Keynote Speakers

MOnday night - History Panel

Mike Finkle 

Mike Finkle is the Executive Director of On Our Own of Maryland, Inc., a statewide mental health consumer advocacy and education organization, which represents 24 affiliated peer-operated Wellness and Recovery centers around Maryland.  He has served as Executive Director of On Our Own of Maryland since January 1993.  Prior to this, Mr. Finkle was the Associate and Program Director of On Our Own, Inc. in Baltimore from 1983 through 1992.  He has been involved in mental health consumer advocacy since 1981 and helped coordinate and host the first national Alternatives Conference for mental health consumers/survivors, held in June of 1985 at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, MD.  Over 400 people from all over the United States including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico attended this groundbreaking event which led to the establishment of two national consumer/survivor organizations.

Mr. Finkle is a former Chairperson of the Joint Maryland Advisory Council on Mental Hygiene and federal Public Law 102-21 State Planning Council.   He is also a former Vice-President of the Mental Health Association of Metropolitan Baltimore and Vice-President of Community Housing Associates, Inc. in Baltimore City.  Mr. Finkle was also the Chairperson of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Individuals with Disabilities from 1984 – 1986.  Mr. Finkle was also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Association of Psychiatric Support Services (MAPSS) which has since become the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland (CBH).  


Joseph Rogers

Joseph is Founder and Executive Director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, the first national technical assistance center serving the consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) movement. The Clearinghouse became a national model, leading to the creation of four additional federally funded centers. He is National Policy and Advocacy Consultant of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP), which he built fro a small regional advocacy agency onto a large multi-faceted provider of advocacy and peer-to-peer services. He was MHASP's President and CEO from 1997 to 2007. Among Joseph's numerous accomplishments is helping to facilitate the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights bill for individuals with disabilities, and helping to ensure that it covered individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

His Achievements also include crafting the strategy for the lawsuit that closed the notorious Philadelphia State Hospital and transferred approximately $50 million into what became an award-winning system of community-based services/supports. Joseph has done consultation work in more than 30 states, as well as internationally, and has testified before various legislative bodies. Among his many awards are the prestigious 2005 Heinz Award for the Human Condition and SAMHSA's 2013 Lifetime Achievement Voice Award.


Sally Zinman

See bio under Wednesday morning plenary.

Tuesday Morning - Youth Panel

MY LIFE - Troy Wilde 

Troy has been a national leader for MY LIFE for over four years. He is the Youth Leader for MY LIFE Montgomery County Pennsylvania. He has attended Alternatives in the past and represented MY LIFE at numerous local and national conferences. He is a certified Peer Support Specialist and identifies as being part of the LGBTQ community. Troy is also featured in the Youth United For Change video.


YOUTH POWER! - Caitlin Neumann

Born and raised in Buffalo, Caitlin is known across New York State for her role as President of the Board of Directors of YOUTH POWER!, the statewide network of young people who have been labeled and are seeking change. Being diagnosed with a mental health condition at a young age, she has developed a lifelong mission working to decrease the stigma of mental health and to bring support and guidance to her peers in hopes to inspire hope and change. Caitlin is employed as a Youth Peer Mentor at the Eerie County Mental Health Association where she offers peer support in the community, area psychiatric hospitals, and a residential facility. Caitlin has presented and spoken at various mental health awareness conferences and events statewide, using her experiences to help transform child serving systems for the future. Her travels have no limit, having traveled to the Netherlands in October 2013 for a conference as well as to present Master classes on the importance of youth peer advocacy. Caitlin is also a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor and a recent recipient of the Families Together in New York State Outstanding Youth Advocate award.


