Laysha Ostrow is the Founder and CEO of Live & Learn, Inc. and the Project Director on the Reclaiming Employment SBIR grant. Lasyha’s work focuses on community-driven approaches that present safe and effective pathways to independence and empowerment for people who have used mental health services. In addition to her duties at Live & Learn, Inc., Laysha is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University. She completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF and holds a PhD from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a Master of Public Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Dr. Ostrow has first-hand lived experience of the special education, Social Security disability, and psychiatric systems.
As a Research Assistant with Live & Learn Inc. since 2016, Carina Smith is driven to improve access to heath care and public health services for underserved populations. She has assisted on a variety of grant-funded and technical assistance projects at Live & Learn, including the Guidebook for Peer Respite Self-Evaluation: Practical Steps and Tools and Reclaiming Employment. Working with quantitative as well as qualitative data, she has contributed to in several aspects of research studies such as survey development, data collection and analysis, and writing public reports and peer-reviewed journal articles.
Prior to becoming a Research Assistant with Live & Learn, Inc. Carina completed a bachelor's in Political Economy and German at UC Berkeley in 2016. Her work in public policy is largely motivated by understanding the dynamics of development, particularly in education and health care, with a particular interest in improving access to health care services.
Pat Nemec is an independent trainer and consultant in psychiatric rehabilitation, a Wellness Coaching trainer and Program Development Specialist at CSPNJ, Inc., and consultant with Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare. Nemec has taught in a number of graduate-level academic programs, including directing the graduate psychiatric rehabilitation specialization at Boston University.
From 1984-2008, Nemec was on the faculty of the Rehabilitation Counseling program at Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University, where she was responsible for the graduate level psychiatric rehabilitation specialization. She has written a number of articles, book chapters, and training materials on psychiatric rehabilitation, and is co-editor of Best Practices in Psychiatric Rehabilitation (2nd edition, 2014).
Nemec received her B.A. from Syracuse University, and her Psy.D. from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2007 John Beard Award from the US Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. In 2012, she was appointed as an USPRA Dincin Fellow.
Leah Harris, M.A. is a writer, speaker, and advocate who brings personal and professional experience to her work promoting healing-centered, trauma-informed, and socially-just approaches across systems, settings, and communities. Since 2016, she has owned and operated Shifa Consulting, a social enterprise that provides training, technical assistance, speaking/workshops, and leadership coaching to nonprofit executives. Leah is pleased to be a part of the Reclaiming Employment team, as she is passionate about supporting her peers to explore self-employment and its numerous benefits. Learn more about her and her work at leahidaharris.com.
Derek Malenczak received his master’s degree in Psychiatric Rehabilitation from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2008 and joined the Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation & Counseling Professions at Rutgers University as a faculty member in 2012. After spending the previous 13 years working in community mental health agencies providing recovery-oriented services to adults with psychiatric conditions, Derek successfully transitioned to academia, spending his first three years there as a Cognitive Specialist doing grant-based research in cognitive remediation for college students with psychiatric conditions. Currently Derek is a full-time lecturer, enrolled in the PhD program in his Department, and has a wide variety of research interests related to supporting college students with psychiatric conditions, including innovative online pedagogical strategies and Supported Education interventions.
Jessica Maloney is the director of communications for the Human Services Research Institute, where she focuses on sharing research, information, and ideas to support social and system change. A former college instructor, Jess brings an interest and skills in instructional design, human-centered information design, and data visualization. She works to develop accessible, visually appealing deliverables and engaging training materials and programs. With a background in cultural anthropology and gender studies, Jess is also interested in participatory ethnography and design as a means for developing equitable solutions and outcomes. Outside of work, Jess spends as much time as possible out in nature with her family and her dog.
Allie Myers is a project and proposal manager at the nonprofit Human Services Research Institute (HSRI). She brings over ten years of experience with nonprofit coordination and development activities, coordinating with partners to make the most of system change opportunities. She’s particularly skilled at working with research and data services teams to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations and to maintain a constant focus on protecting the rights, welfare, and privacy of research participants. Allie earned her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University.
