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Lived Experience Transformational Leadership Academy (LET(s)LEAD)

Yale has worked with 3 cohorts: U.S. National Cohort (8 fellows); CAMH Toronto Cohort (8 fellows); New Zealand Cohort (9 fellows) sponsored by Careerforce (in session).

Yale PRCH Contact
Chyrell D. Bellamy, PhD, MSW
Associate Professor/ Director of Peer Services and Research,
Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH)
Erector Square, 319 Peck Street, Bldg. 1
New Haven, CT 06513
Cell/Text: 203-444-2219

LET(s)Lead Overview

The LET(s)Lead Curriculum is designed to provide students (called fellows) with a general education on becoming a transformational leader. There are 10, weekly, 2-hour virtual learning sessions. Each session includes an educational component and experiential learning exercises: group discussions, and other opportunities to practice and develop leadership qualities.

Starting with the Why?

So why is there a need to do LET(s)Lead for people with lived experiences of recovery from mental illness, substance abuse, and trauma?
This work began about 2014, with a meeting of people with lived experiences at Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health (Yale-PRCH) from around the globe, organized by the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership. We met to discuss the need for developing people with lived experiences as leaders.

Many spoke of the lack of opportunities available for people with lived experiences to take on leadership roles, to acquire leadership experience, or to receive mentorship and guidance in these areas. In 2015, an international survey was conducted (via IIMHL and Yale-PRCH) asking people with lived experience what they would want in a leadership initiative. We then conducted nine qualitative interviews with international leaders with lived experience to get more specific feedback on the benefits and challenges of a leadership initiative.

The results indicated that people were in support of an initiative with a focus on leadership and systems and social change.

Leadership based on humanistic and engaging qualities is called transformational leadership. These qualities are similar to values within the research and practice of recovery oriented care and peer support. Transformational leadership has been defined by its proponents as a leadership approach that causes change both in individuals and in social system (James McGregor Burns, 1978).

This curriculum was developed to assist in developing transformative knowledge, skills and abilities of emerging leaders with lived experience.

Goals of LET(s)Lead

  • To assist emerging leaders in gaining an understanding of the critical and emerging issues in mental health and other systems of care.
  • To learn and put into practice the key elements of transformational leadership.
  • To develop a project that combines the knowledge and skills they are learning in class in a practical way, either by, for example, developing a project focused on systems or social change or by developing a change initiative specific to their own personal or organization’s vision.

Course Deliverables

  • Planning and preparation
  • 10 Weekly 2-hour virtual training sessions
  • 4-6 months of virtual sessions with mentors. Individuals will meet at least once per month with mentor;
  • 4-6 monthly online field seminar sessions with the full fellowship cohort.

Basic Structure for Each Session

Each 2-hour session will have basically the same structure; however, the overall lecture content varies. Depending on style, the speaker will want to touch on some of the more salient features of the review slides sent to fellows prior to the session. Integration of stories and examples work well to engage fellows. Discussion can also be encouraged throughout the class if that works for the faculty. However, it is also a good to have a designated time to hear responses and address specific questions raised by the fellows in response to the presentation. Here’s an example of a session 10:00 am-12:00 pm:

  • 10:00-10:15: Welcome back (and introductions of fellows to guest)
  • 10:15-10:45: Review of readings and homework materials
  • 10:45-11:15: Lesson/Practice Exercises
  • 11:15-11:45: Discussion
  • 11:45-12:00: Review of the day, Assignment & Evaluation


Participants are required to:

  • Meet as instructed above (online class, mentoring and check-ins)
  • Complete required homework assignments and readings
  • Develop a project over a 6-month period.
  • Read virtual training materials posted (via videoconferencing).
  • Participants continue the need to have access to a computer, reliable internet access, web camera capable of video web conferencing Zoom.

Attendance, Policies

  • Class attendance is a symbol of solidarity with the fellow members of your cohort. Meaningful education requires a shared cultural experience and the readings, writings, and discussions that take place in this class serve as precisely that.
  • Faculty is open to scheduling phone or virtual meetings if you have any questions related to the course.
  • To promote deep engagement with the course content, we encourage you, at any time, to stand up, walk around, or readjust your monitor in the virtual classroom.

Certificates and Graduation

Certificates will be delivered to fellows at the end of the 7-month period that have met the goals outlined above.

Faculty and Mentors

Chyrell D. Bellamy, PhD, MSW, is an Associate Professor of Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) and serves as the Director of Peer Services/ Research. She is also the Acting Director of the Office of Recovery Community Affairs, appointed by the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services. She has experience as a frontline service provider, community educator and organizer, community and academic researcher, and as a person with lived experience of trauma, mental illness and addictions. Her expertise includes developing and conducting community-based research initiatives – involving and partnering with community. Dr. Bellamy’s research examines sociocultural experiences and pathways to wellness and recovery in prevention and treatment. She recently completed research funded by PCORI: “Increasing Healthcare Choices and Improving Health Outcomes among Persons with Serious Mental Illness”. And, currently has a NIH R34 award: “Peer Wellness Enhancement for Patients with Serious Mental Illness and High Medical Costs”. She is also Co-Principal Investigator with Dr Ayana Jordan of Yale Psychiatry, on the Imani Breakthrough: A Faith-based Response to the Opioid Crisis. Dr Bellamy received her PhD in the Joint program in Social Work and Social Psychology from the University of Michigan and her MSW and BA from Rutgers University. Followed by a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Center for Mental Health and Criminal Justice Research at Rutgers University. In her capacity as Director of Peer Support Services and Research she provides instruction on peer curricula development; co-design training; and training of peer supporters and supervisors.

