Directing Change

Submission Deadline:
March 1, 2019



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.  The deadline to contact us with interest in being a judge is February 1, 2019.  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).

Submit an application to become a judge today! 

High School Statewide Judges

Ann Collentine is the Deputy Director for Programs for the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA).

Angela Cohen. The Miami Herald touted Angela Cohen as an “Actress on the Rise” while her film and television work includes Oscar winners Al Pacino, Paul Haggis, and Barry Levinson. Under her production company, Charley Bear Productions, she wrote, produced, and starred in “Without Grace,” a family drama on mental illness, opposite Emmy Winner Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale) and it qualified for the 2018 Oscars. “Without Grace” will be releasing this summer on Amazon Prime.

April Foreman. “Doc Foreman” is a Licensed Psychologist leading innovations in the suicide prevention field, and is the host of #SPSM (Suicide Prevention for Social Media).

Bradley Buecker is executive producer of Fox’s new hit show “9-1-1”. He is also director and producer of the Golden Globe nominated show “Glee”, and has worked on numerous other projects including “The New Normal”. In 2015, Mr. Buecker received the award for “Program Supporter and Student Mentor of Directing Change” for his long time support of the Directing Change Program.

Candace Yoder is the Executive Director of the Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation. Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation (MSMF) is a nonprofit public charity dedicated to raising awareness with the goals of preventing suicide for teens and young adults. MSMF provides financial and programmatic support as well as mental health programs for schools, parents, and teachers throughout the country.

Carly Starr Brullo-Niles is Award Winning Director & Founder of Love Machine Films. Carly has worked in film, media & branding her entire career, producing, writing, directing & editing at all levels. With years of success in Hollywood on major motion pictures, independent features and Network Television, Carly is now responsible for the creative vision, direction and production behind over 250 films, both mainstream & non-profit organizations at the award winning Love Machine Films. Love Machine Films is an independent film company based in Oceanside, CA, founded on the ethos that Love Can Conquer All. Love Machine was built on the mission to create films that tell important stories about causes, with a purpose to make a difference in the world.

Caroline FitzGerald works as the Project Lead for Strategy and Design at, a social innovation lab focused on designing science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. Before Hopelab, Caroline worked for nine years as an Occupational Therapist alongside people with serious mental illness.

Chantelle James is an Actress/Writer/Producer who has worked for the past 11 years on Film/TV/Web and commercial projects. She is co-owner of boutique production company Kid Sister Collective which focuses on creating and producing female character driven stories that make a difference.

Cheryl Sharp, MSW, ALWF is an exclusive consultant for the National Council for Behavioral Health in their efforts to promote suicide prevention, mental health and that recovery is possible.  She also provides exclusive consulting to the National Council on trauma-informed services and is a SAMHSA Voice Award winner using her voice to bring hope and healing to those who struggle with mental health challenges.

Cindy Baer is an award-winning filmmaker, who’s debut feature PURGATORY HOUSE (written by a 14-year-old girl) dealt with the topics of teen suicide and drug abuse. A critical darling, it screened at 25 festivals, won 12 awards and received 2 Prism Award nominations.

David Ridgway: Board member for the CFAA (Capital Film Arts Alliance), I’ve 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.

DeAnna Cooper  is a studio executive and award winning independent producer of film, tv and commercials.  Currently she has numerous films in development at the studios, a documentary in post production, feature films in distribution and other feature films & a tv pilot on the festival trail.  She has produced award winning short films that have strong messages of social impact/change.  She is an adjunct faculty member at multiple colleges as she strives to balance her professional career with supporting the next generation of emerging artists.

Deven McNair is a professional stunt performer and actress who is known for her work on films such as 22 Jump Street, The Green Lantern, Disaster Movie, Planet of the Apes, and the Disney Channel show, JESSIE.

Doug Blush has worked in documentary filmmaking for over fifteen years, as a director, producer, editor, writer and cinematographer. His credits include: the Academy Award winning 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, (2013 Best Documentary), as well as WORDPLAY (2006); I.O.U.S.A (2008); THESE AMAZING SHADOWS (2011); and THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE (2015). He was also recently Supervising Editor of JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY, winner of the 2016 Sundance Audience Award. Throughout his career Doug has worked on projects that bring about social change, including the Oscar-nominated THE INVISIBLE WAR (2013), and THE HUNTING GROUND (2015). He is the co-founder of the LA-based production company MadPix, Inc. and is a Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Elle Alexander is the Vice President of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures. Elle has been in the film/television industry for over 20 years. She has a B.A. in Film/Television production from Long Beach State University and an Advanced Film Certificate from U.S.C. in their U.S.C./Universal Studios Advanced Film Program.

Foster Wilson is a Los Angeles-based director and filmmaker, and co-founder of Something Wilde Productions. Her films include Waffles, Platypus, Brick & Mopsie, Monotony, and the upcoming film Made Public (2017 Emergence Award Recipient).

Hilary Smith is the author of the best selling Welcome to the Jungle: Facing Bipolar Without Freaking Out as well as the popular YA novels Wild Awake and A Sense of the Infinite.

