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What It Takes: Supervising Peer Support Specialists/Advocates

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Special Events Abstract Background

2-DAY FREE VIRTUAL SUPERVISION SUMMIT
March 15 & March 22, 2024
9 am – 4 pm (Eastern)

SUPERVISION SUMMIT

The Peer Support Services Technical Assistance Center (PeerTAC) is excited to offer a free Virtual 2-Day Summit for Supervisors of Peer Support Services. Join us to learn more about approaches, tools, and strategies that can increase the effectiveness of your supervision of Peer Support Specialists/Advocates across the lifespan.

This Summit is intended for supervisors, non-peer co-workers, and leaders in the behavioral health peer workforce across New York state. You will gain wisdom from accomplished leaders and innovators in supervision grounded in practical wisdom and mutual peer support values. Be prepared to have frank supervisor-to-supervisor discussions on improving the practice of supervision of the peer support workforce.

LEADERSHIP FORUM

If you are a CEO, Executive Director, or Organizational Business Leader, the morning of Day 1 (March 15) of the Summit offers a Leadership Forum designed specifically for you. Our opening keynote is a nationally recognized CEO and consultant in the inclusion of peer support services in a wide range of organizations. Following the keynote, the presenter will join two experienced colleagues in leading an interactive forum focused on how peer support offers unique opportunities for your business along with solutions to some of the most common challenges. It is a discussion you won’t want to miss!

NEW! PRELIMINARY SCHEDULE

A preliminary schedule is now available: Click here

REGISTER NOW

(Click one or both dates below to register)

DAY 1, March 15, 2024, 9 AM-4 PM

(Deadline to register 12:00 Noon on March 14)

DAY 2, March 22, 2024, 9 AM-4 PM

(Deadline to register 12:00 Noon on March 21)

NEW! CLICK “+” ON PHOTOS BELOW TO VIEW VIDEOS/BIOS

Program will be sent to by email to registered attendees.

Keynote Speakers

  • Cherene Caraco

    Cherene Caraco

    Cherene has been committed to state, national and international reform of pathology-based, oppressive systems, practices and policies for 28 years. Cherene came by this passion honestly as a 13 year-old girl whose behavior was labeled as mental illness, rather than understood as trauma. This was the first of eight mental health diagnoses and it would take many years for Cherene to heal and find her voice. After working over a decade in conventional mental health systems, Cherene began using her voice to ignite social justice related change that is routed in trauma healing and peer-to-peer support. In 2006, Cherene founded the Charlotte based non-profit, Promise Resource Network (PRN), that operates 16 open access initiatives that are led and staffed by a team of 85 people that are psychiatric, suicide attempt, trauma, substance use, incarceration and houselessness survivors.

    Watch Cherene Caraco Keynote Message

  • Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan P. Edwards

    Dr. Jonathan P. Edwards is a social scientist, public health professional, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Peer Specialist, Certified Personal Medicine Coach, and serves on the faculty of Columbia University School of Social Work. He led the largest peer support workforce within the New York City Hospital system and significantly contributed to the development of the peer support workforce. Dr. Edwards has published research on job satisfaction and supervision practices; contributed to the development of National Practice Guidelines for Peer Support Specialists and Supervisors; presented on research and practice nationally and internationally; served on a technical expert panel to develop National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification, as well as a national recovery research agenda. He has received several awards and has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and co-edited the recently published “What It Takes: Wisdom from Peer Support Specialists and Supervisors”.  Dr. Edwards received his M. Phil and Ph.D. in Social Welfare from CUNY Graduate Center; his MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College; and his Bachelors in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from City College of CUNY.

    Watch Jonathan P. Edwards Keynote Message

  • Peggy Swarbrick

    Peggy Swarbrick

    Peggy Swarbrick, PhD, FAOTA, is a Research Professor in the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and Associate Director of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use StudiesShe has worked for 26 years at theCollaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Wellness Institute Director. She has developed a strengths-based 8-dimensional wellness model that is been used for various populations as a strength-based approach for whole health recovery and prevention.  Dr Swarbrick has made significant contributions to the body of literature in occupational therapy, nursing, and community behavioral health care practice, focused on such topics as wellness coaching, peer support, and self-care. She has developed supervisor training resources for peer support workers including training manuals. Dr Swarbrick developed a Wellness Learning Collaborative program designed to support the wellness of the workforce and is a collaborator on peer support models for healthcare professionals and educators to prevent burnout.   

