National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

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Brief Biographies of Presenters, Panelists, and Facilitators

NARPA 2001 - November 1-4, Holiday Inn Select, Niagara Falls, NY


Laurie Ahern
Laurie is a psychiatric and sexual abuse survivor having been hospitalized and labeled at the age of 19. For the past eight years, Laurie has worked at the National Empowerment Center, Inc. - a national c/s/x run technical assistance center - where she serves as Co-Director with Dan Fisher. She is also the editor of the NECs award winning newsletter and has been a NARPA board member for the last two years. In her capacity as Director of the NEC, she has coordinated three national Alternatives conferences, co-created the Empowerment Model of Recovery and PACE - which is an alternative to the coercive PACT model of community treatment. Prior to her position at the NEC, Laurie was a managing editor of several community newspapers and worked at the Boston Globe and Associated Press.
Michael Allen
Michael Allen is a senior staff attorney and director of housing programs at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C. In that position, he provides public policy advocacy in Congress and at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of the housing needs of persons with mental disabilities. Since 1995, he has played a leadership role in opposing legislation designed to weaken rights of people with disabilities and others under the Fair Housing Act. During 1998 and 1999, he led the Coalition to Preserve the Fair Housing Act, which mobilized national opposition to defeat H.R. 3206, the so-called A Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1998. The National Fair Housing Alliance recognized this effort by bestowing its 1998 Fair Housing Award on the Bazelon Center.
Mr. Allen also leads the Centers efforts to oppose involuntary outpatient commitment (IOC). He has worked closely with state-based civil rights advocates to turn aside legislative efforts to expand IOC, and to promote alternative approaches. He has spoken widely on the topic, and appeared on national television and radio. His writing on IOC issues has appeared in The Washington Post, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Psychiatric Services.
Prior to coming to the Bazelon Center, he worked as managing attorney for Legal Services of Northern Virginia (1985-95). He is a 1979 graduate of Georgetown University, and received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar and the D.C. Bar.
Michaela Amering
Michaela Amering is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vienna. She is currently conducting a study on consumers views on their decisions regarding the use of psychiatric advance directives in New York State. Her main areas of interest are the psychosocial aspects of psychoses, the self-help movement, and the fight against discrimination and social exclusion.
Susan Aranoff
A Vermont attorney since 1988, I have provided legal services to a wide range of clients often marginalized by the legal system, including lesbians and gay men, abused children, people living with AIDS and people deemed to have a psychiatric disability. I worked as the staff attorney for Vermont Protection and Advocacy from 1997- 2001, and have worked with Connecticut Legal Rights Project since January, 2001. As a consumer of some mental health services, a survivor of others and an ex-patient of still others, my work is immensely satisfying - personally, politically and professionally.
Ron Bassman
I am a person who has been fortunate to have survived two painful incarcerations in psychiatric hospitals. Since being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and then chronic schizophrenia, I have worked hard to make a life for myself which would keep me free from ever experiencing another psychiatric hospital as a patient. My journey to find myself included returning to college and eventually earning my Ph.D. in psychology. While studying psychology and working as a psychologist, I learned intuitively that the models of treatment which proclaimed expertise as the proprietary right of professionals rather than with the people they treat, result in harmful ineffective treatments that are rooted in force and coercion. In my current job as coordinator of self-help and empowerment for the Bureau of Recipient Affairs of the New York State Office of Mental Health I do what I can to help people re-discover their ability to make choices and find ways to take charge of their own growth and development. For the past five years I had the privilege of serving on the NARPA Board, two of which I was vice president. Now I am serving as president. I am a strong believer in the value NARPA brings to its members by virtue of its outstanding annual conferences where people can share intellectual and emotional insights, learn, teach and develop successful advocacy strategies, and perhaps most of all where they are able to meet and bond with many wonderful people who are genuine in their attempts to assert and protect peoples rights.
Tom Behrendt
Tom has been active in the movement for over 20 years. Currently the Legal Director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Tom was formerly with Mental Hygiene Legal Service in New York State, where he was a founding member of its Special Litigation and Appeals Unit. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Advocacy Unlimited, a member of Connecticut's PAIMI Advisory Council, and a past co-chair of the PAIMI Advisory Council in New York, where he was also active with Project Release and survivor activities. Tom serves as Treasurer for NARPA, and is NARPA's immediate past president. NARPA 2001 is his 16th NARPA Conference.
Bruce Berry
(Please see insert in conference program)
John Paul Blevins
John Paul Blevins is the Director of Program Operations for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, New York. He is committed to disability rights and civil rights activism for people with all types of disabilities. He has a work history which is quite varied, including working as a sociotherapist with Deaf teenagers with emotional or behavior issues, as an independent living skills instructor with Deaf and DD/MR adults, as a residential manager for two MICA houses, and as a job coach. He was founder and administrator of a Deaf community theater group, Lights on!, in Rochester, New York. He initiated a Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program serving people who need physical assistance with activities of daily living. He also has developed a not-for-profit interpreting agency. He has developed training manuals for use in working with MICA individuals in residential programs, presented workshops on Deaf Culture at local colleges, and written numerous published articles related to disabilities.
Lorae Boisvert
(Please see insert in conference program)
Marca Bristo
As president and chief executive officer of Access Living, Ms. Bristo is a nationally recognized leader in the disability rights movement. In 1979, she helped to found Access Living, Chicago's only non-residential independent living program for people with disabilities. Access Living's mission is to foster independent living skills, public education and advocacy for people with disabilities. Bristo directed the agency through its initial period of affiliation with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and into full corporate autonomy in 1987. Bristo has helped guide Access Living from its small beginnings as an offshoot of the RIC, into the nationally recognized organization that it is today, with a budget of over 2.4 million dollars.
