NAMI Massachusetts hosted a series of panels focused on how diverse communities think about and address mental health, experience specific barriers, contemplate changes needed, promote recovery and healing, and build resilience. We invited a panel of speakers to discuss mental health issues in their communities and what type of changes need to happen in order to achieve “Mental Health for All.”
BIPOC Panel – Tuesday, May 18th, 2022
LGBTQ+ Panel – Thursday, May 20th, 2022
Tuesday, May 18th, 2022
from 7 to 8:30 pm
- Tonisha Pinckney (moderator)
- Iyan Whitewolf Freeman
- Helina Fontes
- George Halfkenny
- Heidi Lee
- Robert Ortiz
- Jasmine Quinones
Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney, Ph.D., MSCJ, MAFF, CFE, CBE, CSCD, CCII (known as Dr. Toni) is a humanitarian and social justice activist with expertise in criminal/social justice, financial crimes & fraud examination, mental health parity & awareness, leadership, and areas related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a relationship coach and mediator. Dr. Toni runs the financial forensics and business consulting firm, Revelatus Consulting, LLC, specializing in various forms of mediation, leadership coaching, diversity/equity/inclusion training and consulting, and non-profit board management. She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Salem State University, a Lecturer at Lasell University, and a Part-time Professor of Business Administration at Northcentral University.
Dr. Toni assists individuals, couples, families, communities, and organizations on their path to reconciliation, restoration, or terms for mutual separation. Dr. Pinckney has an extraordinary passion for supporting positive legislative, civil, and workplace policy reform related to BIPOC & BIWOC individuals and communities. Fueled by her own experiences and fortified by her expertise, she authored several books discussing topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault, depression, parenting, and leadership – I AM MORE the Journey (2009,2016), and I AM MORE Surviving Survival (2013, 2017), Get Over It? I’m Still Going Through it! 15 Tools to Use When Going Through Tough Times (2017), and Fundamentals of Leadership for Emerging Leaders (2018). Recognizing the importance of saying, “I AM MORE,” Dr. Pinckney registered it as a trademark.
Dr. Pinckney holds an earned Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice and Criminology from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, a master’s in criminal justice (corporate financial crimes focus) from the University of Cincinnati, and a graduate certificate in security studies and a graduate certificate in forensic criminology (UMass Lowell). Dr. Toni earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Kean University in New Jersey. She also has a host of other educational and professional development certifications and accomplishments.
Appointed by Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA), Dr. Toni is the President of the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital. She was also honored to accept an appointment by William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as a Regional Commissioner with the Worcester County Commission on the Status of Women (WCCSW), where she serves as the Chair of WCCSW. In addition to serving on the Board of the National Workplace Bullying Coalition as the Director of Outreach and Training, Dr. Toni serves on committees and boards of the following organizations: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Massachusetts, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA), University of Massachusetts Lowell, Massachusetts Domestic and Sexual Violence Council, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, and George Washington University – School of Business.
Dr. Toni is a mother of two amazing sons and one loving German Sheprador. Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney is available to speak at conferences, workshops, and events.
Iyan serves as an advisor and community development specialist to two nonprofits, assisting with grant writing, drafting proposals for joint collaborations, declarations of MOUs as well as sharing the voice of advocacy for the needs of the people:
PA’ANGNI, an organization that supports the empowerment of the Hopi People to embrace the future with hope that our children will be endowed with respect, honoring the path that we walk in our culture, language, healing traditions, and ceremonies. Collectively, we seek to build our wealth when we connect with the earth around us, know well our roots and traditions, and are grounded in a cultural heritage that nourishes us.
MAVERICK’S WAVE TRIBES UNITED, an organization that supports programs that bring environmental awareness & conservation practices, specifically with waste management, to reduce pollution on the island of Fiji and the South Pacific.
