We are now seeking judges to help us select the winning films. Do you have expertise/interest in directing, writing, editing, acting, journalism, public service announcements, video production, suicide prevention and/or mental health? Contact us about becoming a judge today! The entire process would take less than 2 hours of your time, all of which can be done online from home. Please note that you cannot participate as a judge if you are submitting a film or associated in any way with a film team that is submitting a team (e.g. teacher, adult advisor, family member). Regional Judging begins March 25th so stay tuned!
A big thank you to our 2019 Judges
2019 Statewide Judges
2019 Through the Lens of Culture Judges
2019 SanaMente Judges
2019 Animated Short Judges
2019 Walk in Our Shoes Judges
2019 Regional Judges
A big thank you to our statewide, regional, and specialty category judges
Adam Sweet, The UPS Store
Adam Rojas is an individual interested in mental health research who wanted to improve his connection to the mental health awareness in California.
Agnes Murray is a prosecutor with San Bernardino County assigned to the truancy unit. She is interested in helping students with mental illness so that they can be successful in school and in life.
Albert Reed is a freelance writer (a-o-reed.blogspot.com) who has grappled with mental illness & substance abuse throughout his life. His youngest sister committed suicide and as such this program resonates with him.
Alberto Serrano-Brothers is a Liaison for the Continuum of Care Reform at the Department of Mental Health. Previously, Alberto worked with adolescents for several years.
Alejandra Vargas is the Suicide Crisis Line Coordinator for Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast. Her approach to mental health is informed by interdisciplinary approaches to service provision and her academic work in Latin American/Latinx Studies.
Alex Dunbar is a Community Education Specialist in the Public Health Branch of the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency. She works under the supervision of the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Coordinator to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate community health education strategies for the MCAH Program and coordinates the Strengthening Families Collaborative focused on preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences, and works in the Social Emotional Resiliency unit for the Healthy Communities Division.
Alice Cahn is the director of No Bully’s Power of Zero project, an educational campaign designed to help young children and the adults who care for them learn how to prevent bullying.
Alicia Rodriguez is a police and public safety psychologist, but also has experience and interest in providing mental health services to children and teens. She has worked in community mental health clinics, school-based mental health, and other government agencies.
Alison Kohlhardt is an award winning Actor-Director-Producer. Her work has screened in over 100 festivals worldwide, receiving 10 awards and 20 nominations. She was named to the Black List’s “100+ Horror Films Directed by Women You Should Be Watching This October”. Alison can also be seen representing mental health issues through the portrayal of Annie Shaw in the award winning teen TV series “Reckless Juliets” on Amazon Prime.
Allison Berk has worked on projects related to alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and violence prevention, and understands the intersection of mental health issues in all of these areas; she remains committed to destigmatizing and normalizing mental health resources and services.
Amanda Chang is a Teens for Life Health Educator for Crisis Support Services where she provides suicide prevention training for middle school and high school students in Alameda county.
Amanda Lance-Sexton is a Teens for Life Health Educator for Crisis Support Services where she provides suicide prevention training for middle school and high school students in Alameda county.
Amanda Lipp is a filmmaker specializing in documentary storytelling for social impact and mental health causes. She has given over 150 speeches across the U.S., and serves on the board for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Ana Florit is a professional filmmaker with a long career as film editor. She believes the visual medium is a great way to tell a story and that stories are the best way to convey powerful messages, help people feel connected and even change things for the better.
Ana Lopez, Kings County
Ana Munoz – “Supporting the movement to end the stigma of mental illness so that those who suffer can lead the fulfilling lives they deserve.”
Ana Ramirez is a bilingual, bi-cultural enthusiast, with experience in direct client services in the mental health industry.
Anabel Kuykendall conducts trainings and provides/distributes valuable resources to the community. Part of her responsibilities fall under Prevention & Early Intervention focusing on Mental Health awareness and stigma reduction campaign.
Anabel Rodriguez is a Program Manager III for Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. She oversees countywide mental health programs for the child welfare population.
Anabel Aispuro – “Directing Change provides young people an amazing opportunity to use their creative talents and maybe even discover skills they didn’t know they had. I love this program and love supporting young people in any way I can.”
Andrea Schulz is a NAMI member and a retired social worker with a background in film and video arts. “Every year I am thrilled to see the level of creativity and production values displayed by youth in getting this life saving message out!”
Andrea Vizcarra is an Employment Counselor at San Diego Employment Solutions- Mental Health Systems working with individuals diagnosed with a severe mental health challenges. Andrea is also a second year Masters candidate for Peace and Justice with an area emphasis on Behavioral Health at the University of San Diego. She has been a lifelong advocate for people with disabilities with experience across various nonprofit agencies and local government.
Ann Collentine has more than 20 years experience in the field of mental health.
Anne Fitzgerald is retired from 30 years with San Diego County, most of this time working in mental health with children and adolescents.
Anne Robin: “I have judged this contest in the past. The creativity and thoughtfulness of the submissions is amazing.”
Annie Banks is a Health Educator with Teens for Life, and in this role sees firsthand the impact that media has on our societal attitudes about mental health and suicide. She would like to be part of an effort to promote empowering messages.
Annie Berreman: “I am passionate about mental health and suicide prevention, as I attempted suicide myself as a teen.”
April Eagan is the Prevention Program Manager for Inyo County Health & Human Services. She has worked with high school aged youth for the past 5 years and values her partnerships with student leaders to plan and coordinate prevention activities in the community.
Arielle Richard I am a 28yo Registered Nurse Clinic Manager at a primary care clinic in downtown San Diego,, and I have the inique opportunity to work with adults and youth in medical and behavioral health settings; I am very passionate about empowering people love their healthiest lives in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; Furthermore I believe in supporting and encouraging all people, but especially our youth, to speak up and speak out for mental health awareness. It would be an honor to serve a second year as a judge for your wonderful organization.
Arissa Tischman works in the mental health field and enjoy the media presentations that help to convey messages regarding mental health awareness.
Armando Bastida: “It’s inspiring to see students creating Directing Change videos. The program really allows our youth to be creative while addressing hard discussion topics.”
Arturo Gutierrez works in a grass roots organization spreading Mental Health Awareness in the Inland Empire and looking for creative ways to reach youth especially in Spanish.
Ashlyn Yetter is first year school counselor as well as leadership advisor at Magnolia Science Academy. She heard about the Directing Change film contest after going to the AB-2246 Pupil Suicide Prevention Policy professional development. She thinks that the contest It is very informative to learn and gain more knowledge about this topic and, as a judge, she will be able to view how students present on this topic.
Audrey Trevino is a film student studying at Sacramento City College graduating this spring.
Barbara L. Pomerantz’s 40+ years of involvement in education includes experience as a classroom instructor, school administrator, and administrator at the California Department of Education, with a focus on student success, lifelong learning, and mental health wellness.
Barbara Blue English
Bart Callender very much enjoys supporting youth interested in taking on new challenges!
Becky Kramer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Executive Director for a non-profit that provides prevention, intervention and treatment services to at-risk youth and families.
Becky Fein is the Associate Director of Programs for Active Minds, the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for students.
Belinda Vea: “As a Directing Change Judge for the last several year, I am always inspired by the amount of knowledge and compassion the students are able to illustrate through their work.”
Benjamin Pauw is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who provides psychoeducation in schools on preventing suicide for Crisis Support Services.
Bernard Zeiger is a professional writer and interactive designer with a background in film and television. He is currently an associate writer at Kognito, a health simulation company that uses conversations to create behavior change around health.
Beth Kebschull is the Assistant Director, Crisis Services at USC Student Counseling and Mental Health, with expertise in suicide assessment, treatment, prevention. She has 12 years experience with the college student population, leading a team or crisis counselors, making crisis intervention a core competency and focus of the entire counseling center.
Bianca Redifer teaches science and video production at Adventure STEM and recently begun teaching a video production course to her 7th grade students. She is excited to be apart of a program to further support and bring awareness to those with mental health issues.
BJ Rouse is an independent filmmaker in Los Angeles, California and Chief Executive Officer of After School Arts Academy, a non-profit arts enrichment organization.
Blair Davis is a psychologist at University of California, Santa Cruz, who has a passion for film and how mental health is depicted in the media. She has a background in communications and mass media studies.
Bonnie Baron is a retired social worker
Bonnie Maffei practices Therapeutic Eurythmy, (an art of movement addressing physical, mental and spiritual issues) at Camphill Communities California in Soquel, California. She has worked in Europe and America in residential schools and adult communities for the developmentally disabled for over 20 years.
Brandon Eggleston is a professor of public health and health psychology who has addressed mental health and suicide prevention through various mindfulness based approaches for the past 14 years. Brandon has a specific background in teaching yoga (RYT-200) and yoga research (over 20 peer-reviewed publications).
Brandy Lidbeck: “I like suicide prevention. I like videos. Sounds like the perfect match!”
