mobilizing, peer-based recovery support services and peer workforce development. She has been instrumental in the development of national accreditation standards for peer recovery support service. As a woman in long-term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction since 1989, Patty has frequently participated as a subject matter expert and thought leader with SAMHSA sponsored policy discussions. Prior to joining Faces & Voices of Recovery, Patty served as a deputy director of SAMHSA’s Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy initiative. She served for a decade as the Director of Friends of Recovery-Vermont, a statewide recovery community organization promoting the power of long-term recovery to improve the health and quality of life of Vermonters.
Justin has been a licensed chemical dependency counselor since 2009. He has been privileged and honored to work with and learn from so many people in the HIV and substance use community here in Texas. Justin has experience with HIV Early Intervention (HEI) Case Management, Ryan White Substance Use Counseling and HIV Street Outreach. During his work as a substance use counselor, he practiced harm reduction and motivational interviewing to help people living with HIV improve their health outcomes and realize their goals. Over the last five years, Justin has supervised the HIV Street Outreach Team at Austin Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC), specifically the Community AIDS Resources and Education (CARE) Program in Austin. As a member of a HIV Street Outreach Team, Justin provided HIV/HCV testing and substance use services to many of our most vulnerable populations. In his spare time, Justin continues to be a volunteer and advocate for Harm Reduction and Naloxone Distribution. He credits the work you all do with the life he is able to live today and is eternally grateful to all the people who continue to do harm reduction and substance use work in our communities.
David McClung is a youth engagement specialist for Title V – Adolescent Health and Texas System of Care, where he helps to support youth-serving organizations across Texas in building youth-adult partnerships. David holds a MSW and MDiv from Baylor University and is currently working to complete a PhD in Social Work from Baylor. He currently serve as a member of the National Advisory Council for the Star Center and is a board member for Youth M.O.V.E National. His research interests include congregations and mental health, natural support systems, and participatory research. In his free time, David enjoys reading, being with friends and family, and watching movies.
Julie McElrath, LMSW, LCDC-I, is the Executive Director of University High School, a school dedicated to supporting teens in recovery from drug and alcohol dependency. Prior to coming to University High School, Julie facilitated Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) groups for adults and adolescents, and provided individual therapy at a drug and alcohol residential treatment facility. She is a member of the Austin Metro Drug Free Coalition, Travis County Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (YSAPC), Recovery Oriented Community Collaborative (ROCC) in Austin, Strategic Planning Group for the Alliance for Adolescent Recovery Treatment in Texas, and founding member of the Central Texas Youth Recovery Network (YRN). Julie holds a Master of Science in Social Work and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin, as well as a certificate from the Graduate Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies from the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at The University of Texas.
I have been a Family Partner for twelve years and am currently the Practice Manager for Peer Services. First and foremost I am a mother of two children that have a mental health diagnosis. Our journey into family recovery and resiliency started when my son was six years old and was having difficulty in school and other social settings. My daughter’s diagnosis came when she was twelve and had battled cancer. This journey has been one of trial and tribulation, as well as so may victories. One of the biggest transitions for our family was going from family-driven care to person-centered care. The transition was a bumpy one to say the least. We went from us as parents driving the bus guided by our children, to being supportive passengers on a bus driven by our children. The transition can be a challenge on its own, but can be navigated through support and knowledge.
Dr. Brian L. Meyer is a clinical psychologist and the post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder specialist at the H.H. McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout his career, Dr. Meyer has worked with people who have experienced trauma, and his clinical expertise is in treating trauma and its co-morbid disorders. In his current roles, he provides evidence-based treatments for veterans, works with veterans and their families to address post-combat adaptations, supervises psychology trainees, and conducts research on treatments for veterans with PTSD. Dr. Meyer is a nationally-known speaker on a wide range of content areas including the treatment of trauma and co-morbid conditions, the effects of trauma and substance use disorder on families, and veterans' mental health.
Jack Nowicki has been a lecturer for the graduate school of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin off and on since 1996. Jack has over 30 years of experience working with families and youth, including four years in children’s protective services, three years working in psychiatric residential treatment with adolescents, and 15 years in a marriage and family counseling private practice. As a private practitioner, Jack was twice voted (’94/’95) Austin’s best family therapist in the Parenting in the 90’s annual reader’s poll. Jack currently works part time as a trainer for the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) and part time in his own counseling and consulting practice.
