Meet the 2023-2024 Fellows!
Adaminah Solita Tankersly has been a strong advocate for families living with mental and behavioral health needs for many years. Currently, Adaminah is involved in developing organizational infrastructure, capacity, and system support to empower families and youth with behavioral health needs as a Family Engagement Specialist on the Community Wellness and Peer Support Team with the National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Children, Youth, and Family Mental Health (NTTAC). Adaminah is the Family Coordinator & Child and Adolescent Social Services Program (CASSP) Specialist for Philadelphia System of Care (PSOC). Ms. Tankersly is also an active member of multiple committees that impact child and family services and support. Adaminah has co-facilitated a course entitled, “Changing the Crisis Care Experience for Youth & Families”. Adaminah previously served as a collaborator in developing the “Autism Navigator Training & Curriculum” with Drexel University’s A. J. Drexel Autism Institute. She previously traveled to Harrisburg to attend PA state-level regulatory meetings regarding children’s services. Ms. Tankersly was able to advocate for regulatory changes regarding restrictive interventions, resulting in paid training support for parents and families of children with challenging behaviors.
Andrea L. Crook, MS, holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. She is a seasoned advocate with over 20 years of experience providing training, project, and program leadership, and advocating for clients in California’s Public Behavioral Health System on the national, state, and local levels. Today, Andrea is the Health Program Manager with Sacramento County’s Mental Health Services Act Team. Her knowledge of local systems of care and advocacy skills are unparalleled, providing a wealth of leadership and expertise to her community. Andrea spent years on her own journey to wellness and recovery prior to entering the behavioral health field. Her personal and professional experience has encouraged her to advocate for clients’ rights and she continues to advocate for those who are stigmatized and marginalized within our society. Education, advocacy, and inclusion are the areas of her focus. .
Stephanie Diaz serves as program director for Georgia Advocacy Office’s protection and advocacy for individuals with mental illness program—a federally mandated protection and advocacy organization. Originally from the Northeast, she has made Atlanta, GA, her home. Currently, in her role as program director, the focus of her work is to promote that people who experience disabilities have value, visibility, and voice. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Additionally, she has a Master of Science from Florida International University. Stephanie wears many hats; these include being a person who participates in community efforts that focus on collective betterment with, precisely, social justice issues. Stephanie has held several roles within the criminal justice field: federal, state, and county. She has also served in positions with NGOs that promote community integration and pre-trial diversion programs. Stephanie has many passions; living life through a yogic lens, theatre, spending time with family, and the beach are among her favorites.
Chelsea Kodama was born, raised and resides in Sacramento, CA. She started her career in behavioral health 15 years ago at Crestwood Behavioral Health, Inc. as a Direct Care Provider, then a Case Manager, an Administrative Assistant at the corporate office, and is currently serving as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Manager. Chelsea is a testament to compassion, belonging, and commitment. She is passionate about becoming a change agent and is determined to make an impact in her community.
Pastor Dana Smith runs New Life ll Recovery house for men and founded Unshakable men and women programs for men and women who are looking for a New Life. He is co-chair of the Greater New Britain reentry round table, Vice president of the North Oak NRZ, Recovery House Trainings and Inspections, member of the Black Ministers Alliance, Member of New Britain first Reentry Welcome Center and Connecticut’s First Black Faith Based Peer-Led Recovery Community Organization/Center. The Recovery Community/Neighborhood/Welcome Center offers trainings on harm reduction, addiction, mental health, and more, but and most of all offers someone who is willing to listen. Dana is trained as an Integrated Healing Facilitator, National Certified Peer Support Specialist, Recovery Coach, Recovery Support Specialist, and Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper instructor.
Kathy Sisneros serves as the Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Summit Stone Health Partners, serving Larimer County in northern Colorado. She provides leadership for organization-wide diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, which includes leading the team responsible for ongoing staff and community learning and development, new employee orientation/onboarding and student intern experiences. Prior to shifting into the world of behavioral health at SummitStone, Kathy worked in higher education for over 25 years where she had a long-standing commitment to working with and advocating for historically minority student groups at the college level. Her career has been dedicated specifically to diversity and social justice and seeking ways to assist organizations to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. She grew up in northern New Mexico and still considers it “home”. She identifies as a Mexican American/Chicana, cis-gender lesbian who grew up working class. Kathy is also a first-generation college student who attended an open-access small in-state school, Eastern New Mexico University, and knows how fortunate she was to attend college as it opened opportunities she had never imagined or knew existed. She earned her master’s degree in counseling at Northern Arizona University and her doctorate in Educational Policy, Research, and Administration at UMass Amherst.
LaTanya Ri’Chard is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Domestic Violence Advocate, and Sexual Assault Advocate. She is the Co-Founder and Associate Director of Communities Voices, a peer-run non-profit. Communities Voices provides 1-on-1 peer counseling, support groups, advocacy, linkage to community resources, and more free of charge throughout California. Using her lived experience in mental health and substance use challenges, LaTanya desires to be of service to all she comes in contact with. She is a mother with two adult children and four fur babies.
