Keynote Presenters

Paolo del Vecchio, MSW

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.

Ron Powers

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.[3] 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.


Christine Daly

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. 

John Bryant

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.

Breakout Session Presenters

Annie Forrest

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.

Bethany Crawley

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.

Cindy O’Brien

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.

Cindy Pinion

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.

Cindy Schwartz

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.

Dr. Marcus DeCarvalho

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.

Dr. Mikah Owen

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.

Dr. Shandra Davis

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. Sharon Wilburn

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.

Jessica Henderson

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.

Jim Clark

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.

Joanna Ale

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.

Justin Volpe

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.

Kaitlin Legg

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.

Lloyd Sirmons

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.

Sandra Jackson

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.