Dr. Casey O'Neal has worked in both an inpatient detention setting with adolescents and in private practice with children, adolescents, adults, and families. In addition to therapy and psychological assessment, Dr. O'Neal supervises postdoctoral fellows seeking licensure, provides consultation to other licensed professionals, and routinely conducts trainings for other mental health professionals. Her goal is to provide psychological services that are tailored to the patient's individual needs in a collaborative, informative, and supportive manner.
Cynthia Orme is marriage and family therapist with over 20 years of experience working with with dual diagnosis clients in a variety of settings in Texas and New Zealand. While working in New Zealand, Cynthia was director of clinical and public health services for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, a national organization and the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Cynthia holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Houston Clear Lake, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston, and is a licensed professional counselor.
Michelle Padden has worked as a social worker and senior certification specialist since 2006. During that time, she has provided quality assurance, management, technical assistance and training services for state-funded substance use disorder treatment and prevention program certification contracts in Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming. She is an approved trainer on a variety of topics, including ethics, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, co-occurring treatment, and promoting awareness for motivational incentives, and she currently conducts trainings for the National Frontier and Rural Addiction Technology Transfer Center.
Toniya Parker is the grant coordinator for suicide prevention and Texas children recovering from trauma in the Medical and Social Services Division at Health and Human Services Commission. She was previously the subject matter expert for the Texas legislature regarding crisis intervention services, juvenile justice, and dual diagnosis for youth. Toniya is currently a mental health first aid trainer, an ASK about Suicide to Save a Life trainer and a CANS (child and adolescent needs assessment) super user. Her previous experience includes 25 years working with families in crisis with a focus on services for runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence survivors, juvenile justice, mental health crisis, and substance use disorder interventions. She volunteered for five years as the chair of the Williamson County CRCG (Community Resource Coordination Group) and drew inspiration from the collaboration and networking with all levels of service providers to support youth and families.
Sherwynn Patton is program director for Life Anew Restorative Justice. He began to look at the deteriorating families, rising drop out rates, increase in domestic violence and high recidivism rates within the community and began to develop a God given vision for a community collaborative action plan to find solutions for the most pronounced problems our community faces. Sherwynn has also served as the missions pastor at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church where he developed programs to address poverty, teen pregnancy, fatherlessness, and economic empowerment.
Ms. Peyson has spent her professional career in the public arena, developing, managing, and integrating public health, mental health, and substance abuse treatment programs and policy. In 2013, Robin started RLP Consulting, providing results-driven strategic solutions to achieve organizational, business and policy goals. She has served as Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas and was the service systems development specialist and assistant director for the Children’s Department of the Community Mental Health division of the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her career involves a variety of positions working on alcohol and drug abuse, high-risk teens, and child and adolescent mental health programs. Ms. Peyson is a certified family mediator, a certified mediator, and was a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. She also regularly teaches a nationally recognized course for divorced or divorcing parents called “For Kids’ Sake”, as well as a court-mandated educational course for minors on under-age use of alcohol. In addition to her professional attainments, she has been active in a wide range of community and nonprofit activities. She was chair of the board of Eagle Pines Academy, an emotional growth boarding school. She was also a founding member and director of the Bastrop County Teen Court and a co-founder, director, and founding board chair of Bastrop County Mediation Services.
Lucrece Pierre-Carr works for the Medical and Social Services Division, Behavioral Health Services section, Crisis Services and Client Rights Unit of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. By day, she is the Interim Manager of the Crisis Services and Client Rights Unit, and by night, she is an avid Zumba fitness enthusiast. As a social worker, Lucrece understands first-hand how critical self-care is for employees working in human services. Lucrece attended Zumba fitness classes as a form of self-care and fell in love with the music, moves, and support from the Zumba fitness community. She’s been a licensed Zumba fitness instructor for four years and has participated in countless Zumba-thons and Zumba events. Zumba fitness is a fun and exciting way to burn calories, lose weight, and improve overall fitness goals. Zumba does not require a dance background. Be prepared to let loose, move to flow of the music and have fun!
