Anne Whitman

Anne Whitman is a person with lived experience with mental health and substance use challenges. She has been in recovery from mental health challenges and substance misuse for over 30 years. She is the parent of a 36 year old daughter, She has over 30 years of experience in starting, supporting, and guiding peer communities in providing mutual support while maintaining the core values of empathy and resiliency. She is a co-founder of the Metro Boston Recovery Learning Community located at Boston Medical Center and co-founder of the Cole Resource Center located on the grounds of Mclean Hospital. Anne is a consultant to the Southeast Recovery Learning Community of Massachusetts. She is also a consultant to the Center of Excellence in Psychosocial and Systemic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital where she worked with a team on peer consultants and staff to create a video for parents with mental health and substance use challenges and their providers. Anne is a Certified Peer specialist. She holds a PH.D and MA in Anthropology from Harvard University, an M.S in education and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A from Boston University. She has held significant academic, administrative and outreach positions at Harvard, MIT, and Wheaton College. She is also a co-founder of Bright Horizons Work Family Solutions. With her diverse background in research, building innovative organizations combined with significant experience in peer and family communities, she has helped to build creative, innovative, communities that hold individuals with lived experience and their families at their core.

Sandra Whitney-Sarles:
Sandi is the Program Director for the South East Recovery Learning Community; a DMH-funded mental health program run by Boston Medical Center. She has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years in a variety of roles starting as a direct care worker in a group residence. Prior to her current profession, Sandi worked as an educator at a university and an elementary school. She developed a diversion program for court-mandated juvenile fire setters. Sandi has been active in her own mental health recovery for over 40 years.

Jacqueline Martinez:
Jacqueline Martinez is a former director on the NAMI Board of Directors. She currently is employed as a Mental Health Coordinator I/Certified Peer Specialist with Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. Also, Jacqueline works for The Center of Excellence for Psychosocial and Systemic Research. Jacqueline was previously the Metro North Hub Manager at Northeast Recovery Learning Community and Casa Primavera Clubhouse, Program Director at Bay Cove Human Services Inc. Jacqueline found NAMI through as the parent of a child with mental illness while also struggling with her own lived experience. Through her affiliation with NAMI, she hopes to provide the tools and support to Latino community and communities in which English is not their first language, eliminating barriers for learning which focuses on students’ social-emotional wellness and provides practical techniques and methods teachers can use to promote a mentally healthy learning environment that takes into account individual styles of learning and the classroom climate. Jacqueline works in survey research and evaluation of health service quality by eliciting and valuing the perspective of people using the service. Current projects include the, adverse groups of stakeholders across Massachusetts to help inform future research aimed at improving the health care and recovery trajectories for a broad spectrum of individuals and family members affected by mental health challenges and evaluation of wrap-around services designed to support families who have children with mental health or trauma recovery needs. Jacqueline also works as a Certified Peer Specialist with guests and staff at a Commonwealth shelter to ensure that guests are supported to establish and sustain mental wellness. She also is a Certified Spanish Interpreter, Certified Forensic Peer Specialist and a Recovery Coach. Ms. Martinez facilitates peer support including the evidence-based Wellness Recovery Action Plan classes, Whole Health Action Management classes and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connections support groups. As for NAMI in Massachusetts, she also trains facilitators nationally in both English and Spanish. Ms. Martinez served Transformation Center Board of Directors and was the Chair the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Council and is on the Massachusetts Attorney General Disability Rights Advisory Council. In addition, she has worked supporting and facilitating positive parenting for prospective foster and adoptive parents.

Valeria A. Chambers (she/her/hers) EdM, CAS, CPS:
Using her lived experience as a Certified Peer Specialist in mental health recovery, Valeria works as a Peer Consultant at the Center of Excellence for Psychosocial and Systemic Research, Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Health Equity Research Lab, Cambridge Health Alliance. She has worked extensively with researchers and policy makers on projects addressing mechanisms underlying mental health care disparities in underserved communities for the past 7 years while also looking at how to better implement & provide access to trauma informed, culturally responsive services in peer support. She is the founder and lead organizer of Blacks Voices: Pathways4Recovery, a state-wide advocacy and leadership support network for Blacks and African Americans. During COVID 19 Valeria has enjoyed taking workshops in Digital Peer Support and GPS Group Peer Support in order to bring peer support to more people during these difficult times. She is part of the GPS virtual affinity support group for Black community leaders in the US, Canada and the Caribbean and is a Solidarity Group facilitator for a 4 week GPS course entitled “White Supremacy in the Age of Trump”. In working with her own wellness & recovery process, Valeria loves sipping tea curled up with a good book, practicing the 8 Limbs of Yoga, going for long walks, playing with friends with fur & looking for fun ways to tone the vagus nerve.

Paul Ottenstein:
The Homeless Empowerment Advisory Project (HEAP) was modeled after The Ruby Rogers Center as a user-run program to advocate for people in DMH homeless programs. HEAP meets at the Lindemann Inn and plans activities in the community for its members.
Paul Ottenstein has been the coordinator of the program since its beginning.

Pat Pesa:
Pat has worked for the Lindemann Inn and was the staff liaison for HEAP and helped bring residents to meetings and coordinate activities with the residents of the shelter. Pat has been supporting HEAP since its inception over 25 years ago.