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 HebertProgram Manager
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
Ingrid Alvarez-RonLead Trainer
Ingrid Alvarez-Ron is the lead trainer of the NAMI San Diego CYFL team. Her life experiences with mental health challenges have empowered her to become a mental health advocate. She is passionate about supporting Children, Youth & Families that live with mental and behavioral health challenges and found her calling by doing what she loves for a living. Ingrid hopes that together, we can create a culture of wellness and to break the stigma around mental illness one conversation at a time. IngridAlvarezRon@namisd.org
Mina ArthmanCommunity Development Trainer
Mina Arthman is a Community Developer within NAMI San Diego’s CYFL. Having personal experience with mental illness, Mina avidly shares NAMI’s mission to educate, support, and advocate for those living with mental illness and their loved ones. She is incredibly passionate about making therapy accessible to everyone, creating safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ community, and helping survivors of sexual trauma. While obtaining her degree in psychological science from CSU San Marcos, Mina helped establish a mental health awareness and suicide prevention program. She also worked as a teaching assistant for multiple classes, including Developmental Psychopathology. Additionally, Mina has dedicated time to helping individuals living with mental illness obtain jobs and navigate the education system. Mina has over a decade worth of experience working with children, youth, and families, across educational, community, and research settings. MinaArthman@namisd.org.
Sten Walker Technology Engineer
Sten Walker is the Technology Engineer for NAMI San Diego’s Children, Youth, & Family Liaison team. He makes sure that our hardware and software is fully functional at all times to help our team connect families and youth to the resources we need. His personal experience and family members’ experience with mental health issues drive to ensure that one day everyone will have full access to the resources necessary for dealing with mental illness. StenWalker@namisd.org
Micaela Cunningham Community Development Specialist Trainer
Within NAMI San Diego’s CYFL, Micaela Cunningham is a Community Development Specialist Trainer and coordinates the NAMI on Campus High School Club Program. She is a voting member on the TAY Council as well as the CYF Behavioral Health System of Care Council. She applied for the position at NAMI San Diego due to her own experiences as a Transition Age Youth (TAY) with a mental health diagnosis. She likes being able to lend her voice and view on all things TAY related in the Children’s System of Care. She hopes to make a difference in the lives of Transition Age Youth through presentations and groups doing work that is important to Micaela at NAMI San Diego.
Rogena AbdelrahmanTech/Community Development Specialist
Rogena is firm believer in NAMI San Diego’s mission to support, educate and advocate for people dealing with mental illness. Besides her personal lived experience, she has 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 her passion. As the Tech/Community Development Specialist, she supports 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, she plays an integral role in promoting the apps in the community; Rogena is 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.
Emma EldredgeTech/Outreach Specialist
Emma is the Outreach/Technology Specialist who works on NAMI San Diego’s Apps, Social Media, and coordinates the Ending the Silence program. A Transition Aged Youth (TAY), after receiving a mental health diagnosis she quickly experienced the stigma and lack of awareness surrounding mental health. In hopes of changing this, she became interested in advocacy and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Cornell University. While at Cornell she began advocating for The Mighty by hosting a bi-monthly Facebook Live series that she still does today. Emma uses her personal lived experience to help families, youth, and the community become more aware of mental health conditions and the resources available to them. Emma is particularly passionate about increasing TAY involvement and breaking the stigma around mental health.