As a spiritual mentor and author of “Navigating Our Destiny”, a six-week program of self-discovery, Iyan seeks to aide individuals become reacquainted with their sense of worth, validating within themselves an opportunity for healing while creating resilient space for growth. She is also the author of “Sacred Whispers, A Journey of Grace” A book of affirmations published 2018, and “When The Spirits Call” A current work in progress which shares the story of how she came to the Hopi Nation, embracing GrandMother Spider.
Helina Fontes is a certified peer specialist, mother, community organizer, candidate for the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, District 6 and a program director of a mental health non-profit located in the Northeast region with offices located in Lynn, Lawrence, Lowell and Malden. Under her leadership, the Northeast Recovery Learning Community serves individuals impacted by mental health diagnosis, addiction, incarceration, and other traumatic life events and promotes and supports recovery, which enables the persons served to remain and reintegrate into their communities.
George Halfkenny was first put in a jail cell when he was eight years old. He started using alcohol at 11 and by 14, was deep into a cocaine addiction. He spent the next 25 years cycling in and out of treatment centers, prisons and hospitals. It wasn’t until George coupled traditional treatment with mental health counseling that he started to get positive results.
Today, George is a trauma survivor, and proud to be a person in recovery. He co-founded Thrive Communities (a non-profit that helps people returning from incarceration.) Currently, he is a Certified Peer Specialist and Outreach Coordinator for Kiva Centers.
Heidi Lee has recently begun her third career as a CPS (certified peer specialist/housing navigator) after founding and sustaining two rigorous urban middle and high school art departments for over 12 years. Her second career was as the Artist in Residence/art director of a homeless program developed to help those seeking to use their artistic talents to sell their art on the streets of Boston. Heidi discovered her passion to work with this population through this program and now works as a Housing Navigator/Peer Specialist for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. She also teaches art independently while raising her highly active 6-year-old. Heidi works in oils, acrylics, mixed media, and dabbles in sculpture and assemblage. COVID has been an opportunity for her to create community zoom groups, where she is able to support other artists seeking accountability and encouragement as a way of coping with isolation. Heidi is a hard core sweat fanatic who strongly believes that exercise is the best form of anger and stress management. She also enjoys taking long walks with her family, as well as making hearty five course Korean meals for others as her primary love language.
Robert Ortiz has defined his journey and long-term recovery from having a mental health and substance use condition by exploring his passion to help others achieve their goals. As a person who can relate to many experiences, he strives to develop genuine relationships between professionals and the recipients of their service. He strongly believes that everyone has the ability to improve their lives, with access to the right supports.
Robert currently serves as the Northeast Director of Peer Recovery Services at Fellowship Health Resources, Inc. (FHR), a multi-state organization providing behavioral health services. In this role, he is responsible for assisting FHR in establishing evidence-based peer services and creating and cultivating a peer recovery-oriented environment through training and support. He also oversees the organization’s Community Peer Connections Program, a peer-driven volunteer program that matches a volunteer with an individual from the community seeking support and companionship.
Prior to this position, Robert acted as Certified Peer Specialist and Clubhouse Coordinator. He is a Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist, a Rhode Island Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, an International Peer Recovery Specialist, and Recovery Coach. Robert is a skilled trainer, with experience in facilitating WHAM (Whole Health Action Management) and WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning). In 2017, he was recognized by the National Council of Behavioral Health as the Peer Support Specialist of the Year.
Jasmine Quinones has been with the Kiva Centers for 5 years, building solid working relationships throughout Massachusetts and serving as the consummate goodwill ambassador for our Kiva Centers. Jasmine is a MA Certified Peer Specialist, certified WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and TIPS (Trauma-Informed Peer Support) instructor, and has completed IPS, Hearing Voices Network, Alternatives to Suicide, and Children and Family advocacy training. Jasmine received the Angel Award in the South County CHNA area two years in a row for excellence in community collaboration.