Jack Dever is a filmmaker and video professional with over 30 years experience in production and post production.

James Lecesne wrote the short film TREVOR, which won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short and inspired the founding of The Trevor Project, the only nationwide 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis intervention Lifeline for LGBT and Questioning youth.

Jen James is the Founding Supervisor and Head of Network for the Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 free texting service for those in crisis.

Dr. John Ashton is the President of the Faculty of Public Health, United Kingdom and  was the key force in establishing the first ever Public Health Film Festival in the United Kingdom

Joseph Robinson, Each Mind Matters

Juli Furtado is a survivor of suicide loss of her sister and mother. She was a member of the US Ski Team from 1981-1986, and is world champion cyclist also having competed in the 1996 Olympics for the US team. Juli is the mother of a ten year old son and founder of Juliana line of Mountain Bikes created specifically for women.

Kate Lindboe is a co-founder, producer, writer and director at HomeSweet Films based in Santa Monica. Her recent film credits include the features NONAMES starring Gillian Jacobs and James Badge Dale and Missed Connections starring Mickey Sumner.

Katie Rotolo has 10+ years in the entertainment industry and is the co-founder of the boutique production company Paper Ball Pictures, whose mission is putting the environment first while telling impactful stories. She is also the founder and yoga teacher of Set Intentions, a first-of-its-kind, mobile wellness business focused on sustainability and mindfulness.

Kiki Goshay enjoyed seeing the creative approaches the students took. As producer/director of Not Alone, Kiki’s 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.

Kim Kline is an award winning singer-songwriter, philanthropist, entrepreneur and fashionista.  Best known for her single “Inside” which aired on MTV’s show The Hill’s.  Her current single “Stand Tall” is a bullying prevention anthem from her up and coming sophmore album.  The release of her music video “Stand Tall” which gives a universal message of hope, strength and human connectedness will debut later this year.

Kimberle Taitano is former professional actor , who is a suicide attempt and suicide loss survivor who passionately advocates for both suicide and mental helth awareness

Larry Sanders is a former professional basketball player (Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers), who in early 2015 walked away from 27 million dollars to take care of his mental health.  Larry is also a father of 3 and a musician, painter, writer, and a vocal mental health advocate who encourages people to speak and live their own truth.

Laura Carson works extensively in the entertainment industry in a number of different fields. As a film and TV actress, she has appeared in American Crime, Grey’s Anatomy, Drop Dead Diva, Bruce Almighty and many others. Her short film, Dime Short, has been programmed in several film festivals. She produced, wrote and acted in UnCorked, a web-series launching soon. Other writing credits include several short plays produced in Atlanta and New York. She enjoys teaching filmmaking to young filmmakers at Idyllwild Arts Academy in the summer.

Leah Holmes-Bonilla—Senior Advisor for TA and Training  at NASMHPD, has more than 19 years’ experience in the communications and social marketing field, leads their training and TA for the Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health Campaign.   She has been a member of the Communications Team for the Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health Campaign working with Systems of Care Communities nationwide for more than ten years. She has worked with Tribal communities both rural and urban to build their social marketing planning and communications capacity.  She has worked with communities from coast to coast in both rural and rural frontier settings; communities working with culturally diverse socioeconomically challenged youth and families. In addition, she has worked onsite to provide customized communications training, as well as developing and executing communications training at national meetings, coordinating and implementing both webinars and teleconference trainings.

Lia Bruce brings experience coordinating multiple projects in fast-paced, creative environments. Graduating magna cum laude from Loyola Marymount University in 2014, Lia worked as a creative executive for a film producer in Hollywood before moving back to her hometown of San Diego. Lia currently supports furthering communications, education, and resource development activities of the Climate Education Partners (CEP) project and The Nonprofit Institute at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES).

Linda Bergonzi-King, MPH, is a Producer/Director/Health Communication Expert and Social Entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience creating a wide range of video programs, educational tools and communications with a particular emphasis on health, well-being, social justice, edutainment, and community development. She also teaches high school and undergraduate courses on multiple topics related to health communication, interpersonal communication & media relations/literacy. Linda graduated from the Yale University School of Public Health with an emphasis on Health Communication and Health Policy.

Linda Williams. Love Machine Films: Since Love Machine FiIms has opened its doors, Linda Williams has been a lead producer since it’s first projects in early 2005. Linda handles logistics, project coordination, budgets and project estimates and is the backbone of the company

Lisa Klein is an award-winning director and writer dedicated to crafting groundbreaking documentary features. Her current project, THE S WORD, is a documentary that tackles one of the most cloistered issues of our time through the emotional stories of suicide attempt and loss survivors.In 2012, Lisa co-directed the award-winning film OF TWO MINDS, a journey into the lives of remarkable people living, struggling and triumphing with bipolar condition. She is co-founder, with her husband Doug Blush, of MadPix Inc., an LA-based production company dedicated to producing character-driven stories that create global impact and social change.

