PeerTac Logo PeerTAC Peer Support Services Technical Assistance Center

  • Rita Cronise

    Coordinator Academy of Peer Services Virtual Learning Community,
    Rutgers University

    Rita Cronise

    Rita Cronise, MS, ALWF

    Coordinator Academy of Peer Services Virtual Learning Community,
    Rutgers University

    Rita is an instructional designer with lived experience of a major mental health diagnosis and over 20 years of offering mutual support and recovery education. Rita was the acting director of operations for the National Association of Peer Services (N.A.P.S.) for two years and continues to serve on a national workgroup on the supervision of peer specialists and other workforce issues. She is a frequent lecturer on peer support values, practice, and supervision.

  • Director, Children Services and Healthcare Innovation,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Yvette Kelly, LMHC

    Director, Children Services and Healthcare Innovation,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Yvette Kelly, LMHC, is the Director of Children Services and Healthcare Innovation at the NYU McSilver Institute. Yvette has over 25 years of experience working with children and families and has been a licensed mental health counselor for 17 years. In addition to her clinical expertise, she has experience developing effective business strategies to contain costs while ensuring the provision of quality services. Her areas of expertise include clinical services for youth and families, mental health documentation, strategies for effective supervision, quality improvement, revenue cycle management and managed care. Yvette received a Master of Science in Education degree from The College of Saint Rose.

  • Andrew Cleek

    Deputy Executive Director,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Andrew Cleek

    Andrew F. Cleek, PsyD

    Deputy Executive Director,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Dr. Andrew Cleek is an expert on the scalable implementation of systems change initiatives, particularly related to healthcare reform, value based payments, Medicaid managed care, and trauma-informed services. He oversees a portfolio of technical assistance offering training and support to all behavioral health agencies in New York State. He additionally directs a number of initiatives involving trauma-informed care, early childhood mental health and the implementation of healthcare reform in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Dr. Cleek holds PsyD and MA degrees in Clinical Psychology from Spalding University; and a BA degree in psychology from California State University, Long Beach.

  • Education and Innovation Officer,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Lydia Franco, PhD, LMSW

    Education and Innovation Officer,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Lydia Franco, PhD, LMSW is the Education and Innovation Officer at the NYU McSilver Institute. She provides oversight to multiple statewide training and technical assistance centers supporting the youth, family and peer behavioral health workforce. Previously, Dr. Franco co-led the development of the 4 Rs and 2 Ss for Strengthening Families model and provides training and technical assistance expertise locally and nationally on engagement best practices, family strengthening approaches, workforce resilience, coaching and supervision, implementation science, and culturally responsive services. Dr. Franco received her MSSW from Columbia University and her PhD in Social Work from Rutgers University.

  • Conner McCallum

    Program Associate,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Conner McCallum

    Conner McCallum

    Program Associate,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Conner McCallum’s work primarily focuses on providing programmatic support to the Community Technical Assistance Center (CTAC) and the Peer Support Services Technical Assistance Center (PeerTAC) at the NYU McSilver Institute. Through this project, Conner supports the development and presentation of trainings and resources for behavioral health providers throughout New York State. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Psychology at NYU and holds a BA in Communications and Art History from Fordham University.

  • Matthew McDonald

    Academy of Peer Services,
    Rutgers University

    Matthew McDonald

    Matthew McDonald, NYCPS, CRPA

    Academy of Peer Services,
    Rutgers University

    Matthew McDonald is a New York Certified Peer Specialist (NYCPS) and a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA). Navigating a decade-long path toward recovery himself, Matthew’s lived experience provides him necessary and profound insights into myriad systems of care, as they exist in New York State. He previously worked as a Certification Coordinator for the New York Peer Specialist Certification Board (NYPSCB), interacting with hundreds of Certified and prospective Peer Specialists across New York.

  • Angelique Rodriguez

    Program Coordinator,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Angelique Rodriguez

    Angelique Rodriguez

    Program Coordinator,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Angelique Rodriguez manages the coordination of the Peer Support Services Technical Assistance Center (PeerTAC) at the NYU McSilver Institute. Angelique received two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychological Science and Drama from Vassar College. As a Puerto Rican person who resided in the Bronx, they have done a variety of social justice and child psychology work which has deepened their passion to continually support and provide for vulnerable and oppressed populations. Angelique is committed to continually finding the connection between art, healing, and public health in hopes of bettering the lives of those impacted by poverty and mental illness.