Youth M.O.V.E - Hannah Raiche

Hannah Raiche is the Youth M.O.V.E. National Member Services Chapter Liaison. She is 24 years old and a recent graduate of the Political Science program at Simmons College, in Boston, Massachusetts. Hannah's lived experiences dealing with mental health struggles related to depression and anxiety have made her into a passionate advocate who is dedicated to ensuring that young people have access to the resources that they need to be empowered, healthy, and successful individuals. She has been working part time as the Youth Coordinator with Youth M.O.V.E. New Hampshire since the summer of 2013 and feels that her work as a Youth Coordinator with Youth M.O.V.E. New Hampshire since the summer of 2013 and feels that her work as Youth Coordinator has given her the opportunity to become familiar with Youth M.O.V.E. National's mission and vision and also with a great deal of the outstanding work being done by Youth M.O.V.E. chapters nationwide. Hannah is excited to continue towards using the voices and causes of youth and building on the youth movement at a national level.


Youth Sound - Carly Rose

Carly Rose is a Youth Peer Specialist from the capital of the evergreen state, Olympia Washington. As a part-time mental health survivor and part-time thriver, Carly is passionate about youth-driven empowerment focused on a personally and culturally relevant, validating, and meaningful life of recovery for each youth in services. She is a musical, outspoken, introverted, spoken worded mother of two. As a first generation university graduate as well as a past resident of the small town of Backpack, Wherever, she believes that  in mental health services, lived experience can be equally as valuable as a college degree. When she's not engaged in the wide world of people, Carly can be found solitary among her home's evergreen trees, scouring social justice articles on the wide world of web, or reading books with her children.


Moderator - Lorrin Gehring

Lorrin Gehring is a passionate leader who began a career in advocacy at the age of 15. In her career, Lorrin has been fortunate to serve as an Advocate, a Case Manager, a Resource Specialist, a Social Marketer, a Director, a Teacher, and a Peer. In each of these positions, she has advocated for young people to have a voice and choice in their lives and the systems that serve them. She has authored numerous articles on youth involvement and is the 2011 Voice Award recipient  for excellence in the field of youth advocacy, as well as the 2012 Marlene Matarese Advocate for Youth Rock Star awardee. Lorrin is currently the Program Director for the Statewide Youth Sound in Washington. Her favorite color is green and on the weekends she can be found eating Pop Rocks while listening to 90's grunge music with her kids Max and Avenlea.


Emcee - Emily Wu Truong

Emily Wu Truong is a motivational speaker dedicated to alleviating the negative attitudes and prejudice regarding mental illness by sharing her own personal journey living with depression to becoming her own best friend. As Chair of the Asian Coalition of Los Angeles, Emily organizes educational opportunities for her community. Emily also serves on Disability Rights California's PAIMI Advisory Council, MHSOAC Client & Family Leadership Committee, and the Peerlink NTAC Advisory Board. Emily's advocacy efforts have been recognized by Senator Ed Hernandez and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano. Emily was also a recipient of the Alternatives' 2015 Youth and Young Adult Peer Leadership Award.


Wednesday Morning - Plenary

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman is currently the Executive Director of the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO), a statewide consumer advocacy organization in California.  Sally has been active in the mental health consumer/survivor empowerment movement for almost 40 years. Sally's commitment to the rights of people with mental disabilities came from her own horrendous experience in the mental health system. She has dedicated her life to ensure that what happened to her as a person with mental health challenges would not happen to other people. In 1977, Sally founded a client-run organization called the Mental Patients' Rights Association in West Palm Beach, Florida. This organization developed a small unfunded all-volunteer client-run community center and shared living space that were among the first client-run drop-in centers and supportive housing projects in the country.  In 1985 she helped found the Coalition for Alternatives in Mental Health, known as the Berkeley Drop-In Center, one of the first funded client-run multi-purpose drop-in centers in the country. In 1986, Sally co-edited and wrote articles for Reaching Across: Mental Health Clients Helping Each Other, and, in 1994, Reaching Across II: Maintaining Our Roots/ The Challenge of Growth. Both books have been used by mental health clients and professionals throughout the country as a manual for understanding and starting self-help programs. Throughout all of these years, Sally has been passionately committed to advancing the mental health consumer/survivor movement and working for the self-determination, choice, and empowerment of others who followed her.