  • Robert Lettieri

    Robert Lettieri

    Robert Lettieri received his bachelor’s degree in Community Health and Human Services from SUNY Empire State University and currently works for the New York State Office of Mental Health. He is an international speaker and advocate who is passionate about creating a more inclusive and supportive society. Growing up in both the health care and mental health systems, he is dedicated to advocating for others who have endured both similar and abstract hardships. Robert’s expertise revolves around supervising youth and adult peer advocates. He has developed and implemented several wellness education programs, including the Junior Youth Peer Advocate Training Program; a youth peer-led wellness education program that has been implemented in high schools and community organizations across New York State. He partnered with BOCES and NYSED to secure a contract to receive funding and reimbursement for the program within every public school district in New York State. Robert also collaborated with SUNY Empire State University to secure 12 college credits for all individuals who hold a Professional YPA Credential. Robert has led a statewide workforce and collaborated with numerous statewide and national organizations to advocate for the expansion and sustainability of the peer workforce.

Highlights

  • Deepen your knowledge of how to supervise billable Peer Support Services while upholding the core values and guiding principles of Peer Specialists/Advocates across the lifespan.
  • Gain wisdom, guidance, and practical ideas from practitioners in the community of Supervisors of Peer Support Services.
  • Join organizational leaders in listening forums and participatory workshops to identify and implement strategies for the successful supervision of Peer Support Services.
  • Collaborate with program leaders and supervisors to find solutions to resolve supervision challenges.
Special Events Abstract Background

Workshop Presenters

  • Aviva Cohen

    Aviva Cohen, LMSW, NYCPS-P, Chief Strategy Officer, Hands Across Long Island (HALI)

    Aviva holds personal experience as someone directly impacted by trauma, mental health challenges, and by the treatment system. Prior to joining HALI, Aviva worked with the New York City Office of Consumer Affairs, where she served first as the Research and Evaluation Coordinator, and later, as Coordinator of the NYC Peer and Community Health Worker Workforce Consortium. Aviva is a New York Certified Peer Specialist and New York State Licensed Social Worker with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from CUNY Hunter College and a Master of Science from the Columbia School of Social Work.

  • Beth Bloom

    Beth Bloom, BFA, Peer Coach II, East House

    Beth Bloom (she/they) has worked as a peer support specialist for over eight years and has presented on subjects related to the LGBTQ+ population. Last year, Beth presented at NAMI as well as the 2023 Annual Conference of the National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.) on Trauma and the LGBTQ+ Community.

  • Cameron Farash

    Cameron Farash, LMSW, Divisional Director, Liberty Resources

    Cameron has been public about his lived experience with mental health recovery for over a decade and has more than twenty years of experience working within various behavioral health and peer support settings. Cameron has 6+ years of experience working in residential settings, over 8 years of clinical experience and over 7 years of supervisory experience. Cameron received his MSW from the Greater Rochester Master’s of Social Work Program of SUNY Brockport and Nazareth College. 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 a variety of programs. Cameron has also been on the Board of Directors for NYAPRS and the Finger Lakes Regional Coordinator since 2021. Cameron sees himself as a guardian of the Peer Model and provides technical assistance across the agency around holding to the fidelity of the Peer Model.

  • Carrie Ann Rollier

    Carrie Ann Rollier, FPA-C, Director of Training and Workforce Development, Families Together in New York State

    Carrie Ann has been a Family Peer Advocate since 2015, first working at a community-based organization and currently with Families Together in New York State since 2022. Her passion for peer support and supporting its workforce is what led to her holding a seat on the Board of Directors for 2 years before accepting the position of Director of Training and Workforce Development at Families Together; leading a team that oversees the credentialing process and training of Family Peer Advocates and Youth Peer Advocates across the state. As a mother of three young adults with Autism, she struggled navigating the complicated children’s systems without support and watched as her children struggled during their childhood without the support and services they deserved. Carrie Ann is dedicated to building an abundant, strong, highly trained Family and Youth Peer workforce throughout the state to support as many families and youth as possible who are experiencing similar challenges.