Ms. Bristo is the Chairperson of the National Council on Disability, the first person with a disability to hold that position. She is past president of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), which she co-founded, and she served on the congressionally appointed Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities, which crafted the ADA. In March 1995, Ms. Bristo was a part of the U.S. delegation to the UN World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen, the first person with a disability to participate in a UN Summit. Again, in June, 1996, she was a U.S. delegate for the UN World Summit on Urban Living and Shelter In Istanbul, Turkey. Ms. Bristo chaired the Illinois Public Action Council board from 1989-1994 and is a board member of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. She was co-chair for the Campaign for Better Health Care in Illinois, and was a 1991-1992 participant in Leadership Greater Chicago. In March 1998, Ms. Bristo was appointed to the Presidential Task Force on Employment for Adults with Disabilities. She also serves on the Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards Advisory Committee and on the Chicago Bar Foundation: Law Works Working Group.
Ms. Bristo was the 1993 Henry B. Betts Laureate, considered the Nobel Prize in the rehabilitation/disability field. Numerous awards and honors have been bestowed to her including: the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States; the Americans with Disabilities Act Award for her role in its creation and passage; the 1993 United Way of Chicago Executive of the Year Award; the Arenson Award from the People to People Committee for the Handicapped; the Distinguished Service Award from the National Council on Independent Living; and the Distinguished Service Citation from the Beloit College Alumni Association. Her leadership helped Access Living earn a 1988 Chicago Spirit Award from the Sara Lee Foundation, the 1988 City of Chicago August Christmann Award for Advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities and two JM Foundation Search for Excellence Awards for outstanding achievement by centers for independent living. Named one of the Ten Outstanding Citizens by the Chicago Junior Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1984, she was among the Chicago Tribunes 88 "People to Watch in 88."
In addition, Ms. Bristo was selected as one of the recipients of the 1995 Mercedes-Benz Mentor Award. She has been awarded the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities of Illinois 1995 Distinguished Citizen Award, the 1995 Rush University Trustee Medal, 1995 Distinguished Alumna of the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Nurses Alumni Association, and the 1999 Illinois Abilities Expo Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Bristo was featured in the May 1995 issue of Chicago magazine as one of Chicagos "Famous Unknowns". In January 1996, Ms. Bristo was named by Crains Chicago Business as one of Chicago's "100 Most Influential Women". In 1999, she was voted as one of Chicago's "Who's Who in Business." In 1996, Bristo was honored for her Community Leadership by the YWCA of Chicago, and by the National Society for Fundraising Executives - Chicago Chapter in 1998.
Ms. Bristo holds two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Beloit College, and a bachelor of science in nursing from Rush College of Nursing. She lives in Chicago with her husband Bob Kettlewell, her son Sammy, and her daughter, Madeline.
(taken from the web site of the Disability Research Institute, College of Applied Life Studies, University of Illinois http://www.prairienet.org/dri/bios/bristo.html)
William M. Brooks
Bill Brooks, a NARPA member and supporter since the mid-1980s, is the Director of the Civil Rights Litigation Clinic and Associate Professor of Law at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center at Touro College. Among other key cases he has litigated, Professor Brooks was lead counsel in Rivers v. Katz, the New York case that established that competent individuals have the right to refuse unwanted psychotropic drugs.
Professor Brooks received his B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1976, and his J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1979. He is admitted to the Bar of New York and Federal District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Prior to his joining the Touro Law Center, he was with the Mental Hygiene Legal Service. He currently serves on the ABA Section for Individual Rights and Responsibilities.
Celia Brown
Celia Brown is a psychiatric and trauma survivor in the c/s/x movement. Celia has provided technical assistance and training on self-help, advocacy, peer counseling, trauma issues, and cultural competency in New York and nationally. She currently works for the Bureau of Recipient Affairs for the NYS Office of Mental Health, NYC Field Office, as the Director of Peer Specialist Services. Celia is a board member of NARPA, and is member of the National People of Color Consumer/Survivor Network. She is a proud mother of a five year old son.
Ira Burnim
Ira A. Burnim, J.D. is the Legal Director of the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C. He coordinated the legal teams that handled the Olmstead and Garrett cases in the U.S. Supreme Court.
He is a member of the board of the ACLU of Maryland as well as the editorial advisory board of the American Bar Associations Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter and the National Advisory Committee to the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health in Portland, Oregon.
Working with Mental Disability Rights International, he has advised advocates and policy makers in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Ukraine.
He was formerly the Legal Director of the Children's Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and law clerk to U.S. District Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., in Montgomery, Alabama. With his wife and two sons, he lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Judi Chamberlin
Judi has been an activist for patients rights since 1971. She is the author of "On Our Own," originally published in 1978 and soon to be republished by the National Empowerment Center. She was a cofounder of the Ruby Rogers Advocacy and Drop In Center and of the National Empowerment Center. She is also affiliated with the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University. Judy has lectured around the world on the topics of self-help and patients rights, and believes that true equality of "mental patients" will be achieved only when we put an end to force and coercion in the name of "mental health."
Chris Chandler
Chris Chandler has represented three cities in the National Poetry Slam and logged almost a million miles on the thin highways of fat America, telling the stories of the disenfranchised with insight, humor and energy. He is known throughout the United States as an energetic activist and a talented poet, singer and songwriter. He frequently tours with Anne Feeney.
Oryx Cohen
I grew up in Eugene, Oregon and went to college at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, majoring in psychology of all things! Until recently, most of my experience had been working with low-income children. I worked for the "I Have a Dream" Foundation for four years, first as a tutor/mentor, then as an administrator. The last two years, I've been a full-time graduate student in Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After an intense spiritual and "manic" experience, I was hospitalized briefly, and my life changed forever. As a student, my focus the past two years has been on "mental health" policy. Last summer I had the amazing experience of directing Support Coalitions Oral History Project. Recently, I co-founded a group in Northampton, Massachusetts for psychiatric survivors called Psychiatry Alternatives Support Group.