With more than 25 years of clinical and leadership experience, Janelle Prueter has been instrumental in designing and implementing programs that help individuals transition from government systems to health and self-sufficiency in the community. As vice president of operations for TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), Janelle directs TASC’s statewide assessment, case management and treatment services for people with substance use and mental health disorders who are involved in criminal justice, juvenile justice, or child welfare systems. Prior to being named vice president, she led TASC’s Corrections & Community Reentry division for nine years, managing services for more than 6,000 adults and youth annually who were incarcerated or returning to their communities following incarceration. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and community-based service providers across the state.
Amelia is the current Recovery Links Manager at San Antonio Lifetime Recovery. She oversees and manages the Recovery Support Services and Recovery Coach programs. She is the current Vice-President for the San Antonio chapter of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP), Co-Chair of Region 8 ROSC, The Big Texas Rally for Recovery, and a frequent speaker at local recovery events. Amelia received the honor of 2016 Oxford House San Antonio Professional of the Year.
Jennifer Reid is a program specialist with the disaster behavioral health branch of the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in Austin. She works as the disaster response coordinator for the unit, working closely with local mental health authorities as well as first responders. Before formation of the new branch at DSHS, Jennifer was a program coordinator for the Hurricane Ike FEMA Crisis Counseling Program and worked primarily with the Gulf Coast Center in Galveston. Prior to working for the DSHS, Jennifer was the crisis counselor for the Jackson Hole Community Counseling Center. Her primary duties were doing psychological assessments for the local hospital and the county jail. Before her move to Wyoming, Jennifer lived in Austin and worked for the Austin Police Department Victim Services Unit for over six years, working with the sex crimes unit and as an on-scene crisis counselor.
Judge Reyes is the first in his family to graduate from high school, as well as attend and graduate from college and law school. Judge Reyes graduated from Yale University in 1986 and Baylor Law School in 1990. He was appointed in March 2006 by Governor Rick Perry as Judge of the 72nd District Court of Lubbock & Crosby Counties. Judge Reyes handles civil and family cases in Lubbock, and civil, family, criminal and juvenile cases in Crosby County. In addition to his regular duties and responsibilities, Judge Reyes presides over the Lubbock County Adult Drug Court Program and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). He frequently hosts students who participate in mock trials dealing with issues including texting and drunk driving, and is a strong advocate for education. Prior to becoming Judge of the 72nd District Court, Judge Reyes was in private practice for 16 years with a general civil litigation practice. Judge Reyes is involved in his community by serving on various boards for service and educational organizations.
Jim Sacco has provided training and care on a wide range of HIV, substance use disorder, and mental health topics since 1986. Trained as a clinical social worker, Jim’s work in HIV has included work in community-based, academic, and medical settings. Since the early 1990s, Jim’s focus has been less on direct service provision to consumers and more on extensive training experience. He brings almost 25 years of collaboration with both the HRSA AIDS Education Training Center and the OPA Family Planning Training Centers. His ongoing clients have included the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Minority AIDS Council, Duke University, Emory University, and state and local health departments across the country. Jim has trained more than 40,000 health care workers since 1986.
Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex offender practitioner in the State of Virginia and a licensed independent clinical social worker in the District of Columbia. Her clinical practice and research has focused on advancing effective trauma informed treatment practices for persons who experience significant conduct related behavior problems. Her areas of specialty include attachment based models of treatment, sexual abusiveness in children and adolescents, neuropsychology, and the use of neuroscience to inform work with children and adults with complex trauma disorders. Today, Dr. Sampson-Jackson works independently as the CEO of Integration Solutions, Inc., through which she provides trauma informed care consultation, education, and technical assistance to human service organizations and integrated healthcare systems interested in furthering their incorporation of trauma informed care practices with children, youth, families, adults, and providers of care.
Mark Sanders is an international speaker in the behavioral health field whose presentations have reached thousands throughout the world. Recent writings include Slipping Through the Cracks: Intervention Strategies for Clients with Multiple Addictions and Disorders and Relationship Detox: Helping Clients Develop Healthy Relationships in Recovery. He has had two stories published in the New York Times Best Selling book series, Chicken Soup for The Soul, and is the author of five books. He is co-founder of Serenity Academy, a recovery high school in Chicago. Mark has received numerous awards including Addictions Professional of the Year in Illinois.
