Steinberg Institute

2019 CHAMPIONS Here we highlight just a sampling of the crusaders and visionaries whose efforts have helped light the way forward for mental health care in California. The list is far from complete, and we’ll continue to build, bringing you the stories of champions working to transform the treatment landscape and elevate mental health as a public policy priority.

Ann Collentine

Deputy Director for Programs, California Mental Health Services Authority

IMPACT: Ann has worked for better mental health services ever since seeing children's unmet needs while running a nonprofit two decades ago

Ann is leading a $102 million statewide initiative in which 15 counties and cities are using technology to provide new kinds of mental health services, including online chat for support, virtual avatars for coaching and education, and the use of passive data collected from smartphones or tablets of informed and willing users that may indicate signs of possible developing mental health problems.

Barbara Wilson

Director, Mental Health Hook Up

IMPACT: Barbara has worked for decades to help people with mental illness get community-based support

Barbara Wilson, a veteran mental health worker with nearly five decades of experience, is glad for the progress California has made in addressing the needs of people with mental illness. At the same time, Wilson, who runs a Santa Clarita-based agency that helps people get treatment, wants the state to rediscover some formulas that once worked well – notably the use of well-funded board and care homes combined with community activities and supports.

Stephen V. Manley

Superior Court Judge, Santa Clara County

IMPACT: A tireless innovator of court programs that substitute treatment and accountability for traditional punishment

For over 20 years, Judge Manley locally and nationally has championed the development of special court programs aimed at getting offenders with mental illness, substance use disorders, or both, into treatment and out of jail. He supervises more than 2,300 offenders on probation or parole.

Marina Castillo-Augusto

Chief of the Community Development and Engagement Unit, Office of Health Equity, California Department of Public Health

IMPACT: Marina is leading the $60 million dollar California Reducing Disparities Project to reduce mental health inequities in particular populations

Marina did not set out to work in the mental health arena. The need for counseling and other mental health support was a consistent theme, however, during the decades that Marina worked as an advocate for women crime victims.

Jeremy Wilson

Senior Program Manager, California Mental Health Services Authority

IMPACT: Jeremy is passionate about spreading messages of encouragement and hope about mental health and substance use disorders.

Jeremy oversees contractors working in prevention and early intervention, notably the “Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement” campaign to reduce stigma and discrimination, promote student mental health, and prevent suicide.

Ahmad Bahrami

Division Manager-Public Behavioral Health/Ethnic Services Manager

IMPACT: Ahmad strives to make services accessible to diverse groups

Ahmad is leading a new division within the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health that is focused on engagement and ethnic services. AHMAD’S STORY

Jodi Nerell

Director, Behavioral Health Integration, Sacramento Covered

IMPACT: Jodi works relentlessly to connect homeless people with aid services

Jodi Nerell jumped to help launch Sacramento’s Pathways to Home + Health initiative, a federal pilot program that aims to get them into housing and receiving health care.

Jei Africa

Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Marin County

IMPACT: Jei, California's first openly transgender county behavioral health director, wants to meet everyone where they are.

Jei wants responsive systems in place to meet everyone where they are, without a lot of barriers to care.

Jei’s story >