All too frequently we hear about there not being a “collective” voice for mental health across the state. We’re going to change that!
What better way than to bring all those passionate about mental health awareness together and create a plan?! Thus the idea of the Florida Mental Health Summit was born. This is the 2016 Florida Mental Health Summit. We will make a plan. A plan that ensures all Floridians (including policy makers) know that we CARE about mental health awareness. It is a priority. Will you be there to add your voice to the vision?
We are coordinating a statewide mental health advocacy initiative focused on bringing together concerned mental health professionals, business leaders, hospitals, advocacy organizations, consumers, families and other critical stakeholders to advocate for increased mental health and substance abuse funding and pertinent mental health related legislation.
2017 Summit Speakers
Ron Powers (born November 18, 1941) is an American journalist, novelist, and non-fiction writer. His works include White Town Drowsing: Journeys to Hannibal, Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain, and Mark Twain: A Life. With James Bradley, he co-wrote the 2000 #1 New York Times Bestseller Flags of Our Fathers.
As TV and radio columnist for Chicago Sun-Times, Powers won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1973 for his critical writing about television during 1972. He was the first television critic to win the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1985, Powers won an Emmy Award for his work on CBS News Sunday Morning. In 1993 he completed a biography of Muppets creator Jim Henson that was scheduled to be published in October 1994, but after objections from the Henson family Random House declined to release it.
In 2017, Powers published “No One Cares About Crazy People – The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America”, chronicling his sons’ schizophrenia, and the family’s experience of dealing with the American mental health system. As the father of two sons with schizophrenia, author Ron Powers is familiar with the pain and frustration of dealing with a chronic, incurable disease of the brain. Powers’ younger son, Kevin, was a talented musician whose struggles with schizophrenia began at age 17. Just before his 21st birthday, in 2005, Kevin took his own life. A few years later, Powers’ older son, Dean, started experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia and had a psychotic break.
Powers’ new book, No One Cares About Crazy People, is both a memoir about his sons and a history of how the mentally ill have been treated medically, legally and socially. Although Dean is now medicated and doing well, Powers notes that many people with schizophrenia don’t receive the treatment they need — in part because they often don’t believe they are ill.
Secretary Christine Daly, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Secretary Christina K. Daly has dedicated nearly two decades to improving the lives of at-risk children and their families. She has played an integral role in the aggressive reform of juvenile justice under Florida Governor Rick Scott since 2011. During this administration, juvenile delinquency has dropped to the lowest level in more than 30 years through the implementation of the Roadmap to System Excellence, DJJ’s strategic plan to transform the state’s juvenile justice system. Ms. Daly has held leadership positions since 2007 at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice as the Deputy Secretary, Chief of Staff, Legislative Affairs Director, and the External Affairs Director. As Deputy Secretary, Ms. Daly was responsible for the oversight of the operations of the entire continuum of service delivery. She has worked nationally with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center, and the Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, where she is a member of the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network. She is also a member of the national nonprofit organization, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators. She also serves as a member on the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, the Florida Attorney General’s Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, and as a member of the Florida Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court. Prior to joining DJJ, Secretary Daly worked in various positions at the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, where she led the statewide implementation of the renowned Safe Place program. As a native of Florida, she was born in Pensacola, raised in Tallahassee and attended Leon High School. She received an associates of art degree from Tallahassee Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the Florida State University. She is also a proud graduate of Leadership Tallahassee.
Assistant Secretary John Bryant, Florida Department of Children and Families
John N. Bryant is Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health at the Florida Department of Children and Families. Bryant previously served as Vice President for Legislative and External Affairs at the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, working with and advising state agencies on legislative and budget priorities, policy development, contract services, behavioral health program design, research and advocacy. Before that he worked with the department (and under the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services) for 36 years in multiple roles both regionally and at the statewide level including Chief of Operations for the Substance Abuse Program Office, Chief of the State Mental Health Treatment Facilities, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health Programs, Chief of Adult Mental Health and others.
Assistant Secretary Bryant recently led a very positive step in addressing Florida’s Mental Health system by hiring a new Chief Hospital Administrator who will oversee four Florida state hospitals in an effort to foster a “one hospital approach” to streamline operations.
Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Paolo del Vecchio, MSW, is the Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). SAMHSA is the lead Federal agency designed to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
In this role, Mr. del Vecchio provides executive leadership for Federal efforts to improve the nation’s mental health service systems. This includes management of the federal/state mental health block grant program and directing a range of programs and activities that address topics such as suicide prevention, children’s mental health, homelessness, disaster mental health, HIV/AIDS, and others.
Previously, Mr. del Vecchio was the CMHS Associate Director for Consumer Affairs where he directed SAMHSA’s precedent-setting programs and activities that advanced consumer participation and education, a recovery orientation for the mental health system, peer support and the adoption of certified peer specialists, wellness and primary care integration, understanding of trauma histories and the social determinants of health and mental health, and led programs to reduce discrimination and prejudice associated with mental illnesses.
Prior to joining SAMHSA, Paolo worked for the Philadelphia Office of Mental Health in the areas of policy formulation and the planning of a comprehensive system of community-based mental health services addressing homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and many other issues.
A self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor, and person in recovery from addictions, Paolo has been involved for over 40 years in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate, and policy maker. He graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Temple University, has published widely, and is a highly sought after national leader and speaker. Paolo has been a leader in many Federal efforts including the Federal Advisory Planning Board for the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, the HHS Multiple Chronic Conditions Initiative, the HHS Living Community Initiative and numerous others.
Dr. Tracy Hejmanowski received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2000 and has been working with veterans, active duty service personnel, and their families for the past 18 years, including her initial work at the VA in Connecticut and the R.E. Mitchell Center for POW Studies. She pursued a Naval Officer commission in 2001 and served as the base psychologist at Naval Hospital, Rota, Spain for three years, including a collateral interim assignment as the Department Head of the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Department. During this tour, she was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for her behavioral health initiatives.
Dr. Hejmanowski continued on active duty status at Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia, where she developed post-traumatic stress program initiatives and was named Medical Service Corps Officer of the Quarter. Since relocating in 2008 to Naval Air Station Jacksonville with her husband (a 12-year veteran, with several Middle East deployments) and four children, she assumed a civilian post as Program Manager of the Deployment Health Center (DHC) at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, where she was twice named Contractor of the Year. Based upon the DHC’s extensive military and community outreach programs and its focus on the psychological adjustment of returning service personnel, she accepted the First in Service Gold Award for the Center. The Medical Inspector General of the Navy has thrice recognized the DHC as a “Best Clinical Practice” in the country.