Brenda Scott is the Executive Director of NAMI Mt San Jacinto. She has been an advocate for NAMI since taking their Family to Family class that helped her to understand her mother’s schizophrenia. Brenda facilitates NAMI Ending the Silence presentations to High School students in her area to increase the students’ awareness of mental health, suicide prevention and to promote recovery.
Brian Bishop has worked in video production for the past 10 years. He currently works with media and leads communication efforts for Fresno County Behavioral Health.
Brittany Cellery is a school psychologist at SUHSD. She is passionate about suicide prevention and mental health awareness as it has touched her life personally and professionally.
Brook Penca is the Principal of Summit Small Continuation High School. He is very active in working with the homeless, National Alliance of Mental Illness, and has been a judge for Directing Change for a handful of years now. He is very passionate about helping others.
Brooke Borelli is a Masters of Social Work candidate at San Diego State University. She is passionate about working with children, adolescents, and their families. Brooke is a returning judge to the Directing Change Program and Film Contest.
Caitlyn Young is a social impact specialist who has shaped her career around bringing people together to do good and inspire change.
Candace Yoder is the Executive Director of Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation which provides mental health and suicide prevention programs to middle and high schools in California at little to no cost
Carl Adams has created & produced animation for 15+ years for all networks
Carlos Lamadrid, Riverside County
Carly Smith supports student equity programs at the Foundation for California Community Colleges.
Carly Memoli is the Program Director for Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast, working for 12+ years to coordinate local and regional suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention efforts for a wide range of populations across California’s Central Coast.
Carol Sagusti is a Mental Health Clinical Program Head for the Department of Mental Health in Los Angeles County. Carol oversees the Partners in Suicide Prevention team and coordinates various suicide prevention trainings for all levels of staff countywide.
Carol Skiljan is the Executive Director of the San Diego Chapter of Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program® and co-chair of the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council. She has been a judge for the Directing Change Program since it’s inception and looks forward to seeing the high quality production and powerful messaging of the student entries.
Carole Cox has been a school counselor in Humboldt County schools for 39 years and is a long time advocate for increased access to mental health services for youth living in rural Northern California.
Carri Coudek has been a Behavior Health Counselor for the last 12 years, working with youth that are at risk of self-harm or suicide, youth with anxiety or depression, and LGBTQ youth. “I love my job and would love to be a judge for this.”
Celso Delgado is an occupational therapist that works with youth and young adults with mental health needs in Los Angeles.
Chantal Corcoran is the chair of the communications committee for the Nevada Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force. She is also the mother of an eighteen-year-old boy who struggled for years with anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, and together they have accumulated a great deal of insight (and therapy) on the subject. Chantal is also a writer of short stories, essays and freelance articles, with a masters degree from Bennington College. She has written about her experience with teen suicide in an essay that won a MAGGIE Award. You can read it here: https://knpr.org/desert-companion/2016-07/i-swear-i-will
Che Hernandez currently serves as San Diego Chapter – Board of Directors Chairman for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and delivers a wide variety of AFSP supported programs to the community. He is a trainer of suicide prevention/intervention gatekeeper workshops for both ASIST and safeTALK.
Chela Fielding works as a Behavioral Health Clinician at Sonoma County Youth and Family Services. She is also an artist have had a lot of experience making her own Super 8 and 16 mm films when in school years ago. “Looking forward to another great year of young artists getting an important message across through an art medium.”
Cherie Foraker is passionately involved in suicide prevention work at Mountain Empire Unified School District and surrounding communities.
Cheryl August, Community Action Marin
Chris Pogue work with programs that support mental health awareness and stigma reduction for California community college campuses, and has experience in assessing films.
Chris Berthelsen is an entertainment industry veteran (CBS, FOX, Warner Bros.) who has conducted teen workshops on trailer-making and personal branding. Movies have always been one of his most effective parenting tools.
Christina Froehling Dale has been supporting the Directing Change program since its beginning and is passionate about this annual event. She believes that the creativity and depth of feelings in the video submissions is inspiring and provides one clear message in many voices to not give up on life. “Never never never give up.” – Winston Churchill
Christina Roup is a trained NAMI Ending the Silence presenter and knows the positive impact these videos have for youth to reduce stigma, and give them hope and resources to get help when mental health is changing.
Christine Mariano is a Psychiatric Social Worker for the Los Angeles Unified School District and she teaches in the Social Work Department at California State University, Los Angeles. Christine has experience working with youth supporting their overall mental wellbeing, as well as assisting schools to increase mental health awareness and supports.
Claire Lemosworks for the Department of Behavioral Health for the Public Information and Community Outreach and Education Office and is dedicated to participating in new ways to end the stigma around mental illness.
Claudia Silva would like to push for educating the community about mental health, with a focus on youth and young adults.
Cole Forstedt supports students across the California Community College system through his work as an Equity Manager at the Foundation for California Community Colleges Student Health & Wellness program, primarily focusing on raising awareness of mental health resources for faculty, staff and students.
Conan Mycroft has 6 years of experience in the mental health field with direct experience in handling suicide crises. “I think this is a great way for me to be more involved with the youth that we serve.”
Cori Bobbett takes as many opportunities as she can to work with community outreach and our youth to provide a good influence.
Courtney Camua: “I have been advocating and supporting mental health issues in order to help cultivate a community focused on caring and diversity.”
Cristina Rita is the Community Education Program Coordinator at Crisis Support Services of Alameda County. Cristina develops curriculum and trains various organization on suicide prevention and intervention, and mental health issues related to suicide such as bullying and self-injury.
Curtis Lelash is interested in supporting young people in animation and in use ing animation to express complex and important subject matter.
Cynthia Velasquez: “As we strive to achieve our most wanted life, it is necessary that we help those who have lost their way, without the support of others, who are struggling to find their way out of the darkness that does have a light.”
Cynthia Gutierrez is an advocate with the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs, San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health. She works closely with clients and family members helping to reduce mental health stigma through training, outreach and education. Having trained for suicide prevention, Cynthia’s goal is to help those at risk understand they are not alone and there is help to get them through their crisis.
Cynthia White has experience in crisis services, patients rights and outpatient care, training law enforcement on how to deal with the mentally ill. This will be her 6th year judging.
Cynthia Holliday is the Executive Director of The Big Sister League of San Diego, a non profit organization that goes beyond transitional housing by supporting women living with mental illness, homelessness, trauma, and domestic abuse. Big Sister League of San Diego assists residents through supportive services and programs are designed to encourage confidence, self-esteem, and independence. “Stigma reduction is most important in repairing the lives of the women we serve. Help us drive out stigma.”
Daniel W. Kwong is serving as Regional Community Advisory Community Advisory Committee Member for LA Care Health Plan (Health Authority of Los Angeles County) and is also engaging with Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health as a Community Member and Advocate. To extend a WHOLE PERSON and Community-Wise vision, Mr. Kwong is serving as Ambassador/Spokesperson for American Heart Association and is Media Advocate for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicines. (PCRM is advocating for animals rights and animals welfares and asking the medical schools in US nationwide not using animals in the labs and training uses.) “All in all, FAITH is a powerful healing medium/tool as well. LOVE”
Daniel Manzo is a Public Health professional, who engages and encourages San Diegans to monitor and assess their emotional well-being. He has also worked closely in youth programs increasing awareness of youth’s mental and emotional health.
Daniela Zanich, a Senior Training Coordinator at Didi Hirsch (as Daniela Covel), is a returning judge. She I have a huge passion for working with teens and am always inspired by the passion put into these videos. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and co-founder of Suicide Is Different, a first of its kind digital support program for caregivers of individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Daniel Manzo is a Public Health professional, who engages and encourages San Diegans to monitor and assess their emotional well-being. He has also worked closely in youth programs increasing awareness of youth’s mental and emotional health.
Daniella Duenas is the Office Coordinator for the Positive Parenting Program at Jewish Family Service of San Diego. They recently partnered with SanaMente to continue to provide mental health services throughout San Diego County, predominantly in the Latino community.
Danielle Segal: “Suicide prevention has been a part of my professional and personal life for a very long time. I would love the opportunity to be involved in Directing Change. “
Danielle I.V. McGonigle is a first-year graduate student pursuing a degree as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Danielle has been an active member of both AFSP San Diego chapter and CHIP – Suicide Prevention Council.
David Kopperud is an Education Programs Consultant at the California Department of Education who serves on the Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup and provides training in Youth Mental Health First Aid.
David Ridgway is a Board member for the CFAA (Capital Film Arts Alliance). He has been a film maker since 1974, award winning Director, worked 8 years in Hollywood in post production and have mentored youth in the craft of film making.
David Giammona: “I am inspired by those who help create potential and understanding in the world.”
Dawan Utecht currently serves as the Director and Public Guardian for the Department of Behavioral Health of Fresno County. As Director, Dawan is responsible for the oversight of mental health and substance use disorder services and programs for youth and adults of Fresno County. He was instrumental in bringing a mental health rehabilitation center to Fresno County, as well as an inpatient psychiatric health facility for adolescents – both of which filled a much-needed service in the Valley.
