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INFORMATION FOR

Graduated Fellows

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

In partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL), the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health facilitated the inaugural cohort of the LET(s)Lead Academy from August 2017 to April 2018, with 7 emerging leaders with lived experience. After ten weeks of classes about transformational leadership, mental health advocacy, and cultural humility and justice, Fellows engaged with mentors to create a transformational community project to use their newly developed leadership skills in their local area. The academy met monthly for leadership development and project support until graduation in April 2018.

Claire Bien

Claire Bien, MEd an alumna of the first of the first LET(s)LEAD cohort in 2018, is a writer, grant writer, mental health advocate and educator, survivor, and author of a memoir, Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in my Head. Claire works part-time as a research associate at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, and for the past several years has been engaged in collaborative research on the voice-hearing experience. Claire has a rich and rewarding volunteer life. She is the president of the U.S. branch of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS)-US www.isps-us.org, and is also a member of the Hearing Voices Network (HVN) USA’s board of directors Home - Hearing Voices Network USA. She speaks nationally and internationally about her experiences and 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 challenges, especially psychosis. Claire’s LET(s)Lead project, completed in November 2019, entailed co-chairing the planning committee for the ISPS-US annual conference held in New Haven in November 2019, with the theme, Psychosis, Citizenship and Belonging: Forging Pathways toward Inclusion and HealingISPS-US 18th Annual Meeting 2019 New Haven, CT - YouTube. You can learn more about Claire by visiting her website, www.clairebien.com, or on LinkedIn.


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.

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 served as the agencies Coordinator of Recovery Support Services.

Over the 10 years working with one of the largest behavioral health networks in Eastern CT she implemented the culture of recovery throughout the agency. She also developed policies that assisted the Peer workforce development, as well as created jobs for people with lived experience. One of her biggest accomplishments was creating a pay grade system so that Peers can be compensated as they advanced in their role. Annette also served as a Trustee for CT Hearing voices movement and played a major role with its development in her state. Annette is in a new role as Mobility Manager to assist persons with disabilities, veterans and seniors navigate transportation options in North Central CT at a non-profit called Amplify.


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.

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.

Steven’s LET(s)Lead project was Shared Experience: How Leadership Builds Community. Myself and another LET(s) Lead alum Shaiheed Days partnered to explore and stand for the development of leaderful ecosystems within community serving systems.


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.

Emily Wu Truong

Emily Wu Truong is an award-winning speaker for mental health awareness, who has been addressing the misconceptions of mental illness since 2010. As a suicide-attempt survivor diagnosed with depression and anxiety, she uses her story of having faced the mental illness stigma to help others recognize the value of seeking help after diagnosis and that recovery is possible. Emily works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Recovery International and other mental health organizations to continue normalizing the conversation on mental health.

Her story has been featured by the California’s Mental Health Movement Each Mind Matters, ABC News’ Good Morning America, NBC Asian America, LA 18, Epoch Times and World Journal (世界日報). She has also been an invited guest speaker for many, including Congresswoman Grace Napolitano's Mental Health Consortium, USC Gould School of Law's Saks Institute, UCLA, Raytheon and Kaiser Permanente. In 2017, as a result of Emily's advocacy, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors established May 10 as Asian Pacific Islander American Mental Health Day. In 2018, California State Assemblymember Ed Chau honored Emily at his Holiday “Make A Difference” Recognition Awards Ceremony. Currently, Emily serves as the Peer Programs Coordinator for NAMI San Gabriel Valley, facilitating weekly support groups and classes for her fellow peers. Emily has become a role model for many, delivering her message that with help, there IS hope, and that helplessness is NOT hopelessness.


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

In partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health facilitated the second cohort of the LET(s)Lead Academy from August 2018 to April 2019, with 8 emerging leaders with lived experience. After ten weeks of classes about transformational leadership, mental health advocacy, and cultural humility and justice, Fellows engaged with mentors to create a transformational community project to use their newly developed leadership skills in their local area. The academy met monthly for leadership development and project support until graduation in April 2019.

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, A Guide for Privacy and Consent for Caregivers of Loved Ones with Mental Health and/or Addiction, a practical guide for caregivers of loved ones with mental health/addiction issues on privacy and consent.

tracey.addison@sunnybrook.ca


Rachel Bromberg

Rachel Bromberg is the Co-Founder of the Reach Out Response Network, which is an advocacy-focused non-profit dedicated to supporting the city of Toronto in designing and implementing a civilian-led mental health crisis service, which will be piloted in January 2022. She is also the Executive Director of the International Crisis Response Association, which is a service providers network connecting folks across Canada and the United States who are building or leading community responder programs in their communities. Rachel is also a JD/MSW student at the University of Toronto, and she works with the education department at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health providing trauma-informed de-escalation training to inpatient and outpatient staff.

Rachel’s LET(s)Lead project was to support the City of Toronto in developing a non-police alternative crisis response service, which will be launching in 2022. I co-founded the Reach Out Response Network to achieve this goal.