Dr. Hejmanowski specializes in working with service members and their families who are transitioning after deployment, including the treatment of chronic operational stress responses, post-traumatic stress, depression, anger and rage, anxiety, sleep dysfunction, and relationship strain. She engages in a variety of treatment modalities, including individual, group, intensive residential, and couples therapy, as well as art and writing therapy, in vivo and recreational therapy, and equine-assisted psychotherapy.
Tara Wildes worked for over 30 years throughout the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, primarily in the correctional environment. She retired in 2016 with the appointed rank of Director of the Department of Corrections, managing three correctional facilities and the Jacksonville Reentry Center, with over 3400 incarcerated persons and 800 employees with a budget of over 90 million dollars. She is certified by the state of Florida in both corrections and law enforcement, and as an instructor by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission of Florida. Tara is currently employed with Wildes Investigations, LLC and as an adjunct instructor with Florida State College at Jacksonville. She serves on the boards of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Jacksonville, Disability Rights Florida and StopTB USA.
Senator René Garcia was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in November of 2000. He was re-elected consecutively in 2002, 2004 and 2006. While in the House of Representatives, he served as Chair of the Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation, Chair of the Health Services Sub-Committee, Chairman of Health Innovation Committee, Chair of the Florida Hispanic Caucus, and was named Deputy Whip for the House of Representatives.
René García was elected to Florida’s State Senate on November 2, 2010. He is currently the Chairman of the Health care Regulation Committee. Garcia also serves on the following committees: Agriculture, Budget Sub-committee on Health & Human Services Appropriations, Governmental Oversight & Accountability, Reapportionment and Transportation.
Scott D. McCoy is Senior Policy Counsel and Acting Managing Attorney for Florida with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Scott is located in the SPLC’s newly opened office in Tallahassee, Florida. Scott’s work focuses on juvenile justice reform, criminal justice reform, children’s rights, and LGBT rights.
Scott joined the SPLC in July 2014 as a Senior Staff Attorney after practicing as a Senior Litigation Associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York City. Prior to re-joining Cleary Gottlieb in July 2011, Scott lived and worked in Salt Lake City, Utah from 2002 to 2011. In addition to litigating federal securities and antitrust cases with a private firm in Salt Lake City, Scott served as the first openly-gay member of the Utah State Senate from 2005 to 2009, representing portions of Salt Lake City. Scott served on the Utah Sentencing Commission and chaired the Salt Lake City Police Civilian Review Board.
Scott and his husband, Mark Barr, moved to Utah in 2002 in order for Scott to clerk for the Honorable Leonard H. Russon, Associate Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. Scott also served on the Board of Equality Utah, the state’s LGBT public advocacy group, and in 2004, ran the state-wide campaign against Amendment 3, Utah’s anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. Scott earned a Bachelors of Arts degree from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri in 1992, and a Masters of Arts degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, DC in 1994. Scott is a graduate of Cardozo Law School, earning his Juris Doctor degree in 2001. Prior to attending Cardozo, Scott worked as Legislative Director for Congressman Tom Latham of Iowa from 1997 to 1998 and for the United States House of Representative’s Committee on Agriculture from 1992 to 1997.
Dr. Samantha Goldfarb is a Research Faculty member at FSU College of Medicine in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine. She received her Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) in the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Dr. Goldfarb’s degree holds a concentration in Maternal and Child Health Policy, and her research is focused on these issues, particularly as they relate to the life course perspective which holds that there are a complex set of risk (e.g., inadequate housing, stress, perceived discrimination) and protective (e.g., education, mental health counseling) factors that impact individuals’ health throughout their life span which must be addressed for optimal prevention of poor health outcomes. She is currently interested in understanding the impact of parental mental health on perinatal and early childhood outcomes. She has also been involved in several state and federal contracts in both Florida and Alabama aimed at improving population health through surveillance and assessment.
Roy Miller built a direct service agency for children and families over a 13-year period before becoming a political consultant, managing both candidate and issue campaigns. The science of The Children’s Campaign, which he founded in 1992, builds on the knowledge and information acquired from both of these professional experiences.
Miller is described by colleagues as the state’s top watchdog for children, an insightful political strategist, determined lobbyist, plain spoken media spokesman and commentator, and, more important, an unapologetic yet neutral critic of ineffective services to children.
His innovations have resulted in new non-partisan approaches to public policy, new service structures for at-risk children, and powerful new advocacy voices. His models and strategic communications techniques have been replicated in other states.
Miller is spearheading conversation and action across the country on building a stronger and more effective political voice for children.
Representative Kathleen Peters moved to Pinellas County in 1985. She received her BA degree from Eckerd College majoring in Human Development. She currently holds the position of State Representative for the Florida House of Representatives, District 69 and formerly VP of Public Affairs at the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In the Florida Legislature, Representative Peters serves on the Economic Affairs Committee, Justice Appropriations, Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Transportation and Ports Subcommittee, and as Vice Chair for the Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee.
Gayle Harrell is a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 83rd District, which includes Port St. Lucie and Stuart in northern Martin County and southern St. Lucie County, since 2012, previously representing the 81st District from 2000 to 2008 and again from 2010 to 2012.
In the Florida Legislature, Representative Harrell serves on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Health and Human Services Committee, Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee, and as Chair for the Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee.
Rajiv Tandon, MD, is the executive vice-chair and a professor at the University of Florida department of psychiatry. He also is chief of psychiatry at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Formerly, he was promoted to Associate Professor, given Tenure and rose to Professor at the Department of Psychiatry in the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, from 1987-2004. In addition to his medical degree, he has a Master’s degree in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a diploma in Business Administration from the Harvard University Business School. At the University of Michigan, he developed the clinical and research Schizophrenia Program, which was the sixth most published schizophrenia program in the world in the 1990’s.