Dayana Tapia works with youth ages 11-18 as a Bilingual Youth & Family Support Partner for SDYS HERE Now Suicide Prevention & Early Intervention Program.
DeAna S. Vides is a school psychologist, Licensed Educational Psychologist, and advocate for our most vulnerable population, with over 16 years of experience providing a holistic approach to supporting youth, families, and educational communities affected by mental health needs.
Delrena Swaggerty: “ I support Directing Change and the creative work they do to help prevent suicide. The youth who participate are brave leaders!”
Dena Abramson Babb has been working with children and youth for 24 years in the nonprofit and religious sectors, is the mother to a teenager diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression, and blogs to help end mental health stigma at alittlebroken.org.
Denise Peterson is the Outreach Coordinator for the Iversen Wellness and Recovery Center, with a focus on creative expression and editing the Diverse Minds Journal, and has volunteered and worked as a peer provider for 8 years.
Denisse Montes: ”Always keep fighting, break the stigma and have some fun helping others.”
Derek Ellingson is a freelance video editor (credits include Miss Universe and the Academy Awards) and also teaches video production at a high school in the Coachella Valley Unified School District. He is a returning judge.
Dianna Heise has worked as a high school counselor for over 13 years and is very passionate about educating students and parents about suicide prevention. “I love that the submissions will be written, directed, and produced from the students perspective.”
Diane Lampe is a retired teacher and school counselor from the Elk Grove Unified School District. She is an advocate for student mental health and worked for 5 years at the Sacramento County Office of Education as a coordinator for the Regional PreK-12 Student Mental Health Initiative.
Donna Cederlund has been enlightening the local Santa Cruz County community and the online universe about mental health and suicide prevention issues for several years and especially enjoys providing resources to other people with ADHD as she navigates having a differently wired brain herself.
Dorinda Wiseman has had the honor to work in the public child welfare, correctional and education systems in California. “Having been given the honor to judge submissions to Directing Change further bolsters my hope for our future. The stigma will be demolished by some awesome and creative individuals!”
Dylan Serpas, as a mental health researcher with an emphasis in clinical health psychology, has sought to improve my connection to the mental health awareness and support network within southern California.
Edgar Rosa is a freelance line producer with five years of experience in LA. He began at All Def Digital putting together content geared at the under-served multi-racial demographic on YouTube before moving onto influencer content at Influential – a data based influencer platform. Since then, Edgar has worked on branded content for Alliant University, Buzzfeed, AMPM, Samsung, Johnson’s, along with a feature film for Mar Vista Entertainment and a digital series for Blackpills.
Edith Wilson, Ph.D., manages the evaluation of the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Elizabeth Hagen works with college students and sees how mental health and mental health stigma impact them every day.
Elizabeth Henasey works for a local hospital and is involved in the Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Elizabeth R. Stone has spent the last two decades using her experiences as a recipient of mental health services to advocate for a recovery and trauma-informed orientation grounded in respect and partnership in behavioral health services. She is a trainer, consultant, national conference presenter, member on various county advisory boards and committees, and is pursuing an advanced graduate degree.
Elle Alexander is the Vice President of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures. She is an actress, stuntwoman, stunt coordinator and VoiceOver artist. Elle is a graduate of the FILM/TV program at Long Beach State University and USC/Universal Studios Advanced Film Program.
Ellen King RN MSW is a Board Member of NAMI Sacramento, trained in five NAMI Signature programs and works tirelessly to improve mental health in her community.
Emily Brown, as a Masters in Social Work student, is looking forward to seeing how students destigmatize topics such as mental health and suicide in their short films
Erica Vazquez has been working with victims of violent crimes in the Spanish speaking community who are experiencing trauma as a result of having been a victim. “I struggle with convincing people to seek therapy for fear of being labeled “crazy”. I want to learn more about mental health to share the importance of mental health for physical well being.”
Esmeralda Rodriguez is a School Clinician Social Worker for Visalia Unified School District in Tulare County, and a registered mental health clinician. She has been working with mental health clients for eight years and also provides training for the Suicide Prevention Task force of Tulare County.
Evan Marsh has worked with Suicide Prevention Service for eleven years, is a registered ASIST trainer, and is currently completing an MSW at CSUMB.
Evanne Torrecillas saw how mental health concerns greatly impacted the lives of her friends during high school, and she is inspired to see today’s youth taking action to increase awareness of mental health crises and conditions among their peers and in their communities.
Eve Leon-Torres is the Lead for suicide prevention strategies for the San Diego County Behavioral Health Services. She is a proponent of community engagement activities where youth are actively involved, highly engaged and making a difference in their social circles.
Evelyn Quintanilla: “This competition encourages youth to directly address the topic of stigma within their own communities. As part of the Santa Clara County’s Suicide Prevention Program, I believe this is essential to make a meaningful impact on youth and in turn help advocate for mental illness. It would be a pleasure to view the videos and admire the creativity and effort these youths display.”
Federico Guerrero is the Chief Operating Officer for Samahan Community Health Centers. Federico oversees the clinical operation including the building and integration of Behavioral Health Services in a community of health centers.
Fiona Lo: “I have a high interest in mental health and I strongly believe that promoting awareness with mental health issues is vital to our growing society.”
Frank Navarro, as former School Resource Officer, has dedicated his work to supporting educators, students and families with ending the stigma surrounding seeking mental health services.
Gail Gutierrez coordinates a school based mental health program and is a licensed clinical social worker.
Gary Marttila, ever since his son’s best friend committed suicide at the age of 17 and he saw the effect it had on his son and school, he has made it a goal to help people with mental health issues and spread the word that there is hope and people out there who care. “Please do speak up and ask for help.”
Geneva Amas: “This contest is a wonderful opportunity to allow for the community to be educated in the need for mental health treatment and support. I always look forward to seeing creative work from California youth in addressing an issue that affects so many.”
Dr. George Fouras currently serves as the co-chair for the Adoption and Foster Care committee for the American Acad. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. His clinical focus has been on the mental health needs of those youth involved with both the child welfare and probation systems of care.
Gerald White has been passionate about mental health since adolescence and hopes to help California foster a healthy dialogue around the subject.
Gerardo Zavala is excited to judge a contest geared specially toward Latino population.
Gina Murdock has worked for several years in the mental health field, and has also created digital media to promote social change as a part of her graduate program.
Grace Park has an undergraduate degree in film studies and a graduate degree in social work, which gives her a unique perspective in understanding the importance of mental health is expressed in a creative and artistic way.
Grace-Sonia Melanio is a Communications, Policy, and Advocacy Consultant for Project Safety Net, a collaborative dedicated to fostering youth well being and suicide prevention awareness in Palo Alto, CA. For ten years, she has also served as a volunteer student shorts programmer for the Cinequest International Film Festival. She believes that film-making as a form of artistic expression is inherently transformative, and provides opportunities for thinking and talking about mental health in innovative and thoughtful ways.
Haley Guiffrida is the Program Coordinator for one of the Tobacco Control programs at Vista Community Clinic. Having worked in addiction and mental health issues, she fully supports efforts in spreading awareness and starting conversations.
Hannah Moss has been involved in working with people who are high risk for suicide and mental health issues since finishing my social work degree. At this time she is on the board of directors of Chesed Home, which is a licensed facility with the goal of helping people with serious mental illness reintegrate into what most see as “normal” society. As well as a fiduciary for people who are not able to manage their own finances or person.
Hazel Quinones is an AIS (Aging & Independence) Outreach & Education Coordinator, focused in East County in San Diego County and lead presenter in Mental Health topics related to older adults and adults with disabilities.
Heather McClenahen has worked on statewide mental health PEI projects for 6 years and is very committed to California’s mental heath movement and supporting California Community college students.
Heather Hultgren is the creator of the EUSD Film Guild which inspires students in 4th through 6th grade to engage in their passions, “what matters to you matters” through the use of media and film. Heather also assists teachers in K – 6th grade in expanding their knowledge and implementation of educational technology into their classroom.
Heather Heckler is the communications manager at Connecting Point, a public agency based in Grass Valley, CA. She was previously the director of the Documenting Disability History Project, and oral history project focusing on the disability rights movement in Nevada County. Heather currently represents Connecting Point on Nevada County’s Suicide Prevention Task Force.
Heather Camacho has a degree in English language and literature and creative writing and is also a mother of two and an avid movie buff.
Hector Ramirez is an emeritus Los Angeles Mental Health Commissioner and committee member with the Mental Health Services and Oversight Commission on the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Committee. He also has first hand experience dealing with his own mental health condition, and has been a judge for the past 2 years.
Hilary Stoner is the Wellness Center Liaison at North Tahoe High School and the coordinator for the Tahoe Truckee Suicide Prevention Coalition. In both roles, she works to reduce the stigma of mental health and support youth and community members in times of challenge.
Hilva Chan is the program director of Project Cal-Well, a federal grant intended to increase awareness of and mental health access and wellness among K-12 schools.