  • Cassandra Morse

    Cassandra Morse, Teen Services Coordinator, AspireHopeNY

    Cassandra (she/her) Morse has worked in youth peer support for over 19 years, and is currently employed by AspireHopeNY, Inc. She coordinates a youth program in 10 counties in the Western part of NY which includes direct supervision of Youth Peer Advocates providing CFTSS YPS. She was a founding member of the Youth Peer Services Advisory Council that offers guidance for the NYS Youth Peer Advocate Credential, and a trainer for the Youth Peer Advocate Training through Families Together of NYS. Cassandra also identifies as a peer that struggled with her own depression and anxiety as a teen, and as a parent with children with medical and mental health needs including being an adoptive parent.

  • Cherene Caraco

    Cherene Caraco

    Cherene Caraco, CEO, Promise Resource Network
    Project Director, Peer Voice NC, International Recovery Consultant

    Cherene is an internationally recognized expert and entertaining presenter. Under Cherene’s leadership, PRN was ranked as the 2nd Best Non-Profit in the Country to Work For, and she was named Mental Health Innovator of the Year in 2021 by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. According to Cherene, ” Learning from your mistakes is the hallmark of lived experience and practical wisdom.” In this keynote, Cherene shares wisdom she has gained and things “not to do” when including peer support services in various settings and programs. She shares an overview of the current landscape of peer support on the national scene, common challenges that she has seen across the country, and some of the biggest mistakes she made along the way to establishing a successful and highly respected peer-run non-profit, and the importance of (foolishness of not) tapping into the lived experience of the peer support workforce.

  • Daniella Labate Covelli

    Daniella Labate Covelli, MSW, CPRP, Director of Recovery and Rehabilitation Training, Alliance for Rights and Recovery

    Daniella has worked in the field of recovery services for over 20 years. She is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner, a trained Cognitive Remediation Specialist and received her master’s degree in social work from Hunter College in NYC. Daniella began her career at a Continuing Day Treatment program in NYC and became interested in rehabilitation and recovery, leading to a degree in social work. In her roles at The Alliance, Daniella has supported organizations throughout NYS preparing for the transition to Medicaid Managed Care. She leads The New York Psychiatric Rehabilitation Training Academy, supporting rehabilitation practitioners to gain and hone skills in supporting people towards personalized recovery through psychiatric rehabilitation. Daniella’s ultimate goal is to provide quality training and technical assistance to providers that meet community needs, maintain the highest standards in practice, and, most importantly, support a person’s recovery.

  • Edye Schwartz

    Edye Schwartz, DSW, LCSW-R, Edye Schwartz Consulting

    Edye Schwartz is currently an independent consultant providing executive coaching and training and technical assistance in a variety of areas of leadership, management, and organizational change. Edye has worked for over 40 years in the field of behavioral health management as a strong and outspoken champion of the recovery movement. Since earning her Doctorate in Social Welfare (DSW), she has consistently worked to advance recovery-based approaches to management and service delivery. Edye also serves as the Director of the Alliance for Rights and Recovery’s Leadership Institute as well as serving as an advisor for their Psychiatric Rehabilitation Training Initiative. Edye provides executive coaching to CEOs and COOs nationally and helps organizations succeed, thrive and achieve sustainability through Strategic Planning and Succession Planning. Edye has shared her expertise with the next generation by teaching courses, authoring articles, and presenting workshops and keynote addresses at state, national and international conferences.

  • Elise Diamond

    Elise Diamond, NYCPS, LGBTQIA+ Cultural Responsiveness Trainer and Consultant, Recovery Specialist and Trainer with OnTrackNY

    Elise is an experienced peer specialist and trainer. They also serve on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Rights and Recovery (formerly NYAPRS). Elise is from Kingston, NY, where they are lucky enough to be part of a beautiful, thriving queer and trans community.