Dr. Tandon has authored more than 250 scientific publications, and given over 600 national and international scientific presentations. He has received several awards for research and teaching in schizophrenia, including the American Psychiatric Association Young Psychiatrist Researcher of the Year award in 1993 and the a1997 Future Psych award for outstanding achievement in schizophrenia research. He has been included in every edition of THE BEST DOCTORS IN AMERICA since 1995. His principal areas of research interest include psychopharmacology of schizophrenia and neurobiology of schizophrenia. He is a member of the NASMHPD Medical Directors’ Board, a member of the World Psychiatric Association Section on Pharmacopsychiatry, and a member of the DSM-V workgroup on psychotic disorders. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several journals. He has been a member of several NIH study sections over his career.
In his capacity Chief of Psychiatry in the Office of Mental Health in the Department of Children and Families, he has participated in the development of a number of innovative programs. He was a member of the Blueprint Commission on Juvenile Justice as also a member of the Supreme Court Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Mental Health (Leifman committee). He has been intimately involved in the development of a range of evidence-based psychopharmacology programs both in the hospital-based and community settings. He has over 25 years of experience in the evaluation and treatment of psychiatric patients, as national expert, researcher, and mentor.
Rachel Brockhouse has worked in child welfare since 2003. During this time, Rachel worked with the Family Intensive Treatment (FIT) pilot program as the program manager. Rachel earned her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling in 2015 and began working for Central Florida Behavioral Health Network, the managing entity for the Suncoast Region and Circuit 10 where she is the Child Welfare Program Manager, working with the FIT teams, FIS (Family Intervention Specialist) Teams and the integration of behavioral health and child welfare.
Paul Gionfriddo was named President and CEO of Mental Health America on May 1, 2014. He has worked in a variety of health and mental-health related positions during a career spanning over thirty years. In 2013, he was appointed by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to a four-year term on the 12-member National Advisory Council to the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services.
From 1978 through 1991, he served as a full-time elected official, the first eleven of those years in the Connecticut State Legislature, where he held several leadership positions, including Deputy Majority Leader and chair of the Public Health Committee and Health and Human Services Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee. For the final two years, he served as Mayor of Middletown, Connecticut.
Prior to joining MHA, he was a consultant, speaker, and writer, and author of a popular weekly health policy blog entitled Our Health Policy Matters. His essay entitled How I Helped Create a Flawed Mental Health System That’s Failed Millions – And My Son, was published as the Narrative Matters essay (and was the most-read article) in the September 2012 issue of Health Affairs and was also published in the Washington Post in October 2012. The full-length version of the story was published as a book, entitled Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia, and was released by Columbia University Press in the fall of 2014.
He is a graduate of Wesleyan University. He lives with his wife, Pam, who is CEO of the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, in Lake Worth, Florida. They have five adult children and two grandchildren.
Mark Fontaine is the Executive Director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, a position held since 2006. He leads the development of public policy related to alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment, mental health, juvenile and adult corrections, and recovery and serves as the voice for community providers who deliver behavioral health services across Florida.
Mr. Fontaine manages an Association with an annual budget of $2.5 million and a staff of 10 professionals. Prior to this position, Mr. Fontaine served as Executive Director of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association and project manager for the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. He has been providing leadership in the behavioral health and justice fields for over 30 years.
Mr. Fontaine has a Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree from Florida State University, holds Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) and Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional credentials, and is a Certified Association Executive with the American Society of Association Executives.
Karen B. Moore is an author, consultant, speaker, and founder and CEO of Moore Communications Group (MCG). In the twenty years since she began the firm, Karen has amassed an astonishing amount of success on behalf of state and national clients. An advocacy expert, Karen has successfully built a vast array of state and national coalitions, impacting important legislative issues. She has shaped conversations surrounding critical patient access policies using a smart mix of grasstops, grassroots, and strategic alliance development efforts. With a passion for economic development, health care, and education initiatives, she often serves as a strategic facilitator who brings various viewpoints together to help form common objectives and unified solutions.
As an entrepreneur and industry thought leader, she is highly sought after for her integrated communications and crisis communication counsel. Karen has conducted media and advocacy training sessions for Fortune 500 companies, elected officials, and national associations. A distinguished public speaker, she has addressed more than 250 organizations on topics such as advocacy, leadership, entrepreneurship, crisis communications, marketing, and networking. Karen sits on the board of directors of numerous organizations, and recognition for her work has brought her many honors, including the Distinguished Leader Award of the National Association of Community Leaders. She is one of less than 100 individuals in the nation who holds both an Accredited Public Relations (APR) and Certified Public Relations Counselor (CPRC) designation.
In her recently published book, Behind the Red Door: Unlock Your Advocacy Influence and Success, Karen helps decision makers and others understand why advocacy is a vital tool for their organization, regardless of their specific industry. Karen presents readers with a comprehensive look at the application of advocacy that includes building an advocacy plan framework, creating and utilizing a brand, building and mobilizing internal and external stakeholders, using social media, handling crisis, and finally, measuring results for advocacy campaigns.
John N. Bryant is Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health at the Florida Department of Children and Families. Bryant previously served as Vice President for Legislative and External Affairs at the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, working with and advising state agencies on legislative and budget priorities, policy development, contract services, behavioral health program design, research and advocacy. Before that he worked with the department (and under the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services) for 36 years in multiple roles both regionally and at the statewide level including Chief of Operations for the Substance Abuse Program Office, Chief of the State Mental Health Treatment Facilities, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health Programs, Chief of Adult Mental Health and others. He completed course work for a Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of South Florida, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of West Florida.
John Everett is the Community School Director at Edward H White Military Academy of Leadership. He has worked in child welfare for over ten years with the most recent years in Jacksonville, Florida. He currently holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology and a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. Mr. Everett accredits his passion for community to his family. “I was one of 7 kids in a house hold of 9, my parents were very active in the local church and my grandmother was a well-known community activist so I was exposed to the importance of advocating for community change at a young age.” It was the foundation of family that inspired Mr. Everett to pursue a career in youth and community advocacy. In 2003 he began working in child welfare, advocating for some of the states most vulnerable youth. In 2005, he extended his reach by also serving as youth director for Metropolitan Baptist Church.