Tamara Hopewell, originally from Northern California, received her A.A. Degree in Behavior and Social Science and Masters of Fine Arts in Motion Pictures and Television with a concentration in Directing. Currently Ms. Hopewell is Producing a feature length documentary on suicide prevention called,”1 More Day.”

Maria Mallat, Power 106

Marie Gallo Dyak is the President and CEO to the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC).  She is an Emmy® Award winning producer, having produced entertainment, educational, and training videos on such topics as substance use disorders, addiction, mental health, foster care, multicultural families.  Ms. Dyak serves as a judge for the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation Celebration of Service to American station awards.

Mark Powers is the Vice President of the California Broadcasters Association, representing the interests of the 1000+ radio and television stations in the state.

Marquette Jones is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who has directed several PSAs for local charities and received recognition for her work in this field, including both a Telly Award and Aurora Award.

Matt Merchant

Matthew Long. Raised in the redwoods of northern California, indoctrinated into DIY-filmmaking in Durham North Carolina, and currently writing scripts in Los Angeles – Matthew is the co-writer/director of the cult, indie feature X-GEN and the comedy web-series’ THE SUBSTITUTE and 2 HOPEFUL SPINSTERS. Podcaster, feminist, SF Giants aficionado and Prince acolyte, Matt is the writer of the award winning social thriller scripts SCHIZO (feature), DOUBLE BLIND (tv pilot) and GUN DAY (tv pilot).

Max Adler is an accomplished actor with credits to televisions shows including “Glee”, “Switched at Birth”, “Mom” and “Famous in Love”. Max is a long time supporter of Directing Change and has presented multiple times at the statewide award ceremony.

Melissa Margain is a US Army Disabled Combat Veteran who currently lives in Contra Costa County where she is a Case Manager working with the ReEntry population in an effort to reduce the rate of recidivism.

Meredith O’Connor is a singer and rising teen pop star who recently toured the world speaking to youth about her own experience overcoming bullying and other obstacles. Meredith rose to fame when her first song “Celebrity” went viral on YouTube seeing over two million views within the first two months of its release. It became a radio favorite, bringing her a fan base which became a cult-like following once she had established her anti bullying platform. Her music encourages teens to be inclusive and tolerant of one another’s differences and her anti bullying songs and music videos such as “The Game” and “Just The Thing” have changed the lives of victims of bullying.

Metta World Peace is a former professional basketball player and current basketball coach and mental health advocate.  He won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2004, won a NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010, and raffled off his championship ring to raise money for mental health organizations. He is the proud father of four children.

Michael Axinn. Video Producer and Founder, One to One Box, Inc. ( As a digital content professional with a successful career as an innovator in video, technology, Web content and motion picture audio, Mike has done groundbreaking work on behalf of such companies as Nokia, Genentech, Salesforce, Google, Facebook, LucasFilm, 20th Century Fox, Energy Recovery, and the California Health Department. He also brings expertise as a teacher, a writer and the creator of educational media for business, non-profit, government and educational institutions. Prior to founding One to One Box, Mike worked as a sound editor on over three-dozen feature films, including Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, Titanic and The English Patient, both of which won the Academy Award for Best Sound and Best Picture.

Michael Gilvary is a writer, producer, editor and director and was recognized with the award for Outstanding Film with Messaging around Suicide Prevention from the Directing Change Program in 2015 for his film “According to Greta” which addresses the issues of youth suicide and survivoring a suicide loss. He is currently serving as executive producer on “Chicago Fire”.

Michelle Taylor Greene is a mental health advocate & speaker and the founder of the platform, Mental Health Yes! with the mission to raise mental health awareness, eradicate stigma, inspire & empower others who have been affected by mental illness, provide resources & support, and promote hope, wellness, & recovery. She also works for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Urban Los Angeles and volunteers with various mental health organizations throughout the year.

Monica Nepomuceno serves as an Education Programs Consultant with the California Department of Education’s Mental Health Services Act Program.

Nagin Cox. US Spacecraft Operations Engineer: Nagin realized her childhood dream and has been a spacecraft operations engineer at NASA/JPL for over 20 years. Nagin has held leadership and system engineering positions on interplanetary robotic missions including the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Kepler exoplanet hunter, InSight, and the Mars Curiosity Rover. She has received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals. Before her time at JPL, she served for 6 years in the US Air Force including duty as a Space Operations Officer at NORAD/US Space Command.

Nicholas Cornett is the Owner/Cinematographer Labsky Films who has been working in the TV/film industry for 13 years, is a Navy Veteran, and mental health advocate who enjoys enriching the lives of future filmmakers.

Dr. Pam Luna is an innovative career educator who uses film to inspire bold action-Dr. Luna is the lead organizer for American Public Health Association’s Global Public Health Film Festival and Senior trainer for RAND, Corp.

Pepper Carlson, C.Ht. is a creative visionary with a specialty in short-form live-action production and development. Carlson is a published author and her writing antics on her blog Life with One Eye Open won her an invitation to speak at Pepperdine University.

Pixie Monroe enjoys mentoring America’s Youth and California’s passionate Young Filmmakers who are eager to make a difference in their communities through accurate messaging in film, television and social media.

