All panels for Advocacy Day will be streamed live on NAMI Mass Facebook. Facebook account & Registration not required.
11:00 am – 12:30 pm: Crisis Response in Massachusetts Panel
• Vesper Moore, Chief Operating Officer of the Kiva Centers
Vesper Moore is a political activist, leader, organizer, public speaker, and educator in the psychiatric survivor and disability rights movements. Vesper concentrates on building social movements and public knowledge to facilitate and sustain systems change. They have supported the development of mental health peer-run organizations in different parts of the world. Vesper has brought the perspectives of psychiatric survivors and disabled people to national and international spaces with their advocacy. Working with both the United States government and the United Nations in shaping strategies around trauma, intersectionality, and disability rights. Vesper has been at the forefront of legislative reform to shift the societal paradigm surrounding mental health.
• Becky Barnett, Community Relations Manager at Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line
Becky Manseau Barnett is the Community Relations Manager at Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership for the state’s new Behavioral Health Help Line. A teacher, communicator, ordained pastor, and spiritual director, Becky has served as a community leader and connector inspiring people to lead healthy and whole lives. From serving as a founding member of a local community suicide prevention coalition, to moderating community-wide conversations around topics such as mental health and race, she believes that when we learn to really listen to each other, true change is possible.
• Kelley Cunningham, Director of Division of Violence and Injury Prevention at MA DPH
Kelley Cunningham worked in the suicide prevention field for 15 years before recently becoming the Director of the Division for Violence and Injury Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This Division oversees the Suicide Prevention Program, Child Youth Violence Prevention Unit, Injury Prevention & Control Program, and Equitable Approaches to Public Safety. While working in the Suicide Prevention field, Kelley was the Director of Community Education and Outreach at Samaritans, Inc., a non-profit organization out of Boston that offers, trainings, support services and crisis line services. Since 2014 Kelley has been working at the Department of Public Health’s Suicide Prevention Program becoming the Director in 2017. She is a team member of the MA Governor’s Challenge, which focuses on reducing suicides among service members, veterans and their families and the state lead for MA’s 988 Implementation. Kelley is a suicide loss survivor and caregiver of a loved one with lived experience.
• Emily R. Bailey, Chief of Behavioral Health at MassHealth
Emily is a dynamic and accomplished behavioral health leader, with 25 years of experience in clinical service delivery and managed care. Her experience spans programs for Medicaid, Medicare, dually eligible, and commercial members in Massachusetts and nationally.
As Chief of Behavioral Health at MassHealth, Emily serves on the MassHealth Executive Team and oversees behavioral health policy and programs across MassHealth. She also plays a key role in the implementation of the interagency Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform, which sets forth an ambitious agenda for the Commonwealth to strengthen behavioral health access and integration.
Emily earned a B.A. in Sociology and an M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.
• Julie Hwayoung Shepherd, Assistant Commissioner for Mental Health Services at Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Julie Hwayoung Shepherd is the Assistant Commissioner for Mental Health Services at the Department of Mental Health (DMH). She has a lead role in the Learning and Development department, as well as with the implementation of the recently-launched Behavioral Health Help Line (BHHL).
A former educator and Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Julie previously led Northeast Behavioral Health Clinic (NEBH) at the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) as Program Director from 2012 to 2022. Julie’s program served vulnerable populations by offering crisis management and trauma-informed wraparound clinical services.
Inspired by her travels throughout Asia and North America, Julie is mindful of the complex ways that Race, Equity and Inclusion (REI) affect mental health. In 2021, Julie was a co-chair of the Asian American Mental Health Forum in Massachusetts and was also an ambassador of the Culturally Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) learning community in Connecticut.
Julie is excited to be part of the Department of Mental Health and is appreciative of the Behavioral Health Help Line (BHHL)’s intention to provide access to comprehensive mental health services to all Massachusetts residents, particularly those who are traditionally underserved.
• Moderated by Jacqueline Hubbard, Esq., Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Communications at NAMI Mass
Jacqueline Hubbard, Esq. (she/her) joined NAMI Massachusetts in May ‘22 as our new Policy Director. In this role, Jacqueline will facilitate internal discussions and decision making on our policy/advocacy positions, coordinate our engagement with key leaders, legislators, statewide coalitions, and commissions, and support the development of our positions on critical social issues related to mental health at the state and federal level. Before joining NAMI Mass, Jacqueline worked as a Public Policy Fellow with United States Senator Patty Murray, a Public Policy Analyst with the National Disability Rights Network, Chief of Staff to State Senator Barry Finegold, and a Staff Attorney with the Disability Law Center. In these roles, Jacqueline authored multiple published reports on a variety of disability rights issues. As a sibling of an autistic twin and an individual with lived experience of trauma, Jacqueline has a deep passion for using policy/advocacy work to elevate the voices of those most impacted by systemic inequities and who often face violations of their human rights. She is eager to bring her extensive policy knowledge and passion for helping others to NAMI Mass.