  • Ellen Healion

    Ellen Healion, MA.Ed, NYCPS, Director of Peer Bridger Services & National Technical Assistance Provider, Alliance for Rights and Recovery

    Ellen began her career in the field of special education until her own experience with the mental health service system. She has been a well-respected peer services consultant within mental health systems, agencies, and programs for over 30 years. That experience has given her extraordinary expertise in the many nuances of Mental Health Systems and the infusion of recovery, peer services, creating system change within local, state, and federal policy. Through the Alliance and other consulting engagements, Ms. Healion has provided technical assistance in peer programs and services to State Departments of Mental Health in Arizona, Mississippi, and Washington State, in addition to peer-run agencies in New York. Ellen presents at conferences and trains on a variety of topics affecting individuals in recovery. Ms. Healion participates with boards and committees of related organizations locally and nationally, bringing the voice of recovery to the landscape of Mental Health Services, Medicaid and Managed Care.

  • Emily Childress

    Emily Childress, MPA, NYCPS-P; Director of the CORE Peer Navigator Project at Alliance for Rights and Recovery (formerly NYAPRS)

    Emily has her own lived experience and is proud to be a provisionally certified NYS Peer Specialist. Emily attended Binghamton University where she completed a BS in Human Development and an MPA. During her undergraduate studies Emily first learned of NYAPRS by attending Legislative Day in Albany. Prior to joining the Alliance, she served for two years on the NYAPRS board of directors as the Southern Tier Regional Coordinator and caucus chair. Emily has eight years of experience providing and advocating for peer support services, including as director of the first peer-run crisis respite house, Our House, in the Southern Tier. Emily is a distinguished trainer and finds her passion in empowering peers to advocate for themselves. Emily prides herself in developing a fully peer team to operationalize the CORE Peer Navigator Project.

  • Gita Enders

    Gita Enders, LMSW, MA, NYCPS, Director of Peer Services, NYC Health + Hospitals

    Gita shares with her peers the lived experience of a mental health challenge. She currently holds the position of Director in the NYC Health + Hospitals / Office of Behavioral Health, where she oversees numerous health care delivery system activities impacting individuals who use mental health, substance use, and co-occurring treatment services, and provides oversight to the peer-run NYC H+H Peer Academy. Prior to joining NYC H+H, Gita provided services ranging from board membership to directing training at peer-run agencies in Arizona. She presents locally and nationally on programming and supervision, and consults on the development of training curricula. Gita is a Licensed Master Social Worker; she has a Master’s degree in English, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and is a NYS Certified Peer Specialist. She is co-editor of the book, “What it Takes: Wisdom from Peer Support Specialists & Supervisors,” and sits on the Board of Baltic Street Wellness Solutions, Inc.

  • Helen ‘Skip’ Skipper

    Helen ‘Skip’ Skipper, BS, NYCPS, Executive Director, NYC Justice Peer Initiative

    Skip has an extensive background in peer support, following multiple incarcerations. Formerly the Senior Manager of Peer Services at NYC’s Criminal Justice Agency, she pivoted in March 2022 to lead as the Executive Director of the NYC Justice Peer Initiative. She sits on several national working groups and lived experiences advisory. She is also a Peer C.I.T. trainer for NYPD and NYC B-HEARD and consults with the Urban Institute, representing community perspectives in research. Skip attended St. Francis College as a Beyond-the-Bars Fellow and a Columbia University Justice-in-Education scholar, graduating with distinction. She is presently Criminology at John Jay College. Her achievements include membership with the American Society of Criminology, leadership roles in the NYC Peer Workforce Coalition and NYC Justice Peer Initiative and the inaugural Peer Supervisor at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In 2022, she garnered several awards, including the SAMHSA Recovery Innovation Challenge and College and Community Fellowships’ Rising Star award.