Jen Sears excels at providing Achara Consulting clients with the guidance and tools they need to identify their system’s assets and tap into their strengths to create recovery-oriented systems of care. She brings years of experience managing the logistics of large-scale systems change and helping leaders translate their system needs, assessment data, and shared vision into concrete, achievable steps. Jen honed her system change expertise as a part of the core team that designed and coordinated the transformation of Philadelphia’s innovative behavioral health system.
Cherie Simpson is a clinical nurse specialist in holistic adult health and a graduate of the University of Texas School of Nursing. She has worked with Senior Adults Specialty Healthcare (SASH) and research for 10 years. Besides working with SASH she is on faculty at the University of Texas School of Nursing and conducts research in areas of sleep, caregiving and depression in aging women.
Megan Sissom, BSW, is the Clinical Team Lead for Integral Care’s Community-Based Support (CBS) Team, an 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver program. For the past three years, Megan has helped develop and implement services through CBS for individuals with an intellectual and/or developmental disability and behavioral health need. She has over 10 years of experience in social services, with prior experience working in child welfare with individuals who have experienced homelessness and persons with behavioral health needs. Megan has served as a panel member for the 31st Annual Texas Council Conference and as a speaker at the 1st Annual Hub Learning Community Conference.
DeLinda Spain has been a therapist in Austin for almost 20 years. She specializes in individuals with eating disorders, borderline personality disorder and trauma. She also specializes in group therapy, both long-term ongoing process groups and short-term goal oriented groups. She is trained in both dialectical behavior therapy and modern analytic theories. She has been supervising trainees and new clinicians for 10 years, and has had the pleasure of being able to present on a variety of topics in the U.S., Russia, and Romania.
As alcohol policy specialist and the president of SparksInitiatives, Michael Sparks' primary interest is working with communities to use policy to reduce alcohol-related problems. Michael currently serves as a consultant and trainer to communities across the country and is a trainer for Community Anti-drug Coalitions of America. He also works in a consulting role with Wake Forest University and Johns Hopkins University on alcohol policy issues. He has expertise in the alcohol policy field as well as in the areas of community building, using local control strategies to manage problematic alcohol and drug environments, the legislative process, and neighborhood revitalization.
Dr. Rosie Staal has been working with individuals with a diagnosis of intellectual disability and concomitant mental illness since 2008. She began her career as a qualified intellectual disabilities professional working for a small ICF/ID in Cincinnati, Ohio. The realization that there was a high need for mental health professionals who have experience in working with individuals who are dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and mental illness is what inspired her to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology, and specialize in providing clinical services in this area. During the completion of her doctorate, Dr. Staal worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Columbus, Ohio and Devereux Children’s Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Services in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care, Dr. Staal was the psychologist on the BHID Team at Community Treatment Teams.
Darlene Starr is a Practicing Herbalist & Nutritional Therapist, and the owner of Road Dog Health & Wellness. Having spent decades in the music industry, she has a specialized cultural competency in serving the health needs and challenges of touring entertainment and business professionals; providing coaching and personalized protocols for wellness and self-care, which can be implemented within the realities of busy lives on and off the road; and addressing the acute and chronic issues that repeatedly arise. She is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, President of the Central Texas Chapter of American Herbalists Guild, and Board Chair-Elect at The SIMS Foundation, which provides mental health and addiction recovery services to Austin-area music industry professionals and their immediate family members.
Kasey Strey is a substance abuse prevention program specialist who joined HHSC in 2015 after working six years in the nonprofit sector of substance abuse prevention. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, and is an advanced certified prevention specialist. Kasey is the project director for the Strategic Prevention Framework for Prescription Drugs (SPF-Rx), a five year federal grant from the SAMHSA.