Holli Drobny is the Community Services Program Manager for Butte County Behavioral Health. She oversees the Mental Health Services Act and Cultural Competency for Butte County. Holli enjoys serving the community that she grew up by supporting mental health services and initiatives.
Holly Siino is an Equity Specialist at the Foundation for California Community Colleges supporting Foster Youth Programs throughout the system. Holly is passionate about helping students achieve their goals while being supported all aspects of their personal wellness.
Hon Cheng: “because I believe.”
Ike Mendoza has clients, friends and family members who have either thought or have succeeded in suicide and would like to participate in this creative venture.
Ilana Weiss is an instructional designer at Kognito and is passionate about using educational media and technology to enhance social-emotional skills.
Iliana Welty has worked in schools as a consultant in promoting positive school climates.
Ivan Johnson is the dean and a human development teacher who has been involved in this work for the last 15 years.
Jack Dever is a filmmaker and video professional with over 30 years experience in production and post production.
Jacqulyn Holley-Young has had the privilege of serving at-risk youth and young adults in the educational and workforce development environments in the San Francisco Bay for nearly 15 years. Her current position is Project Manager for Solano County’s MHSA unit and is tasked at monitoring fiscal and program performance for contractors who provide preventive and early intervention activities to the Solano County community.
Jamal Gerren: ”By becoming a Directing Change judge I will be better prepared to teach my students of the requirements needed to be successful.”
James Gibson, Optimist Home Youth & Family Services
Jamie Moran, LCSW, CGP is a psychotherapist in San Francisco and Menlo Park interested in vital social issues impacting our world and a strong believer in volunteer work and community service.
Jana Sellers is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who is always looking for ways to promote mental health awareness and decrease the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Jaquelyn Alvarez provides account support for the County of San Diego and County of Riverside’s mental illness stigma reduction and suicide prevention media campaign, It’s Up to Us.
Jarrad Skinner is an Instructional Designer at Kognito, a health simulation company. He’s been involved in the creation of many simulations that build awareness about mental health including one for adolescents to help them recognize signs of distress, reach out to a friend they are concerned about, and help identify a trusted adult for support.
Jason Halley is a returning judge providing visual expertise through profession as a University Photographer for California State University, Chico.
Jay Wiebe has seen first-hand the impact these videos can have in the school setting. As a long-time school psychologist, “ I support the vision of Directing Change and am excited to play a very small part in it.”
Jayne Reinhardt has been working in the mental health field for many years, collaboratively with Directing Change and other organizations and outreach efforts, and has lbeen a contest judge for several years.
Jeanette Robbins is a Management Analyst at the Department of Mental Health (DMH). Jeanette has worked in various capacities at the federal, state and local levels to improve services for youth.
Jeff Van Ausdall taught at the high school level for 15 years and is currently the Behavioral Health Epidemiologist for Shasta County, CA.
Jeffrey G. Sabean, LMFT, LAADC is the Manager for Substance Use Disorder Services for Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and is the Administrator of the Stanislaus Recovery Center. He has worked in the mental health field for over 30 years and is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist and Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor.
Jenni Klock Morel is a volunteer and former Board Member for Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOSL) in San Diego County. She is impressed and inspired by the students’ dedication to direct change and to rally for Mental Health Matters.
Jennifer Bruggeman works with MHSA prevention and early intervention services in Contra Costa County, and co-chairs the county’s suicide prevention committee. “I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting project!”
Jennifer M. Maravillas is the public information officer for the Department of Behavioral Health for the County of San Bernardino.
Jennifer House is a MHSA Program Specialist for the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health (TCBH) Department. Jenn oversees the Tuolumne County Enrichment Center, a wellness and recovery center for the local homeless population and mentally ill, represents the county during special events, community meetings, and does outreach for the center, as well as leads the May is Mental Health Awareness month activities in Tuolumne County.
Jennifer Johal works as a community education trainer to provide training to various community groups and professional agencies on identifying and supporting suicidal individuals.
Jeremy Garza is a content creator for San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s social media and embraces new ideas and ways of talking about mental health. Jeremy has spent over 10,000 hours listening to and talking with callers on SFSP’s hotlines: Crisis, HIV, Peer Support, Drug & Relapse. “The way we talk about each other matters and I want to help encourage acceptance.”
Jeremy Wilson is the Senior Program Manager for CalMHSA. He has worked in community behavioral health for the past 16 years. Jeremy believes in the power of youth using their creative passions and skills to create change.
Jessica Wood is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has provided direct services to individuals with severe and persistent mental health needs for the past 10 years.
Jill Gover, Ph.D. is Director of the Scott Hines Mental Health Clinic, licensed clinical psychologist, former ASIST trainer (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) for Ca. State Dept. of Mental Health, and creator and coordinator of the Palm Springs Unified School District’s Suicide Bullying Prevention Program.
Jill Newman has mentored adolescents since finishing college. “Helping them to foster their dreams and identify their talents has been more rewarding than some of my actual paid work. Helping others make a difference in their community is near and dear to my heart.”
Jill Haskett works in Community Relations for Shasta County Health and Human Services. Her department focuses on outreach and creates videos for a variety of programs, including suicide prevention.
Jody Shephard works for a crisis hotline, speaking with callers considering suicide on a regular basis. She supports all efforts to educate the public re suicide prevention and mental health issues in general.
John Dent has advised media classes at Dos Pueblos High School for the past 14 years and helped students create thousands of videos during that time. He believes in empowering kids to be digital storytellers for the world. “The topic of mental health is essential for the over committed, highly stressed, competitive education environment our students are experiencing in their race to nowhere.”
Mackenzie is the RN clinical coordinator for the Dignity Health Telemedicine Network. John leads an interprofessional team to serve the behavioral health needs of 25 hospitals through the utilization of real time video interactions across California, Nevada, and Hawaii.
Jonathan Scott Halverstadt, LMFT is an author and licensed psychotherapist who has worked in the mental health field for over 30 years. Prior to working in mental health, Jonathan was a professional actor whose credits include ABC-TV’s General Hospital and network announcing for both the NBC and CBS television networks.
Jory Kusy is a Stockton filmmaker with a background in Music Videos, Documentaries, Advertisments, Shorts, and Feature Films.
Joseph (Joe) Johnson: “Five years and 6000 students later, we still want to raise awareness about mental health conditions and replace stigma with understanding.”
Joyce Bruggeman is the Executive Director of Survivors of Suicide Loss San Diego and speaks throughout Southern California to educate, enlighten, and reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues and suicide.
Juan Zavala: “Participating as a Judge in the Directing Change Program & Film Contest has sparked my interest by presenting me the opportunity to grasp a feel of film production…and most importantly to educate myself about suicidal prevention and what can be done to help stop the problem.”
Judi Stadler with charter schools and a variety of student and community services as the Director of School Age Services, a non-profit organization. She oversees the mental health services provided to students/families and believes the Directing Change Program & Film Contest is an innovative and effective way to impact stigma of mental health services.
Julian Hernandez has worked with and learned from youth and young adults for years, most recently as a therapist and social worker, and looks forward to supporting youth-led efforts to reduce mental health stigma.
Juliana Raposo is a parent of young children and concerned with the rise in teen depression and anxiety.
Julie Woochuk is the Prevention and Early Intervention counselor at Southern Indian Health Council, Kumeyaay Family services department, where she works with all ages to prevent suicide and improve overall mental wellness.
Julie Flores works for a school based suicide prevention and early intervention program that aims to break the stigma on mental health.
Julie Howard is currently work for Palmdale School District as a School Counselor assisting students in the area’s of social, emotional, growth and well-being. Julie has worked in the mental health field for over 13 years and continues to support awareness, education and advocacy efforts.
Justin Henderson is a RADT SAS1 at Trinity County Behavioral Health, where he works with AODS/Prevention.
Karen Crouch: “I’ve enjoyed participating as a judge in the Directing Change program over the last two years. I believe it’s an extremely worthwhile program!”
Karen George has been a teacher working with families and youth experiencing homelessness for 25 years. Additionally, she has worked with her county department of behavioral services since Prop 63 was passed, advocating for individuals experiencing homelessness to be included in all programs. She has also fought for services be provided at or near school campus’ so that students don’t miss a day of school a week for a 1-hour counseling appointment. Karen believes the need to inform and educate the community on the benefits of good mental health and stopping the stigma of seeking and receiving treatment is very important.
Karina Reyes has worked on creating mini documentaries with transitioning age youth to help reduce stigma in their communities. She has also worked with SanaMente and helped host community meetings to bring forward education about mental health.
Karlesha Van Holten: “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Karon Austin is currently employed with the LA County Department of Mental Health as a Suicide Prevention Instructor, with the Partners in Suicide Prevention Team.
Katherine Fleisher is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, working as a Program Director at a non-profit mental health center in LA County. She enjoys watching how our youth are supporting mental health services.
Kathleen Green-Martins is currently the coordinator for the Central Valley Film Festival which attracts over 1,200 filmmakers between 6-12 grade.
Kathleen Welch-Torres has worked with youth and families in community mental health for over 25 years.