Ruben Preuss is an independent film producer/director with 25 years experience and psychotherapist at Kaiser Permanente for the last 5 years.

Dr. Sally Spencer Thomas. As a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, survivor of her brother’s suicide and a person who has lived through depression, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas sees the issues of mental health promotion and suicide prevention through multiple lenses. Today she uses her professional speaking platform to “elevate the conversation” and make resilience, healing and suicide prevention health and safety priorities in our schools, workplaces and communities.

Shannon Jaccard is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Ballast Health and the past CEO of NAMI San Diego. Shannon is the sister of someone with a mental health challenge and has published several articles bringing to light the experiences siblings share when a loved one has a mental illness. Shannon is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Health Innovators Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Sheila Ganz is a documentary filmmaker of the work-in-progress film Piece of Mind credits include the Emmy-nominated documentary On Life’s Terms: Mothers in Recovery and Unlocking the Heart of Adoption.

Stephanie Welch, MSW, has nearly 20 years of policy and advocacy experience and currently is the Executive Officer of the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health which is charged with developing policy recommendations to the Legislature and Administration regarding how to reduce the number of individuals with behavioral health challenges from incarceration. Stephanie also is a member of the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council and previously worked for the California Mental Health Services Authority and the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California.

Tom Kline has had many years experience working in the Entertainment Business.

Trent Duncan is an independent Filmmaker and YouTuber, creating Epic Horror Battles for his channel with over 85,000 subscribers and 32 million views.

Tricia Slavik is the mother of two young adults with mental illness, a former television producer and the founder of, a site to help people find help for mental illness.

Dr. Uy Hoang is a Public Health practitioner and researcher. He has a Masters in Public Health from Yale and a Doctorate in Psychiatric Epidemiology from Kings College London. His interests revolve around the characterization of mental illness in populations and the provision of mental health services. He co-founded the Public Health Film Society a charity that aims to raise awareness of public health issues through film and he currently chairs the UK Faculty of Public Health’s Specialist Interest Group on Film.

Vic Ojakian is a suicide loss survivor, losing his  son to suicide in 2004.  He promotes legislation, organizes and assist individuals, families,  organizations  and communities with the objective of preventing loss of life.

Dr. William Arroyo, M.D., is Medical Director of Prevention Services, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Member of CALMHSA Board.


High School Regional, Through the Lens of Culture, SanaMente and Animated Short Judges

Adam Sweet, The UPS Store

Agnes Murray is a prosecutor from San Bernardino County assigned to the let’s end truancy unit of the juvenile division. Her duties include attending school attendance review board meetings, conducting home visits when students do not attend school, and conducting mediation meetings with chronically absent students and their parents. As a result of her work experience, she has found that mental health issues play a large role in why some students miss school. She looks forward to the day students with mental health issues receive the help they need without being stigmatized.

Al Dupont

Alberto Serrano- Brothers is currently a Liaison for the Continuum of Care Reform at the Department of Mental Health. Previously, Alberto worked with adolescents for the past several years.

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.

Alicia C. 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.

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 Lipp, 26, 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 a 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 supports 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 Aispuro is passionate about working with children and youth and believes in the old Spanish proverb, Es mejor prevenir que lamentar – It’s better to prevent than to lament.

Anabel Rodriguez is a Program Manager III for Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Ms. Rodriguez oversees countywide mental health programs for the child welfare population.

Andrea SchulzI has her BFA in film & video production and a master’s degree in social work. She has been a member of NAMI for 15 years. Andrea has a child with mental health issues and has also faced mental health issues. She knows treatment works! Andrea knows expressive arts is a vital part of treatment. She has volunteered as a Directing Change judge for three years. The students who create these videos are big and talented activists! She believes it’s an honor to participate.

Anne Fitzgerald is retired from 30 years with San Diego County, most of this time in mental health with children and adolescents.

As a Health Educator with Teens for Life,  Annie Banks sees firsthand the impact that media has on our societal attitudes about mental health and suicide and she would like to be part of an effort to promote empowering messages.

April Eagan supervises and coordinates youth engagement work in Inyo County through the Public Health & Prevention Division of Health & Human Services. April coordinates a youth coalition and youth leadership activities at Lone Pine High School. April is passionate about supporting youth and empowering youth leaders.

Arielle Richard has experience in acting, as a pediatric registered nurse, and experience in working with children with mental health concerns.

Arielle Richard-May

Arissa Tischman is interested in judging this contest because Arissa works in the mental health field and enjoys the media presentations that help to convey messages regarding mental health awareness.

Arizbe Garcia

As a previous judge, Armando Bastida felt that the positive messaging, creative minds and production quality were impressive for such young youth and should be shared statewide in order to break down barriers and bring awareness to all youth in CA and nationwide.

Arturo Gutierrez is working in a grass roots organization spreading Mental Health Awareness in the Inland Empire and looks for creative ways to reach youth especially in Spanish.awareness.