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm: Promoting Mental Health Equity in Massachusetts Panel
• Dr. Kevin Simon, Chief Behavioral Health Officer for the City of Boston
In an important step in the ongoing work to meet Bostonians’ health needs, address longstanding gaps in access, and elevate mental and behavioral health as a Citywide priority. Mayor Michelle Wu and Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), today announce Kevin M. Simon, M.D., as BPHC’s first-ever Chief Behavioral Health Officer. Dr. Simon will provide leadership and oversight in developing and implementing a comprehensive behavioral health agenda for the City through a public health lens. Dr. Simon’s initial focus will be on immediate and long-term strategies to support youth mental health.
Raised as the son of Haitian parents in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Simon has lived in Boston for over four years. Currently, Dr. Simon is an Assistant in Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital, an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Health Policy at Harvard University, and the Medical Director of Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, a child welfare and community behavioral health agency. Clinically, he practices as a Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist and Addiction Medicine specialist caring for youth, young adults, and families through the Adolescent Substance Use & Addiction Program (ASAP) at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“Our young people are facing enormous challenges impacting their health and well-being. Many families cannot access, afford, or navigate the maze we call our mental and behavioral health systems. I have dedicated my career to caring for, observing, thinking, and writing about people experiencing mental and behavioral health struggles while advocating for improvements in our care systems. Persons and families going through those struggles will continue to be my priority,” said Dr. Kevin Simon. “I am eager to build on Mayor Wu and Dr. Ojikutu’s leadership, commitment, and vision to urgently address our youth mental health crisis and develop sustainable community-driven solutions that meet the needs of our City’s youth.”
As a researcher, Dr. Simon has received federal funding for work focused on the intersections of mental health, substance use, and justice involvement. These include the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Physician-Scientist program in Substance Abuse K12 award funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the REACH (Recognizing and Eliminating Disparities in Addiction through Culturally-informed Healthcare) program at Yale School of Medicine funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He completed clinical fellowships in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School and a residency in Adult Psychiatry at Grady Hospital and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, both affiliated with Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. He received his medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, IL, after attending Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD, for college.
Mayor Wu has prioritized efforts to improve equitable access to mental and behavioral health care by proposing several investments in this work in her FY23 budget. Dr. Simon will collaborate with community partners and City agencies and departments. He will drive the development of ambitious, innovative prevention and response models for mental health and substance use that promote whole wellness. These efforts will strive to address historical systemic racial inequities through a comprehensive and coordinated citywide response in Boston.
His clinical work and research, particularly with youth, will support and expand BPHC’s existing efforts around behavioral health, including trauma response, child, adolescent, and family interventions. His expertise in addiction will bolster ongoing measures to address persons experiencing substance use disorders and those experiencing homelessness. In addition, Dr. Simon will thoughtfully guide efforts to enhance our workforce resilience.
Dr. Simon started in this role at the beginning of the month. More information about Dr. Simon’s published research, writings, and background are available on his website.
• Michael Curry, Esq., CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
Dr. Michael Curry, Esq. serves as President & CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, which represents 52 health centers, serving over one million patients out of over 300 practice sites. He was named “Bostonian of the Year 2021” by The Boston Globe and Boston Magazine, and in the spring of 2022 will deliver three commencement college speeches and receive two honorary degrees: a Doctorate in Business Administration from Curry College, and Healthcare Administration from Labouré College.
During the early battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael was appointed by the Massachusetts Senate to the legislatively created Health Equity Task Force, which he co-chaired, aimed at addressing the health disparities that have been realized and magnified by COVID-19. He was also appointed by Governor Charlie Baker to the COVID-19 Vaccine Working Group and served on the Department of Public Health’s Health Equity Advisory Group, the City of Boston’s Health Inequity Task Force, and the City of Brockton’s Social Justice Task Force. He brings over 25 years of experience and results in civil rights advocacy, health reform, and health equity.
Notably, Dr. Curry raised over $6.5 million dollars in 2021 to launch the nation’s first “Institute for Health Equity Research, Evaluation & Policy” at a state primary care association. The institute will focus on “participatory” and “emancipatory” research and evaluation at community health centers, building a pipeline of diverse researchers and evaluators grounded in community health. He also co-led an effort to organize Black and Latinx leaders of color in healthcare in Massachusetts to launch a “Health Equity Compact” aimed at eliminating health disparities in Massachusetts through an omnibus health equity reform proposal.
He is also the Immediate Past President of the Boston Branch of the NAACP (2011-2016) and has over twenty years of dedicated service to the NAACP on the city, state-area conference, and national levels. He was elected nationally to the NAACP Board of Directors in 2014, and was reelected in 2017 and again in 2020. He serves on the National NAACP’s Executive Committee and has been appointed Chair of the National Board’s Advocacy & Policy Committee since 2019 and Vice-Chair of the Political Action and Legislation Committee.
He serves on the Board of Advisors for Eastern Bank and WGBH (public broadcasting), among others. He also served on the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, Kids Count Advisory, and Roxbury Community College Board of Directors, as well as the City of Boston’s Compensation Advisory Group and the City of Brockton Redevelopment Authority.