  • Jeremy Reuling

    Jeremy Reuling, LCSW, NYCPS, Program Coordinator, Yonkers Mobile Crisis Response Team at People USA

    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 and/or facing challenges due to social determinants of health.  An advocate of peer-informed services, Jeremy approaches his work from a peer-professional viewpoint; he is currently the
    Program Coordinator for the Yonkers Mobile Crisis Response Team at People USA.  Additionally, he serves as the Co-President of the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Rights and Recovery, as a member of the Advisory Committee for Peer Support Services Technical Assistance Center (PeerTAC), and as a member of the Advisory Board for the Master of Social Work program at Utica University. Jeremy presents regularly at regional and national conferences and training events. He earned his MSW from the Hunter College School of Social Work, holds a New York State license as a Clinical Social Worker and is a New York Certified Peer Specialist.

  • Joanne Forbes

    Joanne Forbes Ph.D., Consultant, Author, Founding Board Member Baltic Street Wellness Solutions, Inc

    Dr. Forbes trains and consults nationally on system transformation and peer support service delivery, implementation, training, and supervision. She earned her Ph.D. from Rutgers University’s Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She has years of experience in the field of mental health as an advocate, educator, administrator, and peer supporter. Her published research on peer supervision is considered a seminal work in the field. She presents frequently at conferences and is the author of Madness: Heroes Returning from the Front Lines. She founded a peer-run Customer Service Department in a large metropolitan psychiatric hospital which evolved into Baltic Street Wellness Solutions Inc., one of the nation’s largest peer-run agencies. She has been widely recognized by state and national organizations as a visionary and advocate for those facing mental health challenges. She is co-editor of the book, “What it Takes: Wisdom from Peer Support Specialists & Supervisors,” and sits on the Board of Baltic Street Wellness Solutions, Inc.

  • Jonathan P. Edwards

    Jonathan P. Edwards, Ph.D., LCSW. ACSW, NYCPS, Program Consultant, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

    Dr. Edwards is a social scientist, public health advisor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Peer Specialist, Certified Personal Medicine Coach, and serves on the faculty of Columbia School of Social Work. He led the largest peer support workforce within the NYC Hospital system and continues to make significant contributions to the peer workforce. Dr. Edwards contributed to National Practice Guidelines for Peer Support Specialists and Supervisors; presented nationally and internationally; and served as a technical expert to SAMHSA’s National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification and Recovery Research Agenda. He has received several awards, co-authored peer-reviewed articles, and co-edited “What It Takes: Wisdom from Peer Support Specialists and Supervisors”. Dr. Edwards received his M. Phil and Ph.D. in Social Welfare from CUNY Graduate Center; his MSW from Silberman School of Social Work; and his bachelor’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from City College of CUNY.

  • KC Carpenter

    KC Carpenter, Coordinator, New York Peer Advancement Network (NY-PAN), National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.)

    KC Carpenter (they/them) is currently serving in a dual role at the National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.) as an administrative assistant for the organization as well as the Program Coordinator for the New York Peer Advancement Network (NY-PAN). After 9 years of direct mental health service, including 7 years of experience as a direct service peer supporter in the state of Vermont in a peer-run residential setting, KC was thrilled for the opportunity to lend their experience and skills towards supporting the peer support profession at a larger scale. In addition to their own personal life experiences, KC brings with them skills around outreach, communications, fundraising, and teaching. They are trained in Intentional Peer Support (IPS) and are passionate about peers reclaiming their power outside of mainstream and clinical settings.

  • Lenora Reid-Rose

    Lenora Reid-Rose, MBA, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, Partnerships, and Community Connectedness at Coordinated Care Services, Inc. (CCSI)

    Lenora brings more than 20 years of experience in the behavioral health field as a local and national consultant and educator. At CCSI, Lenora provides strategic guidance and direction at the enterprise level and collaborates with the organization’s president to define solutions to support growth and development. In this role, she offers a broad range of management services and technical assistance tailored to meet the needs of behavioral health, social, and human services departments, state agencies, and community-based organizations. She has experience developing, implementing and identifying critical changes in policy, practice, education, and training. Lenora is passionate about helping organizations strengthen practices focused on racial equity. She is a member of multiple affiliations and committees including the Vice President of Rochester Jamaican Organization.