Kathleen Piche, Head of Marketing & Communications with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and is currently consulting for the L.A. County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Kathleen focuses on improving internal and external communications within the County and building community partnerships. She’s also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and passionate about suicide prevention and fighting the stigma associated with mental illness – and a returning judge.
Kathryn Stroupe, Los Angeles County Mental Health
Kathy Ryan, RN, PHN,MSN, FNP, RCSN is the President of the California School Nurses Organization (CSNO). Kathy passionately advocates for both suicide and mental health awareness. She works as a school nurse in San Diego, and serves as the CSNO liaison to the Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup at the California Department of Education.
Katy Rendinaro is Case Manager for both Placer and Nevada County Behavioral Health Departments. Katy has been working in the mental health field for over 6 years and feels very passionately about understanding the difficulties people face with mental health and ending the stigmas around suicide. She is part of the Tahoe Truckee Suicide Prevention Coalition and provides Know the Signs trainings in her community.
Dr. Keisha Clark is a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor. She has created a trauma-informed e-learning for the County of San Diego, and has published a dissertation on resiliency.
Kelley Nolan has a personal interest as a parent of an adult child with mental health challenges and also works at the local community college in the Disabled Student Programs and Services department as an Instructional Support Specialist II. She is trying to increase her local community knowledge in all things Mental Health related.
Kelly Keith works for Shasta County Health and Human Services Public Health Branch. She is inspired by the innovative and creative efforts to support increased awareness, education and advocacy around suicide prevention and mental health.
Kendra Boyce is a Prevention Specialist for the Lake County Behavioral Health Department. Kendra provides suicide prevention and substance use prevention education for the local school students, staff, and community as well as leads the May is Mental Health Awareness month activities in Lake County.
Kenneth Elejorde is the founder of up and coming fitness clothing brand, All Time Prime Fitness Apparel with a mission to encourage everyone to lead an active and healthier lifestyle. He believes that spreading passion for physical activity will not only make people physically healthy, but also mentally nourished.
Keven Porter is a Registered Nurse with a wealth of experience working in and managing Hospital Emergency Departments over the past 40 years. I believe that the time has come for mental health to be addressed in our hospitals in a similar manner as other health conditions.
Kevin M. Hannahoe began his professional career of serving the senior population in a variety of capacities after years of volunteering with seniors in a variety of capacities. For over 10 years he has advocated for vulnerable seniors and provided them (and their families) with necessary support services to ensure they maintain a high quality of life. Kevin currently serves as the Center Manager for the Gary and Mary West PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) located in San Marcos, CA.
Kevin L. Child is a CCSD School Board Trustee.
Kiki Goshay really enjoyed seeing the creative approaches the students took. As producer/director of Not Alone, her mission has been to give kids a voice. “Video is a great tool for them to bring issues they care about to a broad audience.”
Kimberle Taitano is former professional actor, a suicide attempt and suicide loss survivor who passionately advocates for both suicide and mental health awareness
Kimberly Pauly is a County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services administrator who is committed to supporting children, youth and families.
Kim Bateman, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, College Administrator, and the author of the book, “Crossing the Owl’s Bridge: A Guide for Grieving People Who Still Love”. She also facilitates grief workshops and serves on the Truckee-Tahoe Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Kristen Batchelder has worked with youth in various settings for 18 years, and has seen how mental health concerns, and the many ways they are supported, treated or stigmatized, made an impact in people’s lives and in their recovery. She hopes to help create a world in which everyone has access to the help and support they need, and where they feel safe and supported in getting it.
Kristian Castro is finishing up a Master of Planning and Master of Public Administration dual-degree at the University of Southern California where he focuses on affordable housing, economic resiliency, and community development. His background in nonprofits, digital media, and journalism has helped him serve as a Directing Change judge for several years now.
Kristian Moore has over a decade of experience working with youth in the mental health field, supporting youth, whom at times contemplated suicide.
Lacey Bowman has completed a National Suicide Prevention Certification Course and helped assist with the start up of Nevada County’s Suicide Prevention Task Force. “I know it takes all kinds of people with different walks of life to come together and beacon for those who feel lost and despair.”
Lalaine Oliveria manages the HERE Now program for North County Lifeline. HERE Now is a suicide prevention and early intervention program implemented in middle and high schools throughout San Diego County, which encourages and empowers students to ACT (acknowledge, care, and tell a trusted adult) when they, or someone they know, are experiencing any mental health struggles or bullying. “I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with adolescents and the mental health field since 2006.”
Lana Lo is the Outreach Programs Manager for NAMI San Diego and serves as the liaison for NAMI on Campus and Ending the Silence. Lana coordinates outreach and education efforts on mental health and suicide prevention awareness.
Lana Frausto is with the Department of Mental Health, San Bernardino County. As Community Outreach and Education coordinator, she has coordinated the Directing Change campaign for the past few years. “Our participation as a county has increased significantly over the years and we are proud to be part of Each Mind Matters effort to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health!”
LaTanya Green, MEd has over 16 years working with children with special needs, behavior issues, mental health concerns and substance abuse. Currently, she is the Director of a large Child Development Center. This contest is a favorite of Ma Tanya’s because it gives students a creative voice and a chance to be part of the solution to severe concerns of their generation.
Laura Carson is a writer, actress and filmmaker with over 5 years experience of empowering young artists (ages 8- 13) by teaching Collaborative Filmmaking at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program in Idyllwild, CA.
Lawrence Dizon-Weisberg is an entertainment professional with over 25-years, primarily in Animation (17 years with DreamWorks Animation), encouraging and mentoring both filmmakers and production personnel.
Leah Brooks has sought to provide a platform for safe expression since 2011 through her work advocating for youth.
Leann Thompson is co-founder and CFO of the Dallas Pugh Foundation based in San Diego. The Pugh family created the foundation to prepare today’s youth and young adults for complicated decisions and life experiences.
Lesley Taylor is public servant and public school advocate with special interests in school climate and social and emotional learning. She is also a long-time volunteer with her local chapter of Girls on the Run.
Lindsay Tibbetts is a Community Education Specialist in Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, and has recently transferred into the Suicide Prevention program at the end of 2018. This is her second year judging the Direction Change Film Contest.
Lindsay Gold is a passionate and involved social worker determined to make a positive impact in the field of suicide prevention, and a former suicide prevention coordinator for veterans.
Linnea Koopmans works in an advocacy role with the association that represents all of California’s 58 county behavioral health systems and “would love to participate as a judge in this powerful and important contest!”
Lisa Johnson is a retired San Diego County Social Worker, now PCG Client Mentor, trying to remove the stigma attached to mental illness as they too are “Warriors” battling life long barriers.
Lisa Futrell-Williams: “It’s an honor to support any activity that empowers and gives creative voice and expression to young people who experience suicide or other mental health challenges personally or via a family member, friend, or classmate.”
Lisha Singleton is a facilitator for Mental Health First Aid, and believes utilization of all available venues is important when educating youth about Suicide Prevention “as it just might save a life!”
Lissa Thomson is actively involved in California’s public to private initiative to increase awareness and resources for emotional well-being. Lissa is passionate about carrying the message for a cure for stigma and suicide prevention.
Loren Goldstein has been a member of the SPC for over 3 years and this is her 3rd year judging with Directing Change.
Lorena Reynoso is a Case Manager for the Promotores Outreach Program and and she fights stigma by reminding individuals that their language matters.
Dr. Lorry Leigh Belhumeur, the CEO of Western Youth Services, and leading Mental Health Solutions Expert, is passionate about breaking the invisible barriers that keep youth from accessing mental health and wellness solutions.
Luan Nguyen: “I have always been interested in helping others into their step to awesomeness and confidence while leaving their depression behind and with this I can ensure a strong message is sent to those in need of assistance and constructive criticism.”
Luvia Rodriguez is the Executive Director of Hearts & Lives, a non-profit organization in the San Bernardino Mountains. Her background is in education, engineering, domestic violence and mental health. She established her residency in the US back on 1990, and one of her main goals was to focus on creating and on improving access and resources among the Latino population in her community. Currently the organization Luvia oversees provides behavioral health services through programs like Promotores de Salud, Early Identification and Intervention Services and Crisis intervention.
Luz Pinto is the Director of PeerLINKS, a program that provides enhanced peer support services to individuals living with mental illness. She is also a former board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, San Diego chapter.
Lynn Cathy has been actively involved with NAMI for 17 years and currently work as a support group facilitator where suicide is a frequent topic of discussion. She has also done coursework in film production.
Malcolm Ahlo has worked with teens and young adults in Las Vegas, Nevada to develop culturally relevant tobacco control and prevention movements/ brand for the past 14 years. He has worked with teens and young adults in Las Vegas, Nevada to develop culturally relevant tobacco control and prevention movements/ brands. These large scale movements/ brands are cutting edge and uses age appropriate ideas, attitudes, and imagery to reach the target communities through in-person outreach, or through comprehensive traditional or social media strategies.