Larry Davidson, PhD, is a Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Program for Recovery and Community Health of the School of Medicine at Yale University. He also serves as Senior Policy Advisor for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and was the Project Director for the Recovery to Practice initiative of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. His research has focused on processes of recovery in serious mental illnesses and addictions, the development and evaluation of innovative recovery-oriented practices, including peer-delivered recovery supports, and designing and evaluating policies to promote the transformation of behavioral health systems to the provision of recovery-oriented, person-centered, and culturally responsive care. In addition to being a recipient of psychiatric care, Dr. Davidson has produced over 375 publications, including A Practical Guide to Recovery-Oriented Practice: Tools for Transforming Mental Health Care and The Roots of the Recovery Movement in Psychiatry: Lessons Learned. His work has been influential internationally in shaping the recovery agenda and in operationalizing its implications for transforming behavioral health practice.

Maria E. Restrepo-Toro, MS, is a nationally recognized leader, educator and trainer in the fields of Latino behavioral health recovery, psychiatric rehabilitation and cultural competence. She was one of the developers of LET(s)LEAD. She is currently the project Director of the New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center and brings her expertise in 1) workforce development in recovery-oriented practices such us person-centered, trauma-informed care and psychiatric rehabilitation interventions; 2) development of peer-run initiatives, training and technical assistance on peer integration practices; and 3) development of culturally appropriate curriculums and web-based training tools. She has trained hundreds of multidisciplinary stakeholders, both nationally and internationally and provided technical assistance in the implementation and dissemination of innovative recovery-based interventions. Lastly, she founded the Latino Initiatives at Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and established and coordinated the Yale Latino Recovery Colectivo a group committed to the dissemination of recovery oriented, trauma informed and evidenced based initiatives on Latinos(x).

Patty Benedict, BA, is a member of the Abenaki Nation of the Odanak reservation in Canada and a member of the Connecticut Native American community. For sixteen years, she worked for American Indians for Development, Inc. in a variety of capacities. Patricia is a Peer Support Supervisor and Trainer at the Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry Program on Recovery and Community Health. She oversees the development and implementation of Recovering Citizenship Initiatives, leads the Connecticut Recovering Citizenship Learning Collaborative, and is responsible for replicating the Citizens Project nationally and internationally. Patricia provides supervision support for Recovery Support staff and supervisors in local community-based reentry projects, Connecticut Valley Hospital and the Whiting Forensic Hospital. Patricia serves as a community mentor for Fellows in Yale’s LET(s)LEAD Academy, with cohorts in Toronto and New Zealand. Additional areas of interest and expertise include providing training and support to culturally diverse populations with co-occurring disorders, criminal justice experience and homelessness. She created and implemented a cultural competency training on Native Americans for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Connecticut Judicial Department. In 2009, she received the Leadership Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA).

Claire Bien, MEd, is an alumna of the first LET(s)LEAD cohort. In 2018, she joined staff at Yale University to serve as project coordinator/alumni coordinator for LET(s)LEAD. She brings over 30 years of nonprofit communications, publications, and community relations experience to the position. She also brings her expertise as an author, grant writer, mental health advocate and educator, and survivor. Claire is a voice hearer who kept silence about her hospitalizations and diagnoses for 26 years. She began speaking out in 2009 and her memoir, Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in my Head, was published in 2016. Claire is a passionate advocate for reform, calling for a change in the medical-psychiatric profession’s approach to diagnosis and treatment of people with mental health conditions. She is a founding member of the Board of Directors of NAMI Elm City (New Haven), facilitates two Hearing Voices Network support groups in New Haven, Connecticut, and joined the Board of Directors of the Hearing Voices Network-USA in July 2019. Claire speaks internationally about her experiences and has recently begun engaging in collaborative research on the voice-hearing experience. She is the 2019 conference co-chair of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS)-US, which will be held in New Haven from November 1-3, 2019. The theme for the conference is Psychosis, Citizenship and Belonging: Forging Pathways toward Inclusion and

Louise Byrne, PhD, is a lived experience lecturer at the Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and was the inaugural RMIT University Fulbright Fellow and 2017 Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow. Her Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship allowed her to conduct research at the Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health. Her research interests include mental health lived experience/peer workforce development, recovery principles, disclosure in the workplace and diversity/inclusion employment. Louise has nearly 10 years of University research and teaching experience on lived experience in mental health and has worked in lived experience specific positions since 2004.

Miraj U. Desai, PhD, is an Associate Research Scientist at the Program for Recovery and Community Health of the Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. He is also a Resident Fellow of Pierson College (Yale College), a Member of Yale's South Asian Studies Council, and Affiliated Faculty in the Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative. His research currently focuses on cultural, community, and social justice perspectives on mental health. Most recently, he has served as Project Director for PCORI and NIMH funded initiatives on participatory research and person-centered care, respectively. Dr. Desai is a Minority Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a recipient of the Sidney Jourard Award from the Society for Humanistic Psychology.