Céline Cyr
I have been an activist in the Québec alternative mental health movement for about a decade. What defines my involvement in this movement is that I know psychiatry from both ends: as a practitioner and as a user as well. Wearing these two hats has been tricky to say the least, but one benefit has been that I can understand both sides of the system. At present, I see that my role over time has evolved more and more into creating bridges between the different actors involved in empowering people along the arduous road towards self-affirmation. A specialty I have developed is a knowledge of psychiatric drugs from a critical point of view. Some of my writing on this topic is included in the "Critical Handbook of Psychiatric Drugs" co-authored with David Cohen and others (published in French). I am currently working on a Masters degree in social work, and my thesis will be a critique of the medical model of depression.
Lisa F. Daniels
Lisa F. Daniels is a junior at Reading Memorial High School in Reading, Massachusetts. She first became interested in issues surrounding people with disabilities when, as a sophomore, she helped to create a documentary presenting the Americans with Disabilities Act as a "frontier in history." She is currently working on a similar documentary relating the c/s/x movement to "revolution, reaction, and reform in history." She enjoys speaking and acting out against oppression and injustice and is a member of the Amnesty International and Unity groups at her school.
Beth Danon
Currently, I am the staff attorney at Vermont Protection and Advocacy. I started in this position in February, 2001. Prior to that time I had been in private practice in Burlington, Vermont with Mickenberg, Dunn, Kochman, Danon and Smith. Before coming to Vermont Protection and Advocacy, I had been in private practice for twelve years specializing in employment discrimination, Social Security disability, Workers Compensation, housing law and personal injury. I count among my proudest achievements a precedent-setting civil rights case requiring the University of Vermont to provide health insurance and other employment benefits to the domestic partners of lesbian and gay employees and the settlement of the first Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care in a psychiatric setting in enforcement case to be brought in this state against the Vermont State Hospital. I earned my Juris Doctor from CUNY Law School in New York City in 1987. CUNY is a public interest law school. From there, I clerked for the Vermont Supreme Court for a year and then went on to private practice. I am delighted to be going back to my roots and practicing public interest law full time.
Kim Darrow
Kim Darrow is Principal Attorney with the Special Litigation and Appeals Unit of Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS) in New York. He received at B.A. in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1969, and a J.D. from St. Johns University School of Law, in 1978. He worked for the New York State Department of Law, Real Estate Financing Bureau from 1978 to 1980. He was in private practice from 1980 until 1982, when he joined the MHLS Appellate Division, Second Department. Kim Darrow co-authoured (with Dennis Feld) a two part series, entitled "IOC in NY: What Price Refusal," which appeared in the most recent two issues of the NARPA Rights Tenet. Although he is too modest to put this in his own bio, his clients know that they can depend on him to work late into the night in order to meet important legal deadlines, and his friends know him as an avid hiker and nature enthusiast.
Emmett Dwyer
Emmett Dwyer is an attorney who formerly worked for Prisoners Legal Services of New York, the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, and Legal Assistance to Prisoners. He has litigated human rights cases in state and federal courts on behalf of c/s/x ers who reside in the community, state hospitals, forensic hospitals and prisons. Prior to becoming an attorney he worked for the Division of Children and Youth Services, state of New Hampshire in family court and in the juvenile justice system. He has also worked for the state of Massachusetts, Dept. of Mental Health at the Walter E. Fernald state school. Following the NARPA 2001, conference, he will join New Jersey Protection and Advocacy, Inc.
George Ebert
George Ebert is the Coordinator of the Mental Patients Liberation Alliance and has worked as an advocate and activist for over 20 years.
Anne Feeney
Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Anne Feeney is the granddaughter of an intrepid mineworkers organizer, who also used music to carry the message of solidarity to working people. After two decades of community activism and regional performances at rallies, Anne took her message on the road. Since 1991 Anne has traveled to the frontlines in 40 states, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Sweden. Her anthem "Have You Been to Jail for Justice?" is being performed by Peter, Paul and Mary. Dubbed the "minister of culture" to the movements for economic and social justice and human rights, Anne is "the best labor singer in North America" according to Utah Phillips.
(Taken from Anne Feeney's website: http://www.annefeeney.com)
Dennis Feld
Dennis Feld conceived and cofounded, together with Tom Behrendt, past NARPA president, the Special Litigation and Appeals Unit of Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS). Mr. Feld has authored two New York State Office of Court Administration publications: Representing the Mentally Disabled Criminal Defendant; Post-Admission Proceedings and Depositions, and Civil Litigation and Motion Practice in Mental Health Advocacy. He is currently a Deputy Chief Attorney with MHLS, although his position against forced treatment is not necessarily endorsed by that agency. Although he is too modest to put this into his own bio, his clients know that they can literally rely on him to go the extra mile for them (hes been known to hand deliver documents if deadlines could not be met in more conventional ways), and his friends and family know him as a devoted husband and the loving father of two young daughters.
Daniel Fisher
Daniel Fisher is a person who has recovered from schizophrenia. He was hospitalized several times prior to becoming a psychiatrist and is one of the few psychiatrists in the country who openly discusses his recovery from mental illness. He received his AB. from Princeton University, his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, and his M.D. from George Washington University. He was a neurochemical researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health and is a board certified psychiatrist who completed his residency at Harvard Medical School. In addition to his position as Co-Director at the National Empowerment Center, Inc., he is a staff psychiatrist at Eastern Middlesex Outpatient Center, Riverside in Wakefield, MA.
