Camille Alizadeh is a Yale LET(s)Lead alumnus and the current coordinator for the Yale LET(s)Lead program. She has been involved in the mental health community for over 10 years and is passionate about advocacy, social justice, and improving access to services for diverse mental health communities. She is the founder of Lived Collective, an online community and publication for people with lived experiences of madness and neurodivergence.
Faculty and Mentors
- Camille Alizadeh
- Chyrell Bellamy, MSW, PhD
Chyrell D. Bellamy, PhD, MSW is the Co-director of Yale University’s Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) in the School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.
She has experience as a social worker, community educator and organizer; as a community and academic researcher; and, as a person with lived expertise in recovery. Her expertise includes developing and conducting community-based research initiatives; involving and partnering with people living with mental illness, substance abuse, HIV, and experiences of incarceration; particularly related to practice and research on sociocultural pathways to recovery and wellness.
Dr. Bellamy received her PhD in the Joint program in Social Work and Social Psychology from the University of Michigan and her MSW from Rutgers University, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Center for Mental Health and Criminal Justice Research at Rutgers University.
As Director of Peer Services and Research for Yale-PRCH, she provides instruction on peer curricula development and training based on her research and practice experience with people in recovery employed as peer supporters, coaches, and mentors; evaluation of the effectiveness of peer support; and, research and training on the development of culturally responsive community based interventions.
- Patricia Benedict
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.
Patty 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. Patty provides supervision support for Recovery Support staff and supervisors in local community-based reentry projects, Connecticut Valley Hospital and the Whiting Forensic Hospital.
She also serves as a community mentor for Fellows in Yale’s LET(s)LEAD Academy. 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
Claire Bien, MEd is a former Fellow for the LET(s)LEAD academy, author, grant writer, mental health advocate, and survivor from Connecticut. She began hearing voices at 31, was hospitalized, and placed on medication.
Thanks to compassionate therapy and the support of family and friends, Claire learned to regain control of her mind and her life without the need for ongoing medication. Claire kept silence about her hospitalizations and diagnoses for 26 years. She began speaking out in 2009 after becoming involved, through a work-related assignment, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). She has since become 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) and facilitates two Hearing Voices Network support groups. Her memoir, Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in my Head, was published in 2016.
- Larry Davidson, PhD
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.
- Miraj U. Desai, PhD
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.
- Kimberly Guy
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.
- Dietra Hawkins, PsyD
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.
- Nev Jones, PhD
Nev Jones, PhD is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of South Florida and activist scholar. Her work focuses on early psychosis, meaning centered supports, the social and cultural determinants of disability and recovery, and critical perspectives on the mainstream implementation of peer specialist (and other 'lived experience') roles.
In addition to academic work, Nev has co-founded three peer-led organizations including Chicago Hearing Voices and the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network, and co-leads the 'Transform Research: Advancing User/Survivor Capacity and Leadership in Research' initiative (https://usersurvivorresearch.weebly.com/).
- Lyn Legere
Lyn Legere is a person in long term recovery from substance use and mental health challenges. Ms. Legere has been deeply involved in the development, training and implementation of the peer support workforce. She has co-created CPS trainings in several states and consults nationally and internationally on best practices in peer support training, supervision and roles within and beyond the behavioral health system.
Lyn received her Master’s at Boston University, focusing on Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and has co-authored several curricula that offer psychiatric rehabilitation skills from a peer perspective, including Vocational Peer Support and Employment Peer Mentoring. Currently, Lyn works as a Lead Trainer at Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, focusing on the development and dissemination of numerous interventions to support people using services. She also serves as a consultant to SAMHSA and BRSS TACs on best practices in recovery-oriented services and the peer support workforce.
- Heather Mcdonald Bellamy
Heather McDonald Bellamy, MEd is a consultant for LET(s)Lead and was co-coordinator of the LET(s)Lead Academy New England. She is an expert in complex trauma, a recognised leader with lived experience, and an oratorical.
She co-developed the Pathways to Recovery FOR-U Guidebook with Priscilla Ridgeway, PhD; co-developed the first state-wide peer training for the state of Nebraska with Shery Mead and Chris Hansen and Yale PRCH; she developed grants and programming for employing people with lived experience in all roles through the CT Recovery Employment Services project and Project ACT; she was an early champion of WRAP, Intentional Peer Support, Pathways to Recovery, and Advocacy and Leadership training in CT, nationally and internationally, including Denmark and Hong Kong.
Heather served as the Executive Director of Focus on Recovery-United, Inc. (FOR-U) for 13 years; providing education and training. While there she collaborated with Shery Mead on Intentional Peer Support and Peer Run Crisis Alternative trainings and attended/conducted several trainings with Mary Ellen Copeland and her staff. During her time in the mental health and advocacy field, she gave over 500 WRAP and Mental Health Recovery presentations, seminars, and workshops around the state of Connecticut and New England. Heather is from Bournemouth, UK and has and has a variety of interesting experiences including educator, clinical provider, counselor, advocate, and activist. She received her Master of Education in 2015.
- Maria Elvira Restrepo-Toro, MS
Maria E. Restrepo-Toro, MS is an Educator and Manager of Training and Education at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health. She is also the Co-Director of the New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center. Maria is a Visionary Leader, Trainer and Researcher in the fields of Latino Behavioral Health Recovery, Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Cultural Diversity. She has earned recognition as a leader in the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and received the USPRA 2012 Leroy Spaniol Educator Award.