Dr. Donna Sudak is a clinician-educator with a wealth of experience in teaching and patient care. She has made a number of significant contributions to the literature in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) education and has played a major role in developing suggested curricula and guidelines for resident competency in CBT. She also has multiple publications regarding combining treatment with medication and CBT. In addition to her teaching responsibilities at Drexel University College of Medicine, Dr. Sudak is an adjunct faculty member at the Beck Institute. She is the past president of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, the former editor of the PIPE examination, and serves on multiple national committees.
Charles Thibodeaux has been a licensed chemical dependency counselor since 1992 and has worked in the substance use disorder field for over 25 years. During that time, he worked in residential treatment settings for adults as well as adolescents. He worked at a community based MHMR where he supervised an HIV prevention street outreach program for 12 years whose target population was active IV drug users and sex industry workers. Charles worked for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for 10 years, in the HIV division for one year and the substance use disorder/mental health division for nine years. He also presented on harm reduction topics including overdose awareness and prevention at the statewide HIV Street Outreach Conference as well as the Texas Behavioral Health Institute Conference. He is currently a co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative which brings overdose awareness and trainings to Texas.
Dr. Carlos F. Tirado,is the medical director and director of clinical innovation at The Right Step Hill Country. He earned his MD from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas and his MPH from the University of Texas School of Public Health also in Houston. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas and his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Studies of Addiction in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Tirado has conducted health disparities research on Hepatitis C treatment in U.S. veterans and adolescent addiction supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Dr. Renee Turner has over 10 years of experience working in the areas of grief and loss, bereavement and hospice work, complex trauma, and identity and spiritual issues. In her clinical work, Dr. Turner integrates existential, Gestalt, and expressive therapies to create a dynamic, experiential form of therapy. Dr. Turner is particularly passionate about promoting and increasing the field of play therapy and presents locally and nationally on the ethical application of play therapy, sandtray therapy, and expressive therapies with adults and families. In 2016, she created the Central Texas Chapter of the Texas Association for Play Therapy. In addition to play therapy, Dr. Turner has advanced training in several mind-body-spirit therapies including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), somatic experiencing, hypnotherapy, and integral breath therapy. Her primary area of research is focused on creating empirical research for mind-body-spirit therapies and collaborating with other therapy fields to integrate whole person wellness.
David Walsh is a board-certified family psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, licensed and trained to treat behavioral health concerns across the lifespan. In practice, David’s primary area of interest is in working with families struggling with addiction, and supporting those in recovery through smart medication management and ongoing therapy. A speaker and presenter at many advanced practice nursing conferences, a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, and of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, David brings a hefty work ethic to his practice. His research background is matched by his experience, having provided nursing services both in psychiatric hospitals and in substance use disorder facilities. David served as director of nursing at a highly regarded 90-day residential treatment facility in the Austin area in addition to managing detox services at rehabilitation centers.
Jacob is a marriage and family therapist who has specialized in serving children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health conditions. He has experience in crisis prevention and intervention, systems theory, and systemic consultation, which is the use of positive psychology approaches and effective treatment of mental health issues for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jacob obtained his graduate studies from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and currently works with the START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources & Treatment) program in the capacity of Assistant Director of Disability Services at MHMR Tarrant County. He has gained other work experiences as a therapist working at private practices, local mental health authority out-patient clinics and in-patient psychiatric facilities in South Texas.
Frank Webb retired after completing 36 years on the Houston Police Department where he helped develop and implement Houston’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program. Frank served as CIT coordinator from 1999 to 2006, when the program expanded and was placed under a lieutenant. He was the discipline chair of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s committee that developed the CIT curriculum for the Texas Basic Peace Officers’ Course and was selected to teach the state-mandated 16-hour CIT class to all Texas police chiefs. Frank has received several awards including the 100 Club of Houston’s Officer of the Year Award in 1987, the Houston Police Department’s Officer of the Year Award in 2000, and the Professional Achievement Award from the State of Texas in 2015. Frank has been teaching CIT-related classes since 1995.
Damon West once had it all; a natural born leader, and a three-year starting quarterback, he appeared to be the all-American kid living out his dreams, until sentenced to 65 years in a Texas prison. However, after falling into a spiral of drug use after childhood sexual abuse, losing his football career dreams due to injury, and ultimately turning to methamphetamine use and organized crime, he was arrested. Clinging close to his faith, his family’s unwavering support, a 12-step program and all tools available to him, Damon emerged from prison on 58 years of parole, and now works for the Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont, TX. He speaks to students and athletes about the dangers of drugs, volunteers, does service work, and attends 12-step recovery groups. His message is both a cautionary tale and one of hope in the face of the most extreme odds.