Helen Hamer, PhD, is an independent nurse consultant with extensive years of experience in both physical and mental health settings, teaching and supervising clinical staff and peer workers, delivering workshops that promote social inclusion and working with people on their journeys of recovery. My research interests are in citizenship; social justice; rights; inclusion; mental health law and procedural justice; and modelling the consumer-clinician alliance to promote research that directly informs practice. I also have experience in leading and facilitating systems change and increasing the skills-base of all staff in the use of psychological strategies across primary and secondary care systems. I hold an honorary academic/research role at PRCH Yale University, Connecticut (since 2016) and have since supported and facilitated the development and delivery of the citizenship project in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dietra Hawkins, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 10 years’ experience working with providers, communities and large health care systems to enhance their cultural and linguistic approaches as a mean of eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. Her background in qualitative research, community based participatory research methods and experience as a Clinical Director for a small urban mental health clinic help her customize curriculum, webinars, supervision and workshops for school systems, health care setting, and system leaders. She has worked with the Southeast AIDs training and Education Center, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene, and Texas Department of State Health Services, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). Dr. Hawkins developed Beyond the Surface: Making Cultural Competence Real. Organizational Cultural Competence Two Day Training Curriculum for Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum; and co-authored an 80-hour Certification 9 course curriculum for PROCEED, Inc., National Center for Training Support, & Technical Assistance titled EMBRACING PEOPLE IN COMMUNITIES (EPIC) PROGRAM for Organizational Cultural Competence. She has also developed a guidebook and training on the use of Appreciative Inquiry approaches to engage organizations and communities in developing practical and sustainable solutions.

Kimberly Guy was raised primarily in New Haven, Connecticut, where she now lives and works. Kimberly worked much of her life as a nurse’s aide until beginning work as a recovery mentor and leader in the Recovery Movement, sharing her personal story of hope and recovery from trauma, addiction and mental health challenges. Kimberly has presented across the state of Connecticut and nationwide on topics including peer support and person-centered approaches to treatment and care for people with addictions, mental illness, and incarceration history. She is the mother of 4 children and an avid gardener. Kim states: “I am the 3rd generation of women sent away to institutions, with the inherited trauma and this taking of my ancestors not for something they did wrong but for the pain they experienced due to the hard circumstances of their lives. That's the story I want to tell and to shed light upon. But it's not only my ancestors and my pain; through my work with the mental health field I have also seen the challenges and joys of peers working in this field, and it has given me a new perspective that we are all in this together.” Kim is currently a Supervisor and Trainer for Yale-PRCH, where she has worked for the past 10 years.

Nev Jones, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida, a mental health services researcher, peer advocate and policy consultant. To gain an understanding of the critical and emerging issues in mental health and other systems of care. Areas of expertise include: Systems-level policy and program development focused on early intervention in psychosis; Increased peer engagement and leadership, and greater attention to barriers clients face in educational and employment settings; Applied health services research and policy; Sociocultural determinants of mental health and recovery; and Racial and ethnic disparities.

Mary O’Hagan used mental health services in New Zealand for eight years as a young woman. Ever since, she has worked to make a difference to the way society and services respond to people with major mental distress. Mary was an initiator of the service user movement in New Zealand, the first chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, an advisor to the United Nations and World Health Organization, and a Mental Health Commissioner for New Zealand. Mary is an international speaker, consultant and writer, an international thought leader on service user perspectives, used for her unique expertise in recovery, wellbeing and discrimination, working in the Netherlands, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Anthony Stratford is the Senior Advisor Lived Experience and a member of the Executive at Mind Australia. He is a Visiting Scholar at Yale University School of Medicine. Anthony is an Honorary Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and an Honorary Fellow in the Centre for Global and Cultural Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the University of Melbourne. He also holds the position of Expert Advisor to the World Health Organization, Geneva and is a Board Director of the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) based in the USA. In 2016, Anthony was appointed to the Lived Experience Leadership Expert Reference Group which assists the Minister implementing Victoria’s Ten-Year Mental Health Plan. Anthony’s work is strongly informed by his personal experience of mental ill-health and recovery. He believes that the lived experience should strongly inform system change.

Eduardo Vega, MA, is CEO of Dignity Recovery Action! International, a consulting and technical assistance collective focused on social change, social justice and behavioral health systems transformation fueled by the “lived experience” of people who have been there. An internationally recognized thought leader in recovery-oriented programs and policy, consumer/user engagement, stigma reduction, men’s health and suicide prevention, his work as a change agent and innovator continues to drive the forefront of change for mental health worldwide. For over twenty-five years, Vega has provided progressive leadership in behavioral health services, advocacy, policy and programming. Highly sought as a speaker for his dynamism and ability to connect personal experience with systems and social change, Mr. Vega has presented and consulted on policy and technical issues in behavioral health with stakeholder and consumer groups, private industry and government throughout the US, in Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, Fiji and Latin America. In his leadership capacity, he helped found the national Destination Dignity! Project, the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations, (CAMHPRO), the Yale International Lived Experience Leadership Institute, United Suicide Survivors International and other transformative initiatives. He serves as President of the Board of CAMHPRO and Chair of the National Dignity Mental Health Coalition, on the Steering Committee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Global Anti-Stigma Alliance, and the Executive Committee of the US National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, through which he founded the world’s first suicide attempt survivor task force.

