Renee Cookson, CTRS, PMP is the Community Development Director at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, San Diego affiliate and supports the entire Children, Youth & Family Liaison program. Renee has worked for over three decades to improve the quality of life for individuals with mental illness and their families and in shaping important issues to de-stigmatize the myths around mental illness. She is very active in her community; a true visionary champion of increasing conversations on creating a mentally healthy workplace and making it easier for individuals suffering in silence to talk about their day-to-day struggles without shame or stigma. She has a strong background working with culturally diverse populations and is a key advocate in suicide prevention. Renee is a 2016 Rochester Training Institute Scholar and received her Project Management Certification in 2016. She is the Secretary and Board member for the Disability Services Advisory Council and Second Vice President of the Pacific Beach Women’s Club.
Valerie Hebert is the Program Manager for the Children, Youth and Family Liaison with NAMI San Diego. Valerie has a background in fine art, having spent eight years running her own handmade business specializing in multimedia art, crafting from repurposed wool fiber and needle felting. Alongside this work and resulting from a need to support a child with co-occurring health challenges, Valerie has navigated the world of mental health and addiction advocacy and support. Valerie has managed a faith based Al Anon Support group, taught NAMI Family To Family classes, and has experience with successfully advocating for Mental Health Parity, children’s Special Education challenges and more. Valerie brings her creative background to the table of mental health education and advocacy, where she hopes to effect change at the ground floor level so families can get the assistance they need and are entitled to receive. ValerieHebert@namisd.org
Linda D. Ketterer, BA serves as a Trainer with NAMI San Diego’s Children, Youth & Family Liaison. In 2005, she received a BA in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on education, from San Diego State University, as well as a Pre-K through Adult multiple subject teaching credential. She has dedicated her life to reaching the unreachable (or so they think) and has a heart for the family who struggles. Through her personal story she helps provide the family voice through a number of trainings for Child Welfare Services workers, foster parents and Behavioral Health Services providers. She was among the first in San Diego County to present Pathways to Well-Being Trainings and continues to provide training in addition to her work with NAMI San Diego. Linda and her family have been consumers of Child Welfare Services as well as Behavior Health Services for many years. She firmly believes that the trials and tribulations they endured, have made them who they are today – a strong family unit, who believes in second chances and the power of helping others. LindaKetterer@namisd.org
Hello! My name is Sten Walker and I am the Technology Engineer for NAMI San Diego’s Children, Youth, & Family Liaison team. I make sure that our hardware and software is fully functional at all times to help our team connect families and youth to the resources they need. My personal experience and family members’ experience with mental health issues drives me to ensure that one day everyone will have full access to the resources necessary for dealing with mental illness.
Within NAMI San Diego’s CYFL, I am a Community Development Specialist Trainer and coordinate the NAMI on Campus High School Club Program. I am a voting member on the TAY Council as well as the CYF Behavioral Health System of Care Council. I applied for the position at NAMI San Diego due to my own experiences as a Transition Age Youth (TAY) with a mental health diagnosis. I like being able to lend my voice and view on all things TAY related in the Children’s System of Care. I’m hoping I can make a difference in the lives of Transitional Age Youth through my presentations and groups doing work that is important to me at NAMI San Diego.
Evan Hodges is the Tech/Outreach Specialist for NAMI San Diego’s Children, Youth & Family Liaison team. Through his work in nonprofit development and his own lived experience, Evan has developed a passion for connecting individuals in his community to appropriate resources, particularly the Transitional Aged Youth and Homeless populations. Evan is very active in his community, working to create collaboration opportunities between nonprofits and business leaders to effect lasting change for the underserved populations in the North County region. Evan is currently pursuing a BA in Public Administration and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management.
I am a firm believer in NAMI San Diego’s mission to support, educate and advocate for people dealing with mental illness. Besides my personal lived experience, I have extensive volunteer experience within the San Diego mental health community. These opportunities include time with KickStart, an early intervention program for adolescents with Schizophrenia, and Sharp Hospitals Inpatient and Outpatient Behavioral Health programs, which further ignited my passion. As the Tech/Community Development Specialist, I support enhancement to oscER, oscER Jr and alfrEDU apps program by updating content and assisting in substance use disorder (SUD) research and information gathering. Aside from this, I play an integral role in promoting the apps in the community; I am passionate about educating and training the public in order to expose them to the plethora of beneficial features available to them from using these applications.