I was an excited big sister when my new born brother was brought home from the hospital. It was like receiving a personal playmate just for me! Being four years older, I turned into a second mommy immediately wanting to protect him (okay occasionally being a bit bossy). My brother was an avid skateboarder, voted class clown, and a beachgoer, all the qualities that make up a true San Diegan. He was also full of love, not only for his family, but random strangers he would meet. Life became a bit difficult for him while he struggled to manage a mental health challenge, but that did not put a damper on him. His life took a variety of twists, which was unlike the conventional life we expect everyone to follow. Siblings tend to either become advocates or separate themselves from the family. I became an advocate. Though even with everything I strived to accomplish, it still didn’t save him.
2002 – founder of Compeer San Diego, mission was to provide friendships to persons with a mental illness. When my brother was diagnosed with a mental illness, even though he had been voted class clown in high school and was liked by many, he lost all of his friends. I discovered this to be the truth for so many others!
2010 – present CEO of NAMI San Diego. In that time, NAMI San Diego has quadrupled in both revenue and size of staff. Today, NAMI San Diego has 5 offices and has expanded to Imperial County. Over 20 programs are offer support, education, and advocacy.
2017 – present co-Founder of Ballast Health. Start up organization to provide new solutions for family members and persons with a mental health challenge.
Worked on local, state, and national government and NPOs to impact change. Including the Client Family Leadership Committee for the CA Mental Health Services Act Commission, the national Crisis Services Task Force, whose mission is Zero Suicide. I also support several organizations in starting their solutions to behavioral health on a national level.
A national speaker with an emphasis on the family voice, specifically, the often missing voice of the sibling. Another emphasis is on trauma while in the care system, specifically seclusion and restraints. The myths and facts, and what can be done to create a healing system.