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.
Suzette Southfox is the Program Manager for NAMI San Diego’s Children, Youth & Family Liaison. The most important thing she does is support her son, a budding young adult with lived experience of high functioning autism, depression and anxiety and her sister, who lives with depression and a developmental challenge. Suzette has more than 25 years’ experience in community development and support working with San Diego nonprofits. Before joining NAMI San Diego last June as the Outreach Programs Manager, she served 13 years as program staff for the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. She has also worked with San Diego Youth Services, Planned Parenthood, a local AIDS Organization, and a national LGBT Family Coalition. Nothing speaks to her as deeply as the mission of supporting, educating and advocating for people with mental illnesses and their families. She is a published author, professional story teller, Joss Whedon fan and a year-round open water swimmer. SuzetteSouthfox@namisd.org
Valerie Hebert is the Family Specialist Trainer 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 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
Shane Drosi is the Community Developer for the Children, Youth, and Family Liaison at NAMI San Diego. He received his Bachelor’s degree from The University of Tennessee in Global Studies with an emphasis on Politics and Economy. Since graduation, he has worked with non-profit organizations both in Tennessee and Southern California in event planning, social media marketing, and research. He also worked on a team of researchers that facilitated the Mental Health Services Act community engagement forums for the Behavioral Health Services of San Diego. Shane was part of the Tech CAFE team previously at NAMI San Diego where he produced Wellness Webinars and helped develop the FREE mobile applications: oscER, oscERjr., and alfrEDU. He currently maintains NAMI San Diego’s social media accounts, TAY engagement, and will be helping facilitate quarterly focus groups on Facebook Live!
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.