Robert D. Fleischner
Robert D. Fleischner directs the protection and advocacy program for people with mental illness at the Center for Public Representation in Massachusetts. He has represented children, adolescents and adults with disabilities since 1973 when he graduated from Boston College Law School. His systemic litigation has included community integration cases, housing and employment discrimination matters, civil commitment reform issues, treatment rights cases, and cases involving public school desegregation, parental rights, special education and patients funds. He is a coauthor of Guardianship and Conservatorship in Massachusetts, 2d Ed., published by Lexis, and of several law review articles. He has taught on the faculties of the Smith College School for Social Work and Western New England College School of Law.
Gabor Gombos
Between 1977 and 1990, Gabor Gombos was confined four times to psychiatric wards in Hungarian hospitals. He emerged determined to overhaul psychiatric care, first in his country and then across Europe. To
this end, Gombos cofounded the first NGO active in Hungarian mental health issues (EGISZ, the National Family Association of the Mentally Ill) in 1993, and the following year, cofounded Voice of Soul, Hungary's first NGO for ex-users and survivors of mental health facilities, where he still serves as chair of the board. Gombos is also a member of the board of directors of the Users, Ex-users, and Survivors of the Psychiatry Movement in Europe, and the European Network on Constraint and Collaboration in Psychiatry, and is on the editorial board of Out Loud. He is cofounder of the Hungarian Mental Health Interest Forum. Gabor Gomboss tireless work on behalf of people with mental illness has helped end the previous damaging and derogatory practices of that time and brought the human potential of those with mental disabilities into the light at last.
Jack Guastaferro
Jack Guastaferro, MS, CRC, RPRP has been the Executive Director of Restoration Society, Inc. Clubhouses in Buffalo, NY for the past 18 years. The agency operates 4 clubhouses and Harbor House Drop-In Center in Erie County, NY, as well as ACE Employment Services in Erie, Genesee and Orleans Counties, NY. Jack is also the Executive Director of Friendship Foundation, Inc. a charitable organization that advocates for the cause of persons with psychiatric disabilities, and supports and assists Restoration Society. Jack currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and the Mental Health Empowerment Project. He is a past Board and Executive Board member of IAPSRS.
Carole Hayes-Collier
Carole Hayes-Collier has been involved with the psychiatric survivors movement since the early 1970s. Because she was openly involved with the ex-patients movement, she was hired as a graduate assistant at the Workshop on Human Abuse at the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University in 1972. They saw her as having something to offer in studying institutions and alternatives.
In 1974, she was approached by a committee that was about to start a new agency as an alternative to psychiatric centers and developmental centers. She was impressed by their honesty. They said they had a banker, a lawyer, and a business person for their new board, and they needed a "token" former mental patient to round it out. She served on that Board of Directors and chaired their Advisory Board. She stayed with them for fourteen years until she became their Program Director for Outreach Services in 1988. Before leaving Transitional Living Services of Onondaga County in 1998, Carole co-founded Unique Peerspectives, a peer support center. She also was instrumental in developing the David Clark Learning Center, a support center for people with traumatic brain injury. While attempting to remain true to the movement, Carole still found many opportunities to be on advisory and policy making bodies and to work within the system.
Carole has been active in cross-disabilities organizing. She has been involved with people labeled "severely retarded," with people with traumatic brain injury, and with people with physical disabilities. She has worked in support of making personal care assistants available through Medicaid, and to encourage public policy makers to implement the Olmstead decision. She believes that it is essential to be in charge of ones own destiny - this is one of the fundamentals of self-empowerment which Carole learned early on.
Carole has been the Bureau of Recipient Affairs Specialist for the Central Region of the New York State Office of Mental Health since 1998.
(excerpted from http://ftp.halcyon.com/pub/handicap/nletter/mouth.txt, Mouth Magazine, and personal knowledge of Carole Hayes-Collier)
Katherine Hodges
Katherine Hodges is an activist, artist, and student in Chicago. In 2000 she started the information and direct action group Mad Lib, which has been featured in Chicago Reader, Punk Planet magazine, and BBC World Update. She organized several protests and public events in Chicago, and has traveled widely and written extensively to put forth a radical perspective on mental health issues. Current and future projects include the websites MadLib.org and Psychiatrized.org; a zine called Noncompliant; discovering the history of mental patients liberation; promoting Coercive Psychiatry Awareness Week; and Self-afflicted, an installation artwork on psychiatric labeling.
Vanessa Jackson
Vanessa Jackson is a licensed clinical social worker and owner of Healing Circles, Inc., a personal and professional development consulting business. Ms. Jackson earned a Master Degree from Washington University-George Warren Brown School of Social Work and is a former user of mental health services who advocates for the empowerment of individuals diagnosed with mental illness. Ms. Jackson is the author of In Our Own Voice: African-American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in Mental Health Systems, a monograph on the history of African-American psychiatric experiences.
Sue Jarboe
My journey on 3 different paths in my life converged in January of this year and became The ALMA Project. The three paths are 1)being a mother of 5 2)being a direct entry midwife and birth activist in the 80s and 3) traversing the mental health system in the throes of depression. I am a Doula, certifying through DONA Doulas of North America. A doula is one who mothers the mother during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I am an active member of the Peer Networking Group, on the board of the following agencies: Family Ties Network, Womens Information Center and Self Help and Advocacy Council.
Sonja K. Kjaer
Sonja K. Kjaer is a graduate of the University of Washington in Communications. She has worked as a consultant to attorneys on TD as it pertains to malpractice cases. She is a disability and human rights, mutual and self help activist. Sonja Kjaer is the co-founder and the executive director of the Tardive Dyskinesia National Association, which was founded in 1988. In 1993, "The Giraffe Project" sighted Ms. Kjaer as an "unstoppable force" and honored her with their commendation and lifetime membership as a "Giraffe". She received the "First Annual Warriors Advocacy Award" from the Washington Consumers Advocacy Coalition "for many years of advocacy on behalf of people so often dismissed by society and for serving as a model for other advocates throughout the United States," as well as many other awards. Shes received several listings in Whos Who publications, including the International Whos Who in Medicine (Cambridge, England), Strathmores Who's Who Registry of Business Leaders and Strathmores American Registry of Outstanding Professionals. Sonja is a member of the Advisory Council of the Center for Psychiatry and Psychology, and a Board member of NARPA. She is a nationally known workshop presenter on Tardive Dyskinesia, Tardive Dystonia and related issues.