Mr Everett’s experiences have led him to impact communities both stateside and abroad having completed mission’s work in the Dominican Republic and South Africa. “Serving the community at an early age, being blessed to serve abroad, those experiences have allowed me to gain invaluable insight into the challenges of community engagement and ensuring our youth, their families, and our community receive the necessary access and opportunity to thrive.” Those opportunities will be a major point of emphasis for EWMAL as it enters its first official school year under a community school model. With academic and administrative changes being a focal point for students and families at EWMAL Mr Everett hopes the changes bring about more awareness to the needs of EWMAL and the surrounding community. “We are laying the foundation for our students to succeed beyond the walls of the school while building the necessary relationships to influence current and future generations.”
Jill Gran is an independent consultant who works closely with the Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association, helping to direct legislative funding and policy advocacy for FADAA members, as well as working closely affiliate coalitions and other associations to promote prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery for behavioral health.
With nearly two decades experience, Jill has successfully navigated through complex policy issues relating to the environment, local governments, the tourism industry and health care.
Since the late 1990’s Jill has worked closely with political candidates in myriad roles. For the past four years, she has consulted with candidates and political committees crafting campaign plans, fundraising, and developing media plans for local, regional and statewide races.
Evans Community School Director Jarvis Wheeler grew up here in Orlando, was an Orange County Public Schools student and was raised in a single-parent home. During high school, he kept a tight schedule working 30 hours a week at Chick-fil-A and participating in varsity football and weightlifting. Although Mr. Wheeler graduated from Dr. Phillips High School, he spent much of his time in the Pine Hills community with church family and friends. Upon his graduation, Mr. Wheeler attended Florida State University (FSU) as a sports management major. During his first year at FSU, he was paired with a mentor. Initially, Mr. Wheeler was skeptical about the value of having a mentor. However, as time progressed, the relationship had a profound impact on his life.
As Mr. Wheeler matriculated at FSU, he realized his passion was to help students in the way his mentor helped him. Upon graduating, he entered FSU’s graduate school and received master’s degrees in social work and public administration. During that time, Mr. Wheeler developed and participated in several mentoring programs.
As Evans Community School Director, Mr. Wheeler can continue to impact students’ lives but now has a bigger responsibility to also help create unity among students, faculty, staff and the community so students can achieve lifelong success. “When we create more unity, we will also increase accountability because we’re not only upholding principles for ourselves but also for those who will work alongside us,” Mr. Wheeler explains. Moreover, he would like to make more people aware of one of Pine Hills “best-kept secrets” by bringing more engagement, visibility and accessibility to the great programs Evans Community School offers.
A native Floridian, Bob Dillinger is an Ivy League graduate of Columbia University in New York City , and received his J.D. from Stetson College of Law. He subsequently became an Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. During his initial service as an Assistant Public Defender, he was a member of the Capital Crimes Defense team and was instrumental in publishing the first comprehensive death penalty training manual in Florida for defense attorneys.
After several years as an Assistant Public Defender, Mr. Dillinger left government service to open his own practice where he specialized in criminal defense and civil jury work. He has served as Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida, covering Pinellas and Pasco Counties, since 1997. He is well known as an advocate of the disenfranchised, mentally ill and homeless in his community, and is active in programs that provide encouragement, food and clothing to disadvantaged children.
Mr. Dillinger has received numerous awards for his service to the community, including the Nelson Poynter Award from the St. Petersburg Times, the Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association Diversity Award, the Stetson University Ben C. Willard award for humanitarian achievements, and he was recently recognized by Bank of America as a “Local Hero”.
Gemma Clayson graduated from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii in May 2009 with her Masters in Counseling Psychology, with a Marriage and Family Therapy concentration. Gemma began working as a Child and Family Therapist for Centerstone CAT Team in Manatee County in July 2009 and became a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in January 2013. Since January 2014, Gemma has served as the CAT Team Leader for the Centerstone Regional CAT team, serving Sarasota and Desoto Counties. Gemma successfully balances her role as a Working Supervisor by providing direct clinical care to children and families, managing the Regional CAT team and supervising her staff.
Erica Smith is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with BayCare Behavioral Health. She has a Master degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has been working in the field of substance abuse and mental health for the last 13 years. She is the clinical manager for the Family Intensive Treatment Team (FIT) in Pasco County and has been involved in the statewide child welfare/behavioral health integration effort for the last two years.
Dr. Lawanda Ravoira is a national expert, advocate, published author, researcher and trainer on issues specific to justice-involved girls and young women. She is the founding President & CEO of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. The Policy Center’s mission is to engage communities, organizations, and individuals through quality research, community organizing, advocacy, training and model programming to advance the rights of girls and young women, especially those in the justice and child protection systems.
The creation of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center grew out of this work with the intention to leverage the national and statewide resources to bring about systemic reforms and give a voice to girls and young women on the First Coast to ensure equitable and fair treatment. The goal is to make Jacksonville, Florida the national model for system-involved girls in juvenile justice and child welfare. Core services include advocacy, research, training and the development of model programming.
Dr. Ravoira is often invited to present testimony at U.S. Congressional hearing on justice-involved girls and related issues. Additionally, Dr. Ravoira is leading the Justice for Girls Campaign, a major reform effort in Florida for girls and young women in the juvenile justice system. Dr. Ravoira is the author of the State of Florida: Blueprint for Action (2009). She was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist to serve as the Co-Chair and special advisory to the State of Florida Blueprint Commission. She was also appointed to serve as a member of the State of Florida Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. Likewise, she was appointed to serve as the co-chair to the State’s Girls Advisory Committee. She holds a Doctorate in Public Administration, Master’s in Allied Health, and a Bachelor’s in Sociology.
As Director or Planning and Development, Brandon is responsible for the implementation of strategic initiatives for the Florida Prepaid College Board. He played a key role in the development of the ABLE United Program, a tax-free savings vehicle that allows individuals with a disability to build assets while maintaining federal benefits, such as SSI and Medicaid. Brandon is a graduate of Florida State University; he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Human Resource Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
Ann Burke received a Masters in Social Work at Fordham University in 1997. Her experience in New York included serving as a child and family therapist at an inpatient psychiatric hospital on an adolescent unit and at a school for emotionally-challenged children. Ann is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been working at Centerstone since 2004. After 5 years as an outpatient child and family therapist, she became Clinical Supervisor of the Children’s Outpatient Department and two years later became the Clinical Manager of Children’s Intensive Services. In this capacity, she initially managed the Children Day Treatment Program, the Children’s Community Action Team (CAT) and Children’s Targeted Case Management services. With the expansion to 3 CAT Teams, Ann played a key role in starting up the two new teams and now manages all 3 CAT teams.