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.


Kathy Friedman

Kathy Friedman studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia and the University of Guelph, and she was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Grain, Geist, PRISM international, The New Quarterly, and Canadian Notes & Queries. Her first collection of short stories, All the Shining People, will be published in Canada and the US in 2022 with House of Anansi. Kathy is the co-founder and artistic director of InkWell Workshops, which runs creative writing workshops for people with mental health and addiction issues. She lives in Toronto.

Kathy’s LET(s)Lead project entailed providing a series of creative writing workshops for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)'s Aboriginal Caucus—staff who identify as Métis, Inuit, or First Nations—and then publishing their writing in an anthology called Connected in Creation.

kathy@inkwellworkshops.com


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.


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.


Courtney Young

Courtney Young 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 at the Aga Khan University Hospital. The following year, Courtney pursued an interdisciplinary Killam Fellowship at Harvard University.

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 then transitioned to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), where she used her Lived Experience to help support patient experience initiatives across the institution. Recently, Courtney began her MBA at Ivey Business School where she hopes to work with fellow business leaders to further her commitment to the healthcare sector and improve the lives of patients and families.

Courtney’s LETs(s)Lead project entailed utilizing journey mapping at the CAMH Bridging Clinic to improve patient engagement and services.

courtneylynnyoung@hotmail.com


Cohort 3, April 2019-December 2019: New Zealand Cohort, in partnership with Careerforce NZ

In partnership with Careerforce NZ, the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health facilitated the third cohort of the LET(s)Lead Academy from April 2019 to December 2019, with 8 emerging leaders with lived experience. After ten weeks of classes about transformational leadership, mental health advocacy, and cultural humility and justice, Fellows engaged with mentors to create a transformational community project to use their newly developed leadership skills in their local area. The academy met monthly for leadership development and project support until graduation in March 2020.

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 centered 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. Ko Waikato me Ngai Tahu Whanui me Ngati Kauwhata me Rangitane oku iwi. Maha is the creator of the Toi Manawa initiative which aims to support well-being and connection in New Zealand communities through an Indigenous platform of creativity. After working for four years as a peer support specialist he began this work with the belief that 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 Aotearoa Bone and Stone Carving Academy, the first Indigenous carving school based in Auckland that teaches Maori carving with wood bone and stone.

Maha’s LET(s)Lead project is called Social Conditioning - the Phantom Menace. It presents a series of confronting visuals that allow the viewers to interact and come to their own conclusion of what the visuals illustrate with two contrasting images and only a few words on each slide to help portray how illusive social conditioning can be. 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

toimanawa@live.com


Tamara Waugh

Tamara Waugh is 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.


Cohort 4, August 2020-April 2021: New England Cohort, in partnership with the New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC)

In partnership with the New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC), the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health faciliated the fourth cohort of the LET(s)Lead Academy from August 2020 to April 2021, with 13 emerging leaders with lived experience. After ten weeks of classes about transformational leadership, mental health advocacy, and cultural humility and justice, Fellows engaged with mentors to create a transformational community project to use their newly developed leadership skills in their local area. The academy met monthly for leadership development and project support until graduation in April 2021.

Katie Bourque

Katie Bourque (she/her) has been providing peer support since 2010 and has experienced the power of mutuality and collective healing. She is a proponent of harm/risk reduction with all substances, including psychiatric medication. She believes drug exceptionalism hinders the Harm Reduction movement, that people should not be criminalized nor stigmatized for using drugs/substances/medicine, and that everyone has the right to cognitive freedom. These core beliefs inspired the birth of The Cognitive Liberty Project and serve as the foundation of the project.

She has worked with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals for over a decade in prisons, hospitals, and in the community. Katie has also worked in numerous residential settings, including as the manager of Soteria Vermont, where she focused on supporting people experiencing first episode psychosis/extreme states/non-consensus reality. She has also managed a 24/7 peer support line and provided services using the Housing First model. Katie is currently the Operations and Outreach Director for Fireside Project - home of the Psychedelic Peer Support Line. Katie aspires to reform systems that perpetuate oppression and to create inclusive and dynamic community spaces.


Rosanna "Rosie" Boyce

Rosie is a mother of 4 and has been in recovery from substances since September 23rd, 2008. Rosie has spent her time in recovery advocating for incarcerated women releasing into the community. By creating low-barrier access to gender responsive and family focused treatment and sober living, harm reduction, and promoting multiple pathways to recovery, it is her hope to change the stigma facing those struggling with SUD in Maine.


Char’Dornne Bussue

Char’Dornne Bussue joined Advocacy Unlimited Inc.’s Bridger Team in February 2018 as a Recovery Support Specialist. Drawing from personal experiences of recovery, she provides support, advocacy and education to peers in recovery, assisting as they begin to rebuild their lives and embark on a journey to true healing. Char’Dornne has served as Co-Chair of the Greater New Britain Reentry Council, a regional extension of the CT Reentry Collaborative since 2018 and is an active member of Disability Rights Connecticut’s PAIMI Advisory Council.


