Panel DESCRIPTIONS

Below you will find panel descriptions, related links and and any additional background materials associated with the forum presentations

Below you will find panel descriptions, related links and and any additional background materials associated with the forum presentations


ARMED with mental health first aid

For many students, school is not always a pleasant experience. Most of us know of a young person who is struggling under academic or social anxiety-producing pressures in school, which often results in behavioral health disorders. Mental Health First Aid is a course that teaches us how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. This panel will discuss the need for teachers and students to be equipped with training that will help identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses.

Veronica Kelley, PhD, Director, San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health

Le Ondra Clark Harvey, PhD, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs,
California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies

Mara Madrigal-Weiss, Director, Student Wellness and Positive School Climate

Monica Nepomuceno, Education Programs Consultant, Mental Health Services Program, California Department of Education

Adventures in Harm Reduction

From supervised injection facilities to heroin-assisted treatment, “radical” harm reduction strategies that have shown promise in other countries are beginning to gain traction in parts of California and the U.S. At the same time, many communities continue to lack access to basic overdose prevention supplies and medication-assisted treatment for substance use. This panel will interrogate the risks, benefits, and barriers associated with a variety of interventions that can reduce harm from drug and alcohol use. Panelists will identify policy strategies to expand the use of these life-saving practices throughout the state.

Paula Wilhelm, MPP, MPH, Senior Policy Analyst, County Behavioral Directors Association of CA

Alice Gleghorn, PhD, Director, Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness

SPECIAL FOCUS SECTION: BRIDGING THE GAP IN SAN FRANCISCO, THE PROCESS OF INTEGRATING HARM REDUCTION AND TRADITIONAL SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES

Alex H. Kral, PhD, Principal Scientist, Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice Division, RTI International


Laura Thomas, PhD, Deputy State Director, California, San Francisco Bay Area, Drug Policy Alliance



Youth Mental Health in Conversation

Earlier this year, Born This Way Foundation commissioned a study from Benenson Strategy Group. This study asked 20 youth and their parents or guardians to answer a series of questions about their lives, relationships, and mental health in the form of diary entries each evening throughout several days. For the panel discussion Born This Way Foundation will highlight the findings from the online diaries and have an open conversation about how we can create a healthy dialogue about mental health within families and beyond.

Maya Smith, Executive Director, Born This Way Foundation

April Johnson, Communications Director, Aging Up

Zachary Franet, Account Executive, Ground Floor Public Affairs


Treating away homelessness?

Across the nation we are seeing an unprecedented rise in homelessness, leaving many searching for a solution that always seems just out of reach. Is mental health care, substance use disorder treatment and housing enough to get someone off the streets? This panel will ask the hard questions as it tries to determine what is needed to overcome this societal crisis.

Kavoos Ghane Bassiri, LMFT, LPCC, CGP, Director of Behavioral Health Services, San Francisco Department of Public Health

Karen Lancaster, LMFT, Program Director, San Francisco Fully Integrated Recovery Services Team (SF FIRST), San Francisco Department of Public Health

Barry Zevin, MD, Medical Director, Street Medicine and Shelter Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health

Kelly Hiramoto,  LCSW, Director of San Francisco Health Network


Emergency department Overcrowding

Anyone who has had the occasion to go to a hospital emergency room recently is probably aware that (1) the ER is often overcrowded, and (2) a significant number of patients are there due to a mental health crisis or substance use disorder. The current epidemic of opioid overdoses, involving both prescription pain relievers and heroin, is also having a major impact on emergency rooms. This panel will discuss the challenges of serving this population in crowded ERs, and the importance of developing close collaboration between community addiction and mental health services and Emergency Departments.

Thomas Renfree, Interim Executive Director, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA)

Jim Comes, MD, Chief of Emergency Medicine, UCSF Fresno Emergency Medicine Program


Mary Lally-DeAlba, RN, Director, Nursing Emergency and Medical Surgical Services, Adventist Health

Sheree Lowe, Vice President, Behavioral Health, California Hospital Association

Tony Vartan, Director of Behavioral Health Services, San Joaquin County

Background materials:

What the data tell us about emergency department use in California -Article

California Emergency Departments: Use Grows as Coverage Expands - Article


Undocumented determinants of health

Is immigration status a social determinant of health? Can the color of your skin predict a sooner death and what does this mean for communities of color statewide? This panel will discuss how can Counties and consumers can improve our current system to address language barriers while navigating lawful status payment issues.

Jei Africa, PhD, Director, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Marin County

Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Deputy Director, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Pysay Phinith, Korean Community Center of the East Bay

Background materials:

Healthy Mind, Healthy Future: Promoting the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children in Immigrant Families

California Children in Immigrant Families: The Health Provider Perspective


Getting on Par with Parity & Other Regulatory Managed Care Requirements

This panel will discuss best practices in leveraging a contract with an Administrative Service Organization (ASO) to drive performance and meet regulatory requirements related to parity and the Medicaid Final Rule.

Dean True, RN, MPA, President, County Behavioral Directors Association of CA, and Director, Adult Services and Human Services Agency, Shasta County

Sarah Arnquist, MPH, Vice President, Client Partnerships with Beacon Health Options

Ian Johansson, Chief Compliance Officer, Health Plan of San Mateo


Child Welfare, Foster Care and Trauma Informed Strategies

This panel will discuss current efforts to create trauma-informed systems for foster youth, how we are identifying and addressing trauma, and strategies to improve foster youth access to mental health services . The current statutory and regulatory environment will be examined, including relevant legislation and Continuum of Care Reform, (which effectively ends the use of foster youth group homes), family mobile response proposals, the delivery of specialty mental health services and health plan provided mental health benefits.