Manpreet Mumman is a regional Community Health Promotion Specialist for the County of San Diego. He coordinates mental and behavioral health outreach efforts, and coordinate regional activities associated with May is Mental Health Month, Suicide Prevention Month, and Depression Screening Awareness Day.
Marcel Harris is the Statewide Organizer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California. Marcel works with members to utilize lived experiences and expertise as a means to positively impact and influence public mental health policy.
Marco Paz is a school-based therapist working in a high school setting where he provides therapy to students struggling with anxiety, depression, and trauma. In his previous life, he worked in film.
Margaret Weakley has worked in Behavioral Health in San Diego for the past six years, serving a variety of participants, including the Transitional Aged Youth population
Mari Mender BSN RNC CNE., is a mental health educator for Santa Barbara Cottage Health System, a mental health blogger and public speaker.
Maria Pagador is a Human Services Program Planner for the Sacramento County Department of Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services.
Maria Chairez is deeply committed to helping youth in crisis get resources to address their needs. “By being involved as a Judge I can do my part to help create media tools to real all youth.” His role as a principal helps him understand the needs of today’s youth.
Maria Elizalde participated in the judging process last year and really enjoyed it. She works with children and youth whom have been victims of some type of abuse.
Mariana Baserga is an Account Supervisor with Runyon Saltzman, Inc. (RSE), the social marketing contractor for CalMHSA. She manages the day-to-day work on the statewide prevention and early intervention initiatives including Each Mind Matters and SanaMente.
Mariana Fernandes provides support for the County of San Diego and County of Riverside’s mental illness stigma reduction and suicide prevention media campaign, It’s Up to Us.
Mariko Yamada is the Director for the Children’s Counseling Center at St. Francis Medical Center. As a social worker, she has been championing for the awareness and acceptance of all things related to mental health outside of the behavioral health community. Young people are the next generation to ignite the awareness and continue initiating change.
Mariko Kahn is the director of an agency that provides mental health services. She works to provide culturally appropriate services to APIs and has produced a documentary on Cambodian spiritual healing practices.
Mark Johnson holds a Bachelor’s in Communications from the University of New Hampshire and regularly counsels our franchisees in empowering their own position to their landlords through clear and firmly polite written and verbal thought.
Mark Parra has worked in the mental health prevention domain for several years and believes that efforts such as Directing Change can deeply affect hearts and minds to support youth and support our communities.
Mary Ader is Deputy Director, Legislative Affairs for the County Behavioral Health Directors Association.
Mary Algiers is a Public Health Nurse for Aging and Independent Services for San Diego County.
Matthew Barcellos has been a video production teacher for 2 years and has a passion to see students fully realize their creativity through technology.
Mayte Eriksson, MSN/ED, RN-BC, NEA-BC. has been working in the mental health field for many years, developing programs and providing mentorship and supervision for those who work with patients challenged with mental illness.
Megan Mills works in the public mental health system and has lived experience with mental health and addiction challenges. “I am passionate about Recovery of every size, shape, stripe and color. It is an individual and collective journey, and I believe in the capacity of any and every person to Recover from whatever challenges they face. Directing Change is an important and amazing event, and I am honored to be involved.”
Melanie Hartzell has been mentoring youth and their teachers for 30 years. She lost her son Aaron and her friends Will and Sara to suicide and she is passionate about suicide prevention, mental health and wellness.
Melissa Margain is a returning Judge, Army Veteran and active community member.
Meredith Olney knows people who suffer from mental illnesses and is happy to support those who aim at preventing and spreading awareness about them.
Merida Saracho has supported and assisted with empowering children and adolescents for 20 years, and with the role she currently has is able to ensure kids are treated fairly and human when their rights are violated. “I would love to see that mental health is address and medical health without the child being stigmatized.”
Mia Semelman is a health educator and crisis line counselor for Crisis Support Services of Alameda County who teaches students about the warning signs of depression and suicide, how to help a friend, and important resources such as our suicide prevention crisis line.
Michael Miller is a County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services administrator who is committed to supporting children, youth and families.
Michael Helmick has worked on behavioral health policy for many years and is a returning Directing Change judge.
Michael Paraskevas is the co-creator of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast and the illustrator of many children’s books.
Michelle Carlson is the Executive Director for Teen Line, a Los Angeles based non-profit providing a teen-to-teen hotline and community outreach services to support youth worldwide. She is passionate about incorporating youth in programming and empowering them to change the way we talk about mental health.
Michelle Martinez is the Senior Peer Support Communications Specialist for the Riverside University Health System- Behavioral Health. She is a woman who has lived experience with mental health challenges and lives in recovery as an advocate and mentor for those she serves. Michelle Martinez is an U.S. Air Force veteran, wife, & mother of two daughters.
Michelle Fortunado-Kewin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Michelle’s main role is to provide clinical supervision to mental health interns at SFUSD and to provide crisis support to schools throughout the district. She has been a volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter since 2012.
Michelle Carlson is a MHSA Program Specialist for the County of Tuolumne, in this role she has the opportunity to serve the community in many different roles. Directing Change is a great way to encourage growth and contribute to the reduction of MH stigma.
Micque Li: “I have 7 younger siblings, a couple of whom I semi-raised under extremely stressful circumstances. I myself attempted suicide 2ce in my teens. I’ve also been an actor and writer.”
Michael Huffman has been a Peer Support Specialist working with and suffering from serious mental illness and is honored to participate as a Judge.
Miranda Johnston works as a School Counselor in Humboldt County. Miranda is an advocate for youth and believes in the power of sharing our personal stories to work towards destigmatizing mental health issues.
Mirella Estella Mata
Molly Brassil has worked as a policy analyst and advocate in the behavioral health space for nearly 15 years and believes that access to recovery-focused, quality, whole person care is an essential human right.
Monica Rosas San Bernardino County Dept. of Behavioral Health is a staff member who participates as a judge for this county’s video submissions.
Monica Ortiz is a youth and family support partner in a school based prevention and early intervention program. “I look forward to the day when mental health issues are no longer stigmatized and youth would feel comfort reaching out for help.”
Muffy Walker champions the cause to change the conversation about mental illness & suicide.
Muriel Cormier has worked on the crisis hotline for several years and listened to countless stories of youth and their families who are struggling with depression.
Nancy Adams is a behavioral health counselor for FirstMed Health & Wellness Center in Southern NV. As one who has focused her career around the mental health of children and adolescents, she is passionate about what fuels their SI.
Nancy Olsen has been working in the mental health/ social work field for over 30 years, currently as a Program Manager with Crisis programs in San Bernardino County. “The vital message that Directing Change provides to adolescents is powerful and can save lives by reaching beyond stigma and offering hope.”
Nancy Goldstein has worked in education for the past 25 years, and is a certified school psychologist primarily working with adolescents.
Naomi Laeuchli is a published author, who has worked closely with both playwrights and screenwriters, and served as a judge for the Directing Change film contest for the past six years.
Natalie Conrad is an advocate and person with lived experience, and is passionate about erasing the stigma of mental illness. These videos help with that and start the conversation.
Natalie Collins has worked in the arts for many years. “This is an amazing opportunity to combine my love of the arts with mental health awareness.”
Natalie Newson: “Together we can make a difference and ensure mental wellness for all!”
Nathan Lichtman is deeply moved by anyone’s passion around erasing the stigma of mental healthcare and suicide prevention, and, as SPC’s Training & Volunteer Coordinator, has an eye for such inspiring work.
Nic Cornett is the Owner/Cinematographer of Labsky Films and has worked in the TV/film industry for 13 years. He is a Navy Veteran and mental health advocate who enjoys enriching the lives of future filmmakers.
Nivedita Meethan is a physician epidemiologist working for the behavioral health bureau of Monterey County. “My field experiences show that prevention is, in reality, much better than the cure. I firmly believe that a focused and well planned practice of social and preventive medicine will improve health indices globally.”
Nora Mays is a California Certified Prevention Specialist, Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor, and Mental Health First Aid Instructor.
Norma Alston: ”As a second-year judge, I look forward to seeing all the creativity youth come up with to advertise that suicide is never an option!”
Olga Jurado is a psychiatric social worker who has spent many years in the schools educating and empowering our students/community on suicide prevention and mental health awareness as a way to break down the stigma and encourage student to speak up and seek support.
Otto Wahl has a long career of writing, speaking, and doing research on mental illness stigma and ways to reduce it.
Pamela S Jones is a Program Manager for the E6 Outreach Team in Los Angeles for Mental Health America of Los Angeles where he works with various departments and age groups dealing with mental health.
Patricia Tindbaek, LCSW, Head of Mental Health Programs at Masada Homes, has over 25 years of experience working with youth in Los Angeles County.
Patricia Saldana has been with LAUSD School Mental Health for12 years working in schools, conducting risk assessments and providing support services to students and families. She is currently part of the Crisis Counseling and Intervention Services unit working to reduce stigma regarding mental health and to increase awareness regarding crisis intervention, resources and supports.