  • Amy B. Spagnolo

    Associate Professor,
    Rutgers University

    Amy B. Spagnolo

    Amy B. Spagnolo, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor,
    Rutgers University

    Amy’s experience includes over 20 years of curriculum design, staff training and consultation for the behavioral health sector. She also brings a decade-long commitment to training and educating the peer support provider workforce. Currently, in her role as the Program Director for the Academy of Peer Services for the New York Peer Specialist Certification she oversees the development and quality improvement process for over 90 online courses for the certification of peer specialists in New York. It is the only platform of its kind in the world. Amy has provided remote and in person supervision for nearly 10 years and trains organizations on the use of supervision strategies.

  • Family Peer Support Training Specialist,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Maria Fuentes, FPA-C

    Family Peer Support Training Specialist,
    NYU McSilver Institute

    Maria Gabriela Fuentes has been a Credentialed Family Peer Advocate since 2019. At NYU McSilver, she works as a Family Peer Support Training Specialist in support of the PeerTAC project. In this role, Maria develops online and in-person training and technical assistance programming, with a particular focus on integrating family voices across project activities.

    Maria holds an Associate Degree in Social Work and is currently pursuing an Associate in Criminal Justice at Eastern Gateway Community College. Previously she has worked for the Jewish Board’s Prevention and Intervention Program as a Family Advocate/Case Manager for a school-based mental health program active in five New York City public schools, and she has volunteered for NAMI-NYC and NAMI Queens/Nassau since 2013.

    Maria is a native of Ecuador, a longtime resident of NYC, and a proud parent.

  • Ina Conception, PEP, FPAC, FDC-Supervisors


    Ina Concepcion, FDC, FPAC, PEP, is the Alliance Coordinator for Family & Youth Peer Support Queens Alliance at Vibrant Emotional Health. Her work centers on advocacy and educating families and youth about the different child serving systems within their communities. 

    Ina Concepcion, FDC, FPAC, PEP, is the Alliance Coordinator for Family & Youth Peer Support Queens Alliance at Vibrant Emotional Health. Her work centers on advocacy and educating families and youth about the different child serving systems within their communities. 

    Ina has worked within the Social Services field for over 15 years and specializes in helping parents and caregivers of children who have or are at risk of developmental, emotional, and behavioral challenges. She also presently serves on the Department of Education Executive Board of Parent / Teachers Association of NYC as Secretary and is on the School Leadership Team.

  • Rebecca Evansky


    Rebecca Evansky, Executive Director of the Wellness Collaborative of New York is supporting the growth of peer support services through an Independent Practice Association comprised of twelve peer-led provider organizations, spanning New York State. She has been instrumental in advancing the collaborative foundation to ensure quality and authenticity of peer support services and the shift towards sustainable value-based contracting. 

    Rebecca Evansky, Executive Director of the Wellness Collaborative of New York is supporting the growth of peer support services through an Independent Practice Association comprised of twelve peer-led provider organizations, spanning New York State. She has been instrumental in advancing the collaborative foundation to ensure quality and authenticity of peer support services and the shift towards sustainable value-based contracting. 

    Prior to this project, she was responsible for overseeing initiatives focused on treatment and prevention of substance use disorders, working to strengthen infrastructure across systems and cultivate strong partnerships across the region as part of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program at the Adirondack Health Institute. Her professional career has been dedicated to behavioral health and wellness initiatives. 

    Known as a compassionate advocate for special victims, Rebecca has been providing direct client services for over 15 years, including legal and medical advocacy and continues dedicated service as a volunteer to her local domestic violence hotline. Rebecca is a skilled presenter in trauma informed practices, health and wellness planning, collaborative partnerships and strategic planning.

  • Cameron Farash, LMSW


    Cameron Farash, LMSW, Divisional Director has more than twenty years of experience working within various behavioral health and peer support settings. Cameron’s experience includes working in residential and clinical settings as well as providing supervisory oversight. Cameron has been public about his lived experience with mental health recovery. He specializes in peer implementation and supervision and has been recognized on a statewide level as a peer expert. 