Ellen Lawson
Ellen Lawson, J.D., has been a Protection and Advocacy attorney since 1987. She is employed by Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc., in Buffalo, New York, focusing primarily on mental health issues as a PAIMI (Protection and Advocacy Program for Individuals Labeled Mentally Ill) attorney. She was instrumental in developing the PAIMI program in Western New York, and provides representation to clients in the rural and urban areas of Western New York. She has provided numerous presentations on a wide variety of issues for mental health consumers and advocates.
Kathy Lynch
Kathy Lynch is the Bureau of Recipient Affairs Specialist for the Western Region of the New York State Office of Mental Health. She wrote several innovative grants in her role as systems advocate at the Western New York Independent Living Center. She is also the Office of Mental Health Trauma Coordinator for the Western Region and continues to do puppet work with abused and neglected children. She received the New York State Office of Mental Healths Pioneer Award at the Mastering the Key Connection Conference in New York City, for her advocacy efforts on the part of trauma survivors.
Jacki McKinney
Jacki McKinney is a survivor of trauma and the psychiatric and criminal justice systems. She is a family advocate specializing in issues affecting African American women and their children and is a founding member of the People of Color Network. Jacki is well-known for the powerfully moving and inspiring talks she has presented to a national audience.
Aileen McNamara
I have a BA from University of Pennsylvania, JD from SUNY at Buffalo, and an MPA from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. I have been an attorney with Mental Hygiene Legal Services since January 1995. I have been involved with the planning of the implementation of Kendra's Law in Erie County since the passage of the Bill in August 1999. I have handled the majority of the petitions filed in Erie County under the Assisted Outpatient Treatment Act aka Kendras Law (Hereinafter AOT) Ellen Lawson (Neighborhood Legal Services) and I have conducted several informational services for Lawyers, service providers, and consumers.
Shery Mead
Shery has many "stories". Her mental health story is not dissimilar from many others who were labeled at an early age (a time, also, when they did not even ask the questions about childhood abuse).
After deciding that the mental health story needed to be secret and hidden, she moved on to the aspiring musician story, a good way of storying that which could not be said.
The music story lasted a long time, until the mental health story took over her life again. It is the story of shame, fear, "other-ness" and powerlessness. It is the story of finding those qualities that can change through relationships with friends, people who "understand", and through a fighting spirit.
After losing custody of her children, Shery went back to court and won. Several years later she trained judges and lawyers in child custody cases where one parent was psychiatrically disabled.
After too many psychiatric hospitalizations, Shery developed and implemented a peer, non-hospital alternative. Shery is the past director and founder of three New Hampshire Peer Support Programs including a peer run hospital alternative. She has done extensive speaking and training locally and nationally on the issues of recovery, trauma and mental health, systems change, and the development and implementation of peer operated services.
Sherys current interests include:
the development of a theory base for peer operated programs (including training design and implementation),
training mental health professionals and peers to assess and evaluate their current recovery based practices,
finding research designs that fit this model,
leadership training for families, consumers and professionals supporting collaboration on legislative and policy issues in mental health.
Shery lives in New Hampshire with her three teenage children. She consults and trains both people with psychiatric labels and professionals about "values in action", developing programs and alternatives, and learning about peer support as social activism. Sherys greatest interest is in sustaining peer run alternatives and to find research methodology that will support them.
(from Shery Meads web site: http://mentalhealthpeers.com/)
Loren R. Mosher
Born and raised in California, Dr. Mosher is a board-certified psychiatrist who received his BA from Stanford University and M.D., with honors, from Harvard Medical School in 1961, where he also subsequently took his psychiatric training. He was Clinical Director of Mental Health Services for San Diego, California from 7/96 to 11/98and remains a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine, University of California at San Diego. From 1968-80 he was the first Chief of the NIMHs Center for Studies of Schizophrenia. While with the NIMH he founded and served as first Editor-in-Chief of the Schizophrenia Bulletin
From 1970 to 1992 he was a collaborating investigator, then Research Director, of the Soteria Project "Community Alternatives for the Treatment of Schizophrenia". In this role, he was instrumental in developing and researching an innovative and controversial non-drug, non-hospital, home-like, residential treatment facility for newly identified acutely psychotic persons. At two year follow-up Soteria treated patients had better overall outcomes than those receiving "usual" hospital treatment and neuroleptic drugs. Persons who received no neuroleptic drugs did especially well. In 1990 Dr. Mosher designed and implemented a five-year Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) supported study comparing clinical outcomes and costs of long term seriously "mentally ill" public-sector clients in Montgomery County Maryland. Patients were randomly assigned (with no psychopathology based exclusion criteria) to a residential alternative to hospitalization or the psychiatric ward of a general hospital (the McPath project). The residential alternatives clinical program was based on the successful Soteria Project model. Its findings, comparable clinical effectiveness, at much reduced cost, indicate that most persons in severe psychological crises can be treated in home-like, relationship focused, non-stigmatizing settings.
In his legal/psychiatric work Dr. Mosher was expert witness for the plaintiffs in two successful class action suites related to forced medication of psychiatric patients (NJ; Renie v. Klein, 1978; CA; Jamison v. Farribee 1983). He was an expert witness for the plaintiffs in four successful class action suites (MD, VA, DC &AZ) against Psychiatric Institutes of America (PIA) and National Medical Enterprises (NME) for medical malpractice and insurance fraud (1994-2001). Presently he is serving as an expert in a Zoloft wrongful death case against Pfizer.