Bradford Chaffee

I worked in Information Technology for fifteen years, eventually becoming a Systems Administrator before I got into a car accident that put me on disability. Disability is what sent me on my pursuit of art therapy and ultimately to the production of art, first in photography, then writing, then finally in abstract acrylics. I started a peer support group at UMass Amherst. I'm interested in starting a food coop for those with lived experience to help address food insecurity. I am currently pursuing peer support positions.

Stephanie Covington

My name is Stephanie Covington. I am married with two adult children and two grandsons. I am currently an Auxiliary member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I work as a Certified Peer Support Specialist in West Haven, CT. I enjoy baking and visiting the beach.


Erin Goodman

Erin Goodman is a faculty member at Zero Suicide Institute and a Lived Experience consultant. She is the is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist with the Washington County Zero Suicide program and an employee of Wood River Health Services. Erin was previously the program director and lead facilitator of the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) Training at Parent Support Network of Rhode Island and is a certified Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator. Erin is also an ordained interfaith minister, suicide attempt survivor, and a lifelong resident of Southern Rhode Island.



Kristine Irizarry

Kristine has worked with transitional age youth for over ten years and is passionate about seeing them accomplish their goals. With lots of hard work and dedication, she has grown professionally and is now the Director of a Drop-in Center. Kristine is also enrolled at Baypath University, completing her undergrad studies in Business Administration with a minor in Psychology.


Dan Johnston

Dan Johnston is a writer, public speaker, and a certified peer specialist in Massachusetts. He grew up outside of Boston with his family, and graduated from University of Massachusetts, Lowell, in 2018. Through his writing, work in peer support, and as a fellow of LET(s) Lead New England, he has explored how person-centered language catalyzes transformation and recovery. He continues to write in support of the people, ideas, and communities in pursuit of discovery. In addition, he speaks publicly and advises research to promote access and awareness for recovery-oriented supports in the mental healthcare system. Dan has also been known to cook, to play music, to seek out rocks to climb, trails to hike, and, when available, snow to make into forts.

William Mounce

William Mounce, having grown up primarily in Hong Kong and Japan, now resides in Manchester, New Hampshire. He is currently the Residential Coordinator at WestBridge Community Services, a family founded non-profit that provides evidence-based treatments for adult men experiencing co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. Through this work and his own lived experience, he has identified the use of stigmatizing language within families as the issue he wishes to address during his time in the LET(s) Lead Academy.

Gidget Newell

I love working in peer support. It’s a new way of learning through lived experiences and shared personal stories. I would like to plant seeds and watch them grow.

Allie Orlando

Born and raised in Rochester, NY, I relocated to Boston to study sociology at Boston University. Since then I have landed in a career path in Workforce Development, assisting people experiencing homelessness obtain jobs and housing. I am passionate about dismantling the systems that are barriers to folks while empowering individuals to make transformational change towards their goals.

Malaika Puffer

Malaika Puffer is a psychiatric survivor and manager of peer support and advocacy services at Health Care & Rehabilitation Services of Southeastern Vermont. She is a co-founder of the Hive Mutual Support Network.

Jason Young

Jason has worked in therapeutic communities for 10 years and has been a team lead at Soteria Vermont since it opened in 2015. Jason is committed to finding creative ways to foster transformation within ourselves and within our organizations.

Cohort 5, September 2021-May 2022 Canadian Cohort, in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

In partnership with The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health kicked off the fifth cohort of the LET(s)Lead Academy on September 16, 2021, with 12 emerging leaders with lived experience. After ten weeks of classes about transformational leadership, mental health advocacy, and cultural humility and justice, Fellows engaged with mentors to create a transformational community project to use their newly developed leadership skills in their local area. The academy met monthly for leadership development and project support until graduation in May 2022.

Camille Alizadeh

Camille (she/her) is a Master of Psychology student and Certified Peer Support Worker in Toronto, Canada. 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.

Emilia Cirstea

Mental health and addiction have been the overarching themes of my life. Today I live in the solution uncovered by over a decade of persistently unravelling the issues at the core of my ailments. I wouldn’t have made it without the guidance of my peers and several therapists at CAMH.

Despite being a run-away immigrant from Romania with a seemingly bad drinking problem, I graduated Cum Laude from York University (2006) wanting to become useful to others, as a psychotherapist. Therefore, I am here to share my lived experience and to symbiotically create a powerful force for change. One of my hopes is to help underprivileged women become the makers of their own dignified future, despite their past.

Like all of us, I have many hats: recovery peer, AA member, avid pet lover, person with chronic illness, supportive friend, loving partner, comedienne, and self-proclaimed academic!

Adam Jordan

Adam is a researcher, speaker, health enthusiast, and striving stoic philosopher. From a young age, he encountered physical and mental health challenges.