    Cameron Farash, LMSW, Divisional Director has more than twenty years of experience working within various behavioral health and peer support settings. Cameron’s experience includes working in residential and clinical settings as well as providing supervisory oversight. Cameron has been public about his lived experience with mental health recovery. He specializes in peer implementation and supervision and has been recognized on a statewide level as a peer expert. 

    Cameron currently oversees LRI’s Recovery Support Navigator Program, where he has overseen development and ongoing program evaluation and improvement, as well as administration and day-to-day operation of the Peer Engagement Specialist, Family Support Specialist and Homeless Partnership program, Forensic Intervention Peer program and Liberty’s four Peer Run Crisis Respites in Central New York. Cameron has also been on the Board of Directors for NYAPRS and the Finger Lakes Regional Coordinator since 2021. Dedicated to the Peer model, Cameron provides technical assistance across the agency to ensure fidelity to peer values. 

    In 2008, Cameron received his master’s degree in social work from the Greater Rochester Masters of Social Work Program of SUNY Brockport and Nazareth College.

  • Nivea Jackson, M.S, YPA


    Nivea Jackson, M.S is currently the Youth Peer Advocacy Coordinator at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. As the Youth Peer Advocacy Coordinator, Nivea strategically develops ways to expand the Youth Peer Advocacy workforce while supporting and advancing the Youth Peer Advocates in the Bureau of Children, Youth, and Families.

    Nivea Jackson, M.S is currently the Youth Peer Advocacy Coordinator at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. As the Youth Peer Advocacy Coordinator, Nivea strategically develops ways to expand the Youth Peer Advocacy workforce while supporting and advancing the Youth Peer Advocates in the Bureau of Children, Youth, and Families.

    A former foster care youth, Nivea grew a passion to help youth and young adults involved in multiple child-serving systems utilizing her lived expertise. Despite Nivea’s adversities in foster care, she remains positive, determined, and dedicated to helping youth and young adults in cross-systems by giving them the tools they need to succeed and thrive. In addition to Ms. Jackson’s lived experience, she is a proud graduate of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. Nivea continued her education and graduated with her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. Presently, Ms. Jackson is pursuing her PhD in Human Services Leadership and Organizational Management.

  • Dwayne Mayes


    Currently the Program Director of the Recovery Network and Peer Training for MHA-Westchester, Dwayne Mayes has worked in the Mental Health Peer service sector since 1998. Formerly the Director of Howie the Harp Advocacy Center, Dwayne Mayes has climbed from “the bottom of the totem pole” to achieve tremendous success both personally and professionally and is absolute proof that recovery is real.

    Currently the Program Director of the Recovery Network and Peer Training for MHA-Westchester, Dwayne Mayes has worked in the Mental Health Peer service sector since 1998. Formerly the Director of Howie the Harp Advocacy Center, Dwayne Mayes has climbed from “the bottom of the totem pole” to achieve tremendous success both personally and professionally and is absolute proof that recovery is real.

    Dwayne has presented his ideas of Recovery based Integrated Treatment internationally, as a participant in the MeetTheXperts Symposiums in the Netherlands in 2013 and 2014, and is a recipient of the 2008 Robin Hood Foundation Heroes Award.

    Dwayne’s previous experience was with the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute for Worker Education for the CUNY Youth Transition Demonstration Project. Dwayne was the Senior Benefits Advisor for the project and collaborated with the SSA Regional Office, NY District Office, local Bronx County Field Offices, along with national and statewide agencies. He was a leader on the team directing the Social Security Administration’s New York WORKS research project where he provided benefits counseling, caseload review and liaising with community partners, including VESID, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, OMH, Health and Hospital’s Corporation, and other state and national agencies involved in Mental Health Advocacy.

  • Cassandra Morse


    Cassandra “Cadi” Morse (she/her) has been employed with AspireHope NY, Inc (AHNY) for over 18 years as the Teen Services, Payroll, and Billing Coordinator. Cadi has utilized her own lived experience to assist in developing and implementing youth programming. She is also a parent of children with medical and mental health needs.

    Cassandra “Cadi” Morse (she/her) has been employed with AspireHope NY, Inc (AHNY) for over 18 years as the Teen Services, Payroll, and Billing Coordinator. Cadi has utilized her own lived experience to assist in developing and implementing youth programming. She is also a parent of children with medical and mental health needs.