Dr. Mosher has long believed that the only effective remedy to psychiatry's current biomedical religion is to address its power and authority via the legal system, in concert with scientific data (or lack thereof), that reveal that this emperor has no clothes. With this counter-power the system users will become its true managers. Force will disappear at every level and people will be able to obtain those things that meet their needs as they define them.
Peter Nimkoff:
Peter Nimkoff is Chief Counsel for the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc., in Tallahassee, Florida. Since 1996, he has been senior litigator and mediator for class actions under the ADA. He has lectured both in the United States and abroad. He has been active in the areas of environmental and safety law, as well as civil rights and disability law. He was a visiting lecturer in comparative judicial reform at the East-West Management Institute, Soros Foundation, Tirana, Albania, in 2000. He was Special Counsel, State of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia in 1996, and Attorney General, State of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia in 1995 and 1996. He was General Counsel, Bluewater Administration, Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, Arizona in 1995, and Attorney General, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Reservation, Parker, Arizona in 1993 through 1995. He was Associate Professor of Public Law at the City University of New York Law School from 1989 through 1993, and Visiting Professor of Healthcare Ethics, Health Law and Policy Joint Medical Program at the University of California at Berkeley in 1991 and 1992. He has taught at many well known institutions in the United States and has also taught abroad. He attended Florida State University as an undergraduate, and went on to Yale Law School. He has a background in anthropology. His hobbies are ethnographic arts, travel, and environmental advocacy. He was a volunteer teacher at a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Palestine, with Unipal, U.K. His activities are too wide ranging to easily summarize, however, a thread of environmental harmony and social justice runs throughout. He was born in Glendale, California, and is married with four children.
David Oaks
David Oaks directs Support Coalition International, a non-profit federation uniting nearly 100 grassroots groups to win human rights of people diagnosed with mental disabilities. NARPA was a co-founding sponsoring organization of SCI in 1989. David edits the coalitions newsjournal, MindFreedom Journal, which now reaches an estimated 25,000 readers. David is a survivor of involuntary psychiatric drugging and solitary confinement. He experienced psychiatric institutionalization five times while attending Harvard on scholarship, and graduated with honors anyway in 1977 (AB). This is Davids 25th year as a psychiatric survivor human rights activist. David lives in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife Debra.
Darby Penney
Darby Penney is Director of Historical Projects at the New York State Office of Mental Health. Among her responsibilities are overseeing of a project to collect oral histories from consumers/survivors/ex patients (c/s/x), and planning for restoration of state hospital cemeteries. She is a psychiatric survivor who has written and presented nationally and internationally on issues including human rights, recovery from psychiatric disability, c/s/x involvement in planning and policy making, and coercion in the mental health system. Darby is president of The Community Consortium, a c/s/x run consulting group with the goal of fostering the growth of inclusive communities.
Steve Periard
Steve Periard is Project Director for the Oral History Project. A fellow consumer/survivor/ex-patient, he has been working for and on behalf of his peers for the last 7 years of his recovery.
Lawrence A. Plumlee
Dr. Plumlee is a graduate of Princeton University and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He interned in internal medicine at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Under the doctors draft, he served 4 years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Department of Neuropsychiatry, and then joined the U.S. Public Health Services Consumer Protection and Environmental Health Service. He was also part time assistant professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Later, he served for many years as medical science adviser to the Office of Research and Development of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He published extensively in the scientific literature. Since leaving EPA, he has worked in the public interest sector as an advocate for rational policies around chemicals and health. He has served on numerous federal advisory committees and taught at the Uniformed University of the Health Sciences. This year he received the Theron Randolph Award for Courage in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Activism from the Chemical Injury Information Network.
David Popiel
David Popiel is the Senior Managing Attorney for the Community Health Law Project, a public interest law firm that has been representing persons with disabilities in New Jersey for 25 years. Mr. Popiel specializes in civil rights litigation, which, over the years, has included numerous fair housing matters.
Laura Prescott
Laura recently left her position as Assistant Project Director at the Women and Violence Coordinating Center at Policy Research Associates to form a new organization entitled, Sister Witness International, Inc.: An Organization of Formerly Institutionalized Women, Girls & Their Allies. This new project focuses on: developing network opportunities; providing technical assistance; constructing a memorial to formerly institutionalized women and girls who have died as well as; developing a repository for writing, art work and videos documenting their lives.
Laura has worked as a private consultant specializing in the areas of research and policy development for mental health, substance abuse and correctional systems serving women and adolescent girls who have experienced childhood and adult violence for a number of years. Her background involves work in a variety of public service delivery and policy arenas including two and half years as Human Rights Coordinator for the Department of Mental Health in Massachusetts and two years as a member of the National Technical Expert Group on Women, Violence and Mental Health sponsored by SAMHSA and the Center for Mental Health Services. She has traveled internationally; as a United States Delegate to the World Congress for Mental Health Conference in Finland in July of 1997 on fact-finding missions with Mental Disabilities Rights International in Kosovo, Macedonia, Armenia, Hungary and presented in Holland and Hong Kong.
Laura has numerous publications, and has lectured nationally on such topics as; self inflicted violence, advocating for "discredited women" in the legal system, institutional re traumatization, recovery and human rights, risk management, and strategies for reduction of seclusion and restraint in the psychiatric and criminal systems. She has served as a consultant to providers, psychiatric survivors and state mental health administrators in a number of states. Laura graduated as an Ada Comstock Scholar from Smith College in 1989 with a degree in Women Studies and concentration in Government. She is a survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse, an ex patient of the psychiatric system and in recovery from substance abuse.