Paula Wilhelm, MPP/MPH, is a Senior Policy Analyst with the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California and is dedicated to ensuring all Californians have access to excellent behavioral health care.
Peter Dy is a Program Coordinator for the California Primary Care Association and he provides mental health training and technical assistance for community health centers and their Behavioral Health Departments.
Philip Clar, Treasurer of the Saramento Valley Psychological Association, enjoys the creative efforts of high school students in sensitizing their peers to mental health issues and to rational, compassionate ways of dealing with them.
Rachel Fuller is a student who struggles with mental illness. She advocates, speaks and supports her fellow students in hopes of uplifting, embracing and validating each individual that struggles – even on the most acute scale. “No one should go through these experiences alone.”
Raymond Nguyen is a California State University, Fullerton Active Minds Chapter Leader interested in raising awareness for mental health. “I want to start the conversation and support others in their efforts to create change!”
Rebecca Raymond is a County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services administrator who is committed to supporting children, youth and families.
Rebecca Johnson is a student at UC Davis. She is involved with NAMI and related mental health organizations in Yolo County.
Rebecca Zeitlin joined the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Suicide Prevention Center in 2007 as a passionate Volunteer Suicide Prevention Counselor and since then has become a Shift Supervisor, Program Coordinator and is currently the Assistant Program Director for the 24-Hour Crisis Line. Rebecca’s passion is evident as she actively helps out on the crisis line, is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and facilitates Survivors of Suicide Attempts support groups along with seeing individual clients.
Rebecca Bray is a high school intervention counselor who runs numerous social/emotional support groups. Everyday she is on the front lines of suicide prevention and ending the stigma of mental illness among our students. Previously, she worked as a casting director in Los Angeles for several years utilizing her undergraduate degree in Film and Television.
Rebecca Fein is the California Statewide Program Manager for Active Minds, the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for students. She oversees the California Mental Health Services Authority contract, leading innovative work in student mental health advocacy.
Rebecca Johnson is a student at Cerritos College, a community college serving Southeastern Los Angeles County. She is also the President of the Active Minds chapter, which was recently evaluated as a 5-star chapter by the national Active Minds, Inc.
Rebecca Stock has worked in suicide prevention for 10+ years and is very passionate about mental health and suicide prevention. She was touched by losing someone to suicide in high school and has wanted to erase stigma since then.
Renee Cookson is the Director of Community Development at NAMI San Diego with over 39 years of experience working with individuals, youth and families with lived mental health, substance abuse and behavioral health challenges! “It’s not weak to speak, let’s talk about mental health and suicide prevention!!!”
Retta Karpinski is a sophomore at PLHS who enjoys photography (rettakphotography.com), cinematography, directing, and making a difference.
Dr. Ricardo Guerra is a Program Coordinator at the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center. He leads an amazing team of Bilingual Crisis Counselors that provide 24/7 services in Spanish. Ricardo is active in community outreach efforts to promote suicide prevention, especially in the Hispanic population. He believes that love and appreciation for diversity can help erase the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Rick Newmyer is a Senior Lecturer with the USC Suzanne-Dworak Peck School of Social Work. Prior to joining USC, Rick spent two decades developing and administering programs for children, youth and families.
Robert Byrd is the manager for LA County Continuum of Care Reform Implementation, represents LA County DMH on the CBHDA CSOC Committee, is a Board Member of CMHACY and was the lead for LA County’s Directing Change 2018.
Robert Mansfield: “This is such a serious issue and I am happy to help in any way I can.”
Robin Meloche is the County Coordinator and handles all Suicide Prevention outreach and education including teaching the ASIST and SafeTALK workshops. “I enjoy taking the Directing Change clips into the public and we receive many appreciative comments.”
Robyn Gantsweg has provided peer self-advocacy services for over 16 years for Disability Rights California. She is very motivated and interested in finding new and creative ways to fight stigma and discrimination against people with mental health disabilities.
Rodolfo Valenzuela has 20 years training in extensive Army suicide awareness and mitigation techniques.
Rosalina Valdez is the Assistant Director of Community Outreach for Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast. She is trained as a certified ASIST 11 trainer, certified SafeTALK trainer, and a Mental Health First Aid trainer. Ms. Valdez is also attending the California State University at Monterey Bay’s Master of Social Work program.
Rose Cabral is a member of Balanced and NAMI, and a supporter of family members and friends with mental health diagnoses. Rose loves participating as a judge because the talented youth and future leaders give her hope.
Rosemary Rubin is a co-chair of the Los Angeles Child and Adolescent Suicide Review Committee and former coordinator of the Los Angeles Unified School District Suicide Prevention Unit.
Rosio Laguna works as a Consumer Family Advocate at Centro La Familia Advocacy Services in Fresno County, whose primary role focuses on educating the public in the rural and metropolitan areas of Fresno County on Mental Health and Stigma Reduction through community outreach, peer support groups, and forums.
Rosy De Prado: As the Emotional Wellness Coordinator at Latino Health Access, I strongly believe that every chance for listening to our youth is a great opportunity for learning how to prevent emotional despair and mental health issues.
Ruben Preuss is a producer-director with 25 years experience in the film industry. For the last eleven years Ruben has transitioned into the mental health field as psychotherapist at Kaiser Permanente.
Ruth Canas, LCSW is the Clinical Director for Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica. Ruth has over 20 years of experience working in the area youth and family mental health and has a passion for working with historically disempowered vulnerable populations.
Ruth Golden, a TV creative professional for 25 years, is now a board member with the LA AFSP and is producing her own documentary about the aftermath of suicide loss in her family.
Ruth Pugh: “I lost my son to teen suicide 22 years ago and have not stopped trying to make a difference with our youth and this is just one more way.”
Ryan K. Brown is a Project Manager for the Social Changery, an organization dedicated to creating positive social change through marketing. He has been advocating for mental health awareness and destigmatization in both K-12 and higher education settings for more than six years.
Ryan Kennedy I am an analyst for Behavioral Health with history of making films in High School.
Ryan Corbin is a Resource Specialist from Sutter County Prevention & Early Intervention. Ryan will begin to apply Mental Health First Aid and S.A.F.E talk training to educate community members in the identification and response to suicide ideology.
Sabrina Ullah is the Regional Director for California MENTOR’s Family Support Services, providing community based mental health services for children, adolescents, and their families in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.
Sadie Longcor: “I’m supportive of my community and stomping out stigma against mental health and want to show my continuing support.”
Samantha Olson is a K-8 School Counselor with 13 years experience in an educational setting working to help students and families reduce the barriers to accessing and receiving mental health services in Sacramento County one family at a time.
Sandra Black has been working with Each Mind Matters and Know the Signs for several years as a subject matter expert. She has a long work history in community mental health and suicide prevention.
Sandra Kawar is a renowned award winning Jordanian Film & TV Producer-Director with numerous International slate of projects. Her projects were distributed globally and many where shown through Times Warner cable TV in Los Angeles, She is the MENA region Advisor for the World Media Festival in Hamburg, Germany. She has participated a judge at the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences “Emmy Awards” for the years 2008 & 2014 & 2016. Recently she is appointed MENA region Ambassador for the worldwide NGO that has 40 offices around the world (CESVI), Has won Best Director award in NYC Indie Film Awards and Has won Best Director award for the world cinema category at “Delhi International Film Festival 2015 & 2016” for her short film (The Unaccepted Reality) Best Film award for her short film “The Arabian Autumn” at the International China Film Festival and won Best Cast Ensemble Award 2013 at Monaco International Film Festival, Best Director award at Jordan Film Festival. She has directed 33 short drama films. And has received King Abdullah Bin Al Hussein distinguished medal in 2017. Recently has produced and directed 30 short films under the name (The Unaccepted Reality) that is based on true stories, its aim is to spread the voice of Arab women through the form of drama, and to spread a message towards human rights, these films are set to be distributed on Amazon Prime, Google play and Steam for 124 countries across the globe. She was also the Second Unit Director for the academy award (Oscar) winning feature film “Zero Dark Thirty”.
Recently Sandra Kawar’s film was screened in Cannes Film Festival 2018, Berlin International Film Festival 2018, and is in the official selection of NYC Indie Film Awards, LIFFT in India, New Horizon Film Festival in Russia, and the Norwegian International Film Festival. Founder of MAS Productions (Jordan), and she is Spirit VFX MENA region exclusive Partner.
Sandri Kramer, Suicide Prevention Project Manager, has 23+ years of experience in suicide prevention and crisis center work, and is grateful for every person passionate about supporting others and each other during times of emotional distress and (suicidal) crisis.
Sandy Nelson RSE does lots of work for Each Mind Matters, and as a designer, she gets to help create materials to help end the stigma on mental health. “It’s an important issue and I want to help put empowering messages of hope out there.”
Saundra Schmidt: ”Creative people need to express their inner experiences, and this is a great way of achieving that!”
Scott Rose is a principal at RSE, the social marketing firm that has collaborated on Each Mind Matters campaign.
Scott Tommey has provided psycho-dynamic psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and young adults struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings for over 30 years and recognizes the urgent need to educate and empower individuals in our communities to take compassionate action when they encounter someone in need.