Maria is passionate about eliminating global mental health disparities, empowering people to recover, and gain equal access to behavioral health services. For the past 28 years, Maria has successfully trained bilingual professionals, administrators, peers, advocates and family members both nationally and internationally. She has a unique expertise in developing culturally appropriate recovery-oriented training materials designed to bring hope and to empower Spanish-speaking people and their families.
- Anthony Stratford
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
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.
Canadian Faculty Mentors 2023
- Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson has been a mental health professional since entering the field at the Addiction Research Foundation in 1997, after completing a degree in Political Studies at Queen’s University and pursuing graduate studies in Western University’s Theory and Criticism program. Andrew is currently the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s manager of patient and family education and CAMH Publications. In that role, Andrew collaborates widely, including with people with lived experience of mental illness and/or addiction, researchers, digital developers, publications professionals, librarians, clinicians and others to co-create recovery-oriented education, mental health-related information, mHealth interventions and other knowledge products. The aim of that work is to authentically meet the learning needs of our patients, their families, students and clinicians. Currently, Andrew’s focus is on leading the scale up of the Collaborative Learning College at CAMH, a strengths-based recovery-oriented education program that emphasizes the role of lived experience, autonomy, empowerment, co-creation and cofacilitation.
- Jordana Rovet
Jordana Rovet (she/her) is a registered social worker with a Master's degree and Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Toronto Metropolitan University. Jordana has over 10 years of experience working alongside individuals who struggle with mental health, addiction and substance use challenges as both a program coordinator and walk-in therapist. Her philosophy stems from a harm reduction and a Narrative Therapy approach, which seeks not to individualize people's suffering, but takes into account the social and political context in which people's lives are embedded. Jordana emphasizes the importance of person-centred care and positioning those she works with as the experts of their own lives. Jordana works at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) as a coordinator of the Collaborative Learning College, a recovery-oriented education and training program that emphasizes lived experience leadership. Beyond work, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her miniature dachshund, reading, cycling and tackling DIY interior design projects.
Australian Faculty Mentors 2022
- Paula Arro
Paula Arro is the Lived Experience Engagement Coordinator – Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, Alcohol and other Drugs (MHAOD) Program at Brisbane North PHN. Paula has a lived experience with MHAOD both as a consumer and a carer. She is employed by the PHN in an ‘identified’ peer role to develop the capacity and support opportunities for people with a lived experience to actively participate in MHAOD reforms. Her role was also established to build the capacity of the PHN to embed lived experience engagement in all aspects of the PHN’s commissioning process including working with funded services to ensure this occurs. Along with establishing a regional framework for engagement with people with a lived experience and the Peer Participation in Mental Health Services (PPIMS) network her role has also been expanded to Chair and provide secretariat support to the National PHN Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network (MHLEEN).
Paula has been an active leader in the development of the Lived Experience Workforce both in Queensland and Australia. She has been invited to present at a range of state, national, and international conferences and forums in relation to strategies for ensuring authentic and ‘nothing about us without us’ engagement. Paula has worked in the social and community services sector for over 30 years across a range of areas including child protection, disability, young people, volunteerism, and community development, and has been an active advocate for ensuring social justice principals are applied to all. She has a BA, Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology, and Training and Assessment qualifications. Her life and work goal is ‘to make it better than what it was before.’
- Kerry Hawkins
Kerry Hawkins, BA, Grad Dip Ed has worked in senior mental health advocacy and consultant roles across public mental health services, community sector services, and commissioning bodies as a family member for many years. She is President of the Western Australian Association for Mental Health. Other board appointments include Psychosis Australia Trust, Mental Health Carers Australia, Helping Minds, Community Mental Health Australia, Emerging Minds, and is a founding member and educator at the Recovery College of WA. Other advisory body roles include the Advisory Board for the establishment of the Victorian Collaborative Centre, and Curtin University’s Valuing Lived Experience Unit, where she lectures occasionally. She has co-authored several publications, including ‘Putting Families at the Centre of Recovery’ and the ‘Working with families in mental health’ chapter of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing . She is focused on system-level transformation and holds a Certificate in Implementing Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University. A graduate of Boston University’s Global Leadership Institute’s Recovery Class of 2013, she is a National Mental Health Commissioner.
- Tim Heffernan
Tim is an experienced consumer peer worker and advocate. He is Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Mental Health Commission and Mental Health Peer Coordinator with the South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network. He is co-Chair of the National Mental Health Commission’s National Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Strategy Steering Committee. Tim is also a poet and an experienced speaker and writer in mental health.
- Brooke Starr
Brooke Starr has worked in various Peer Support and designated lived experience roles for over 10 years. Starting out as a frontline peer support worker and eventually progressing into peer leadership roles at regional, state, national and international level. She is currently employed as a national lead supervisor for NDIS Recovery Coaches and also provides independent supervision, mentoring, and practice development to the wider lived experience workforce. She is completing a degree in Integrative Psychotherapy and is an Associate Researcher for a PhD on Lived Experience Values. Brooke is a passionate advocate for the professionalisation of the Lived Experience Workforce and the essential role of lived experience specific supervision, mentoring in the ongoing development of the workforce. She has a special interest in the development of trauma awareness practices for people working in lived experience designated roles. Brooke's other passions include creativity in all forms, spirituality, connecting with nature, her family, and animals.