Eric Rosenthal
Eric Rosenthal is the founder and Executive Director of Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI). On behalf of MDRI, Rosenthal has trained activists in sixteen countries and investigated human rights conditions in psychiatric institutions, mental retardation facilities, orphanages, and prisons in thirteen countries. He is the primary author of MDRI reports on Mexico (2000), Russia (1999), Hungary (1997), and Uruguay (1995) as well as academic articles on international human rights protections for people with mental disabilities. As the recipient of the Humanitarian Award of the Mental Health Association of New York City in 2001, Rosenthal was commended "for his exceptional dedication and leadership in advocating for the humane treatment of people with mental disabilities worldwide." As a consultant, Rosenthal has served the World Health Organization (WHO), the US National Council on Disabilities, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, and UNICEF. Rosenthal received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1992 and his BA from the University of Chicago in 1985.
Harvey Rosenthal
Harvey Rosenthal has over twenty years of experience working in a wide variety of community mental health service settings, including inpatient and outpatient treatment, case management, residential, forensic, emergency and rehabilitation settings. For twelve years, he served as Director of Albanys Potpourri Club.
He is a former President of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) and, since 1993, has been its first Executive Director.
He currently acts as co-chair of the states Mental Health Action Network and the Medicaid Buy-In Coalition for NYS and serves on the boards of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services, the NYS Independent Living Council, the Mental Health Empowerment Project and Hands Across Long Island.
This year, Harvey received IAPSRS John Beard award for exemplary contributions to the field of psychiatric rehabilitation.
Harvey regularly speaks through New York State and across the country promoting the recovery, rehabilitation and rights of people with psychiatric disabilities.
Harveys interest in promoting mental health recovery is also personal, dating back to his own hospitalization at age 19.
Yvette Sangster
Yevette is perhaps best known as the founder and first Executive Director of Advocacy Unlimited, Inc. in Wehtersfield, Connecticut. Her vision, energy, enthusiasm, and organizing skills have helped AU to become a nationally recognized model for advocacy education and activism within the mental health system. Currently, Sangster has taken on a new role, that of Executive Director of Sangster Associates. SA is a consulting agency which provides guidance, skills training, and troubleshooting to agencies or businesses that are seeking to bring about real changes to the environments in which they operate. To that end, Sangster delivers lectures and presents workshops on topics related to personal empowerment strategies, consumer education, systems redesign, advocacy program development, legislative advocacy, coalition-building, network development, etc. She serves its constituency in a variety of ways and is an active participant on numerous boards, task forces, and planning committees. Yvette Sangster is also a founding member of the Connecticut Trauma Coalition.
Ken Schlosser
Ken Schlosser has been involved with the psychiatric survivor movement since its contemporary resurgence in the mid-1970s. He began his years of advocacy with Mental Patients Liberation Front, organizing patients rights groups in mental hospitals in eastern Massachusetts. Since 1981 Ken has been a licensed MSW and served as practitioner in a range of mental health agencies- most recently, as a clinical supervisor at Advocates in Framingham, Massachusetts. At Advocates, as elsewhere, Ken has been out as a psychiatric survivor and activist. His efforts to push the agency toward a more progressive practice and culture have been shaped in coordination with survivor/ activist Pat Deegan, who is a consultant to Advocates.
Ken has written an analytic monograph for the National Empowerment Center and Boston University, entitled The Diversity Project: A Study of Race and Ethnicity in the Mental Health System and the Psychiatric Survivor Movement. He has been involved in the current struggle at Tewksbury State Hospital to challenge demeaning conditions and treatment. Over the years, Ken has offered a range of presentations that include "Empowering Consumers and the Culture of Mental Health Agencies", Consumer Practitioners: Challenges and Dilemmas"; and "Identity Politics and the Psychiatric Survivor Movement". At the 1999 NARPA conference, he was co-presenter on a workshop that focused on internal barriers to more inclusive multiracial participation at all levels of activism.
Phil Schulman
Phil Schulman is an Interfaith minister serving the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St Thomas-St John in the Virgin Islands. He has served on the NARPA board for 2 years. Phil is a psychiatric survivor, a huge fan of peer support and self help programs. He has worked to promote holistic alternatives- including spirituality in the mental health field. Phil implemented and directed a hospital diversion/ "Crisis Alternatives Program" in Essex Co. NY. That program is attempting to replace the use of force and violence in crisis response there. Phil invites anyone from any or no religious backgrounds to contact him pjschulman@att.net, if interested in supporting an Interfaith Spirituality Project. Phil sees ISP as an alternative to psychiatry for people ready to work on / take responsibility for their mental and emotional wellness.
Peter Stastny
Peter Stastny is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and has worked for several years with the Bureau of Recipient Affairs at the New York State Office of Mental Health. His main areas of interest are legal advocacy, recipient/survivor involvement, visual and historical representation of persons with psychiatric disabilities, and empowerment on all levels.
Susan Stefan
Susan Stefan received her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1984. From 1986 until 1990, she worked for the Mental Health Law Project, which is now called the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. From 1990 until 2001, she was at the University of Miami Law School, where she taught mental health and disability law. She has published two books on this subject, as well as contributing chapters and publishing numerous law articles. She has litigated a number of ADA cases, including Ellen S. v. Florida Board of Bar Examiners 859 F. Supp. 1489 (S.D. Fla. 1994) and Chris Doe v. Stincer 990 F. Supp, 1427 (S.D. Fla. 1997), vacated by Doe v. Stincer, 175 F. F.3d 879 (11th Cir. 1999). She is now an attorney at the Center for Public Representation in Newton, Massachusetts.