Paired with a passion for scientific research and a BSc. Honors degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences, his experiences motivated him to learn and implement evidence-based strategies to achieve optimal health. These include the use of exercise, nutrition, meditation, sleep, and positive daily habits adjunctive to traditional psychiatric interventions. His goals are severalfold: Research the effects of nutrition therapy on mental health, blur the lines between mental and physical health, and integrate dietetics & exercise therapy into standard treatment.

He sits on the CAMH Youth Advisory Group, Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder Youth Advisory Council, is a Research & Content Development Coordinator for the Luminate Mental Health Conference Series, and is currently in the review process of his first primary authorship research paper.

Lucie Langford

​​Lucie Langford (she/her/hers) is a Master of Health Sciences (MHSc) student in Toronto, Canada who works to innovate healthcare through research. Her research is informed by her own lived experience and focuses on serious mental illness. Lucie deeply believes in patient-centric models of research and care. She uses this unique engagement approach with her community to develop new questions. In her spare time, Lucie is an avid cyclist and passionate volunteer.

Taryn Lee

Taryn Lee is an artist and part-time youth art teacher at a private school in downtown Toronto. She has a Bachelor of Design from Ryerson University in Fashion Communication.

At 18 years old, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has worked hard at recovery and maintaining stability ever since. She’s participated in bipolar research studies and taken courses on anxiety, CBT, depression, and bipolar disorder at CAMH.

She is an active Workman Arts member and loves the welcoming creative community it provides. In 2020, she exhibited 3 juried artworks in the Workman Arts Being Scene show. Through lived experience, she realizes how deeply connected creating art helps maintain her mental health. She believes art and creativity can be used as expression, tools for healing, building confidence and fostering community. It is her hope to share her passion for the arts with others on their own mental health journeys and uncover the creativity that lies within each of us.

Susana Meza

Susana Meza (she/they) is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist and facilitator from Maracaibo, Venezuela. Susana holds an Audiovisual Journalism diploma from La Universidad del Zulia. They are an Active Listener for Workman Arts, a Newcomer Artist Ambassador for MABELLEarts, and a member of the board of directors of the North York Women Centre.

Susana has facilitated visual arts and creative writing workshops for various local communities and currently facilitates Art Cart sessions for the Geriatric Inpatient Services of CAMH. Susana works on her daily art practice from her home studio and her poetry, even though unpublished, has been featured often by Writers Collective of Canada (WCC).

Miranda Newman

Miranda Newman is a writer and editor based in Toronto (Tkaronto), ON. Her work has appeared in Broadview Magazine, Xtra, The Walrus, and more.

Drawing upon her lived experience, Miranda primarily writes about mental health covering topics like borderline personality disorder, agoraphobia, eating disorders, suicide in children, and more. She's co-editor of a yearly arts and letter publication and publishes Life as a Lunatic, a monthly newsletter about coping with symptoms of trauma and mental illness.

Miranda is a youth advisor to CAMH's Client Learning Fund (CLF), a bursary program that provides financial aid to clients enrolled in educational and personal development courses, and a volunteer member of CAMH's National Youth Action Council (NYAC).

Kenzie Osborne

Kenzie Osborne is a recipe developer, health coach, and chef in Toronto, Ontario. She has lived experience with anorexia nervosa and has since used her culinary education to help promote food and body positivity within the community. She has interviewed over 40 chefs across the world to share their stories and raise awareness about the therapeutic role of food and cooking.

Her goal is to raise awareness about the power of food in terms of: identifying with culture, expressing creativity, exploring history, promoting social interactions, and benefitting overall physical and mental health. She hopes to help others overcome food-related challenges and encourage food to be a positive component in their lives.

Shantell Powell

Shantell or Shan (pronouns: she/he) is a 2-spirit urban Inuk with Mi’kmaw and Canadian ancestry. Shan grew up on the land with many traditional teachings, but outside of the community.

Raised in a nomadic forager/hunter/farmer family throughout the Atlantic provinces and British Columbia, she had no fixed address throughout much of her childhood. She currently resides on the Haldimand Tract in Kitchener, Ontario.

Shan reindigenizes by claiming the heritage denied to her by Canada’s ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples. She is learning about human trafficking, de-escalation, trauma responses, anger management, mindfulness, harm reduction, advocacy, traditional Inuit philosophy, and how to deal with police through the Alluriarniq program at Tungasuvvingat Inuit in Ottawa.

When she's not hanging out with her chinchillas, she is an advocate, land defender, storyteller, performer, writer, forager, and multidisciplinary artist made of go-go-go! Her work has been published in several literary journals, academic journals, art magazines, and anthologies, and her visual art has been shown in art galleries, museums, and quirky little coffee shops and pubs. You can find more of Shantell’s work on IG: @shanmonster or on her blog: http://shanmonster.dreamwidth.org.