Producer/Writer/Director PJ Moynihan is the the Founder & CEO of Digital Eyes Film, a full services media production company based in Northampton, MA (USA) specializing in social action documentaries. His last film, "Healing Voices" premiered in 130 communities across eight countries during 2016 via a grass roots release. PJ is currently in production with his next documentary, "Recovering Addiction: A Public Health Rescue Mission". For more information please visit www.digitaleyesfilm.com
A New Zealander by birth, Chris Hansen is the Director of Intentional Peer Support, and has been co-teaching and developing Intentional Peer Support in the United States and in other countries with Shery Mead for the past eleven years. Chris has spent twenty years involved in local, regional, national and international peer support and advocacy initiatives, and in mental health sector planning and politics from a service user perspective. Other roles have included clinical and management roles in both inpatient and outpatient mental health services, leadership within NZ’s award-winning anti-discrimination campaign, research for the NZ Mental Health Commission, and involvement in the development of the NZ national mental health strategic plan and workforce development strategy. Chris was a member of the New Zealand delegation to the United Nations for the development of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; has served on the board of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and has played a key role in the development of a number of peer-run crisis alternatives.
Lisa Smusz, Principal Consultant at The Social Changery, is a creative problem-solver with a knack for combining data and out-of-the-box thinking to produce measurable outcomes. Lisa brings nearly 20 years of senior-management-level experience in developing, executing, and evaluating community mental health initiatives on local, statewide, national, and international projects. She provides content expertise and project management services to mental health and educational organizations across California, with a focus on stigma reduction, working with college-age young adults, and culturally responsive approaches to promoting mental health in diverse communities. Lisa is also an Instructor at California State University, East Bay where she has been teaching mental health, women’s studies, and social justice coursework for the past 13 years. Her training and content development topics include: stigma reduction, integration of mental health and primary care, implementation and training for peer support workers, wellness (social, physical, occupational, and intellectual), social justice, career counseling, law and ethics, group counseling, community mental health, and technology.
Adrian serves as manager of 2nd Story Respite House in Santa Cruz, California. He works alongside NAMI and provider organizations in the Hopes of shared understanding of the movement that affects us all. Building up is so much more fun than breaking down.
Lynnae Brown is an activist and storycoach. She currently serves as Director of Howie The Harp Advocacy – a leading peer-run program that offers a comprehensive classroom training for people in mental health recovery to choose, get and maintain employment as a peer provider in New York City. Her insights about wellness at work were published in Beth Kanter’s “A Health Happy Non-Profit.” She has also appeared in Brave New Film’s “This is Crazy: Criminalizing Mental Health.” She believes that entrepreneurial employment can offer not only financial freedom, but agency over our time, our recovery and our lives. Lynnae has a BSBA in International Business and Marketing (dual concentration), is a Certified Peer Specialist in New York State, and is also a Ravenclaw.
Sabrina Darrow, PhD is Assistant Professor and licensed psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Darrow leads an evaluation and research program aimed at improving mental health services for youth and their families and is also a therapist within the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program for Adolescents and Young Adults. She is passionate about improving the link between research and mental health services with the goal of empowering individuals to reach their personal goals.
Dr. Darrow obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Doctorate in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Nevada, Reno. She completed her internship at the Southern Arizona Veterans Health Care System and postdoctoral studies, including the T32 Clinical Services Research Training Program, at UCSF.
Dr. Sullivan-Soydan is a full-time clinical assistant professor at Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University, where she teaches courses in human development and disability, abnormal psychology, and counseling skills and provides academic advising to students in occupational therapy and health sciences. She develops and teaches both the online preparation courses and conference institutes for the national certification of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. A member of the PRA Academy of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Recovery, she is also a member of the board of directors of MassPRA. As the co-chair of the Training and Education committee of the MassPRA chapter, she is a leader is workforce development initiatives for people with lived experience of psychiatric disability.
Anne has spent much of the past thirty years developing and disseminating Supported Education initiatives for young adults with psychiatric disabilities as they return to college. She is the author and editor of several publications, book chapters, and an edited textbook in supported education. She is Mary Switzer fellowship recipient as well a recent recipient of the LeRoy Spaniol Educator award by the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. In 2018 she was awarded the Whitney R. Power Award for Teaching Excellence for Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.