I am the proud parent of 2 daughters. One of my daughter’s struggles has been manifest in mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges for our entire family. I have been actively advocating for her as we have navigated through multiple Systems of Care (educational, peer support, medical, etc, at the federal, state and regional levels) for over a decade. Through problem solving, with the help of family and friends, and guidance from caring professionals, we have met these challenges and successfully overcome numerous obstacles. Throughout this time, I have worked steadfastly to educate myself and build a network of contacts in order to help other families like ours. I have also been a small business owner for more than 20 years. I have acquired many skills from supervision, management and training experience, public speaking and negotiating contracts, research and recruiting to marketing and training, I also have a very strong desire to support and empower other families to understand and utilize the systems of care from a grassroots community-based perspective. In my free time, I practice yoga, read books and play with my horse, Rocky. You can contact Janice at email@example.com
I raised two wonderful children who both struggle with mental illness and learning disabilities. My daughter is 21 and my son is 19 and both will be soon testing the waters independent from me in their own homes. My son has a rare brain malformation and is a unique and exuberant child. He has struggled through years with intense behaviors but has been doing so well lately that he is able to move into a DDA supported living home. There have been both smooth days and rough days along this path of ours, but we hold on tight to the good and learn from our challenges. As both a parent of children with behavioral health needs, and a professional working in the community, I have the balanced perspective of having been on both sides of the table. I am soon to be an empty nester and I’m not sure what I will do with all my alone time. The plan is to try new things and discover who I am apart from my children. I love to read, explore my creative side, and want to spend as much time outdoors as possible (preferably near water). It is very fulfilling to contribute to the empowerment of individuals, families, and caregivers to hone their self-advocacy skills to be able to overcome the barriers they face and gain access to the services they need. You can contact Amber at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Kelly has been employed in the children's behavioral health field since April 2018 as the Project Director for Washington State Community Connectors, a statewide family led non-profit dedicated to uniting WA State family leaders in this field to strengthen children, youth, families, and community partnerships. She is also a Parent Consultant on the Children's Long-Term Inpatient Program (CLIP) Steering Committee as a parent voice, certified in WISe, and a certified Peer Counselor. She comes into this work because of her lived experience in parenting a child with intense behavioral health care needs. Karen is the wife of one husband, the mother of four children, and has a dog, cat, and pet pig at home. Her passion is to help families find or strengthen their hope, see families collaborate with their system partners in supporting their journey to health, provide growth opportunities for parents so they can know better to do better, share the value of the Family, Youth, System Partner Round Tables (FYSPRT) and the opportunities it gives for family and youth voice, and recognize the need for genuine personal wellness in order to become their best selves. You can contact Karen at email@example.com
SUD Family Navigator Trainer
Jackie has two grown children whom she raised as a single parent and struggled to support her son as it became apparent he was battling substance use disorder since 2012. This lived experience led her to being involved with a number of behavioral health care serving systems including addiction rehabilitation, the justice system, and the kinship adoption process as she adopted her granddaughter in 2016 and is currently parenting her. Jackie is actively involved in the kinship care community, connected to Battlefield Addiction weekly solution groups, and is a CPC and a member of the WSCC Children’s Behavioral Health Outpatient Workgroup. As a SUD Family Navigator Trainer, she is excited to help families navigate and grow on their journey to wellness. Her favorite past-times are crafting, crocheting, walking her dog, and organizing/decorating.
SUD Family Navigator Trainer
Kristie worked in Child Welfare for over 20 years, created and ran her own non-profit serving relatives raising their kin’s children, and has a passion to see families are healthy and thriving. Kristie is dedicated to supporting Kinship Care as a grandmother who raised two grandchildren, this experience brought her into the SUD systems and multiple other behavioral health care serving systems. Kristie also has her own lived experience in addiction and recovery. She is looking forward to sharing her knowledge and supporting families as they navigate the various SUD systems. In her spare time, she enjoys camping and gardening and is active in the recovery community.