    Cadi was a founding member of the NYS Youth Peer Services Advisory Council that oversees the YPA State Credential, a trainer for Partnering for Safety and QPR: Suicide Prevention Training, and a trainer for the NYS Youth Peer Advocate Training through Families Together in NYS (FTNYS) and was the 1st Western Region Youth Partner of FTNYS. Cadi received the ‘What’s Great in Our State’ Steuben County ‘Champion of Youth’ award in 2017.

    Cad believes in the grass roots Youth, Family, and Adult Peer movements and the importance of continuing to share her knowledge and experience with those are currently or in the future will be providing peer support.

  • Jeremy Reuling, LCSW, NYCPS


    Jeremy has more than 20 years of experience working to support and empower people facing societal and systemic injustice, including those diagnosed with mental health conditions.  An advocate of peer-informed services, Jeremy approaches his work from a peer-professional viewpoint.

    Jeremy has more than 20 years of experience working to support and empower people facing societal and systemic injustice, including those diagnosed with mental health conditions.  An advocate of peer-informed services, Jeremy approaches his work from a peer-professional viewpoint.

    Jeremy is currently the Program Coordinator for the Yonkers Mobile Crisis Response Team at People USA.  Additionally, he currently serves as the Co-President of the Board of Directors for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) and as a member of the Advisory Board for the Master of Social Work program at Utica University. Jeremy presents regularly at conferences and training events regionally and nationally and earned his MSW from the Hunter College School of Social Work; he holds a New York State license as a Clinical Social Worker and is a New York Certified Peer Specialist.

  • Helen Skipper


    Skip, as she prefers to be called has been working in Peer Support since her final release from years of multiple incarceration and systems involvement in 2007. She has transitioned out of the Senior Manager of Peer Services position at the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, where she was intentional in creating space for individuals with lived experiences, to her new journey as Executive Director of the NYC Justice Peer Initiative which began in late March 2022. 

    Skip, as she prefers to be called has been working in Peer Support since her final release from years of multiple incarceration and systems involvement in 2007. She has transitioned out of the Senior Manager of Peer Services position at the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, where she was intentional in creating space for individuals with lived experiences, to her new journey as Executive Director of the NYC Justice Peer Initiative which began in late March 2022. 

    Skip is a Consultant at Urban Institute where she sits on several research initiatives representing community voices and lived experiences. The inaugural Executive Chair of the NYC Peer Workforce Coalition and an executive leadership team member of the NYC Justice Peer Initiative, Skip is the first Peer Supervisor employed by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene which was documented in her role in the groundbreaking – media acclaimed Friendship Benches NYC.

    A Beyond-the Bars 20/21 Fellow, she is also a Columbia University Justice-in-Education scholar and attended St. Francis College where she is the first Justice Initiatives program participant to be invited to join the Honor classes.  

    She lives by her mantra – “I’ve been around the block a time or two on my tricycle and use those lived experiences to color my world while assisting, supporting, advocating, and navigating for those still caught up in the oppressive and broken Criminal Justice System!”

  • Sara Taylor


    Sara’s 20+ year career, across multiple industries, range from direct-care front-line social worker to senior-level administrator. Sara has extensive experience providing leadership development training and capacity building services to organizations as well as managing professional conferences throughout North America. Over the last three years, Sara has become a sought-out speaker and well-respected leader promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across systems while reminding organizational leaders and allies that “Everyone has a role”.  

    Sara’s 20+ year career, across multiple industries, range from direct-care front-line social worker to senior-level administrator. Sara has extensive experience providing leadership development training and capacity building services to organizations as well as managing professional conferences throughout North America. Over the last three years, Sara has become a sought-out speaker and well-respected leader promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across systems while reminding organizational leaders and allies that “Everyone has a role”.  

    Sara’s entire career has focused on empowering and motivating vulnerable populations including individuals with disabilities, homeless and low-income populations who often face barriers related to obtaining employment and career advancement.  Sara’s influence and credibility are also seen in her work as a community leader working on boards, with policy makers, philanthropist and other stakeholders who are collectively dedicated to improving outcomes for vulnerable populations and advancing Racial Equity strategies. Sara is the founder and visionary of the Upstate, NY Women of Color Summit and the BIPOC PEEEEEEK Parent Mental Health Project.