Steinberg Institute


The Steinberg Institute brings a unique understanding of state politics and public policy.  Our top priorities include:

  • Prevention and Early Intervention and Innovation
  • Integrated Care
  • Housing and Homelessness
  • Decriminalization of Mental Illness
  • The Plight of Veterans
  • Crises Care Services

Darrell Steinberg


Mayor and former State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is California’s strongest public advocate for better mental healthcare. He has a long history of championing policy issues affecting brain health at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

Darrell became passionate about mental health during his time on the Sacramento City Council. In 1997, the City of Sacramento engaged in a lawsuit against Loaves & Fishes, a private charity providing food to the homeless. The free lunches began to draw thousands of homeless people who were seen as a nuisance to local businesses near the shelter. Former Mayor Joe Serna and then Councilmember Steinberg were the only two members to vote against the lawsuit. Upon further investigation into the rapidly increasing homeless population, Steinberg learned that an overwhelming portion of homeless suffered from mental illness and did not have access to proper mental health care.

From this point forward, Darrell has worked tirelessly to bring awareness and solutions for what he calls “the under-attended issue of our time.” Steinberg’s commitment to improving mental health services  has served to provide integrated care to the homeless; increase funding of “whatever-it takes” services for individuals with the most severe mental illnesses via Prop 63 in 2004: fund a major statewide expansion of crisis residential and stabilization beds and mobile crisis capacity (SB 82) reducing recidivism by prioritizing mental health assistance to those in crisis; and, now by establishing a first of its kind statewide organization – the Steinberg Institute.

The Steinberg Institute is dedicated to advancing sound public policy and inspiring leadership on the issues of mental health. Since its inception in January 2015, the Institute has been making historic, first-of-its-kind improvements in area’s such as securing $2 billion to provide housing and care to the most vulnerable citizens of our state (No Place Like Home); ensuring high quality mental health care is accessible to students on all public college campuses;  ensuring mental health care services follow our foster youth when they are moved from one county to another; working to decriminalize mental illness and infuse funding into prevention and early intervention programs so that our friends and family members receive the care they need prior to finding themselves behind bars or in an emergency department where the care they need is not available; and keeping local, state and federal decision makers informed so that they identify mental health as a top tier priority for themselves in the work they do.

Having gained the respect and trust of providers, decision makers, business leaders and advocacy organizations across the state, the Steinberg Institute stands ready to move forward in our efforts to ensure issues of the brain are addressed as comprehensively and readily as are issues of the body.

Maggie Merritt

 Maggie Merritt

Executive Director

Executive Director Maggie Merritt has worked in the public policy arena since 1989. She brings a unique blend of small business, non-profit, public policy and political campaign experience to her role as the leader of the Steinberg Institute.

Before joining the Steinberg Institute, Maggie owned a thriving small business providing strategic planning, leadership development and executive coaching to leaders in the public policy arena.

She spent several years as a leader and advocate for non-profit organizations focused on education, women’s and children’s health, violence prevention, and social justice and civil rights issues. She served as the executive director of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District IX (CA) working tirelessly to advance public policies to benefit the health and well being of women and their children.

In 2004, Maggie worked alongside then Assemblymember Darrell Steinberg on the successful Yes on Proposition 63 initiative campaign that now imposes a 1% tax on personal incomes over $1 million and funds mental health services across California.  The Mental Health Services Act now brings in $2 billion annually to provide treatment and prevention and early intervention services to adults and children with severe mental illness.

From 1989 to 2001, Maggie served as a legislative staff person in both the California Senate and Assembly, focusing primarily on education and health policy.

Maggie holds a degree in Sociology, Law & Society from the University of California, Davis and is an ICF Professional Certified Coach. She has two married sons and four adorable grandsons.

Farrah McDaid Ting

Government Affairs Director

Farrah McDaid Ting has worked in public policy for 18 years and specializes in California health and human services programs and funding. She has served as a local government legislative advocate since 2014, and spent more than a decade as a legislative analyst on a variety of including employee relations, agriculture and natural resources, transportation and housing, and Indian gaming.

She began her career in public policy as a journalist, serving as an Assistant Editor at the California Journal, before joining the California State Association of Counties to provide public affairs expertise.

Public policy debates soon lured her from the communications world and into the advocacy world, where she now combines her writing and speaking skills and love of working with people with robust advocacy and a solution-oriented outlook.

Farrah earned a Bachelor’s degree in Government/Journalism and graduated cum laude from California State University, Sacramento in 1999. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, two young children, and various animals, and enjoys exploring the rivers of the Sierra Nevada.

Anna Hasselblad

Special Projects Director

Anna joined the Steinberg Institute in June 2015 after having worked as the Deputy & Policy Director for California Coverage & Health Initiatives (CCHI) where she advocated for community based organizations, ensuring affordable health coverage and access to care for underserved children and families. Prior to her work with CCHI she served as an intern on the Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders which was chaired by the President pro Tem of the Senate, Darrell Steinberg.

In 2010 Anna worked as the Program Coordinator for the American Congress of Ob/Gyns, District IX (CA) where she oversaw grant programs, participated in legislative efforts, and worked to implement a highly effective quality health improvement campaign in hospitals across California.  Anna has also worked in the field of direct service programs for children and adults with mental and behavioral health support needs in schools, the community and residential homes.

She received her degree in Psychology from Pacific Lutheran University with an emphasis in applied behavioral analysis.

Tracy Morgan

Executive Office Manager

Tracy Morgan joins Steinberg Institute from JDA Software where she was an Account Manager handling software support renewals and contracting. Previously, she was an Executive Assistant at both JDA Software and Hewlett-Packard.  Tracy supported several high-level executives, managed global initiatives and projects, and coordinated large events.

Prior to HP, Tracy owned a successful restaurant for 8 years in the Colfax area.  As the owner and operator she managed all of the day to day operations.

Tracy lives in West Sacramento and has two grown sons.


The Steinberg Institute owes a debt of gratitude to Diane Van Maren for the invaluable guidance she provided the Institute as we launched in 2015. Her in-depth understanding of California’s mental health system guided our early efforts and was a source of significant support.

Diane van MarenDiane Van Maren

Diane Van Maren served for over 23 years as a chief consultant to the California State Legislature formulating key policy initiatives and fiscal details in the areas of health, mental health, public health, developmental services, and County-State Realignment. Most recently Diane served for two years under Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg as his chief consultant for health and mental health policy and budget development.


A Project of the Tides Center