The Course at a Glance

Week 1 Academic Overview and Getting to Know Each Other Chyrell Bellamy, Claire Bien, Larry Davidson & Maria E. Restrepo-Toro
Week 2 Foundations of Transformational Change and Appreciate Inquiry Dietra Hawkins and Chyrell Bellamy
Week 3 Foundations of Transformational Leadership Dietra Hawkins
Week 4 Behavioral Health and Lived Experience: State of Affairs Nev Jones
Week 5 Encouraging the Heart and Partnering with Others Maria E. Restrepo-Toro
Week 6 Change Management Strategies and Appreciative Inquiry Eduardo Vega
Week 7 Culturally Responsive Leadership on Boards and Committees Lynne Legere
Week 8 Effectiveness of Story in Leadership on Boards and Committees Local Experts
Week 9 Developing Your Vision, Student Presentations Claire Bien, Chyrell Bellamy and Maria E. Restrepo-Toro
Week 10 Pushing Forward, Next Steps, Student Presentations Claire Bien, Chyrell Bellamy and Maria E. Restrepo-Toro

Lived Experience Transformational Leadership Institute (LET(s)LEAD) Fellows

Cohort 1, August 2017-April 2018: National U.S. Cohort, in partnership with SAMHSA and IIMHL

Allen D. Sweatt

Allen D. Sweatt is a Military Veteran Certified as a Peer Specialist and a Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist in the State of Maryland. Allen has served on three Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams, Pathways to Housing DC, Anchor Mental Health of Catholic Charities and as a Peer Counselor with People Encouraging People, Inc. He has also been employed as Recovery Coach / Peer Counselor at the Prince George’s County Health Department, Behavioral Health Division primarily engaging individuals using medicated assisted treatment. Allen established Peer Services United LLC, January, 2016, in an effort to provide peer support in the community of Prince George’s County, Maryland as an independent entity. Allen is a graduate from Bowie State University with a BS in Communication Media and an Associate of Science in Human Service from The Catholic University of America. He is also a member of NAMI, as an In Our Own Voice (IOOV) Presenter, a Co-Facilitator of NAMI Connections group and a Peer to Peer Education Course Mentor. He also is a Veteran Mentor with the Prince George’s County Veterans Diversion Court. Allen is currently attending the University of Maryland School Of Social Work.

Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson was born and raised in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia where he spent his youth learning how to love and honor all others. His father worked as a teacher for most of his childhood and gave him an intense understanding of discipline and the need for justice. His mother worked in insurance and was a part-time organizer, and gave him an absolute commitment to love and community. For his Middle and High School years he followed his Father to Germantown Academy in Fort Washington where he graduated in 2004. After receiving his BA from Maryland in American Studies in 2008, his MPH from Drexel University in 2014, and working in the non-profit sector for a decade doing youth leadership development work, Steve says taking this next step for empowerment and entrepreneurship with Let(s) Lead feels like fate. He believes that he is absolutely ready to find new levels of strength within himself and use it to build up all those that join him. He believes that working for this empowerment movement requires that we have real conversations about intersectionality especially of culture, technology, and leadership. He sees a need to invest at those meeting points and do the hard work of supporting collaboration between the many groups that make up the leadership fabric of those respective communities.

Claire Bien

Claire Bien, M.Ed. is a writer, grant writer, and community relations professional at The Connection, a nonprofit human services agency in Connecticut. She is also a voice hearer who, thanks to compassionate therapy, meaningful work, and the support of family and friends, learned to challenge her demons and negotiate the conditions that allowed her to regain control over her mind and life without the need for ongoing medication management. Claire kept silence about her psychiatric history for 26 years. She began speaking out in 2009, after a work-related assignment led to her becoming a founding member of the board of the New Haven affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Claire continues her NAMI involvement as a state trainer for the NAMI Provider Education program, an In Our Own Voice presenter, and member of NAMI Connecticut’s Public Policy committee. Claire is also a trained Hearing Voices Network (HVN) support group facilitator and co-facilitates two HVN support groups—one for adults at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and one for adolescents in the New Haven community. Since 2009, Claire has become a passionate advocate for mental health reform, calling for a change in the medical-psychiatric profession’s approach to diagnosis and treatment of people with mental health conditions. Her memoir, Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in my Head, was published in June 2016.

Brandee Izquierdo

Brandee Izquierdo is the Associate Director of Special Populations for Behavioral Health System Baltimore, specializing in behavioral health and criminal justice. As a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, Registered Peer Supervisor and the former Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs for the State of Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration; Brandee offers lived experience in recovery as well as a well-rounded approach to recovery support services. Additionally, Brandee was the principle investigator in developing Maryland’s integrated-Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist (i-FPRS) endorsement training curriculum. Earning her Bachelor’s in Government and Public Policy; Brandee is now in the final semester of University of Baltimore’s Master’s program in Public Administration. She has been accepted into the Doctor of Public Administration Program specializing in Administration Justice; which will begin in spring of 2018.

Emily Wu Truong

Emily Wu Truong is an award-winning motivational speaker in Los Angeles, who works tirelessly to address the misconceptions of individuals who struggle with mental illness. As a suicide-attempt survivor diagnosed with depression and anxiety, she transformed her adversities into wisdom, inspiring others to face their fears and find value in their own life struggles. As a mental advocate, she uses her voice to advocate for children in communities of color whose voices are often under-represented. She also collaborates with other organizations to create safe spaces to encourage informative discussions on equipping community advocates with the resources they need to improve the quality of life in their communities. In recognition of Emily's efforts, Senator Ed Hernandez honored Emily with the 2015 Woman of Achievement Award, and the following year, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano invited her to be a guest speaker before an audience of leaders in school administration and mental health care. Most recently, Emily spearheaded the establishment of May 10th being recognized as "Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day" in Los Angeles County. In honor of this day, Supervisors Hilda Solis & Janice Hahn recognized Emily for her grassroots efforts in highlighting the struggles & resilience of the Asian Pacific American communities. Emily has become a role model for many, delivering her message that with help, there IS hope, and that helplessness is NOT hopelessness.