As a program coordinator for a mental health based, peer run organization and a board member of the California Youth Empowerment Network, Ashley Flores has been a passionate, proactive mental health advocate and continue to support stigma reduction efforts.

Ashlyn Yetter: “After going to the AB-2246 Pupil Suicide Prevention Policy professional development, I heard about the Directing Change film contest. It is very informative to learn and gain more knowledge about this topic. As a judge, I will be able to view how students present on this topic. I am a first year school counselor as well as leadership advisor at Magnolia Science Academy and I would love the opportunity to be a first time judge.”

Barbara L. Pomerantz has 40+ years of involvement in education which 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.

Bart Callender,  Continuum of Care Reform Division for Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Becky Kramer is the Executive Director and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for Comprehensive Youth Services, a non-profit mental health and supportive services agency that focuses on youth and family mental, social and emotional health.

As a Directing Change Judge for the last several year, Belinda Vea is always inspired by the amount of knowledge and compassion the students are able to illustrate through their work.

Benjamin Pauw has been working in suicide prevention and education for more than five years.

Bernard Zeiger is an award-winning screenwriter and professional game designer. He is currently an Associate Writer at Kognito, a health simulation company. He attended NYU for Film/TV Production and Economics work.

Bianca Redifer teaches science and video production at a Adventure STEM. She recently begun teaching a video production course to my 7th grade students. Biana is excited to be apart of a program to further support and bring awareness to those with mental health issues.

B.J. Rouse is an Independent Filmmaker in Los Angeles and is co-founder of After School Arts Academy, a non-profit organization that provides arts instruction to the under-served youth in Los Angeles County.

Blair Davis, Psy.D., is a psychologist working with students at University of California Santa Cruz. She has a strong interest in the arts, particularly film.

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 and has worked in Europe and America in residential schools and adult communities for the developmentally disabled for over 20 years.

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 mothers Schizophrenia. She 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. Brian 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 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 has shaped her career around bringing people together to do good and inspire change. After graduating from UCLA with a BA in History, Caitlyn combined her passion for feminism and community building to co-found the award winning e-learning platform, Caitlyn also worked as the nationwide program manager for the children’s literacy non-profit, Milk+Bookies, before honing her operations skill set at GOOD Media Group. She has completed humanitarian aid missions around the world in countries like Turkey and Tunisia.

Candace Yoder is the Executive Director of Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation, which is dedicated to teen suicide awareness and prevention.

Carlos Lamadrid, Riverside County

Carly Smith works with the Foundation for California Community Colleges and is passionate about equity and inclusion for students.

Carol Hernandez, Murrieta Valley Unified School District

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 its 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 for 37 years and is a long time advocate for increased access to mental health services for youth living in rural Northern California.

Celso Delgado, Jr is an occupational therapist that has proudly supported youth labeled with mental illness develop skills so that they engage in healthy, meaningful, and important activities that build self-identity and self-empowerment.

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. Both Chantal and her son have both accumulated a great deal of insight (and therapy) on the subject. She is also a writer of short stories, essays and freelance articles, with a masters degree from Bennington College. Chantal has written about her experience with teen suicide in an essay that won a MAGGIE Award. You can read it here:

After the suicide of his nephew, Austin, in 2009, Che Hernandez serves the community in suicide prevention, suicide survivor support, and advocates for mental health stigma reduction and mental wellness.

Chela Fielding has a MFA in sculpture and BFA in film and fine arts and has spent many years making super 8 and 16 mm films. Chela has an artist eye and has done a lot of editing with films. Chela is currently a bilingual clinician working at youth and family services with Sonoma County Behavioral health.

Cheryl August, Community Action Marin

Chris Berthelsen is an entertainment industry veteran (CBS, FOX, Warner Bros.) who has conducted teen workshops on trailer-making and personal branding; movies has always been one of his most effective parenting tools.

Christina Benavides

Christina Froehling Dale has been supporting the Directing Change program since its beginning and is passionate about this annual event. 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

Christine Mariano is a social worker at a high school in Los Angeles and has a background in child welfare, education, and mental health. Christine supports our youth in continuing to break the silence and stigma of mental health and suicide.

Claudia Silva works in the field of educating the community about mental health, having a focus on our youth and young adults is something she loves to push for.

Courtney Camua is the Vice President for the Active Minds chapter at San Francisco State University who hopes to further promote mental health in her community.

Cristina Rita has judged this contest in the past and enjoys the opportunity.

Cynthia Gutierrez is an advocate with the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs, San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, Cynthia 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 Velasquez is a Staff Services Analyst for the State of California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). Cynthia assists individuals with disabilities to become employed. Sometimes it’s the disabilities that are not visible, that need support.

Cynthia White has judged Directing Change films each year. She has experience in crisis services, patients rights and outpatient care. Cynthia works with law enforcement and train on dealing with the mentally ill.

Mr. 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 welfare and asking the medical schools in US nationwide not using animals in the labs and training uses.)

David Giammona is the founder of Courageous Caterpillar. Its mission is to inspire others toward opportunities of personal growth and new adventure.