She has been recognized by the Salvation Army for her collaborative community work in South County as well as being awarded as an “unsung hero” of the Salvation Army’s Disaster Relief team. One of Jasmine’s greatest professional achievements was the honor to work alongside ASSMCA Puerto Rico’s Department of Mental Health on the island, bringing the Kiva Centers model of Trauma-Informed Peer Support to their population in need. Because of Jasmine’s coaching and dedication to the cause, Puerto Rico will soon be opening peer-run centers inspired by the Kiva Centers model throughout many areas of Puerto Rico. Outside of work, Jasmine is a mother of two wonderful children, who she loves to dote on. The beach is her happy place, where she goes to recharge her soul.
Thursday, May 20th, 2022
from 7 to 8:30 pm
Evan Rockefeller has been volunteering with NAMI Massachusetts since 2013. He is a Presenter and State Trainer for the In Our Own Voice Program. He is also currently a member of the NAMI Mass Board of Directors, where he serves on the Executive Committee, the Nominating and Governance Committee, and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Awareness (I.D.E.A.) Committee. In his day job, Evan is an occupational therapist with Toward Independent Living and Learning (TILL), Inc., where he works in day programs with adults with developmental disabilities and also serves on the agency’s Diversity Council. Evan identifies as a gay trans man and uses the pronouns he/him/his.
Thomas Brown, M.Ed, is a Certified Peer Specialist who has worked in this capacity for twelve years. Thomas is also a trauma educator and teaches trauma studies from a combined lived experience and academic research perspective at various universities and institutions within the Boston area. He is a regular guest lecturer at the Cambridge Integrated Clerkship at Harvard Medical School and in the Occupational Therapy Department at Tufts University. Thomas was a lead trainer of peer specialists in the state’s Certified Peer Specialist program through The Transformation Center. He is the founder and executive director of Seedlings Consultation and Training, which trains mental health human service agencies in recovery-oriented and trauma-informed service models.
Lorelai Lyons is a graduate of Bridgewater State University. She graduated as a double major with degrees in music performance and philosophy – the combination of which would later serve as the crucial foundation for her work as a barista. For several years, Lorelai utilized her music degree and subtle yet poignant humor in teaching music to a wide array of private students of diverse backgrounds. After various life difficulties, Lorelai attempted to procure help and support for physical and mental health struggles (rather unsuccessfully). In doing so, she learned firsthand how difficult it can be to acquire appropriate health services even for a strong self-advocate. Lorelai made the decision to change careers and work in the mental health and human services field in order to bring about change and to use her skills for the benefit of the many oppressed people that our community neglects. Currently, Lorelai works as a peer support coordinator for Bay Cove Human Services, ensuring that everyone her agency supports is offered a variety of opportunities to speak with and engage with a peer support worker in individual and group settings. Music, art, and philosophy are all still very central to her life and she uses them as a way to connect and support all the people she sees each week. Eventually she aspires to work in technology as a programmer for renewable energy companies in order to assist in bringing clean, cheap, and sustainable energy to portions of the world that are currently most impoverished.
Vesper Moore is a community activist, survivor, trainer, and writer. They have been a part of the Kiva Centers for several years and have been instrumental in the Kiva Centers’ growth as an organization. They have brought the perspectives of survivors to national and international spaces. They have experience working as a consultant for both the United States government and the United Nations in shaping strategies around trauma, intersectionality, and disability rights. They gave an address on “Intersectionality as a Human Rights Issue” for the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). They have been at the forefront of legislative reform to shift the societal paradigm around mental health.
Vesper concentrates on building social movements and public knowledge to facilitate and sustain systems change. They are a skilled certified trainer of Intentional Peer Support and the MA Certified Peer Specialist Training. They have supported the development of peer-run organizations in different parts of the world. They have been a lecturer for many universities and institutions across the United States. They are a very well-known leader in peer support and are known as a powerful advocate.
Ashley Sproul (she/her) is a Certified Peer Specialist working at a peer-run crisis alternative drop-in center called The Living Room with Advocates in Framingham, MA. She is deeply passionate about Peer Support and racial justice work, as these areas have been an instrumental part of her recovery. Some of her other passions include playing music and finding ways to incorporate creativity in peer support spaces.