Annette Diaz

Annette Diaz is a Latina advocate & Recovery Support Specialist who has been in long term recovery since 2007 from Mental Health, Trauma, and Substance Abuse. She works at one of the largest behavioral health networks known as Community Health Resources and holds a position as Connecticut’s first Peer Coordinator which she purposed to her agency; due to there being a need for the culture of recovery being understood through the lens of someone that has been through the behavioral health system, DOC, homelessness, poverty, in emotional distress. That way the people being served can have a better chance of seeing that Recovery is Possible. I am a person that believes that when Recovery is understood and embraced that people will have a chance to transform their lives. My long term mission is to have persons with lived experience be part of the workforce throughout the whole behavioral health system. So that People receiving services or experiencing emotional distress can be resilient and bounce back into being part of the community.

B Bonner

B Bonner is originally from the Bay Area. B graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in Religious Studies. While living in California, B was a Peer Support Specialist at Felton/Family Service Agency’s Early Intervention Program and was a research fellow with Felton’s Client-Centered Outcomes in Public Mental Health. Currently, they are a Peer Counselor at OnTrack NY. Throughout all of B’s work they continue to utilize their own lived experience as a means to advocate for and empower youth voices, experiences, and stories. They are deeply passionate about ensuring that those with lived experience are involved at all levels of decision making in behavioral health systems. Additionally, they prioritize the incorporation of holistic modalities of care into their work and individual practice.

Cohort 2, August 2018-April 2019: Toronto Cohort, in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Funmilade Taiwo

Funmilade Taiwo is the founder of PsyndUp, an online platform that connects Nigerians to mental health professionals and provides informal peer support through an anonymous online forum. Funmilade has worked with NGOs and private organizations and through his own personal journey, has continued to promote mental health awareness amongst Nigerians and other Africans in the diaspora. Funmilade is currently an online peer supporter at Stella’s Place, working to develop and support online platforms for young adults to manage their mental health recovery.

Funmi’s LET(s)Lead Project entailed promoting conversations around mental health for African students in post-secondary institutions—Thrive. Thrive- also exists as a resource for organizations to host their mental health initiatives. Work he has done through Thrive includes producing a video focusing on the importance of connection with other people to mitigate the harm that loneliness and isolation can have.

Tracey Addison

After completing a B.A. in Developmental Psychology and a B.Ed. from The University of Western Ontario, Tracey spent many years working in independent schools, in roles ranging from Director of Admissions to Principal. Her struggles and frustration with the mental health system led her to her current position at the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook Hospital, as a Parent Advocate with Lived Experience. Tracey has completed the Ontario Peer Development Initiative’s Peer Support Training and is grateful to CAMH/Yale University for the opportunity to participate in LETs LEAD.

Tracey’s LET(s)Lead Project entailed creating a document for caregivers on Privacy and Consent summarizing what caregivers need to know to get information they are entitled to, to support family members.

Rachel Bromberg

Rachel Bromberg has been working as a peer supporter and peer educator for over six years, at organizations including Youth Line, Planned Parenthood, Kids Help Phone, Stella’s Place, and CAMH, where she facilitates trauma-informed crisis de-escalation trainings for CAMH staff. She also sits on the Toronto Regional Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee and the CAMH Constituency Council. Through this work, she has developed an appreciation for the uniqueness of the peer perspective, and has learned that feeling “seen,” accepted, and less alone is often what helps service users through a crisis.

Rachel’s LET(s)Lead project is to inaugurate a peer and clinician partnered mobile crisis unit as a fourth emergency service in the city of Toronto, accessible through 911. This team will be first responders to mental health crises in the community, and they would provide mobile risk assessments, crisis de-escalation, resources and referrals, and transportation to places of safety (with the client’s consent). The team will be modeled after similar services such as the CAHOOTS mobile crisis unit in Eugene, Oregon. The goal of the mobile crisis team is to replace police response to mental health crises, and it will lead the way in a paradigm shift away from police response towards a community-based, client-centered, anti-oppressive, trauma-informed response to mental health crises.

Rachel is currently a student in the combined graduate degree program in law and social work (JD/MSW) at the University of Toronto. When she isn’t planning transformative systems change or world domination, she enjoys reading, Pilates, running at the beach, and spending time with her adorable (and incredibly assertive) six-year-old sister."

Kathy Friedman

Kathy Friedman was born in South Africa and moved to Toronto at the age of 5. Her poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction have appeared in literary journals across Canada. In 2012, she was named an under-35 writer to watch by the Writers’ Trust of Canada as a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. She has also been runner-up for the Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award and for PRISM international’s short fiction contest.

Kathy has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph and a BFA from the University of British Columbia. She teaches creative writing in the University of Guelph’s Open Education program and has led writing workshops at community organizations throughout the city. She is also the co-founder and artistic director of InkWell Workshops, which runs creative-writing workshops for people with mental-health and addictions issues led by professional writers with lived experience.