Karen Larsen, LMFT, Director, Yolo County, Health & Human Services Agency

Susanna Kniffen, Senior Director, Child Welfare Policy, Children Now

Frank Mecca, Executive Director, Child Welfare Directors Association (CWDA)

Joy Anderson, No Stigma No Barriers

Background materials:



Consumer Engagement Through Good Design

How can good design strengthen your brand? How can strengthening your brand help you communicate with consumers? Join Jettoe Design's Jerry Lowe as he walks us through a few branding basics. Jerry won't make you into a branding expert in one hour, but you will learn some real-world tips on how to improve the look of your outreach materials. Watch Jerry redesign a flyer in live-time and learn tips on image selection, headline writing and element placement.

Jerry Lowe, Jettoe


Suicide as a National Epidemic

Suicide rates have increased in almost every state in the past two decades, with California showing a 15% increase from 1999 to 2016. This panel will attempt to uncover what’s behind this spike by exploring the anthropological, epidemiological, cultural and societal factors of suicide. What should Counties do to prevent the continued rise in suicide rates, and what more should we do to better suicide prevention?

Terry Rooney, PhD, Director, Colusa County Behavioral Health

Curley L Bonds, MD, Chief Deputy Director, Clinical Operations, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Kelechi Ubozoh, Tech Suite Peer and Community Engagement Manager, CalMHSA

Kelechi Ubozoh - Handout on suicide prevention strategies in diverse communities


Policy Driving Outcomes:  Outcomes Driving Policy

Statewide approaches to outcome collection and reporting initiated by counties will be highlighted with a focus on policy and legislative actions that promote outcomes-driven policy development.

Debbie Innes-Gomberg, PhD, Deputy Director, Program Development and Outcomes, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Toby Ewing, PhD, Executive Director, Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC)

Samantha Spangler, PhD, Director Research and Evaluations, California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions (CIBHS)
Background materials:

Background materials:

Presentation Slides


Leadership and Policy: The Inextricable Link

During this facilitated panel discussion, alumis of the CIBHS Leadership Institute will discuss the many connections between leadership and policy such as key attributes needed to have an impact in the policy area and the dynamic tension between being both "implementers of policy" and needing to influence and shape policy discussions that are happening at the local, state, and federal levels.

Debbie Innes-Gomberg, PhD, Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Alissa Nourse, MEd, Consultant, Former Director of Alpine County Behavioral Health Department

Dean True, RN, MPA, President, County Behavioral Directors Association of CA, and Director, Adult Services and Human Services Agency, Shasta County


Nancy Peña, PhD, Behavioral Health Consultant, Former Director of Behavioral Health, Santa Clara County

Tommy Royston, MEd, Assistant Director of Executive Education, USC Price School of Public Policy


Criminal Justice Diversion Opportunities

Nationally, nearly two million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year and almost two-thirds have a co-occurring substance use disorder. Serving individuals in the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice is difficult, but diversion can be an effective alternative to incarceration. New legislation, AB 1810, in 2018 created an on-going pathway for pre-trial diversion of individuals with a mental illness. In addition, this legislation provides short-term funding to expand and support programs or interventions. This panel will address the opportunities and challenges that this new legislation creates to serve individuals who had previously been unserved and underserved in the community.


Anne Robin, LMFT, Behavioral Health Director, San Luis Obispo County

Alice Gleghorn, PhD, Director, Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness

Judge Stephen Manley, Superior Court Judge, Santa Clara County

Stephanie Welch, MSW, Executive Officer,  Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH)

Background materials:

Findings and recommendations


Collaboration On Campus

This panel will be discussing how schools and Behavioral Health are working together to provide better access to referrals and services through improved policy.  

Amie Miller, PhD, Behavioral Health Director, Monterey County


Amanda M. Dickey, Esq. Director, Intergovernmental and Legal Affairs,
California County Superintendents Educational Services Association

Nancy Kotowski, PhD, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools


2018 Legislative Year in Review

2018 was another strong year for Behavioral Health Legislation, with wins that will work to better California’s mental health and substance use prevention and treatment care system. This panel takes a hard look at the legislation that will come into effect in 2019, and how Counties can better prepare for implementation of the new laws.


Amie Miller, PhD, Behavioral Health Director, Monterey County

Mary Adèr, MPP, MHP, Deputy Director, Legislative Affairs, County Behavioral Health Director Association of CA (CBHDA)

Thomas Renfree, Interim Executive Director, County Behavioral Health Director Association of CA (CBHDA)

Connie Delgado, CEO, Delgado Government Affairs

Background materials:

2018 Legislative Year in Review

CBHDA 2018 Legislative Scorecard

Bills that will become law from 2018 Legislative Session


From Policy to Outcomes Across City and County Jurisdictions

The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) has administered local, regional, and statewide mental health programs on behalf of the California counties and cities since 2004. Ranging from stigma and discrimination, suicide prevention, student mental health initiative, and innovations, learn how county identified programs administered through CalMHSA are meeting the outcomes of the Mental Health Services Act.

Terence Rooney, PhD – Director, Colusa County Behavioral Health

Sharon Ishikawa, PhD – MHSA Coordinator, Orange County Health Care Agency

Kelechi Ubozoh – Peer and Community Engagement Manager, CalMHSA

Jeremy Wilson, MPPA – Senior Program Manager, CalMHSA