  • Lori Ashcraft

    Lori Ashcraft, Ph.D., Founder, Resilience, Inc., Crestwood Recovery and Resilience Solutions

    After a full career in California including Deputy Mental Health Director for Community Programs, Lori worked with Bill Anthony and colleagues at Boston University, and her commitment to recovery and peer services became a passion. In 2002 she created the Recovery Opportunity Center in Phoenix AZ, where she and her team trained and consulted with programs in many states and other countries. In 2015, Lori created Resilience, Inc. to provide consultation for innovative peer delivered services. She is the author of many books and published articles on recovery and peer support.

  • Maria Fuentes

    Maria Fuentes, FPA-C, Family Peer Support Training Specialist, NYU McSilver/PeerTAC

    Maria 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’s 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.

  • Meghann Simpson

    Meghann Simpson, YPA-C, Youth Training Coordinator, Families Together in New York State, Inc.

    Meghann Simpson is an ambitious leader motivated to reform and develop support services for youth and adults. Meghann has an A.A. in Human Services and Social Science. She is graduating this spring with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Science and a minor in African American Studies. Meghann has experience working with various populations including but not limited to youth and adults experiencing serious mental illness, re-entry felons, LBTQIA+ individuals, and children coping with severe behavioral and emotional health challenges. Recently, Meghann co-founded Now She Speaks, a domestic and interpersonal violence non-profit organization, to provide a peer-support perspective to those experiencing IPV. Meghann hopes to inspire youth to know as fact that they can live a happy and successful life regardless of trauma and mental illness.

  • Melissa Wettengel

    Melissa Wettengel, MPH, NYCPS, CEO, Hands Across Long Island (HALI)

    Melissa currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Hands Across Long Island (HALI), the largest employer of peer professionals on Long Island. Formerly Melissa facilitated initiatives relating to peer workforce sustainability with the Long Island Regional Planning consortium. She also built and led peer-delivered crisis interventions on Long Island, including Turquoise House, crisis respite psychiatric hospital diversion (with MHA Nassau County), and Sherpa, emergency department peer navigation for overdose survivors (with FCA). Melissa is trained as both an SUD Peer Recovery Coach and a MH Peer Specialist. She holds a Master’s in Public Health from Stony Brook University. Melissa is passionate about engaging communities directly and building on their inherent strengths to heal, grow, and thrive.

  • Peggy Swarbrick

    Peggy Swarbrick

    Peggy Swarbrick Ph.D., FAOTA, Research Professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and Associate Director of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies; Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Wellness Institute

    Peggy has worked for 26 years at the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Wellness Institute Director. She has developed a strengths-based 8-dimensional wellness model that is been used for various populations as a strength-based approach for prevention treatment and recovery supports. Dr Swarbrick has made significant contributions to the body of literature in occupational therapy, nursing, and community behavioral health care practice, focused on such topics as wellness coaching, peer support, and self-care. She has developed supervisor training resources for peer support workers including training manuals. Dr Swarbrick developed a Wellness Learning Collaborative program designed to support the wellness of the workforce and is a collaborator on peer support models for healthcare professionals and educators to prevent burnout. https://alcoholstudies.rutgers.edu/people/leadership/margaret-peggy-swarbrick-phd-faota/

  • Rebecca Evansky

    Rebecca Evansky, Executive Director, Wellness Collaborative of New York, Independent Practice Association (WCNY-IPA)

    Rebecca supports the growth of peer support services through a unique Independent Practice Association comprising twelve peer-led provider organizations, spanning New York State. Advancing the collaborative foundation to ensure quality and authenticity of peer support services and shifting 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. Known as a compassionate advocate for special victims, 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.