Michael has received numerous local and national awards for leadership and advocacy and is frequently requested as a keynote speaker and panelist on a wide range of civil rights and health policy issues. In 2022, he received the Trailblazer Award from the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association (MBLA), as well as a leadership award from the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action.
Mr. Curry is a regular commentator on the local Public Radio Broadcast/WBUR Boston, WGBH Radio, as well as on television with WGBH, WBZ, and New England Cable News/NBC Boston, on a wide range of political, cultural, and social issues. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from New England School of Law, and later graduated from the inaugural class of the Executive Leadership Council’s Pipeline to Leadership Program.
• Senator Pavel Payano, MA State Senator for the First Essex District
The son of immigrant Lawrencians who dedicated decades to the LPS system, State Senator Pavel Payano learned from a very young age the importance of hard work and the value of a quality education. He also witnessed, by way of strong unions, that communal success is possible when we share a commitment to serving others.
He takes those values with him as he represents the First Essex District which includes the communities of Methuen, Lawrence, and parts of Haverhill. Prior to his election to the State Senate, Senator Payano served the city of Lawrence for over a decade, first as a School Committee member and most recently as a City Councilor At- Large. He has experience working as a Social Worker for the Department of Transitional Assistance and as a Professor at Merrimack College, where he taught graduate classes. Senator Payano is committed to advancing policies that support education reform, health equity, and community development.
Senator Payano received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UMass Amherst, a Master’s in Public Affairs from UMass Boston, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. He lives in Lawrence with his dog, Teja.
• Heidi HyunJin Lee, Case Manager at Boston Health Care for the Homeless
Heidi HyunJin Lee, BFA, MEd, CPS, UMass Boston Addiction Counselor Education Program (LADC licensure candidate) is an artist, teacher, mental health activist, certified peer specialist, and mother to a beautifully spirited boy. She currently works as a harm reduction medical case manager for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. Heidi taught high school art in Boston for over a decade, then directed an art program for those experiencing homelessness called Common Art, where she guided artists of all ages battling the traumas of homelessness. This led her into outreach case management for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program where she now works with clients who teach her how to advocate effectively within a complex web of systems. As a CPS, Heidi wakes up each morning feeling honored and fiercely determined to serve those who are willing to share their journey battling homelessness, Substance Use Disorders, and mental health challenges so that they may reclaim their dignity and self determination. For self care, she practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a form of exposure therapy to conquer her complex ptsd and cooks massive amounts of food economically for those around her so that all hungry souls may be fed.
• Dr. Charmain F. Jackman, Psychologist, Speaker, Consultant, Founder/CEO of InnoPsych
Dr. Charmain Jackman (she/her) is a licensed psychologist with 25+ years in the mental health field. She is the founder and CEO of InnoPsych, a mental health tech company on a mission to disrupt racial inequities in mental health and to promote healing & thriving in communities of color. Prior to starting InnoPsych, Dr. Jackman worked as a forensic psychologist in the Suffolk and Norfolk County Juvenile Court Clinics and in schools for 17 years. She has extensive experience working with youth in crisis, children/youth and families involved with social services and the juvenile justice system, and with visual and performing artists. Dr. Jackman has been instrumental in helping leaders cultivate emotionally safe work cultures that foster thriving organizations and people and is a leadership coach and consultant in the areas of racial trauma, burnout, and employee emotional wellbeing. Dr. Jackman is deeply invested in teaching tools that foster healing and thriving and is the creator of the My Time To Thrive card deck, an interactive tool for reducing stress. She has won several awards for her impactful work including the 2022 Boston Business Journal Power 50 Movement Makers, 2021 American Psychological Association’s (APA) Citizen Psychologist Award and City of Boston’s 2021 Innovator of The Year award. Dr. Jackman has been featured on national media outlets such as the New York Times, NPR, Oprah Daily, and the Boston Globe and is a regular contributor to the PBS Teachers Lounge column.
• Moderated by Dr. Myisha Rodrigues, Executive Director at NAMI Massachusetts
Myisha R. Rodrigues, PhD, LMHC (she/her) is currently the Executive Director of NAMI Massachusetts. With nearly 20 years of experience in the mental health, education, and non-profit sectors, Dr. Rodrigues is committed to facilitating the well-being and development of individuals, organizations, and systems through transformative coaching, strategic initiatives, and continuous improvement. Her praxis is guided by advocacy for social justice, critically conscious philosophy, and healing centered engagement. Dr. Rodrigues’ love of the arts has shaped her narrative as a practitioner, leader, and scholar. As a licensed mental health clinician and certified trauma professional, she has facilitated the professional development of her peers locally, nationally, and internationally.
Dr. Rodrigues earned a PhD in Counseling & Psychology with a concentration in Transformative Leadership, Education, and Applied Research from Lesley University. She earned an M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College and a B.A. in Dance and Movement Studies from Emory University. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Council of the International Society for Policy, Research, and Evaluation in School Based Counseling (ISPRESC) and has a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Tufts University’s Institute for Nonprofit Practice.