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), and has been a film maker since 1974, an award winning Director, and has worked 8 years in Hollywood in post production and has mentored youth in the craft of film making.

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. Dawan 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.

David Giammona is the founder of Courageous Caterpillar. Its mission is to inspire others toward opportunities of personal growth and new adventure.

Delrena Swaggerty supports Directing Change and the creative work they do to help prevent suicide. The youth who participate are brave leaders!

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.

Diane Lampe is a Student Support Center Coordinator in the Elk Grove Unified School District. She is passionate about student mental health and has worked collaboratively between K-12 Education and mental health for many years to reduce stigma and increasing access for students to mental health services.

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. She loves that the submissions will be written, directed, and produced from the students perspective.

Educating, advocating and ending the stigma of mental illness has become a major focus of Donna Cederlund’s life and Each Mind Matters & the Directing Change video contest are excellent resources.

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 is motivated to judge this contest because she works with college aged students and sees daily the impacts of the stigmas attached to mental health and seeking help, and wants to change that stigma.

Elle Alexander is the Vice President of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures. Elle has been in the film/television industry for over 20 years. She has a B.A. in Film/Television production from Long Beach State University and an Advanced Film Certificate from U.S.C. in their U.S.C./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.

As a Masters in Social Work student, Emily Brown 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 experience trauma as a result of having been a victim, yet she struggles with convincing people to seek therapy for fear of being labeled “crazy”. Erica wants to learn more about mental health to share the importance of mental health for physical well being.

Esmeralda Rodriguez, Visalia Unified School District

As mental health concerns greatly impacted the lives of Evanne Torrecillas’ friends during high school, Evanne 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 big proponent of community engagement activities where youth are actively involved, highly engaged and making a difference in their social circles.

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.

Gail DiRaimondo

Gail Gutierrez is currently the program coordinator for a school-based mental health program and licensed clinical social worker.

Geneva Amas has worked for the last 10+ years to provide short term therapy and support for patients suffering acute mental health crisis in Sacramento County.

Dr. George Fouras currently serves as the co-chair for the Adoption and Foster Care committee for the American Academy 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.

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, MSW is a career counselor working in higher education with the clinical training of a social worker with an undergraduate degree in Film & Media Studies which gives her the unique lens of viewing films for their message and creativity in how it is delivered.

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.

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 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.

Hector Manuel Ramirez is a lifelong disability rights advocate that lives in the Los Angeles County. PGP are he/him. He works with county, state, national organizations, and policy makers to create legislation to reduce mental health disparities, especially for racial and ethnic communities. He is a long time member of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. He is also on the board of directors for Disability Rights California.

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. Holli coordinates the funding for Mental Health Services Act and is also the Ethnic Services Program Manager in Butte County.

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.

Iliana Welty has worked in schools as a consultant in promoting positive school climates.

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 a 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.

James Gibson, Optimist Youth Homes & 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.

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 is a Lead School Psychologist for Fresno Unified School District. Jay assists with crisis intervention response in FUSD and is a leader in the district’s Suicide Prevention and Intervention efforts.

Jayne Reinhardt has been a judge for several years and appreciates the opportunity to do it again this year.

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.

Jeffrey Sabean is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is the Manager of Substance Use Disorder Services for Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services

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, as well as co-chair the county’s suicide prevention committee – she is thrilled to be a part of this exciting project!

Jennifer House has a passion for helping people and would love to be a first-time judge.

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.

Jeremy Wilson is the Project Coordinator for the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) with over 13 years of public affairs and program management for community based mental health initiatives.

Jesus Pizano

Jill Gover, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Director of The Scott Hines Mental Health Clinic at The LGBT Community Center of the Desert. Dr. Gover is responsible for all mental health services at The Center, as well as a Suicide Bullying Prevention Program in partnership with the PSUSD, and has authored several articles on suicide prevention.

John Dent has been teaching video production and Media for 15 years at Dos Pueblos High School. His students have earned national recognition for their work and enter post secondary and career with a skill set that will help them succeed.

John Mackenzie oversees the utilization of Tele-Behavioral services for Dignity Health to increase access to psychiatry across 25 hospitals in order to ensure high quality behavioral health assessments with a focus on reducing stigma and increasing satisfaction.

Jonathan Scott Halverstadt 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 who’s 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 Johnson “There is help; there is hope; we are not alone!”

Joyce Bruggeman is the Executive Director of a non-profit that supports people after a suicide. She works in the mental health arena – to reduce stigma and educate. Joyce is a trained mental health coach – trained in trauma care – teach QPR – Question Persuade and Refer – and provides presentations on surviving suicide and moving into a new life.

Participating as a Judge in the Directing Change Program & Film Contest has sparked Juan Zavala’s interest by presenting an opportunity to grasp a feel of film production by analyzing and judging a variety of films and most importantly to educating himself about suicidal prevention and what can be done to help stop the problem.

Juanita  Pena is the Outreach and Engagement program for SanaMente in Napa County, and also a mother of a daughter with a mental illness.