Monique has been in the mental health field for 11 years and has worked with both adults and children in the community, providing psychosocial rehabilitation and therapy. She also has experience in crisis services and disaster relief, particularly for people displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina. She has served as team lead for Burke's children's clinic and currently serves as Clinical Supervisor for the STEP (EO) program.
Karen Williams is an independent youth development consultant and trainer in private practice, specializing in child and adolescent development. She is known for her ability to explain the latest neuroscience in ways that are easy to understand and apply to real life. Her workshops, trainings, and facilitation sessions focus on topics including child and adolescent brain development and behavior, the impact of distress, anxiety and trauma on brain development and behavioral health, the trauma-informed and compassionate schools movements, and the developmental approach to juvenile justice and discipline. Karen is the recipient of the 2012 Prism Award from Mental Health America of Greater Dallas, a former member of the Dallas Commission for Children and Youth, a consultant to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency and Prevention, and a guest educator and trainer for the Trans4m Center.
Albert K. Yeung is currently the Statewide Prevention Evaluator at the Department of State Health Services. Prior to returning to DSHS in his new position, Albert formerly worked at DSHS from 2008-2011 as the CSAP Prevention Fellow working with the substance abuse prevention team. He has spent most all of his career in the field of social science research and evaluation, with six of those years spent as data manager on a $17.5 million SAMHSA grant implementing Screening and Brief Interventions, Referral, and Treatment (SBIRT) in the Harris County Hospital District. He has been involved in numerous other research and evaluation projects working through the UT School of Social Work, where he also received his Masters in Social Work and is currently a doctoral candidate. He has taught both graduates and undergraduates at the UT School of Social Work and has published his research work in academic journals.
As prevention specialist for the Youth Prevention Selective Program at the University of Texas at Arlington's Center for Addiction and Recovery Studies, Michelle Young is responsible for training social work interns, facilitating drug education classes, and conducting alternative activities that educate on and change behaviors leading to drugs and alcohol. She has a strong background in youth prevention working with at-risk juveniles and families, as well as direct practice experience with children and families in an acute care hospital environment.
Dr. Jon E. Zibbell is a senior public health scientist in the Behavioral and Urban Health Program at RTI International where he conducts behavioral epidemiological research on risk factors and health outcomes associated with the opioid epidemic and injection drug use. Dr. Zibbell is a medical anthropologist with two decades of field experience in the areas of injection drug use, opioid use disorder, drug overdose and injection-related infectious disease. Before coming to RTI, Dr. Zibbell worked as a Center for Disease Control health scientist in the divisions of viral hepatitis and unintentional injury prevention. There, he conducted epidemiological and surveillance research on viral hepatitis and drug overdose, while assisting states during outbreak investigations to respond to injuries and infections caused by drug use behaviors. In addition to research, Dr. Zibbell has conducted rapid ethnographic needs assessments for community-based syringe service and overdose prevention programs. He continues to assist states and community organizations to develop evidence-based approaches to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with the opioid epidemic. His work has appeared in both academic and professional journals and he holds a joint, adjunct appointment in the Center for the Study of Human Health and the Department of Anthropology at Emory University.
Dr. George Zukotynski has been in the field of developmental and intellectual disabilities for over 30 years. He has worked as a psychologist, behavior analyst, and discipline coordinator in a variety of states and settings. At the North Carolina Murdoch Center, he started the Outreach Department with the mission of assisting in the development of community options for persons with intellectual disabilities. At Richmond State School, he opened the Behavior Treatment and Training Center, serving people with challenging behaviors in a community setting. In Tennessee, he worked as the chief behavior analyst at Clover Bottom Development Center and later as the state coordinator for behavior analysis services. He is currently the discipline coordinator for Psychology and Behavior Services at Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Supported Living Centers and his responsibilities include writing policy and procedures for tracking and reducing restraints.