Hajar Seiyad

Hajar is a 4th-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough doing a double major in Mental Health Studies and Political Science. She currently works as a research assistant at Women’s College Hospital in their Reproductive Health & HIV branch and is a Youth Policy Advocate with OCIC’s Youth Policy-Makers Hub. Her work is shaped by an intersectional lens, gained from engagements spanning youth mental health and policy spaces. She is passionate about using her experiences to support youth advocacy and transform systems.

Don Vaillancourt

I have a genuine passion for combining my extensive training as a multi-disciplined artist/musician, along with my dedication to community engagement. I am interested in building programs that promote the arts as therapeutic tools for healing and recovery.

I have extensive experience working with those challenged by addictions and mental health as well as working with Toronto’s homeless LGBTQ+2S community. I am particularly proud of my involvement in helping create The 519’s Breaking The Ice (BTI) project, which is a community engagement and outreach program focused on supporting people who use crystal meth in Toronto’s Downtown East and has a specific focus on understanding the needs and barriers faced by LGBTQ2S people who use drugs.

Cohort 6, February 2022-October 2022 in partnership with NMHCCF)and MHLEEN in Australia

In partnership with National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum (NMHCCF) and Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network (MHLEEN) in Australia, the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (Yale PRCH) began the sixth cohort of the LET(s)Lead Academy on February 10, 2022, with 15 emerging leaders with lived experience. After ten weeks of classes about transformational leadership, mental health advocacy, and cultural humility and justice, Fellows were assigned mentors to support them in creating a transformational community project to use their newly developed leadership skills in their local area. The academy continued to meet monthly for leadership development and project support until graduation in October 2022."

Jessica Byrne

Jessica has an erudite understanding and deep insight of mental health and recovery through various experiences and roles throughout her life. She has a Master of Nursing, has tutored university students, and has worked in many health settings. She advocates for peers as leaders and educators and values initiatives that promote recovery, choice, and reduce stigma. Jessica has a strong interest in literature and the creative arts.

Morgan Cowdery

Morgan is currently employed in a number of roles: as a mentor for tertiary students pursuing peer work, as a peer worker in acute inpatient settings, and as a support officer at a community drop-in centre for after-hours mental health support. She is a Lived Experience representative on a number of panels, committees, boards, and networks. In 2021, she was awarded for her contribution to the Queensland Health Mental Health Scholarship Scheme. Morgan is a qualified lawyer, working over a decade in the private sector and then for State and Commonwealth governments, including stints with the ABC, and as a Parliamentary Liaison for the NSW Rural Fire Service. Morgan has an undergraduate degree in Business and negotiated an Associate Researcher role with the CSIRO, conducting qualitative research across various State governments regarding risk reporting for the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Morgan is interested in the continued professionalisation/professionalization of the Lived Experience workforce. Particularly, she is interested in identifying common issues experienced by people re-engaging in the workforce and examples of what has worked. She believes leaders are those people that make you feel brave enough to contact them. Please feel welcome to reach out, to me or anyone here. Thank you for this opportunity, Yale. Yale!!

Rob Goulden

Rob Goulden grew up in country Victoria and now resides in Western Australia with his wife and 2 daughters. Rob served in the Australian Army as a rifleman and deployed to Iraq in 2008 as a member of SECDETXIIV. Post discharge from the military in 2011, Rob has had numerous roles in sales, insurance, finance, and banking before settling into a role as a peer support worker at Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counseling supporting veterans and their families. Rob draws on his own lived experience of injury, blame, diagnosis, isolation, and recovery to help support those he engages with. Rob is extremely passionate about supporting veterans through their transition journey and places a large focus on Acceptance, Purpose, and Connection. Having left the military and struggled with self-identity, integration back into the ‘civilian’ world, and finding purpose, Rob is constantly exploring new ideas and methods to make that transition more seamless for those he feels privileged to connect with. Rob is an active member of multiple veteran support groups and strongly advocates for the benefits of being involved within one's local community. Rob completed his Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work in 2020.

Paula Hanlon

Paula Hanlon is a person with lived experience of trauma with associated disorders and alcohol abuse (sober 30yrs). She has been a consumer lived experience peer worker for over 24yrs, based in a community mental health service in Northern Sydney. In her role, she supports other people with lived experience individually and in groups and participates in systemic advocacy, health promotion, and education of staff and students. As an educator, Paula works with students through the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Western Sydney. Paula has a BA majoring in Psychology, though she prefers to work as a peer worker. Paula has been an Assessor with the Australian Council on Health Care Standards, reviewing mental health and general health services across Australia for 22yrs. Paula is a Board member for the TheMHS Learning Network and Flourish Australia.