Shana Duran: “I work with students and enjoy their creative sides and look forward to being part of an amazing program.”
Shawn Silverstein, Ph.D. is the Lead Psychologist at the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center, where he manages the suicide prevention center training and outreach program in addition to the survivors of suicide attempts support groups program.
Sheila Ganz, award-winning director and producer of documentary films is currently working on PIECE OF MIND about families with loved ones and persons living with serious mental illness. Credits include: ON LIFE’S TERMS: MOTHERS IN RECOVERY about five moms in a residential treatment program; and, UNLOCKING THE HEART OF ADOPTION about the lifelong process of adoption for adoptees, first/birthparents and adoptive parents in same race and transracial adoptions.
Shelley Graner worked at IMAX for 11 years before volunteering with Kiva in India, and now works as a marketing consultant and travel blogger focused on supporting local communities.
Sherif Higazy is the Executive Producer at Thermonuclear, with clients ranging from fortune 500 companies (Microsoft, Apple) to major US labels (Atlantic, Capitol, etc.). Prior to his EP role, he was a director and visual effects artist based in Los Angeles.
Siavash Zohoori runs the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Storytelling Program to help people share their stories to heal and address issues within their communities.
Sister Regina Fox, SSND: is Executive Director of the Sisters of St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation. In this role, she reviews grant applications focusing on access to health, mental health, homelessness and violence prevention. She sees the varied services offered in California to deal with those who are marginalized.
Sonia Curtis is the Sr. Bilingual Parent Partner and Latino Support Group coordinator for San Diego Center for Children “WrapWorks” program. She has been a paraprofessional at San Diego Center for Children for the past 10 years providing Parent Management Training classes for parents with children who struggle with mental health and behavioral issues impacting home relationship dynamics by promoting trauma informed care as well promoting permanency with caregivers.
Sonja Piper Dosti works in Communication and Public Relations for Central Unified School District and serves on the Suicide Prevention Collaborative Communication Workgroup. She has had 25 years of experience, working in Hollywood as a film and TV executive, producer and consultant with award-winning writers and directors such as Aaron Sorkin, JJ Abrams, Kathryn Bigelow, Francis Coppola, among many others.
Staci Schultz has worked in the early childhood education sector (0-5yr) for over five years. She is extremely passionate about forming community partnerships, engaging and advocating in the community. She is always looking for new opportunities to help support the needs of the community and the families she works with directly on a day-to-day basis.
Stephanie Carlson works with a number of youth in the County as she runs the teen court program and would like to help reduce stigma.
Stephanie Mowles is an Associate Professor of History who works with college students and community members.
Stephanie Lynch serves as the Director for Health Promotion at the University of San Diego, working collaboratively within that community addressing suicide prevention and mental health promotion.
Stephanie Murray has been supporting adolescents in a high school setting for 26 years as a school psychologist, and actively working in suicide prevention for much of this time, in her district as well as on the county level as a co-chair of the LA County Child and Adolescent Suicide Review Team.
Steven Cathy is a legal videographer who has a mental illness. “I am always very interested in, and touched by, this film event.”
Susan Wood is a LMFT working with children and adolescents in LA county community mental health for over 20 years. He strongly values youth having awareness of mental health issues and the need to reduce stigma so more youth can obtain these services.
Susan Auerbach, who lost both her father and son to suicide, writes and speaks about suicide loss and does presentations on suicide prevention with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services Suicide Prevention Center and Teen Line. She also brings knowledge of K12 programs and student needs as a former professor of education.
Sylvestre Espinoza: ”I love when young filmmakers have an idea in their head and they make it into a reality.”
Sylvia Tang, MPP works at the San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services as a Mental Health Awareness Month Planning Coordinator, Suicide Prevention Committee Co-Chair, and Chinese Health Initiative Co-Chair. She is committed to empowering local and marginalized communities to shape public health policies that affect them.
Tawny Porter is a social justice advocate with a passion for data-driven social change.
Terrie Hawthorne, MSW has demonstrated a strong commitment to eliminating stigma and increasing awareness of mental health treatment over 20 years of individual, family and group treatment and education.
Theatrina Roque has 9 years of experience working in a County hospital (psych ER0 as a nurse and 1 year inpatient bed). In addition, she has been working in DMH for 2 years.
Thom Birbeck, currently a teacher in the 8th Grade, has been a District Instructional Coach and feels that this is some of the most valuable important work that can be done as an educator.
Tiffany Carmona is the Account Support for the County of San Diego and County of Riverside’s mental illness stigma reduction and suicide prevention media campaign, It’s Up to Us.
Tim Tunner: “Having personal and professional experience coping with suicidal ideation, attempts, and completed attempts, I want to help individuals who struggle with this affliction.”
Tim Soman has 20 plus years of animation experience and is an assistant professor of animation.
Tina Burke: “As a mom of recent high school graduates, this is something close to my heart.”
Toby Jones is currently working as a co-executive producer of “OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes” on the Cartoon Network.
Tom Norton: “Not so long ago a short film gave me the hope and motivation needed to pull my life together and realize that I’m not alone.”
Tonya Ross is a School Nurse with over 30 years of experience helping students of all ages manage and navigate mental health issues that impacts them and their families.
Tory Cason is a clinical psychology with experience in suicidal assessment.
Traci Barker-Ball, after 35 years as a personal/social/emotional/trauma counselor of a large high school, is passionate about mental health issues and suicide prevention even though she has just retired.
Tracy Spitz is a school psychologist and administrator for the Antelope Valley Union High School District’s Educationally Related Intensive Counseling Services (ERICS) Program. She and her department provide mental health services to students with a variety of disabilities whose mental health needs impede their ability to access their educational programs.
Traute Winters is the Los Angeles Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and will be a fourth year judge.
Trent Webster is a high school student who looks forward to seeing suicide prevention become a higher priority in schools.
Tricia Slavik is the mother of two young adults with mental illness, a former television producer and the founder of www.atwitsend.org, a site to help people find help for mental illness.
Trisha Baird is the Community Education & Prevention Manager at Tahoe SAFE Alliance and has been working in violence prevention for the past 12 years. She has sat on the Tahoe Truckee Suicide Prevention Coalition and is currently the vice chair of the Tahoe-Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence.
Tristaca McCray is the Creator and Executive Director of NERDS RULE INC. A global award winning organization dedicated to improving youth, teens and young adults lives. The NERDS RULE INC. Ambassador program and workshops provide tools and facilitates safe environments for individuals ages 10 to 25 dealing with Suicide and Bullying Prevention.
Troy Underwood has worked in animation for 16 years, the last 7 at Disney producing series from Star Wars Rebels to Star vs The Forces of Evil, managing the series creatively on behalf of Disney Channel.
Valerie Mih is an independent animator who believes in the power of animation to communicate, educate and inspire.
Vanessa McCaslin has a BFA in Advertising and has been a member of the board of Directors for the Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC) for 7 years.
Vanessa Drake is a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate and has worked in mental health for the past 6 years. She has worked with children and adolescents with moderate to severe mental health disorders and has worked with neurological disorders that include Autism and ADHD. Currently Vanessa works with court ordered adults who have a co-occurring disorder. “My interest in judging this contest is high as it pertains to mental health and the need for continued awareness to help decrease the stigma that has disabled many in seeking support.”
Vera Calloway is a film fanatic who previously worked in the entertainment industry. She is currently the Director of SSG-BACUP, a client-run wellness center in Los Angeles that advocates for and assists adults in recovery from metal illness.
Veronica Scarpelli is a survivor of multiple losses to suicide, a parent of 4 children who all have a mental health non-wellness, and a counselor, educator and advocate in the mission of suicide prevention, intervention and post-intervention. She continues to aid all who cross her path with evidence based knowledge, that re-educates the misinformed and the heartbroken.
Victor Yates is an author and freelance writer who recently received a grant from the city of West Hollywood to produce his first documentary, “Genitalic,” which centers around life in West Hollywood in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. This is the third year that he has been a judge.
Victoria Lee, Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Supervising Psychologist for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Dr. Lee is the lead for the Adult team for Partners in Suicide Prevention, a countywide program designed to increase public awareness on suicide and reduce stigma associated with seeking mental health and substance abuse services.
Vincent M. Wales is a speculative fiction novelist who lives with persistent depressive disorder. He is co-host of The Psych Central Show podcast and a former suicide prevention crisis counselor.
Wendy Maramba is a County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services administrator who is committed to supporting children, youth and families.
Whitney Wilson is a Patient Rights Advocate in San Diego County. Whitney advocates to ensure that all people receiving behavioral health services in an inpatient or residential setting are receiving appropriate care and treatment.
Yael Koenig is a County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services administrator who is committed to supporting children, youth and families.
Zoey Eberle is a Community Health Educator with Crisis Support Services of Alameda County. As part of their Teens for Life program, she educates grades 6-12 on depression and suicide with an emphasis on help seeking and ending stigma.