Celia Brown

Celia Brown is a psychiatric survivor who was instrumental in developing the first peer specialist civil service title in the country. Celia is the Regional Advocacy Specialist at the NYC Field Office, New York State Office of Mental Health. She provides technical assistance and support to people with psychiatric disabilities and their families. Celia facilitates trainings on peer support, wellness, and recovery approaches in community mental health agencies.  She is a long-time leader in the psychiatric survivor movement.  Celia was a founding member of the National People of Color/Consumer Survivor Network. She is a field school graduate of the Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts, Nathan Klein Institute. Celia is an advisory  board member with the Center for Practice Innovations for the NYS Psychiatric Institute. Celia has presented nationally and internationally on topics such as self-help, peer counseling, advocacy, trauma, and cultural competency.

Gilberto Romero

Mr. Romero has extensive knowledge of the mental health system on the national, state, and local level, strong communication skills, and a valued experiential knowledge as an advocate and consumer of mental health services. He hosted a radio program in New Mexico on mental health awareness for over 15 years. He has a long history of mental health advocacy and has been recognized with prestigious awards from many national organizations.

Thursday Morning - Plenary

Jean Campbell

 It was shortly after the passage of the historic Americans with Disabilities Act that Dr. Jean Campbell came out of the closet as a person with mental illness and began to dedicate her professional career to bringing a human face to the needs and aspirations of mental health consumers. Her work has always been informed by the belief that research and evaluation ought to and can enhance the choice, power, and knowledge of recipients of mental health services. Dr. Campbell has led the nation in evaluating the effectiveness of emerging new behavioral health service models such as recovery-based rehabilitative programs based on the knowledge and practices of peer-run programs for adults with mental illness. Dr. Campbell has written over 40 articles and reports, delivered thousands of presentations, and received numerous awards such as the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Voice Award, the 2008 NAMI Lionel Aldridge Award, the 2004 Mental Health Association of St. Louis Silver Key Award, and the 2003 New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services Executive Directors Award. Throughout her distinguished career as a mental health consumer researcher, speaker, mentor, and director of the Program in Consumer Studies and Training, she became a forerunner in the effort to define the recovery and wellbeing of recipients of mental health services in research and to promote multi-stakeholder approaches in evaluation and service delivery. She is probably best known for her early, groundbreaking consumer-directed research study of well-being of persons with mental illness in California, The Well-Being Project (1989), and the supplemental award-winning documentary “People Say I’m Crazy.” Now in her retirement, Dr. Campbell has begun to organize a consulting firm to support this effort throughout the United States.

Juan Velez

Juan Vélez Court is a person in long-term recovery from a mental health illness since childhood. He works for a System of Care Project in Puerto Rico and is the co-Director of a peer-run organization, in which he directed a short film about his story. A consultant to the NAMI STAR Center, Juan has participated in SAMHSA's Recovery Month Planning Partners Committee, was chosen as a Hero of Hope for SAMHSA's National Awareness Campaign, and was the keynote speaker for a Hispanic Mental Health conference in California. In 2013, Juan was a panelist for SAMHSA's National Youth Recovery Summit.

Vélez co-facilitates support groups for people in recovery and their families and has a long-term goal to establish a platform for on-going Peer Specialist Certification in Puerto Rico, and to reach an agreement with the State Administration to include peers at different levels of mental health treatment and recovery programs.

Sean Donovan

Sean Donovan discovered peer-to-peer support five years ago as an opportunity to find some wisdom through the depths of pain and connection through non-clinical, genuine human relationships. Through this he has transformed experiences with medical trauma, psychiatric hospitalization and labels, suicidal thoughts, and coming to understand himself as a strong, sensitive queer man into powerful relationships with other folks. He sees this work as part of a larger struggle for civil and human rights. Sean in now Western Mass Recovery Learning Community's Community Bridging Coordinator - facilitating groups and advocating for folks in acute psychiatric settings and supporting folks to live lives they want to be living. He co-founded the Sylvia Rivera Mutual Support Group - an LGBTQ+ intentional space to talk about gender, sexuality, and all kinds of lived experience - and is a certified trainer of Intentional Peer Support (IPS). He is also a certified trainer for aspiring facilitators of Alternatives to Suicide mutual support groups.