Judi Stadler works for a non-profit organization with charter schools and a variety of student and community services as the Director of School Age Services. She oversees the mental health services provided to students/families. Judi believes this 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 is concerned with the rise in teen depression and anxiety.

Justin Henderson is a RADT SAS1 at Trinity County Behavioral Health and works with AODS/Prevention.

Karen Crouch has learned a lot last year by participating as a judge and looks forward to helping again this year.

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. Also, that 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 been working alongside with youth in a project called Be The Change to help reduce mental health stigma and increase community resilience for youth. She hopes that no young person ever goes without the help they need to live a healthy, happy, and productive life.

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.”

Katherine Fleisher is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working in Community Mental Health and is interested in supporting youth to reach out to peers regarding Mental Health Awareness.

Since 2012, Kathleen Green-Martins has been directly working with student mental health and has been the organizer for the Central Valley student film festival (Slick Rock Student Film Festival) for the past 4 years.

Kathleen Piche, Los Angeles County Mental Health

Kathleen Welch-Torres has worked with youth and families in community mental health for over 25 years.

Kathryn Stroupe, Los Angeles County Mental Health

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 the Prevention Specialist for Lake County Behavioral Health (LCBH) Department.

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 the passion of physical activity will not only make you 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. Keven believes that the time has come for mental health to be addressed in our hospitals in a similar manner as other health conditions.

Kiki Goshay really enjoys seeing the creative approaches the students take. As producer/director of Not Alone, Kiki’s mission has been to give kids a voice. Video is a great tool for youth to bring issues they care about to a broad audience.

Kimberle Taitano is former professional actor, who is a suicide attempt and suicide loss survivor who passionately advocates for both suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

Kristen Batchelder is a resource specialist with the Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health Prevention & Early Intervention program. She has trained thousands of adults and youth on suicide awareness, prevention, and intervention, and she is passionate about reducing stigma around mental health and helping to create communities that are suicide-safe.

Kristian Castro is a Master of Planning student at the University of Southern California where he focuses on affordable housing and community development. His background in nonprofits, digital media, and journalism has helped him serve as a Directing Change judge for three years now.

Kristian Moore, LMFT, is a Mental Health Clinician whom currently works directly with homeless youth and youth at immediate risk of homelessness. Kristian believes art, in all forms, is a powerful tool to externalize an artists internal emotional state, provoke feelings from those whom watch/observe art and put fourth motion of change within society.

Kristin Tignac, City of Simi Valley

Lana Frausto is a Peer and Family Advocate for the Community Outreach and Education program with the Department of Behavioral Health with San Bernardino County. As a committee member for Directing Change in her county, she has worked closely with all area high schools and is constantly impressed by the videos the students produce.

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.

Larry Weisberg has 20+ years as an entertainment professional who has supervised shorts, features and animation as well as having taught and mentored production management personnel.

La Tanya Green is a Behavior Specialist with over 16 years working with children with behavior issues, mental illness and developmental delays. Contributing as a judge in Directing Change is a highlight of the year. La Tanya is continuously inspired by the hard work and insight the young participants display within their films.

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.

Leah Brooks has been working with mental health and suicide prevention with youth since 2011 and strives to bring awareness to her community so that one day I will be out of a job.

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 a 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 for the Health and Human Services Agency – Public Health Branch in Shasta County. Lindsay is part of the Social Emotional Resiliency team, and works with Community Wellbeing program.

Linnea Koopmans works in an advocacy role with the association that represents all of California’s 58 county behavioral health systems and loves to participate as a judge in this powerful and important contest!

Lisha Singleton, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Loren Goldstein, County of San Diego

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 has always been interested in helping others into their step to awesomeness and confidence while leaving their depression behind and with this Luan can ensure a strong message is sent to those in need of assistance and constructive criticism.

Luz Pinto is the Director of NAMI San Diego’s PeerLINKS program, which provides intensive peer support services and hope to individuals in specific psychiatric hospitals and crisis homes. She is also a former board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s San Diego chapter.

Lynn Cathy has been actively involved with NAMI for 17 years and currently works as a support group facilitator where suicide is a frequent topic of discussion. She has also done coursework in film production.

For the past 14 years, Malcolm Ahlo 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. Manpreet coordinates mental and behavioral health outreach efforts, and coordinates 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 Marco provides therapy to students struggling with anxiety, depression, and trauma. In his previous life,  Marco worked in film.

Mari Mender BSN RNC CNE., is a Mental Health Educator for Santa Barbara Cottage Health System, a mental health blogger and a public speaker.

Maria Alviso

Maria Chairez loves the work that students do and has been a judge for the past three years. Maria wishes to continue and has been in education for over 25 years.

Maria Elizade

Maria Pagador is a Program Planner for the Division of Behavioral Health Services at the Department of Health and Human Services in Sacramento County.

Maria Santibanez

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.

Mark Johnson holds a Bachelor’s in Communications form the University of New Hampshire (1982…) and regularly counsels franchisees in empowering their own position to their landlords through clear and firmly polite written and verbal thought.