Lindsey Engelman is the Assistant Director for Innovation Strategy at the Meadows Mental Health Institute. In this role, Lindsey works to advance national implementation of innovative, evidenced based mental health policy and practices through research, analysis, and program management, particularly as they relate to digital mental health and Medicaid. She is part of Meadows’ Health Equity Workgroup and is committed to working towards health equity being centered in policy and practice. Lindsey previously worked at The University of Texas Dell Medical School where she worked with community partners to find ways to improve, develop, and measure the impact of community-based programs to impact health. She supported community organizations and Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) in identifying mutual outcomes of interest to be included in value-based payment models. In this role, she initiated and co-lead a team learning series to unpack various issues related to health equity and strengthen a practice of cultural humility, including examining how each person’s own bias and positionality impacted the team’s work. Prior to that, Lindsey worked in multicultural and international education, building meaningful academic-community partnerships to develop a wide variety of programming. She holds a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning and Master of Arts in Latin American Studies.
Magdalena Sunshine Serrano (she/her/hers) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in Trauma-Informed treatment of Indigenous populations. Since 2016, she has served as the Director of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry Services for the Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, Inc. She has a Master of Social Work from USC and a Certificate in Public Health Training for American Indian Health Professionals from Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2021, she was named Ambassador of the Year for the Trauma Resource Institute for her role in supporting the healthcare workforce throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a fellow of the California Health Care Foundation Health Care Leadership Program where her research focused on developing a telehealth-based behavioral health integration model. Magdalena was a member of the inaugural cohort of the California Primary Care Association’s Leadership Equity Program in 2022. She is committed to creating a culturally and linguistically inclusive care model where the healing of mind, body, land, and spirit are uplifted at all levels.
Margaret Lawrence, MBA, MS, LICDC, is the Chief Officer of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties at Coleman Health Services, a community mental health and substance use outpatient agency. We have a 24/7 Crisis Stabilization Unit as well as a 24/7 Hopeline/988 hotline for multiple counties. We offer various outpatient services. She has over 18 years of experience in community mental health and was accepted for the role of Chief Officer in 2017. She graduated from the University of Northwestern Ohio from their Master of Science in Business Program in 2009 and is a 2022 graduate from Heidelberg University’s master’s in counseling Program. Margaret is certified in the Duluth Model of Domestic Violence and Moral Reconation Therapy, DV (MRT-DV) and works with males who are arrested and awaiting trial for committing domestic violence. She is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Leader at Coleman Health Services.
Marie Hafner (she/her) is a Program Manager with Envision: You, a non-profit based in Colorado with the mission of improving behavioral health outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community. Marie is passionate about empowering fellow LGBTQ+ folks in their mental wellness journey, as well as supporting the creation of intersectional spaces in the conversations around health equity. As the organizational lead for Envision:You’s LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Provider Training Program, she equips behavioral health professionals with skills to provide culturally relevant care to the LGBTQ+ community. Marie received her B.A. in Psychology from The University of Iowa in 2016, after which she worked in the direct care field as a supervisor of a group home for individuals with disabilities. She began her work with Envision:You as an AmeriCorps member in 2020 and moved on to manage the training program in 2021. Marie enjoys reading and being outdoors and appreciates any opportunity to combine the two.
Marnie Huffman-Green, LCSW, is from the Washington DC area and now resides in Boulder, Colorado where she has worked for the last 20 years working alongside families using an evidence-based family therapy program called (FFT) Functional Family Therapy. After supervising the FFT program and providing in home family therapy for families in her community for years, Marnie became an international FFT consultant and trainer in 2007, where she provided clinical supervision, consultation, training and implementation support to a variety of child welfare/juvenile justice agencies. Marnie was responsible for supporting numerous agencies and hundreds of therapists across six different countries to implement FFT with cultural humility and cultural responsiveness. During her time working with numerous New Zealand and Australian agencies, Marnie spearheaded multiple projects that were centered around decolonizing clinical interventions to work alongside and learn from Indigenous communities to keep families together at home and in their communities. Currently, Marnie serves as the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Mental Health and Social Resilience Program Manager for Community Services in Boulder County, where she is responsible for implementing and supporting transformative and innovative behavioral health programs in Boulder County.
Megan Recker entered the behavioral health field as a clinician, with the first decade of her career devoted to child trauma therapy in the community behavioral health sector. Frustrations with limited access to care and inefficient service delivery models prompted Megan to move into administrative roles and eventually complete her MBA degree, with the hope of impacting change on the system level. Today, Megan serves as the System Director for Behavioral Health at Summa Health System, in Akron Ohio. Personally, Megan enjoys spending time outdoors and finding adventures with her husband and three children.
Nicole Ortega, MA (she/her) is the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Learning and Development Manager at Solvista Health, a community health center that serves one frontier and three rural Colorado counties. Her career in equity grounded work began in 2016, when she applied and was accepted as a corps member for Teach for America (TFA), an education nonprofit with a vision of educational equity for all children. The intensive equity grounded training that TFA provided. Nicole gave her a strong foundation for a career that would eventually bring Nicole back to her local region as an advocate and leader for equitable practices in a local school district and in behavioral health. Nicole has a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and she is working towards a Master of Social Work degree through Capella University. When she is not working or studying, she might be found camping with her partner and their three dogs, or playing, watching, and coaching soccer.
