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
Leo Pizarro is the Technology Engineer for NAMI San Diego’s Children, Youth, and Family Liaison. From a multi-cultural background and lived experience, Leo is a firm believer in the power of both technology and mental health to impact change. A perspective where no single aspect of life can serve as a dominating factor for better health decisions, but rather must integrate all facets of a one’s environment. An advocate for increasing community capacity with respects to a digital environment, whether in the palm of one’s hand in the form of a mobile application or a click away on a website’s video, relative health information should not be limited to those who already have digital literacy but must be made accessible to all individuals. Leo’s ongoing mission is to develop community focused solutions for the unique everyday needs of in County of San Diego. With a philosophy to promote participant growth and autonomy through connection and hoping to provide a platform for participants to lead a self-directed healthy lifestyle. Leo received his BA in Anthropology from San Diego State University and is currently pursuing his MPH in Mental Health.