Katherine Ives

Kath Ives is an mixed media artist, a foodie, a wife, and mother to a miniature schnauzer, two cats, and two chickens. She has qualifications in applied science and speech language pathology, however reports that her most rewarding and most challenging role to date has been that of mental health advocate. Kath currently works as volunteer coordinator at Happy Chat (a consumer-led mental health peer support group) in Stanthorpe, Queensland. Under her leadership, Happy Chat has been recognised and named as finalist of the Jude Bugeja Peer Experience Award for Qld Mental Health Week 2021 and been successful in obtaining grant funding to support the group into the future. Kath describes herself as a mental health activist. She has mental health lived experience as both a consumer and carer and continues to be instrumental in petitioning for better access to mental health services and support in her small town and surrounding region. She is driven by human rights and social justice with particular interest in addressing the poverty, loneliness, and boredom experienced by many vulnerable people with mental health issues who live in her community. Kath has been described as a social capitalist. She believes in the importance of investing in people, not things. The objective of her work is to help build a platform for people to feel like they belong; that they are valued and important. Kath believes that a sense of community can only be achieved through building connections via social inclusion. It is her goal to integrate her tertiary knowledge with her mental health lived experience to develop a project that combines two of her great loves—food and community.

Zoey Ka

Zoey identifies as an Australian between cultures and is currently working as the Lived Experience Project Lead at Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia. She is a qualified Change Practitioner and has completed her Bachelor of Business Administration and Graduate Certificate in Global Project Management. Zoey is committed to amplifying the voice of lived experience and strives to ignite hope and inspire people who struggle with intersectional identity in Australia to live a mentally healthier life.

Natasha Malmstrom

Natasha is a fierce mum of four, a networker, connector, and strategic thinker. Natasha speaks authentically and connects with her audience to build deep understanding of the intersections between mental health recovery, suicide prevention, and domestic and family violence survival. After significant life- changing events and experiences, Natasha realized that systemic changes and increased community awareness were required for people to access appropriate supports. Natasha is deeply committed to enabling people to take back power and control in their lives through advocacy and education facilitated by lived experience. Natasha holds qualifications in Business and Mental Health Peer Work. She is currently studying Training and Assessment and is a Fellow of the Lived Experience Transformational Leadership Academy (LET(s)Lead) - Yale PCRH.

Vicki McKenna

Vicki McKenna is the Head Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre at Black Dog Institute where she is leading the development and implementation of the Centre. Vicki belongs to two tribal groups. She is both a Yawuru and Bunuba Jarndu (woman) based in Rubibi-Broome, Western Australia. She has had significant experience working in social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention. Notably, Vicki was the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial coordinator over the last 3 years, implementing suicide prevention activities across the entire Kimberley region. She is a trained Counsellor and a Child Psychotherapist. Vicki has lived experience, having lost family and community members to suicide and has her own experience of suicidality. She has commitment to social justice and change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and applies her cultural knowledge and skills in her work and prioritises cultural healing as a way forward. Her long-term sustainable vision is to work together to advance the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People nationally. She is a respected member of the Aboriginal community, in suicide prevention and the mental health profession nationally and internationally.

Sam Nachabe

Sam Nachabe studied Business Admin and from 2010, worked in various Admin roles for a psychologist, a medical practise and an education agency. She studied a double diploma in Counseling and Community Services in 2014 after feeling unsatisfied with the role of Admin and feeling a need to contribute to the community in seeing change for people in the community not feeling like they had a voice or unsure how to get support. In 2016, Sam worked as a Coordinator Caseworker and Community Development Worker for a domestic violence organisation called Shakti Australia, an NGO supporting women from non-English speaking backgrounds with their development, empowerment, and domestic/ family violence intervention, prevention, and awareness. She volunteered from 2015 to 2017 for SSI Settlement Services International to support new migrants with accessing services in NSW. In 2017, Sam ran an Arabic Women’s support group for Carers of Consumers with a lived experience, for the organisation One Door Mental Health, then took a role as a Peer Support Worker for the PICS (Primary Integrated Care Supports) program with the same organisation in 2018. In 2021, she took a dual role with One Door Mental Health PICS as an NDIS Access Peer Worker, supporting consumers apply for a national disability insurance scheme whilst also still working part-time as a Peer Worker and is currently in the same role.

Emma O’Loughlin

Emma O’Loughlin (she/her) grew up in and lives on Nukunu Country in regional South Australia. She is a proud lesbian woman who has lived experience of mental ill health, personality disorder, suicidality, and physical disability. Emma utilises her lived experience as a training & group facilitator, in community engagement work and as a peer worker. Emma is very conscious of the privilege she holds in being asked to contribute to many spaces where others with similar lived experience are often excluded. She hopes by using her voice, it contributes to the increase of lived experience involvement in places of power and decision-making.

Max Simensen

Max Simensen has worked in Mental Health Peer Worker roles for over 8 years in the public mental health system, with his first job being at a local headspace when he was 17. Max fell in love with being able to harness his lived experiences and personal learnings to sit with others in familiar dark places. Max is an openly trans man who is passionate about the rainbow community but also embraces all other diversities of the human condition and pushes for social justice. Max has experienced intense times of suicidal thinking and behaviours over many years, and lost his younger sister two years ago after she took her own life. Max wants to change the way we look at suicide and how we hold space in those times. He is currently the SafeHaven Coordinator—which is a new peer-led service focused on offering an informal space staffed with people who have a lived experience of suicidality as an alternative to emergency departments.

