MHAC Board Members
2012 – 2014
Patricia Marrone Bennett, Ph.D, President
Among her current volunteer commitments is her role as ta member of the California Mental Health Planning Council where she chairs the Continuous Quality Improvement Committee and her board work with the Mental Health America of California.
In her capacity as a community organizer working with faith based institutions to address community problems arising from poverty and as a lobbyist for the Friends Committee on Legislation, she addressed criminal and juvenile justice reform in the California State Legislature. Pat received her Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara California where she conducted research on the co-occurrence of youth violence and family violence in geographically specific neighborhoods. She co-directed the UCSF Department of Psychiatry Community Academic Research Training Alliance (CARTA). She is also an adjunct faculty member at Alliant International University in San Francisco.
Dr. Bennett has worked extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area as the director of a non-profit organization for men and women and parenting teens re-entering the community from prison and jail. She served as the Executive Director of a multi-services non-profit that provided mental health and substance abuse counseling, school based services, and emergency food and shelter for homeless and indigent populations. She was as the lead consultant to the East Bay Public Safety Corridor, where she worked with local police departments and neighborhood groups to develop programs to reduce youth violence. She conducted research on the unique characteristics of youth homelessness in the East Bay of San Francisco and has provided consultation in Clark County, Washington to implement an Assertive Community Treatment Program for methamphetamine users with mental health issues. Currently, Pat leads an evaluation of the Measure Y violence prevention and community policing initiative in Oakland and is working with the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department to foster organizational change and leadership development. She lives in Oakland and is the mother of five children, now all young adults.
Karen Hart, Past President
She currently serves as Past President of the Board of Directors of Mental Health America in California and is a part-time employee of the Monterey County Behavioral Health Department Quality Improvement Team. She is a member of her county’s Children’s System of Care Governance Council and was the original Family Lead for the Federal Children’s System of Care Grant in Monterey County (La Familia Sana). She has been a Volunteer Family Partner in her County for over twenty years.
Karen is a “Founding Mother” and past president of United Advocates for Children and Families. She is past Secretary of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and won their “National Claiming Children Award” in recognition of advocacy for children and their families across the country.
She is a former officer of both her local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) affiliate and NAMI California, and served as the California representative to the NAMI National Young Families Program.
As a contractor to the California Department of Mental Health, Karen was a consultant for the Plan to Plan and the Community Services and Supports Plan Requirements of the Proposition 63 Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). She served as a member of the MHSA Oversight and Accountability Commission Evaluation Committee.
Karen also advocates for Transition-Age Youth (TAY) and has served on the California Mental Health Directors Association TAY Subcommittee, the California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN) Advisory Committee, and the State Full Service Partnership Advisory Committee for the TAY Tool Kit. She is a contributing author to a book about transitioning youth to young adulthood.
Peter Schroeder, Treasurer
Stephanie Ramos, Secretary
Ms. Ramos has since become the coordinator of a family and youth advocacy program and serves as the family and youth voice to Sacramento County’s Division of Behavioral Health Services. She also serves as the co-chair of Sacramento’s MHSA Steering Committee. Ms Ramos continues to support her sister in her treatment and recovery and strives to continue educating the community with such trainings as Mental Health First Aid and Wellness Works! for employers.
Beverly K Abbott, Public Policy Committee Chair
Ms. Abbott has been active in California mental health leadership since 1980, first for the California Conference of Local Mental Health Directors and later the County Mental Health Directors Association when the Association formed to replace the Conference. She held offices including president in the Conference and chaired numerous statewide committees in both the Conference and the Association including System of Care and Children’s Services among others. She has also been active in national leadership through the American College of Mental Health Administration serving as president from 1997-1999.
Since leaving San Mateo County in 2001, Ms. Abbott has worked as a consultant and has done special projects for the State Department of Mental Health (including work on implementation of the Mental Health Services Act), the California Institute for Mental Health, community-based agencies and private foundations. Also since 2001, she has served on the California Mental Health Planning Council a statewide body to oversee mental health policies and programs.
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola is Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at the UC Davis Health System and the Director of the Community Engagement Program of the UCD Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC) and co-chair of the NIH’s Community Engagement Key Function Committee for the NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). In 2007, he completed a four-year term as a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He was Past Chair of the Board of Directors of Mental Health America (MHA; formerly the National Mental Health Association). He is currently a Research Scientist member of the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse (NHSNDA), a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Autism Speaks, a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Carlos Slim Health Institute, and a member of the California Medical Board’s Cultural and Linguistic Competency Program Workgroup. He has held several World Health Organization (WHO) advisory board and consulting positions and is currently the Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Surveys Consortium.
Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola’s research includes cross-national comparative epidemiologic research on patterns and correlates of mental disorders and substance abuse in general population samples. His applied research program has focused on identifying unmet mental health needs and associated risk and protective factors to better understand and meet population mental health needs and reduce mental health disparities in underserved populations. He is also very active translating mental health and substance abuse research knowledge into practical information that is of public health value to consumers, service administrators, and policy makers. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola is the author of numerous scientific publications. He is the recipient of multiple awards including the DHHS' Office of Minority Health's 2005 National Minority Health Community Leader Award (Hispanic Community), Washington and the 2009 National Award of Excellence in Blending Research and Practice from the National Hispanic Science Network. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola was a member of the IOM/NRC Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Health Development of Young Children (2007-2009) report and more recently a member of the recently published IOM/NRC Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise (2010) report.
Steve Bischoff Bio Coming Soon
In Ventura County, Jim is the Co-founder of Multicultural Community Ventures Initiative which is collaborative of ethnic organizations and small businesses focusing on social equity in the arts, music, cultural enrichment, and community development. Cyrus Urban Inter-Church Sustainability Network (CUISN) was co-founded by Jim and local ministers to provide technical assistance for ethnic faith-based organizations.