Cheryl Stevens
Cheryl Stevens, MD is the Director of Consumer/Survivor/Ex-Patient Relations for the Western MA Dept. of Mental Health. Having barely survived 15 hospitalizations - one lasting for eighteen months - multiple medication trials and eleven electroconvulsive (shock) treatments thanks to the people in Twelve Step recovery who offered hope, love, and a way of life resulting in service to God and others. In 1993, she joined the Genesis Club in Worcester, MA and found her way back into mainstream society through employment. She discovered that by staying away from traditional psychiatric settings, she was free to build a healing circle around her, including work with a Zen Buddhist Teacher, an Ayurvedic physician, her homeopathic psychiatrist, and her peers in dual recovery. Later, she self-paid to stay at Burch House (a community co-founded by RD Laing), because of their 100% success rate in curing people from mental illness among clients who commit to their inner work. While in partial remission, she co-founded the Genesis Club Warmline, provided respite to Club members and worked in a geri-psychiatric residence. In November of 1997, in full remission, she returned to full-time employment after nine years on disability. She then worked briefly as a substance abuse clinician. She serves on the Board of Directors for both Genesis Club and Windhorse Associates and lectures extensively on recovery, spirituality and alternatives to psychiatry. Ironically, what was once denounced by a former psychologist as denial, has become her strongest healing medicine: A vision of wholeness for every person with a psychiatric disability that can guide the transformation of the psychiatric odyssey into a life of loving service.
Bill Stewart
Bill Stewart was the PAIMI director in Kentucky for almost 14 years. Before that he was a psychologist, school psychologist, and carpenter. He retired from the Kentucky P&A and is now involved in various advocacy activities involving children, schools, and disabilities.
Terry Strecker
Terry Strecker is Public Education Coordinator for the Oral History Project. Formerly a Peer Specialist at Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center, he now uses his background in filmmaking to create awareness of issues facing consumers, survivors and ex-patients, and to assist in documenting the history of mental health in New York State.
Toni Turner
Toni Turner is an individual enveloped in mental health services in a variety of roles. As the Training Coordinator for the Resource Center, Inc., she develops programs and trains individuals around NYS on a variety of mental health issues toward assisting her "peers" with their rehabilitation and recovery. Her background of being employed as a Mental Hygiene Therapy Aide for 11 years, and receiving mental health services on and off for the last 20 years enables her to bring a unique perspective to her trainings.
As of this writing, Toni is actively involved in many boards on a volunteer basis. She is Co-Chair of the Recipient Advisory Committee to the NYS Commissioner of Mental Health (RAC), Chairperson of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Advisory Board (PAIMI), Chairperson of the Franklin County Community Services Board, Founding Board Member of the Peer Accreditation Association (PAA), and Board Member of the Central New York Behavioral Health Consortium, Inc. (CNYBHC, INC.), founding member of the Peer Networking Group of Central New York, recently appointed for another two year term for the Surrogate Decision Making Program of the Commission on Quality Care in NYS, and as one of the Eastern Regional Representative on the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS) Executive Board of Directors, just to name a few. She is actively pursuing her Bachelors Degree in Community and Human Services, with a concentration in Mental Health through Empire State College.
Susan White, RN, MSN
(Please see insert in conference program)
Xenia Williams
Xenia Williams, MS, LCMHC is co-plaintiff in the DPOA/HC lawsuit vs. Vermont State Hospital, a facility where she was a guest of the state 3 times, prior to her recovery from psychiatric disability. Her legislative efforts have included work on the Forensic Exam bill, the Involuntary Medication bill, the Psychological Trauma bill, and two funding bills increasing accountability at psych wards and tripling the number of patient telephones at VT State Hospital. While "in the system," she argued a food stamp reduction appeal before the VT Supreme Court, pro se and in forma pauperis. She earned her MS in Community Mental Health in 1998 and her Vermont counseling license in 2001. She is past board president of VT Protection & Advocacy and Vermont Psychiatric Survivors. She has presented at numerous trainings on Advance Directives, and published several articles on that topic. Ms Williams is employed as a case manager at a community mental health center in VT, following 3 years staffing at an alternative crisis residence, Home Intervention, which diverted clients from hospitalization. She serves on the VT legislatures Psychological Trauma Commission and is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She manages the button-making enterprise Lunatic Ravings Educators, and is managed at home in Barre, Vermont by her 2 emotional support feline companions, Paris and Kassandra.
Kathie Zatkin
Kathie Zatkin received her J.D. from Hastings College of the Law, Order of the Coif and her MSW from California State University, Sacramento. She did her undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a System Liaison at the Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients, a client-run self help organization (this position includes liaison with County Behavioral Health Care Services). She is also active in the California Network of Mental Health Clients and in the Coalition of Californians for Olmstead (COCO), a coalition of consumer and advocacy organizations working toward community inclusion of all people with disabilities through implementation of the Olmstead decision. She has experience as a Mental Health Patients Rights Advocate and has MSW social work experience at SNF and Child Protective Services.
Her main interest and focus this year has been in to work against expansion of forced treatment, and to inform and encourage mental health clients and others to become active re legislation dealing with informed consent and due process rights. She has recently been working with Protection &Advocacy on Advance Directives for Mental Health Treatment, and with COCO (Coalition of Californians for Olmstead) to ensure that Olmstead implementation includes real choice for persons with mental disabilities.
Laura Ziegler
In 1976 Laura Ziegler experienced locked wards and forced psychiatric drugging. She resisted, prevailing in court against both. Laura was a long time activist with Project Release of N.Y.C, and employed for five years as a paralegal with a N.Y. regional Protection & Advocacy office. She was an instigator/member of a homeless protest encampment which occupied part of City Hall Park from June - December, 1988. She is currently a member of Disabled in Action. Her work has ranged from court monitoring and organizing to poetry and street theater. Laura now lives in Vermont, and directs most of her energy towards that state's legislature.


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