Pattie Harris is Nakota and Dakota from Fort Peck, Montana and lives in San Diego. She previously taught children with disabilities. She has also taught Gen-ed math and science in middle, high school, and college. Since 2016 she has been teaching adults cannabis medicine use. She has expertise in program management, human resources optimization, positive behavioral supports, and motivational learning dynamics. She has written several curricula for students ranging from disabled to college level coursework. Pattie conducts research and seeks out best practice standards in her work to encourage optimal learning outcomes for students. She works with clients such as seniors, veterans, and individuals with autism. In 2022 she graduated with a master’s degree in psychopharmacology in order to acquire expertise concerning drugs. Pattie also holds degrees in applied behavioral analysis, psychology, mathematics, and graphic design. She is a certified behavior analyst as well as a certified master gardener and certificated master tree steward. She has a passion for plant medicines and wrote a 9-month certification program teaching sustainable indigenous land management and organic food cultivation in 2023. She continues to work on educational endeavors and teaching people about food as medicine, cannabis therapeutics and holistic healing.
Racquel Garcia is a Certified Addiction Counselor, Interventionist, Recovery Coach, expert trainer, presenter and entrepreneur. She owns HardBeauty LLC and is the Executive Director of the HardBeauty Foundation, the first and only Peer-led organization in Douglas County Colorado. She founded HardBeauty in 2019 with the mission of empowering people to rise and thrive beyond their circumstances through a trauma-informed healing-centered approach. HardBeauty stands alongside youth and adults in recovery from substance misuse, abuse, mental health, homelessness, poverty and trauma. The HardBeauty Foundation cultivates connection and creates community through partnerships, grants and fundraising. Racquel has her Associates Degree in Addiction Counseling from ICDC College. She is also a National Certified Peer Recovery Specialist with NAADAC, an ARISE Interventionist, a certified Gottman Institute Leader/Facilitator and a Certified Youth Coach with the Youth Coaching Institute. She acts as a subject matter expert and training facilitator for C4 Innovations, doing work nationally on behalf of SAMSHA and the Opiate Response network. Racquel was appointed by the Attorney General to serve on the Colorado Opiate Abatement Council, and she has been serving as co-chair for the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration Advisory Council (BHAAC).
Pamela Williams, MPH, BSN, RN is the Deputy Health Commissioner and the Director of Nursing at the Brown County Health Department (BCHD) located in Georgetown, Ohio. Pamela began her nursing career in 2006 and obtained a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2012. She began working at the BCHD in 2017 as the Director of Nursing and most recently received her master’s in public health 2021, when she became Deputy Health Commissioner. Prior to working for the BCHD her career consisted mainly in hospice care. Pamela’s priority is to prevent, promote, and protect the residents of Brown County by educating and providing services to those residents by meeting them where they are. She believes that every resident should have access to healthcare services including mental health and the treatments for addiction. Pamela is passionate about “meeting people where they are but not leaving them there” and ensuring every county resident receives the help they need no matter their race, gender, or creed.
Shaiheed Days entered into foster care in Philadelphia PA, and is a nationally recognized Fellow for the Yale University’s Program for Recovery and Community Health, Lived Experience Transformational Leadership Academy: Let(s)Lead. Shaiheed serves as a manager of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services’ flagship young adult leadership program, Youth MOVE Philadelphia. He is formerly a consultant for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services where he has trained 150+ child welfare practitioners, resource and adoptive parents, and youth. Shaiheed remains steadfast in holding accountability and change to Philadelphia Behavioral Health system leaders for the over-representation of black male youth who are disproportionately placed in deep-end congregate behavioral health placements. Shaiheed currently co-leads a team of lived experience community council facilitators whose purpose, within the Healthy and Home SAMSHA grant, is to elevate community assets, voice, and power to resist and reduce racist practices of institutionalization of youth and increase interdependence in community life in Philadelphia. An equitable outcome of this work thus far has been a system cultural shift from generating community dependency through mini grants for lived experience to stewardship asset investments of community pillars, BIPOC businesses and community council projects.
Tequia Sier, LCSW is the Project Director for Behavioral Health Workforce Development at Healthy Minds Policy Initiative. Through research, policy solutions, and collaborative strategies, she leads efforts to improve Oklahoma’s ability to train, recruit, and retain a behavioral health workforce that is culturally competent and equipped to address the needs of the communities they serve. Tequia is a licensed clinical social worker with nearly 20 years of experience in clinical and systems settings. In the various leadership roles, Tequia has demonstrated a commitment to bringing quality behavioral health services to underserved and marginalized communities. Before joining Healthy Minds, Tequia worked as a senior program manager at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, where she oversaw statewide prevention initiatives for healthcare and school communities. Tequia focused efforts on integrated behavioral health care, improving access to behavioral health treatment services, and the prevention of substance abuse, suicide, and overdose. Her clinical background includes outpatient and partial hospitalization settings, where she provided therapeutic services and training and development to treatment teams. Tequia holds a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in administration and community practice and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Oklahoma.