  • Rita Cronise

    Rita Cronise, MS, ALWF, Faculty, Rutgers University Academy of Peer Services, Co-Director PeerTAC

    Rita has over two decades of experience in training peer specialists at the local, state, and national level. She coordinated development of the National Practice Guidelines for Peer Supporters through the National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.) and later served as Co-Director of the National Association until taking a full time faculty position at Rutgers University to help develop the Academy of Peer Services, which is the online training program used in the peer specialist certification in New York State. She currently serves as Co-Director of the Peer Support Services Technical Assistance Center (PeerTAC). She is pleased to be one of the four editors for the N.A.P.S. book, “What it Takes: Wisdom from Peer Specialists and Supervisors.” All proceeds from the book go to the National Association. Rita is a frequent lecturer on peer support values, practices, and supervision.

  • Robbie Lettieri

    Robert Lettieri, NYCPS, YPA-C, Robert Lettieri, NYCPS, YPA-C, Long Island Regional Youth Advocacy Specialist II, NYS Office of Mental Health, Office of Advocacy and Peer Support Services (OAPSS)

    Robert received his bachelor’s degree in Community Health and Human Services from SUNY Empire State University and currently works for the New York State Office of Mental Health. He is an international speaker and advocate who is passionate about creating a more inclusive and supportive society. Growing up in both the health care and mental health systems, he is dedicated to advocating for others who have endured both similar and abstract hardships. Robert’s expertise revolves around supervising youth and adult peer advocates. He partnered with BOCES and NYSED to secure a contract to receive funding and reimbursement for the program within every public school district in New York State. Robert also collaborated with SUNY Empire State University to secure 12 college credits for all individuals who hold a Professional YPA Credential. Robert has led a statewide workforce and collaborated with numerous statewide and national organizations to advocate for the expansion and sustainability of the peer workforce.

  • Sara Taylor

    Sara I. Taylor BSW, MS, FPA-P, CEO, Positive Steps

    Sara I. Taylor is the Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Positive Steps (www.positivestepsny.com). Sara is also employed full time as a Training Specialist and Community Liaison in western New York where she focuses on social justice and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. Sara’s 20+ year career, across multiple industries, ranges from direct-care front-line social worker to senior-level administrator. Sara became frustrated while navigating the complex mental health system trying to access services for her child, and connected with other parents in psychiatric emergency rooms who began to share their lived experiences. She convened a group of parents and caregivers of color who decided to elevate their voices to address inequities across the mental health system and develop peer support and resource groups for black and brown parents with similar experiences. Together they birthed the vision for the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) PEEEEEEK Parent Mental Health Project (www.bipoarentvoice.org) in upstate NY.

  • Shannon Higbee

    Shannon Higbee, BA, CEO, Recovery Options

    Shannon has been working in the non-profit field for over 20 years, starting her career at a private school in Western New York, both teaching secondary English and working as the Director of Development. Shannon transitioned into the mental health field with Recovery Options Made Easy in 2016, beginning in their Housing Department growing with the organization in several roles. She is currently the CEO for Recovery Options and brings her passion for peer services, community building, and mental health advocacy to the role. Shannon continues to have a passion for teaching as well and has consulted, trained, presented, and serves as a panelist or keynote speaker across New York and nationally. Her areas of specialty include peer-run crisis services and peer integration in clinical models She serves as the incoming board president for The Alliance for Rights and Recovery and on the Wellness Collaborative of New York IPA board.

  • Taina Laing

    Taina Laing MSW, NYCPS, CEO, Baltic Street Wellness Solutions

    Taina has been employed at Baltic Street Wellness Solutions (formerly Baltic Street AEH, Inc.) since 2002 and was appointed as CEO in September, 2020. Taina brings over 20 years of peer supervision, advocacy, and vocational services to individuals with mental health and substance use/misuse diagnoses. Taina is the Co-President of the Alliance for Rights and Recovery, is President of the New York State Peer Certification Board, is a member of the Institute for the Development of Human Arts (IDHA) board, a member of WCNY-IPA, and is a professional participant in developing and overviewing the exam of the MHA National Certified Peer Specialist. Taina graduated from Stony Brook University with her MSW, is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist and is looking forward to pursuing her Ph.D. in researching transgenerational trauma and the links of systemic oppression within the mental health and justice systems.