Kathy’s LET(s)Lead project entailed providing a three-hour writing workshop for the Center for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) Aboriginal Caucus, who self-identify as Métis, Inuit, or First Nations.

Pauline Harnum

Pauline Harnum was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. For over 25 years, she has worked in various roles in the federal public service and the government of Ontario supporting policy development and program reviews. She is also a survivor of addictions and trauma.

Pauline has been a volunteer advocate for people living with addictions and mental health issues since 2008. She has supported youth who are street-involved and who deal with issues around sexual identity, dual diagnosis and racial identity while encouraging them to achieve their goals around substance use. A musician, she has also played in bands at fundraisers to help raise money for addictions programming. She describes her decade of volunteer work as a labour of love. In 2007, her son was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, who self-medicated, injecting prescriptions and street drugs. Sadly, he passed away from these illnesses in 2016. Through these experiences Pauline has gained incredible insight into the lives of individuals experiencing concurrent disorders and the complexities of the mental health and addiction systems. Pauline continues to do volunteer work that supports patients and families in navigating complex mental health systems while also advocating for systemic improvements.

Pauline’s LET(s)Lead project entailed developing an informational brochure for patients and families involved with the forensic system.

Cat Padmore

Cat Padmore has lived inner city neighbourhoods in Toronto, Canada for about 30 years. Cat, who loves to garden, has lived-experienced a significant amount of healing and recovery–sometimes entire rebuilds—from serious mental health/addictions/trauma, and is still in recovery. For Cat, recovery life has been like a “three steps back—one step forwards” motorcycle ride on a hazardous road, but there is beauty in the scenic path. Cat is a multi-media artist and graphic designer and is single parent to a young adult. Cat, having started at Queen’s University, then to University of Toronto, was challenged to discover their path. After a period of time spent in financial services industry, they eventually became grounded as a parent and studied many years part-time at George Brown College School of Design where their majors were advertising and illustration. Close to graduation, they studied health & wellness, and nutrition courses for breadth of knowledge: these courses had the impact of motivating Cat to become more concerned for their health and the health of those in the MH community, particularly after learning about dimensions of wellness and social determinants of health. Around that time, Cat began to host a bi-weekly grassroots peer support group, The Noisy Sisters, and it is this leg of the journey, and the desire to contribute to systemic change, that has brought them to the LET(s)Lead Academy at CAMH.

Cat’s LET(s)Lead project entailed developing a 32-page health promotion booklet to cover holistic health and self-care; co-occurrence between MI and chronic health conditions.

Sean Patenaude

Sean Patenaude is a Toronto photographer, teacher, and mental health advocate. He has a lifetime of lived experience with mental health challenges, issues and resources, having received his first diagnosis of depression at eight years old. A self-described “general specialist”, Sean has a long and varied work history. A partial list of jobs he’s held includes DJ, actor, photographer, IT manager, teacher, corporate trainer, PC repairman, customer service rep, security guard, barista, polka-band drummer, and lyricist. This range of experiences enables him to connect with people from all walks of life. For the past five years. Sean has worked at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health supporting restraint-reduction, patient safety and anti-stigma initiatives. He has spoken to thousands of health professionals and students about his experiences with addiction, recovery, and mental health and is both a lecturer and subject matter expert in CAMH / University of Toronto’s Opioid Dependence Treatment training course. His photography practice is a cornerstone of his personal wellness and he has had the privilege of teaching and facilitating photography groups in various communities. He is currently completing “watching the time pass by the sun”, a large-scale public artwork commissioned by CAMH for their new facility.

Sean’s LETs(s)Lead project involves integrating Peer Support workers into the post-restraint debriefing process at CAMH.

Courtney Young

Management consulting is not a typical path for someone long focused on mental health advocacy, Courtney loves to use business acumen to work on human challenges. As an Honors Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies student, with distinction, at Canada’s only all-women’s University, Courtney began her healthcare journey as a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholar in Nairobi, Kenya where she published her first Ivey Business School case on Activity-Based Costing. The following year, Courtney pursued an interdisciplinary Fulbright Killam Fellowship at Harvard University to learn more about case-based learning at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

After graduation, Courtney began her full-time career in management consulting in the healthcare sector - where her passion for mental health came to light. Courtney has since completed a certificate in Lived Experience Transformational LEADership at Yale’s Program for Recovery and Community Health. Recently, Courtney has transitioned to a new role at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), where she uses her Lived Experience of mental illness to help lead CAMH’s dedicated Patient and Family-Centred Care initiative.

Courtney’s LETs(s)Lead project entailed adapting the Journey Mapping tool developed by the business industry to improve customer service, for use at the CAMH Bridging Clinic to improve patient engagement and services.

Cohort 3, April 2019-December 2019 (graduation March 6, 2020), in partnership with Careerforce NZ.

Lisa Archibald

Lisa is a proud Scot from Midlothian who is currently living in Christchurch, New Zealand, with her two daughters. Lisa has delivered, managed and trained in the lived experience sector in various countries since graduating from university in 1999.

Lisa was a UK Winston Churchill fellow in 2013 researching mental health discrimination in communities. This led her to travel to New Zealand, where she chose to live for a while with her daughters. Lisa is the Manager of PeerZone and is an experienced trainer of WRAP, PeerZone, Intentional Peer Support, and SafeTALK and has developed other workshops and training as an independent contractor. She is the Coordinator and Lead Trainer for Intentional Peer Support Aotearoa NZ. Currently, Lisa enjoys delivering an anti-discrimination programme called No Worries in workplaces in New Zealand as well as supporting the growth and development of PeerZone’s workshops and toolkit internationally.