Mrs. Nazworth is the executive director of Ability Housing of Northeast Florida, Inc. The mission of Ability Housing is to provide quality, affordable community-inclusive housing for individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness and adults with disabilities.
Mrs. Nazworth has over fifteen years’ experience in the development of affordable housing. She is the former Associate Director of Habitat for Humanity of the Jacksonville Beaches, Inc.; Regional Administrator for Habitat for Humanity International; and Chief Financial Officer of Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville, Inc.
Mrs. Nazworth is actively involved in statewide advocacy efforts. She chairs Florida’s Council on Homelessness; is President of the Florida Supportive Housing Coalition; Co-Chair of the Northeast Florida CoC Planning Board; serves as Board Secretary for the Florida Community Loan Fund; serves as a member of the Chase Community Advisory Board and is a past gubernatorial appointee to the Affordable Housing Study Commission. Mrs. Nazworth routinely presents to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation board of directors; participates in rule development for various affordable housing programs; chaired a statewide workgroup which developed ‘Common Sense: A Strategic Plan to Provide Supportive Housing Throughout Florida’; was awarded Advocate of the Year by the Southeast Institute on Homelessness and Supportive Housing; and was a member of the Leadership Jacksonville class of 2011. Most recently, Mrs. Nazworth was named 2014 Eastern Region Advocate of the Year by the Corporation of Supportive Housing.
Dr. Pomm is Board Certified in Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. He is also a Certified Medical Review Officer. Dr. Pomm served on the Governor’s Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. In 1992 he began working for the Impaired Professionals Program of the State of Florida, the Professionals Resource Program (PRN). From 1998 until 2011 he served as Medical Director for this organization. PRN serves 29 Healthcare Boards and Councils on matters relating to healthcare professionals’ impairment. Also, from 1994 until 2010 Dr. Pomm was an expert Consultant to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. Dr. Pomm began working for River Region Human Services in 1992, became their Medical Director in 1994 and currently serves as Vice President of Medical Services. In addition, Dr. Pomm serves as Medical Director for Gateway Community Services. He is a Courtesy Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. In addition, he holds an appointment as Courtesy Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida. He has been a leader in the addiction field as it relates to the evaluation and treatment of co-occurring disorders and management of impaired professionals. Dr. Pomm has received multiple awards, including “The Marie Award” from the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence. He is an international speaker and has written multiple publications on issues surrounding addiction as well as healthcare professional impairment.
In 1981 Patty received her BS in Criminology at Old Dominion University and in 1994 received her BA in Psychology at the University of West Florida. In 1998 she received her second BA in Social Work and went on to complete her MSW in Social Work in 1999 at Florida State University followed by her Ph.D. in Social Work at Florida State University in 2010. In 2014 she became the Interim Director for the Florida Institute for Child Welfare at the FSU College of social work. Her research interests include child welfare, domestic violence, family social work, and research methods.
“This could be one of the best opportunities, if not the best opportunity, to rally change the child welfare system because the legislature has really put the magnifying glass on the system”. – Patty Babcock
Laura Gailey is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and has been practicing in the mental health field for over 15 years. She received her Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychology from Troy State University. She is also the Crisis Intervention Coordinator (CIT) for Orange County, in which she coordinates and trains law enforcement and correctional officers on appropriate and effective ways to intervene with those with a mental illness that are in crisis. Her current focus is the oversight of the clinical areas of 9 acute care units and two points of entry, all of which are for crisis situations. In 2013, she received an Award of Appreciation from the Lakeside Board of Directors for her work done with the CIT program. She often joins law enforcement on ride alongs to assist in difficult cases with community members in crisis.
Keto Porter is a native of Jacksonville, Florida, educated at the local high school of William M. Raines. He continued his education at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida, where he received his Bachelor Degree in Criminology. Keto began his professional career at the State Attorney’s Office, and in his thirteen year tenure served in varies capacities including overseeing the Jailed- Juvenile Division. He also served as the Operations Manager and Director for Take Stock in Children and Achievers For Life, with Communities In Schools of Jacksonville. Keto now serves as the Director of Full Service Schools of Jacksonville. He is a former Board Member of Inside/Outside House, Inc., and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of North Florida, Inc. Keto also sits on several committees/task-forces within Duval County, including the Jacksonville Systems of Care Initiative, the School Health/Behavioral Health Committee and the Community Alliance of Northeast Florida Task Force. Keto is also a community volunteer and serves as a mentor.
Kelly James is the Director for the Florida Blue Center for Health Policy. He leads a team in the review and analysis of health care topics and Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations to identify policy and operational impacts. He participates in industry workgroups to provide input on the impacts of health care reform provisions to regulatory agencies. He represents Florida Blue through participation in external events to provide relevant information on health policy topics to various audiences.
James holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Florida. He is also certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
From 2007 to 2010, Miami-Dade County Judge Steven Leifman served as Special Advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida. In this capacity, Judge Leifman was responsible for chairing the Court’s Mental Health Subcommittee which authored a ground-breaking report entitled, Transforming Florida’s Mental Health System.1 This report outlines recommendations with the goal of decreasing inappropriate and costly involvement of people with mental illnesses in the justice system. Currently, Judge Leifman Chairs the Florida Supreme Court’s Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Court.
1 Available at: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/documents/11-14-2007_Mental_Health_Report.pdf
Due to his expertise in the areas of criminal justice and mental health, Judge Leifman has been appointed to serve in a variety of capacities on local, state, and national bodies, including Co-Chair of the Council of State Governments/TAPA Center for Jail Diversion Judges’ Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative, Board of Directors of the American Psychiatric Foundation, Fellow – Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, member of the National Leadership Forum for Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice Services, member of the American Bar Association Task Force on Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards, member of the American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, Co-Chair of the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force and Voluntary Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami School of Medicine. In addition, Judge Leifman serves as Chair of the South Florida Behavioral Health Network and Finance Chair of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. He is the past Chair of Florida Partners in Crisis.