SUD Family Navigator Trainer
I am a genderqueer, bisexual wife to a cisman. Parent to multiracial and single-race children 5-28 (9 of them). I can relate to the challenges of juggling life with little help from others while dealing with Mental health difficulties, financial stress, and dysfunctional habits! I come from a traumatic childhood that gives me a unique understanding and level of empathy. Many people dear to me come from different backgrounds and experiences related to various relationship styles, lifestyles, disabilities, mental illness, homelessness, domestic violence, and addiction. Myself included. In 2021 when finding out one of my children was struggling with a SUD, I jumped into finding out how to best help without enabling and how to be supportive while holding healthy boundaries –I was lost, and this is where I landed. This training helped me so much; I just had to be part of the team. I am a Certified Peer Counselor, Certified life coach trained in guided peer support and SUD Navigation. “Start where you are. Distant fields always look greener, but opportunity lies right where you are. Take advantage of every opportunity of service.” – Robert Collier
MRSS Grant Project Manager
Richelle has been married to Jason for over 15 years and 8 beautiful individuals call her mom. She identifies as neurodivergent, and several of her kids use behavioral health services. In the process of trying to find help, her family faced a LOT of barriers and traumas. In 2012 (while she had 6 kids, 3 of them still in diapers) she got my Bachelor’s in Health Services Mgmt so she could learn the “language” of the pros that she had to stand toe to toe with to get help for her kids. While exhausting virtually every children’s behavioral health resource in our state (and still not meeting the need), Richelle became an accidental advocate for other families also seeking intensive resources. In 2018 she was appointed to the Behavioral Health Advisory Council for WA, where she now serves as Co-chair. Since then, Richelle has served on lots of committees and work groups. She is a parent panelist for Child Study and Treatment Center Parent Retreats, helping parents navigate “Life After Discharge.” Richelle’s helped many families navigate and find resources and have been contracted by state agencies to use her experience to inform the work they do. A fun fact about Richelle is that she’s worked as a casino card dealer for over 20 years (and still do, one night/week, to get out of the house and talk to grown-ups). She’s a hugger. She loves to sing, especially on her church’s worship team! Richelle believes everyone’s doing the best they can in each moment, with what they have in that moment… She is excited to add her best work, to our best work, in hopes we see a time very soon when no more families will have to suffer just to get their needs met.
Krystal was born and raised in Seattle Washington the youngest of six and the mother of four. Three of whom brought her to the work as a Certified Peer Counselor in Washington State the Summer of 2015. She has worked as an Agency Affiliated Counselor serving the adult population and as a Wraparound/WISe Parent Partner in a community mental health agency and as a state certified peer trainer, she currently trains the WISe Workforce for the past three years. Krystal was voted by the City Council to serve a term, sharing the Peer voice and perspective as a member of the Behavioral Health Advisory Board, and later the BHAB representative on the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Advisory Board (M.I.D.D.). She has participated in and led many trainings and presentations across Washington State. As a black woman recognizing the lack of culturally relevant, effective, and inclusive mental health policies and care, Krystal has advocated for and lead various teams of BIPOC volunteers for project deliverables for the state, in creating a culturally specific guide and curriculum targeting the WISe Workforce. Though she comes from a large supportive family, one's mental wellness was not a topic open for discussion and with the revelation that her two eldest sons were living with addiction which eventually led to their displacement, she realized we needed a different type of support. Being presented with the opportunity to do her practicum in a community mental health agency became her introduction to peer work and how vital it was to one’s recovery. Krystal became increasingly passionate about peer work on her family’s path to wellness and the opportunity to model diversity, cultural sensitivity, hope, empowerment and resilience to those facing similar challenges through sharing her lived experiences. Krystal has seen the benefits of having a peer on the care team increase positive outcomes and engagement in the lives of many youths and families she has served in Seattle Washington. In her spare time Krystal covets each opportunity for self-care which includes a variety of options that refresh her soul. The dearest to her however is listening to various genres of music, but primarily praise & worship and the Korean Musicians BTS. She is actively involved in the BTS A.R.M.Y. Fanbase where she plans various events for local fans utilizing their message to, “love yourself. Krystal also enjoys traveling, shopping, and watching her favorite TV shows. Krystal is blessed to be able continuing this especially important work to help youth and families live their best lives.