Lisa’s LET(s)Lead Project entails using the Intentional Peer Support (IPS) model to develop an interactive resource that can be used by communities such as workplaces, schools, marae and churches to support people to be more relational and intentional in the way they interact with one another.

Frank Bristol

Frank is a fourth generation Whanganui, New Zealand citizen. His forebears came from Ireland and England. He worked as a partner in a horticultural operation "Bristol Plants & Seeds" with his late wife, Joy, for most of his working life. They specialized in vegetable seed breeding and plant growing, but perhaps are best publicly known for their 27 years of work with “Whanganui in Bloom."

Since 2004 Frank has become increasingly involved in developing community based, peer-run Mental Health services. He has been a speaker on self-management at various Mental Health conferences in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, United States, and Canada over the last 12 years. He is a keen and passionate facilitator of approaches based on self-care, relationally centred care, and community-care philosophies embodied in “Koriamana Peer Support” (a bicultural approach), "Intentional Peer Support," and the "Art of Facilitating of Self-Determination." Frank now understands his lived experience of significant struggle in his earlier years makes him more effective in life rather than less.

Frank is currently general manager of Balance Aotearoa, and part of the Balance Whanganui Peer Support team, which provides peer support and consultancy services to the Whanganui District Health Board (DHB) area. Through Balance he is contracted to provide consumer leadership, consultancy and liaison for Whanganui DHB’s Mental Health and Addictions Service. Frank is also a member of the Whanganui DHB Board Advisory Combined Advisory Committees. Amongst other local, regional and national working groups he is also on the National MH KPI sponsors group, Te Pou Clinical Reference Group. He also enjoyed being part of the On-Track publication development as a Steering group member. He is currently a member of the Consumer Advisory Group to the Board of the HQSC and involved with the HQSC MHA quality improvement programs in various position both at a national and local level.”

Frank's LET(s)Lead Project is to write a personal narrative or memoir entitled “Becoming Frank” that will explore his life and such factors as privilege, diversity, and personal growth, that have fostered the perspectives and life experiences that have allowed him to become the man he is.

Toni Huls

Toni is a "Tall Tree" with Rakau roroa a Changing minds initiative. This a network of national Lived experience leaders who use their personal lived experience of mental distress and recovery to inspire people and create change. Toni volunteers many hours with people living with mental distress and in recovery. She states, “to share my lived experience with people and communities is to instill hope and promote transformational change. Toni is an Intentional peer support worker and finds it a joy to work in such a collaborative and transparent manner. She is a member SDHB Hapaia Tumanako/ Raise hope; SDHB Co-design consumer reference group, and SDHB Moving Forward consumer council. She is a passionate and enthusiastic advocate to end stigma and discrimination within her community, the system and among peers.

Toni’s LET(s)Lead project entails using her lived experience to become an educator, working with medical professionals on improving approaches to patient care, especially where they intersect with mental health diagnoses and focusing specifically on the phenomenon of Diagnostic Overshadowing, which is defined as a process where health professionals wrongly presume that present physical symptoms are a consequence of their patient's mental illness. As a result, the patient with mental illness gets inadequate diagnosis or treatment. Toni, her husband, and her daughter have all been subject to diagnostic overshadowing. Diagnostic overshadowing can lead to delays in treatment and inadequate medical treatment for physical health conditions in people with mental illnesses, leading to increased mortality and poorer treatment outcomes. The World Health Organization attributes lower life expectancy in people with intellectual disability or mental illnesses in part to diagnostic overshadowing. This topic is taught as part of Clinicians training.

Shubhangi Kaushik

Shubhangi is a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend who grew up in extremely varied cultures; India, Nepal, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, and New Zealand. Ethnically Indian, however, identifying primarily as a ‘kiwi’ now, experiencing migration as a young adult came with trauma and confusion about her self-identity. Her journey of recovery came with a lot of detours, spread over 8 years of going downhill, and about another 8 years of finding her way back up the hill.

Shubhangi currently works as a ‘Consumer Leader’ for one of the largest District Health Boards (publicly funded) in New Zealand, which entails providing the consumer perspective at a strategic and leadership level. Her role is quite broad and includes service design/delivery/evaluation/development, workforce development, recruitment, improvement projects, and policy and procedure development.

She is also currently practicing as an intern psychologist, in order to complete requirements for full registration as a psychologist with the New Zealand Psychologists Board. Her practice as a psychologist is allowing her to develop an understanding of change at an organizational level. Many of her reflections have focused on how principles of psychology can be utilized to influence and create transformational change in the mental health sector, in order to design services that are responsiveness to the needs of users of mental health services. In the other hat she wears as an intern psychologist, Shubhangi works in a brief therapy setting with clients, which she believes keeps her grounded and continues to remind her about why she is so passionate about change in the mental health sector.

Shubhangi's LET(s)Lead project has been broken down into three different phases with the key theme focusing on ‘self-disclosure as a registered mental health professional’.

Phase 1: Presentation at a DHB Mental Health Nurses forum in November. This presentation will explore the rather controversial topic of whether self-disclosures as mental health nurse are helpful or not. The presentation will include some practical tips on how to self-disclose and Shubhangi will use some examples of her own work with clients.