Amelia Walters

Amelia is a youth mental health advocate, lived experience researcher, and peer worker. Amelia is passionate about youth lived experience leadership, promoting partnerships with young people in service reform, and addressing structural issues within the mental health sector, including service gaps and barriers to accessing services. She has drawn upon her lived experience in governance positions as a Youth Advisor to the headspace Board and with EMPHN’s Community Advisory Committee. She has promoted mental health sector reform through advocacy and engagements with state and national government, strategic media communications, as a witness to parliamentary enquiries, and in facilitating a delegation of youth advocates to develop a model of mental health system reform for the Productivity Commission. Amelia is currently completing a Juris Doctor at the University of Melbourne with the hope of ensuring the human rights of people experiencing mental ill-health.

Sarah Williams

Sarah is a sole parent of three children, three rescue cats, and one anyone’s- guess-as-to-what-breed dog. Sarah and her children have a history of family violence-related trauma and continue to live with the social and psychological challenges associated with this. Sarah describes her family as a colourful, chaotic, combination of sexuality, gender, and neurodiversity. As a parent/carer and person living with psychosocial disability (which Sarah sees as a superpower), she has spent significant time navigating and accessing supports and services related to her and her family’s challenges. Studying and working in mental health throughout her journey, Sarah is fiercely determined to use her experiences as a consumer, carer, and provider, to create change and to support others to share their lived experiences. Sarah passionately believes in the need for services and systems to be driven by lived experience, and for lived experience roles to be genuinely valued within systems.

Craig Worland

Some years ago, Craig's career in IT and Quality Assurance slowly morphed into a life on the "wrong side of the tracks", dealing in drugs, which led to a custodial sentence. While incarcerated, Craig completed Lives Lived Well’s Do-It program (now known as Reclaim). He liked the program so much and found it so valuable, that he completed it a second time while in jail. He became a Jail ‘Buddy’ mentor and taught the program in the jail to others who might not have been able to access it. Craig then made a promise to himself that once he was released, he would work for Lives Lived Well in some capacity. Fast-forward a few years and Craig applied for a position with LLW as a Client Advocate Representative. This part-time role opened up a world of possibilities for him, traveling throughout Queensland and sharing his story of recovery with those in programs, and explaining how he used the program in real life to align his future direction with a new set of values.

John Yusuf

John works with Carers NT's Young Carers Program, which supports and sustains young carers in their caring roles. He is a proud carer for his mother, who suffers from mental illness and is an active ambassador for multiculturalism. He is fluent in English, Indonesian, and Burmese while also learning Arabic and Urdu. John completed a Bachelor of Business degree with management specialization from Charles Darwin University and undertook intensive studies in Indonesian International Business Law at the University of Gadjah Mada. John is currently enrolled for a Master of Education. Driven by passion and community spirit, John has experiences of working for the federal government agency, Northern Territory Government, and in not-for-profit sectors. His effectiveness and efficiency in delivering values to the community have honored him with a social work award in 2015, the NT government young achiever award in 2017, and several scholarships to broaden his horizon.

Cohort 7, September 2022-May 2023 Canadian Cohort, in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

In partnership with The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health kicked off the seventh cohort of the LET(s)Lead Academy on September 15, 2022, with 12 emerging leaders with lived experience. After ten weeks of classes about transformational leadership, mental health advocacy, and cultural humility and justice, Fellows will engage with mentors to create a transformational community project to use their newly developed leadership skills in their local area. The academy will then meet monthly for leadership development and project support until graduation in May 2023.

Julia Bailey

Julia Bailey is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto in psychology and population health. Her lived experience with depression, anxiety, and ADHD has compelled her to advocate for mental health services within her community and destigmatize the vast array of these disorders. She has taken part in several research initiatives pertaining to the treatment of mental illness, while exploring the impact of novel drugs for treatment-resistant depression and bipolar II disorder. Her research endeavours have also examined how youth experience citizenship, and the degree to which youth are receiving citizenship-oriented care.

Ultimately, she is excited to share her knowledge and experience to create positive changes within the Canadian mental health care system!

Vishali Barendra

Vishali is a Tamil immigrant from Sri Lanka, who likes to brighten up the colour of her sky in every season of life with vivid poetry, nature photography, chocolate cake and impactful stories. Her research career focuses on cross-cultural psychology, stemming from her lived experiences and experiences with marginalized communities in India, Canada and Sri Lanka. She often collaborates with individuals and organizations from the Global South on research and design projects. In the past she has worked as a research consultant for The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, based in India. She can often be found with her phone and her tripod near Lake Ontario to capture winter sunsets.