In recognition of his tireless efforts, Judge Leifman has received numerous awards and acknowledgements including; the Dade County Bar Association 2013 Criminal Justice Award, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation 2012 Productive Lives Award, the Society of Biological Psychiatry 2012 Humanitarian Award, the American Psychiatric Association 2012 Advocacy Award, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce 2012 Miami’s Leaders Award, the 2011 Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle Award, the 2010 Florida International University (FIU) Cal Kovens Distinguished Community Service Medallion, the 2010 Leadership Florida Distinguished Member Award, the 2009 International Community Corrections Association (ICCA) Judicial Award, the 2009 Dade County Bar Association Sookie Williams Award, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 2008 Distinguished Service Award (NAMI National’s Highest Honor), the 2008 Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Miami Chapter Honorable Gerald Kogan Judicial Distinction Award and the 2007 Greater Miami Jewish Federation Judicial Community Service Award.
Judge Leifman has also been featured in many national and local television and radio programs regarding mental health and the criminal justice system including, CNN: Anderson Cooper Special Report; NBC Nightly News; CNN: Special Investigations Unit, The Criminally Insane; PBS, Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness; CBS4, The Forgotten Floor; National Public Radio (NPR) All Things Considered; the Miami Herald and Miami Today. He has also authored and published many articles on mental illness and the criminal justice system.
Dr. Elise Fallucco is a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist at Nemours Children’s Specialty Care in Jacksonville, Florida. She received her A.B from Princeton University, and her M.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She completed her internship in pediatrics/psychiatry at the Massachusetts General / McLean Hospitals in Boston, and her residency and fellowship in general and child and adolescent psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM). She has developed and implemented carious training programs for primary care providers to improve early recognition of signs of behavioral and emotional problems in children, adolescents, and their caregivers. Dr. Fallucco has published articles in Pediatrics, the Journal of Adolescent Health, and Academic Pediatrics. She has been nationally recognized for her original research by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Robinson Cunningham award. She also has been recognized for her clinical work and research with the WUSM Eli Robins award for excellence in clinical psychiatry, teaching, and research; and the WUSM Resident of the Year award for excellence in teaching. She has been named one of Jacksonville Business Journal’s “Health-Care Heroes” for 2014, and was selected as the 2015 Medical Specialist of the Year by the Northeast Florida Pediatric Society. She and her husband are the proud parents of three young and very active children.
Dr. Michael De La Hunt is currently the Division Chief, Psychology and Psychiatry, Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida and the Medica Director for the Child and Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. He also serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine and an Instructor of the Myo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. He earned his Medical Doctorate at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. De LA hunt has been named as one of the best doctors in America four consecutive years and was named America’s top Psychiatrists in 2011.
As both medical director of pediatric mental health services at Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Division chief in the division of Psychology & Psychiatriatry at Nemours Children’s Clinic, he has been responsible for overseeing and developing one of the largest comprehensive pediatric mental health systems in Northeast Florida, as well as providing an educational experience for numerous trainees in a variety of disciplines. He has also had the pleasure of collaborating with numerous community agencies working to provide education, advocacy, or other support in the greater pediatric mental health care system. His medical training in both pediatrics and psychiatry gives him a particular interest in treating children and adolescents with co-morbid emotional behavioral and medical health conditions. He enjoys participating in the supervising of medical trainees and teaching in various educational formats that range from formal education to informal forums for the public; thereby increasing the general medical and public community’s knowledge and awareness regarding the etiology, diagosis, treatment and prevention of pediatric mental health.
Derrick Stephens, LCSW has been advocating for vulnerable children and individuals living with a mental illness for the past 15 years. Derrick’s dedication stems from his personal journey of growing up in the foster care system as a result of having a drug and alcohol addicted mother diagnosed with Schizophrenia and a father who committed suicide. Today, Derrick uses his personal journey to inspire and help others through difficult times. Derrick is passionate about making access to behavioral health care ubiquitous. Derrick runs his own small online clinical practice and serves as an account executive for InSight Telepsychiatry.
Cindy A. Schwartz currently serves as the Project Director of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida Criminal Mental Health Project- Jail Diversion Program. Her goals have been focused on promoting system transformation, community integration and recovery. Cindy has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Masters in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. She is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor, an Advanced WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) facilitator, Instructor of How Being Trauma Informed Improves Criminal Justice Responses, Consultant and Trainer for the SAMHSA National Center for Trauma Informed Care, Consultant and Trainer for the SAMHSA SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance (SOAR TA) Center and the lead trainer for SOAR (SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access and Recovery) in Miami-Dade and Monroe County, Florida. Cindy is also actively involved in her community and serves on a variety of professional organizations, boards and committees.
Bethany V. Crawley, JD, BA, RYT, Certified Mindfulness Trainer: Bethany Crawley trains healthcare professionals in mindfulness. She has worked with and trained medical residents, physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and chaplains in hospital and clinical settings. Since 2002, Bethany has been cultivating a personal mindfulness practice. She is certified as a Mindfulness for Professionals Facilitator by esteemed teachers Mark Coleman and Martin Aylward of the Mindfulness Institute. She has been teaching yoga and meditation for over 14 years and co- founded Lotus Yoga in 2008. By education and trade, Bethany is a lawyer, who practiced as a commercial litigator for over 16 years. She’s glad to be doing much less of that these days.
Jessica Henderson, LCSW: Jessica is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Florida with six years of clinical experience in providing therapeutic services to children and families in community based mental health and medical settings. Jessica specializes in trauma focused therapies and infant and early childhood mental health. Jessica is currently the Clinical Program Manager with the Children’s Home Society of Florida Northeast Region, overseeing eight clinical programs that serve more than 1,000 children and families each year.
Shandra Davis has a Master’s Degree and Doctorate of Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She also has a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling from Argosy University Atlanta. She specializes in working with children and adolescents, and their families. She has worked in various capacities: school settings, therapeutic day schools, residential, juvenile corrections, and outpatient community mental health. Currently she is an Outpatient Program Director at Chrysalis Health where she provides oversight to therapists who provide mental health services in homes, schools, and the community. She completed a Postdoctoral Certification to become specialized in Health Psychology through Walden University. This furthered her volunteer work with the Suncoast Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society where she facilitates monthly cancer support groups. She teaches undergraduate and graduate Psychology courses at Manifest Theological Institute. She also volunteers as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and conducts mission work in Jamaica, where she works with adolescents under the Child Development Agency. She is also on the board for Girls Empowered Mentally for Success (GEMS) which focuses on the development of social competencies in girls ages 10 -17 years which ensure a healthy transition to womanhood and cultivate committed investors to the community.