Phase 2: An academic literature review in the field of mental health disclosures as a registered health professional.

Phase 3: Conducting qualitative research in the field of mental health disclosures as a registered health professional; weighting out both professional and consumer perspectives.

Shubhangi’s key aims around her project are reducing stigma and the “them” vs “us” ideology that exists within mental health services, in hopes to transform clinical practice and move from restrictive to more humanized and compassionate care.

Cassandra Laskey

Cassandra Laskey is a mother, partner, sibling, daughter, friend and colleague who loves art, music, interesting food, people, and laughter. She is a Professional Leader Peer Support and Consumer Family Whaanau Centred Care at Counties Manukau Health in South Auckland, New Zealand, where she is responsible for recruitment, professional development and oversight of peer support staff and peer supervisors. She is also team manager for the Consumer Engagement Advisors, Family Advisor and Service User Lead Evaluation Team and a Board Director (consumer experience) for a national NGO provider of mental health and addiction services and sits on a number of regional and national leadership and advisory groups. Prior to becoming involved with the mental health and addictions sector, Cassandra was a primary school teacher with leadership responsibility in curriculum development and working with children who have both special learning needs and special learning abilities. Her belief in the potential of people and desire to be part of the development of healthy service systems that enables people to realize their potential as individuals and as communities compels her to do this work.

Cassandra’s LET(s)Lead project will entail developing a framework for person centered (and family inclusive) care that will contribute to transformation of mental health services across the Counties Manaku Health organization.

Carla Manson

Carla Manson is a mother, wife, sister, introvert, friend and many more things to people. She was born and bred in a small town on the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand and felt that she never quite fit the mold and struggled to find her place. Her first experience of mental health challenges was in her early teens. Because Carla’s family lived in a small town, they were concerned about the stigma and discrimination she would face as a recipient of mental health care, so she was sent away to receive treatment. Carla continued to struggle even after removing herself from this situation and ‘going out on her own’ at age 16 and bounced around for several years. She finally found a place and spent time living with a Samoan/Maori family, which helped shape her worldview, and was integral to her finding a sense of belonging and acceptance. When she became a parent, she realized that many of the answers she had been looking for were located within herself and decided to make a commitment to her own self-discovery.

Carla has worked in the social services field for the past 22 years. Beginning work in the disability field with children and young and their whanau’s. She has a real passion for working alongside people with autism spectrum disorders and addressing issues of injustice and inequity. She is currently a manager in a peer support service working alongside a team of other managers and peer support workers who provide support to people experiencing mental health and addiction challenges.

Carla’s LET(s)Lead project entails facilitating Systems Transformation within her own organization - utilizing the learning achieved through the LET(s)Lead curriculum. Her plan is to develop a framework for person centred (and family inclusive) care that will contribute to transformation of MH services across our organisation. This will require a shift in the way a long-established team functions and delivers on engaging with consumers but also navigating the tightrope that is working in collaboration with clinical partners to improve experience and outcomes for all.

Maha Tomo

Maha Tomo Maha Tomo is the lead facilitator at Toi Manawa arts an initiative that aims to support well-being and connection through an indigenous platform of creativity. He began doing this work because he truly believes wellness in the community starts in the community, and that creativity is the way forward for those facing challenges. He also likes it because it’s a lot of fun and allows him to work with many age groups and ethnicities. Maha is also the Director at Auckland Bone and Stone carving academy the first indigenous carving school based in Auckland that teaches Maori carving with wood bone and stone.

Maha’s LETs(s)Lead project includes creating and producing an animated video that explains cultural and societal conditioning and how it correlates to the thoughts people have, the ways in which they think, and their ability to think independently. The goal is to break through and reduce prejudice while universally improving societies’ understanding of wellness by explaining the underlying effects of cultural and social conditioning. He is influenced in this choice and work through personal experience, the woke movement, and regular discussions with peers around privilege, prejudice wellbeing in society, equality and a deeper understanding of wellness and unwellness that come from societal norms and majority mindsets.

Tamara Waugh

Tamara Waughis a mother, daughter, sister, partner, cousin, aunty and friend who experienced childhood sexual abuse as well as sexual violence as a young adult, major mental distress and addictions. She is project manager of a national Lived Experience Leaders program. She does this work because she feels the voice of people with lived experience can add much value to society by decreasing discrimination and reducing prejudice, allowing New Zealand to become better equipped to deal with these challenges within the community and ease the load on services. Tamara is the voice of many communities, working at the Health Quality & Safety Commission on three working advisory groups in Mental Health and across the whole of health. She directs the national lived experience leaders’ program, ‘Rākau Roroa, at Changing Minds, and leads over 100 individuals or Tall Trees, with lived experience, who are delivering projects within the community or workplace in every region of the country. She is also leading the translation project of the program from face-to-face workshops to a digital e-learning platform. She is founder of The Happiness Experiment and developer of the 3GT app directed at youth to grow social and emotional resilience through a gratitude practice and connection with peers.

Tamara’s LETs(s)Lead project entails making transformative change to New Zealand’s ACC Sensitive Claim process in order to prevent additional harm to people who are reporting instances of trauma and abuse. Her project plan is to use the concepts and theories of the national program she leads, based around perspective shifting and the power of contact, to increase engagement from ACC to those with lived experience of sexual abuse to inform their processes and systems. The goal is to have a lived experience representative at the table of every design planning session.