Jim Gilmer is a member of the Black American Political Association of California (Ventura County Chapter); NAACP; Black & Brown Alliance of Ventura County, CAUSE, LULAC, and the Community Advocacy Committee.
He holds a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management, Leadership, Administration, Marketing, & Theology (Urban Ministry Emphasis) from Azusa Pacific University. He has over thirty years experience in resource development, fundraising, youth development and working with the homeless.
Steve Leoni Bio Coming Soon
Jill Bolster-White Bio Coming Soon
Annmarie Cameron Bio Coming Soon
Chad Costello, M.S.W, C.P.R.P., MHA Los Angeles
Chad serves as one of the lead trainers for MHALA, and has presented at numerous conferences and universities on topics such as recovery, mental health advocacy and system transformation. As a primary trainer for the Milestones of Recovery Scale (MORS), he has trained hundreds of line level and supervisory staff in the use of the scale. Chad is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP), and has participated in the development of test items for the certification exam.
He has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Cal State system on the subjects of social work policy and recovery focused practice, and currently teaches in the Mental Health Worker Program at Cerritos College and in the Social Work Program at Cal State University Dominguez Hills. He has served on several institutional advisory committees tasked with advancing the teaching of recovery based mental health services.
Chad formerly served as Director for Village West at MHA Village, where he supervised a diverse team of 15 mental health professionals serving 125 adults living with mental illness utilizing an integrated, assertive, community based treatment approach.
Prior to working for MHALA, Chad was the Director of Programs for MHA of Orange County, where he oversaw the agency’s services for the homeless, and the County’s initial AB34 intensive mental health services program. He negotiated contracts with the local county mental health authority, wrote numerous successful proposals for county, state and federal funds and served as the agency’s point person for public policy issues.
Chad received his Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California, and his bachelor’s degree in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine.
Susan Gallagher Bio Coming Soon
Eric Nussbaum Bio Coming Soon
Dave Pilon, Ph.D., CPRP
From 1999 through 2007, he served as the lead evaluator coordinating the collection and analysis of data documenting the effectiveness of the Integrated Services for the Homeless (AB34) program serving nearly 5000 people who are mentally ill and had been incarcerated and/or homeless. He is the co-creator of the Milestones of Recovery Scale and has served on the Performance Measurement Advisory Committee (PMAC) for the California State Department of Mental Health. He is the Principal Writer for the FSP Performance Measurement Toolkit and is a past president for the California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies. In 2004 he received USPRA’s Armin Loeb Award for outstanding research in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation.
Ron Tauber Bio Coming Soon
Richard Van Horn
Mr. Van Horn became the organization’s president emeritus in 2009 and continues a commitment to advancing mental health systems change. In this capacity, he concentrates on public policy issues at the local, state and national levels, serving on numerous boards, commissions and work groups. Key among his leadership involvement, he is chair of the Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission, serves on the board of directors of the National Council on Community Behavioral Health and is chair-elect of the national Mental Health America.
Mr. Van Horn led the development of recovery-focused and client-run programs that reflect MHA’s belief in recovery. His organization designed the MHA Village, which has earned recognition for its effectiveness and emerged as a national model for recovery-focused, integrated services. His commitment to client-run services is reflected in MHA’s sponsorship of Project Return Peer Support Network, which has become an independent organization.
His long-lasting advocacy achievements include his organization’s leading sponsorship of Proposition 63, which became the Mental Health Services Act. In 2005-06, Mr. Van Horn took a leave of absence from MHA during which he served as principal consultant to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.
Among his honors, Mr. Van Horn received lifetime achievement honors from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and National Mental Health America. Other recognitions come from the American Psychiatric Association – Southern California affiliate, California Community Foundation, California Network of Mental Health Clients, Mental
Mr. Vega was appointed to the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) in May of 2007 and reappointed in December 2010. In his role with the MHSOAC, Commissioner Vega serves as Chair of the Client and Family Leadership Committee, through which he has advanced many transformative elements and policies related to the CA Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).
Mr. Vega was appointed to the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance on Suicide Prevention, a joint public-private project of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense, in 2010. For that body he chairs the Task Force on Suicide Attempt Survivors and is a charter member of the National Suicide Prevention Plan revision workgroup. He has served on the Steering Committee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline since 2005, and was founding chair of its Consumer-Survivor Subcommittee, where he led several ground-breaking initiatives in public communications, emergency department responses, follow-up, peer support and attempt-survivor learning sessions.
Mr. Vega served as the first Chief of the Office of Empowerment and Advocacy for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, where he developed directed many programs to advance recovery policy, consumer rights and consumer employment, to challenge stigma and discrimination and to promote self-determination and recovery programs in the world’s largest county mental health system. Previously, as Project Manager for the federally funded National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse from 2002-2004, Mr. Vega planned and implemented conferences, trainings and technical assistance projects for consumer-run organizations throughout the country. He was a writer and contributor to the SAMHSA Resource Center to Address Discrimination Associated with Mental illness (ADS Center) and served as national Dissemination Director for the federally-funded UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration of People with Psychiatric Disabilities, leading communications efforts, research design, web development, writing, training and other dissemination efforts.
Throughout these efforts he has been an influential champion for inclusion of the voice of consumers, suicide attempt survivors and family members in mental health system reform and policy. For this work he was honored by the U.S. Senate and the National Resource Center on Hispanic Mental Health in 2009. Mr. Vega has taught and trained on mental health advocacy, consumer empowerment, recovery programs and policy at conferences across the United States, in Beijing, China, Tokyo, Kobe, and other parts of Japan. He holds an M.A. in Psychology from New School for Social Research.
Daphyne Watson Bio Coming Soon