Dr. Marcus De Carvalho is a Medical Doctor is board certified and is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. He possesses a wealth of psychiatric knowledge and utilizes a holistic approach to mental health treatment that goes beyond prescribing medications. Dr. De Carvalho is an expert in a number of the most common disorders and diseases. These include but are not limited to Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Addiction, PTSD and ADHD and substance related disorders, including substance-induced dependence and substance induced mental disorders.
Joanna L. Ale, EdD, LMHC, NCC, CIC, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from The University of North Florida. Joanna is one of the founders of Project THRIVE, a college transition program for degree seeking students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the University of North Florida and it was during her time with UNF Career Services that Joanna developed a specialized Career Development curriculum for degree-seeking students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Joanna has also served as an Assessment Instructor at Florida State College at Jacksonville in the VERTICAL program, a program created for students with varying disabilities who graduated high school with a special diploma and chose to continue their education by obtaining a specialized certification in the fields of Welding, Cosmetology, Child Care, Massage Therapy, Automotive Repair, or Logistics.
Joanna obtained her Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at the University of North Florida with a cognate in Disability Program Management and a focus in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Joanna’s professional experience includes Case Management for Adults with long-term mental illness, specialized investigations with Department of Children and Families, residential substance abuse treatment for adolescents, career counseling and life transitional services, and specialized behavioral and therapeutic services for children and adolescents with varying emotional, behavioral, and psychological disorders within the foster care system. Joanna is a Co-Owner of The STRENGTHS Initiative, which provides behavioral health services for individuals with disabilities. She also has a private practice and is a Lead Analyst with Positive Behavior Supports Corp. Joanna is also a Certified Intrinsic Coach of Health & Wellness and believes in an individualized, holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to serving others.
Annie Forrest is the Regional Engagement Coordinator, Florida for the One Love Foundation and works across the state to spark conversations about healthy and unhealthy relationships. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds B.A. degrees in Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality. During her time at UVA, she was deeply involved in sexual and domestic violence prevention efforts on campus and in the community, working within the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, Albemarle County Police Department, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. Annie came to One Love from Sigma Kappa Sorority National Headquarters where she served as a leadership consultant and as part of the National Panhellenic Conference Campus Safety and Sexual Assault Task Force. She currently resides in New York City where One Love is based, but spends enough time in sunny Florida to consider it a second home.
Sharon Tamargo Wilburn is the Program Director of JU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. She was a faculty member at UNF for over 31 years and retired as Professor Emerita. At the time of her retirement Dr. Wilburn was the Program Director for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. She is the past Program Director for the undergraduate Community Health and graduate Public Health degree programs. She is also the Past Director of the Center for Aging Research, and Founder and Past Director of the Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Studies.
Dr. Wilburn has worked directly in the program evaluation field for over 30 years with an emphasis on community-based participatory research and evaluation. She has served as the lead evaluator for projects in the areas of mental health, substance abuse prevention and treatment, community health, school health, aging, homelessness, sex education, and HIV/AIDS and has contributed to the development of over 100 evaluation reports. Sharon is the founder of Health-Tech Consultants, Inc. a minority owned research and evaluation group in 1991 and she maintained a part time psychotherapy practice for over 25 years. She has over 30 years of experience as an educator and program evaluator and over 25 years as a licensed psychotherapist and clinical supervisor.
Mikah Owen is an assistant professor in the division of Community and Societal Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville. Mikah’s current focuses include an equity and child-rights based approach to healthcare, the integration of clinical care and public health, health care for youth involved in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. Mikah graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine where he focused on the health care of people in underserved communities. Mikah has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley where he focused on community-based initiatives to improve the health and well-being of children in underserved communities. After completing his residency in pediatrics at the University of California, Davis, Mikah completed a fellowship in Community and Societal Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.
Kaitlin moved to Jacksonville from Rochester, NY in August 2013 to join the University of North Florida staff. She is an engaging and passionate LGBTQ professional who helps organizations advance to the next level of diversity and inclusion goals through LGBTQ and social justice advocacy, education, and support. Her current focus includes institutional policy and cultural change for transgender inclusion, capacity building for LGBTQ support services, development of resources through community partnerships and fundraising, increased visibility of diversity support through marketing and collaboration, meeting the needs of the LGBTQ community, and outreach-based education for organizational cultural change. At the UNF LGBT Resource Center, she leads program development, educational initiatives, advocacy and policy updates, community outreach, and the development and implementation of the Center’s annual goals.
Kaitlin has experience developing initiatives, programs, and campaigns in LGBTQ advocacy, transgender inclusion, feminist leadership development, reproductive justice, and mentoring with a focus on young professionals and college students. She trains and consults on gender and sexuality, transgender inclusion, diversity, social justice, and meeting the needs of the LGBTQ population. Her research interests include mentoring and LGBTQ students, the impact of social justice and inclusion competency training, and community building efforts within organizations. Currently, Kaitlin serves as a Southeast region co-coordinator for the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, Vice President for Diversity with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (First CoastChapter), and as a TransAction Florida advisory board member with EqualityFlorida. Kaitlin enjoys facilitating discovery and “a-ha!” moments for people of all ages.
Prior to joining UNF, Kaitlin held professional positions at the University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies, Flower City Habitat for Humanity, and Planned Parenthood of Western and Central New York. She earned a Masters of Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education Administration and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of North Florida in 2016 and a Bachelors of Arts in Communication and Rhetoric with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies from Nazareth College in 2010.
Ms. O’Brien holds a Master’s degree in counseling and has thirty (30) years of experience working in the community mental health system. Her experiences include the management of nine (9) Florida assertive community treatment (FACT) programs throughout Florida, inpatient, residential, and community support services (outpatient, case management, forensic and in-jail services, homeless services) focusing on the provision of services to individuals diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness and co-occurring disorders. Activities and community involvement have included: Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI) work group to evaluate the applicability of Assisted Outpatient Treatment to Northeast Florida; DCF Circuit 4 Comprehensive Continuous Integrated System of Care (CCISC) leadership team; trainer/evaluator for the DCF/FMHI initiative to provide agency-based fidelity reviews of Florida Assertive Community Treatment teams; and community work groups on jail diversion and positively impacting high utilization of crisis services by individuals with mental illness.