  • Tammy Bush

    Tammy Bush, BA, NYCPS, CPMC, Deputy Director S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc./RPN Central Region Coordinator – CNY

    Tammy Bush began her peer service role in her teenage years with a program that was focused on teen pregnancy and parenting, and discovered the mental health peer movement. She transitioned to a peer position and began her career as an employment specialist, moving up to managing and supervising roles, and is currently the Deputy Director of S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc. Over the past twenty years Tammy has been able to use her lived experience to help other individuals that have been diagnosed, labeled, and stigmatized learn they can recover, have quality of life, and succeed at whatever they choose. Tammy has experience in individual and systems advocacy, service provision, program development, peer supervision, and creating and maintaining positive relationships with clinical providers and other community-based organizations and social services departments.

  • TJ Curtis

    Tyrus (TJ) Curtis, FPA-C, Family Training Coordinator at Families Together in New York State

    TJ leverages his years of experience in youth and family mental health advocacy and peer-to-peer support toward training others to be successful. TJ’s journey began as a youth advocate for CCSI, leading him to serve on the board of directors for Youth M.O.V.E. National Inc. TJ has also contributed their expertise to the boards of the Federation of Families and SAMHSA. In their current role, TJ focuses on developing workshops and training programs aimed at enhancing youth and family development services. His passion lies in supporting youth, families, men, and fathers to ensure healthy outcomes for all. Alongside professional commitments, TJ is pursuing a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at North Central University, furthering their expertise to better serve those in need. TJ’s tireless dedication to the well-being of families and their commitment to advocacy make them a valuable asset to the community.

  • Victor Luna

    Victor Luna BA, CEO, Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey

    Victor is the CEO of Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey (CSPNJ), a peer led agency that employs people with lived experience in a range of roles throughout the agency. He has managed CSPNJ’s financial services and property management activities since 1996 and has been integral in developing Community Enterprises Corporation (CEC), a subsidiary of CSPNJ. He has been a key leader in developing and innovating the range of peer-led services CSPNJ currently offers and supervising people with lived experiences for decades. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Universidad del Turabo, Puerto Rico, Victor brings strong credentials to his work, as he is a graduate of the PRATT Community and Economic Development Intern Program, a Certified Nonprofit Housing Management Specialist, a Certified Assisted Housing Manager, and holds a Certified Housing Choice Program Proficiency.

  • Yvette Kelly

    Yvette Kelly, LMHC, Director, Children Services and Healthcare Innovation, NYU McSilver Institute and Co-Director PeerTAC

    Yvette works to bridge clinical and business practices by assisting behavioral health providers throughout New York State to develop competencies for enhancing organizational efficiencies. Her expertise includes strategies for effective supervision, documentation, revenue cycle management, and managed care. Kelly has over a decade of experience working with children and families. Passionate about ensuring that the world’s most vulnerable populations have access to high quality services, she has served in a variety of roles over the years, including Clinician, Supervisor, Quality Improvement Coordinator and more recently, Director of Children’s Mental Health. Kelly received a Master of Science in Education degree from The College of Saint Rose and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

  • Yvette Pate

    Yvette Patricia Pate, MHS, CPS, CPS-S, CPRP, Program Director, New York Peer Advancement Network (NYPAN) (a collaborative statewide initiative between the New York state Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S)

    Yvette is a dedicated Peer and Advocacy oriented professional with a Master’s Degree in Human Services, and is a Certified Peer Specialist, a Certified Peer Specialist Supervisor, and a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner. Yvette has worked in the behavioral health field for well over 25 years. She began her career in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania providing direct support to individuals living with substance abuse and mental health challenges. Yvette is highly skilled in various aspects of Peer Support, Advocacy, Recovery, Resilience and Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She has held various leadership roles throughout her career, advancing to director of services in 2017. She has overseen up to seven recovery-oriented programs simultaneously. Yvette has been committed throughout her career to promoting independent growth for individuals with diverse realms of trauma and behavioral health challenges. She embraces cultural diversity with care and compassion and brings a strong sense of commitment to all of her endeavors.