Chloë Chalmers

Chloë (she/her) is a young Queer woman who lives with her dog Stella and many, many shelves of books. She has been in recovery from addiction for a year and a half, and lives with mental illness. Chloë is of service in multiple addiction recovery programs, with her current role as a district chair for the Hospitals and Institutions trustee committee at the World Services level. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Social Work with dreams of being a peer support worker, hoping to work with people experiencing psychosis. Chloë spent the first year of the pandemic volunteering for her city counselor making sandwiches for local people in need, and currently volunteers weekly in a grade one class at a local elementary school. She has a background in theatre and finds comfort in creative outlets as a method of healing. Chloë is incredibly excited to be a fellow in this year's Toronto cohort of the Yale LET(s) LEAD program!

Brigitte Fernandez

I have fourteen years of lived experience in the system and currently I still live in it. My experience as someone who has lived in the system has made me into an advocate for change from within the system by pursuing social services at Humber College. I studied before social work, pastoral ministry which I bring to the table in a unique way through blending faith and social work.

My goal for the program is to see how I can develop my voice as a leader since I have as someone who is a survivor often felt voiceless and lost in translation. I believe that the program is going to help draw out what I know is already within.

Dion Flores

Dion Flores was born in Toronto where he went to elementary and high school where he took pride in his academics and musical studies. When he was 17, he moved to Waterloo, Ontario to attend Wilfrid Laurier University to study music education and piano. After graduating, Dion moved to St. John's, Newfoundland to pursue graduate studies and Teacher's College. For the last three years, he has been a music teacher teaching in private studios, elementary schools, and in the community.

This year, Dion is back at Laurier pursuing a second master's degree in Community Music with research focusing on mental health and social justice in Community Music. He is looking forward to growing with the Yale Let(s)Lead cohort this year!

Emma Germanakos

Emma (she/her) is currently employed with the Ministry of the Attorney General within the Provincial Government of Ontario. She has been a public servant since graduating from Queen's University, Smith School of Business with a bachelorʼs degree in commerce. After going through psychosis that resulted in suicidal thoughts and eventually being diagnosed with a mental health illness, Emma was driven to make strides to help others through advocacy in her personal and professional life. Emma is passionate about changing the landscape within her organization when it comes to supporting those with lived experience and the adversity they face. She hopes that through robust policy development and hearing directly from those with lived experience, her workplace will implement the necessary training and decision-making required to further enhance the resources available to Ontario Public Servants.

Chloë Grande

Chloë Grande (she/her) is a communications specialist turned eating disorder recovery speaker, writer and blogger. In recovery for 10+ years, she's open about her experiences with mental illness and educating others on the stereotypes and stigmas that exist. Whether through speaking engagements, facilitating workshops or collaborating with leading mental health organizations, she strives to change the way we talk about eating disorders. Chloë holds an MA in Journalism and Communication from Western University and a BA in English Literature from Queenʼs University. Sheʼs a fan of restorative yoga and reading, and draws inspiration from individuals who embrace their vulnerabilities.

Jade Hui

Jade Hui is a Buddhist, nonbinary Master's student from Hong Kong, studying religion and sexual diversity studies at the University of Toronto. Their major research paper focuses on asking "How might the Buddha and Buddhists guide a psychotic queer?", attempting to explore multiple responses, untangling a problem-cure framework and centering resources they themselves found helpful surviving as a Buddhist psychotic queer. Bridging gaps between Buddhist studies and Mad studies, they wish next to dive into postcolonial Hong Kong studies/Sinophone studies to track how identities are being policed by colonial mentalities and structures.

Aloha Narajos

Aloha (she/her) is a proud Filipina youth mental health advocate from Scarborough, Ontario, and currently works as a Youth Engagement Specialist with CAMH. She has worked with a number of mental health non-profit organizations, which empower youth and young adults to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. Graduated with a degree and diploma in Justice Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber, and currently taking an Accelerated Law Clerk program at Seneca College, Aloha hopes she may combine her passion for mental health and the justice system to make a big change within her community. Through sharing and drawing from her own lived experience, she hopes that she'll be able to reach others who struggle with finding their full potential because they worry their mental health will get in the way of their success.

Amber Philipps

Hi, I'm Amber Phillips. I am an amateur photographer and the area that I live in is known for our beautiful sunsets on the shores of Lake Huron. Photography helps me get out of my head and focus on the beauty that surrounds me and in each photograph I take. I am a published writer and have written about my lived experience to help myself in my recovery process and to bring Hope to the person(s) reading my published pieces. Also, I like to read thrillers, play video games, knit and watch the waves on Lake Huron.

Angela Walcott

Angela Walcott is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist whose interested include sustainable art practices; research geared towards chronicling the story/stories of early settlement patterns of African-Canadian and Afro-Caribbean communities; intergenerational trauma as a result of colonial settlement/de-settlement; displacement and community-building in the Caribbean, Latin and South America.