Cynthia Pinion is the FACT Team Leader of St. John’s and Putnam counties with Stewart Marchman Behavioral Healthcare. Cynthia received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Phoenix in Human Services with a Minor in Management. She graduated with a Distinction of Honors with a Master of Science degree from Capella University in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Cynthia is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the State of Florida and a National Certified Counselor. She also held certification as a Family Mediator through the Supreme Court of Florida. Her career in mental health for the past 10 years has been diverse in working with many populations from different socioeconomic backgrounds. She has worked with children and families in crisis due to abuse, neglect, and addiction and specializes in working with couples and families in conflict through life’s many transitions. Cynthia has supervised previous programs that support families; however the FACT program has been by far the greatest challenge and reward to date. She is proud to be part of such an important program to the communities of St. Augustine and Palatka Florida where the clients of the FACT Team can create a life that is healthy without needing continual crisis intervention and be independent within the community.
Currently, Cynthia is also pursuing her Ph.D. in Advanced Studies of Human Behavior at Capella University.
Sandra Jackson, of Stewart Marchman Act Behavioral Healthcare is the Vice President of Services for St. Johns County. After providing administrative and clinical oversight for behavioral services in St. Johns County for over 20 years at various agencies she has learned the importance of building positive relationships with other community partners and working together to improve and expand the delivery of services. She is often referred to as a “problem solver” as she works to combine the ideal team of professionals with outside the box thinking to tackle the behavioral issues facing the community with fewer and fewer resources and fluctuating labor pools. Sandra possesses a Master’s Degree in Health Science from the University of North Florida with a specialization in Counseling and Addictions, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida as well as a Qualified Supervisor for those seeking licensure. She has utilized her training and experiences in working with children, adolescents, adults, and families through inpatient, outpatient, and detention centers. She also is the Chair for the St. Johns County Child Welfare Integration Team. Most recently she spearheaded the startup of the SMA Behavioral Healthcare Mental Health Drop In Center in St. Augustine and FACT Team for St. Johns and Putnam Counties.
Lloyd Sirmons received his Associates Degree in Computer Science from Columbus State University 1998. He immediately began his IT career working with TSYS of Columbus, GA where he worked as a mainframe programmer. He worked a number of years with Columbus Regional as a System’s Analyst before entering into full time ministry where he served in pastoral leadership for nearly fourteen years before joining the GPT team in August of 2010 as the BTOP Project Director. He completed his BS degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University in 2009. Lloyd not only brings a sound knowledge of IT solutions, but also brings strong leadership and communication skills as the Director of the Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center.
Jim Clark has built his own life around improving life for children and is considered one of the leading child advocates in the area. He is a licensed clinical social worker, a national speaker on topics including children’s mental health and raising positive children, and a Certified Fund Raising Executive.
Since 1998, Jim has been the president and Chief Executive Officer of Daniel Memorial, Inc., the oldest child-serving agency in Florida. He leads the staff of over 200 to help an average of 2,000 children and families a day through programs including intervention, foster care and adoption.
Jim is on the forefront of shaping government policies concerning children. He helped design and test Florida’s Statewide Inpatient Prevention Program (SIPP) at Daniel. The state has since adopted the program as its standard approach for dealing with serious emotional problems in children requiring out-of-home-care.
Jim works to ensure that children and children’s related issues are a top political priority in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. In 2001, he co-founded the Jacksonville Kids Coalition. The organization educates elected officials, candidates, and voters about issues impacting children. Jim was appointed chairman of the Department of Juvenile Justice Circuit 4 Advisory Board in 2013, and he serves on the Boards of the Florida Coalition for Children, Florida Juvenile Justice Association, LSF Health Systems Substance Abuse and Mental Health Managing Entity for Northeast/North Central Florida, and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Steering Committee. His community and civic involvement is extensive and includes participation on Mayor Lenny Curry’s Nonprofit Government Interface Committee, the National Black Child Development Institute, and Rotary.
In 2005, Jim was named Social Worker of the Year by the Northeast Florida Unit of the National Association of Social Workers, and in 2011, he was inducted into the Ohio State University School of Social Work Hall of Fame. Most recently, Jim was awarded the Schauffler Legacy Award from his alma mater, Defiance College, in recognition of the positive impact he has made in the field of social work. Jim was honored by the Jacksonville Business Journal as one of Northeast Florida’s 2016 RSM Ultimate CEOs. He was also appointed to the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives’ prestigious 2017 Board of Governors.
On a personal note, Jim is the proud father of Amanda, a Yale graduate and Vice President with Taco Bell International, and Christopher, a graduate of Morehouse College and Vice President of Marketing with Fifth-Third Bank.
Justin is a Certified Recovery Peer Support Specialist working with the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, Jail Diversion Program since 2008. As a successful graduate of the program, Justin has firsthand knowledge of the importance of ensuring the availability of timely, high quality behavioral health treatment services in the community. After experiencing a series of psychiatric health care crises several years ago – which lead to a period of unstable living conditions, and brief involvement in the justice system – Justin became engaged in treatment and support services in the community. Today, he enjoys a full and productive life in recovery, serving as an inspiration and role model for others. Justin has also served as a consultant and speaker for the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care since 2011, and has travelled the country sharing his message of hope and inspiration. Justin has helped train CIT Officers in Miami Dade County since 2008 as well. His experiences make him uniquely qualified to speak to the importance of ensuing people have access to care, as well as the unfortunate consequences that can result when they do not. Justin is now a happily married homeowner with a young son.
Cindy A. Schwartz currently serves as the Project Director of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida Criminal Mental Health Project- Jail Diversion Program. Her career goals have been focused on promoting system transformation, community integration and recovery. Cindy has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Masters in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. She is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor, an Advanced WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) facilitator, Instructor of How Being Trauma Informed Improves Criminal Justice Responses, Consultant and Trainer for the SAMHSA National Center for Trauma Informed Care, and Consultant and Trainer for the SAMHSA SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance (SOAR TA) Center. Cindy is also actively involved in her community and serves on a variety of professional organizations, boards and committees.