Mark Parra is the Bureau Analyst for LA County Dept of Mental Health assisting with administration and oversight of DMH’s partnership with CalMHSA, part of which includes promotion of Directing Change. Mark is a survivor of suicide with over 30 years of advocacy work in mental health and HIV prevention.

Martinique Querner

Mary Ader is Deputy Director, Legislative Affairs for the County Behavioral Health Directors Association. Mary is excited to help review and judge films in this very important subject area.

Mary Algiers is a Public Health Nurse for Aging and Independent Services for San Diego County.

Matthew Barcellos has been a video production teacher going on two years, and has a passion to see students fully realize their creativity through technology.

Mayte Eriksson has been striving to provide education to the psychologically vulnerable for 30 years. Mayte believes the Directing Change Program is such a brilliant way to educate kids through the use of technology, media, art, competition, acting, directing, and writing.

Melanie Hartzell has mentored youth for over 20 years and is passionate in educating and advocating about mental health, addiction prevention and suicide prevention.

Melissa Margain has served as a Judge for the third time now and loves it! To see how creative our youth are is inspiring to Melissa and she is honored to be asked back every year.

As someone who knows people who stuggle from mental illnesses, Meredith Olney 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 Merida’s current role is able to ensure kids are treated fairly and human when their rights are violated. Merida would love to see that mental health is addressed like medical health without the child being stigmatized.

As a health educator and crisis line counselor for Crisis Support Services of Alameda County, Mia Semelman 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 Helmick has worked on behavioral health policy for many years and is a returning Directing Change judge.

Michelle Carlson is the Workforce Education and Training Coordinator in Tuolumne County. She is glad to be involved with Directing Change. Michelle feels this program is working to reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges.

Michelle Fortunado-Kewin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Bay Area and has worked with children, youth and families since 2005. Currently, she provides training and support around suicide prevention and intervention for school staff at San Francisco Unified School District.

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.

Micky Yocum

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 is the Director of Behavioral Health Policy for Harbage Consulting, a national health policy and communications firm specializing in Medicaid and other public payer programs. Molly has worked as a healthcare policy analyst and advocate for nearly fifteen years and believes that access to comprehensive, quality, whole person care is an essential human right.

Muriel Cormier has worked on the crisis hotline for several years and has 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 is a Program Manager for 24 Hour and Emergency Services, San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health. Nancy believes the videos that are created in this program are powerful in their impact by reaching out to reduce stigma and raise awareness for teens.

Naomi Laeuchli is an author, who has worked closely with both new and upcoming playwrights and screenwriters, and served as a judge for the Directing Change film contest for the past five years.

Natalie Collins has worked in the arts for many years; she believes this is an amazing opportunity to combine her love of the arts with mental health awareness.

Natalie Conrad is the current President of Soroptimist International of Chico; her project this year is to erase the stigma if mental illness. As a suicide survivor and now an advocate for mental health, she believes Directing Change has the unique ability to reach many people, all ages and all communities.

Nic Cornett is the Owner/Cinematographer Labsky Films. Nic has been working in the TV/film industry for 13 years, is a Navy Veteran, and mental health advocate who enjoys enriching the lives of future filmmakers.

Niki Kalmus

Nora Mays is the El Dorado County Friday Night Live Program Coordinator, as well as a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor for Youth and Adult curriculum.

Norma Alston has been in education for 10 years as an elementary school teacher. Norma took the leap to become a middle school administrator this year to advocate, empower and support students as they transition into their terrific teen years.

Otto Wahl is a retired Professor of Psychology from University of Hartford whose research, writing, and public speaking have focused on the stigma of mental illness.

Patricia Russell

Patricia Tindbaek, LCSW, Head of Mental Health Programs at Masada Homes, has over 25 years of experience working with youth in Los Angeles County.

Patty Cooper

Paula Wilrhelm, 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.

Philip Clar is the Treasurer of the Saramento Valley Psychological Association and enjoys the creative efforts of the high school students in sensitizing their peers to mental health issues and to rational, compassionate ways of dealing with them.

As a student that struggles with mental illness, Rachel Fuller advocates, speaks and supports my fellow students in hopes of uplifting, embracing and validating each individual that struggles – even on the most acute scale. Rachel believes 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. Raymond wants to start the conversation and support others in their efforts to create change!

As a high school intervention counselor who runs numerous social/emotional support groups, everyday Rebecca Bray is on the front lines of suicide prevention and ending the stigma of mental illness among our students. Previously, Rebecca worked as a casting director in Los Angeles for several years utilizing my undergraduate degree in Film and Television.

Rebecca ‘Becky’ 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, where recently the chapter was evaluated as a 5-star chapter by Active Minds, Inc.

As someone who has worked in Suicide Prevention for 10+ years, Rebecca Stock is very passionate about mental health and suicide prevention and was touched by losing someone to suicide when she was 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! She is a champion of its not weak to speak, let’s talk about about Mental Health and Suicide Prevention!

Retta Karpinski is a sophomore at PLHS who enjoys photography (, cinematography, directing, and making a difference.

Dr. Ricardo Guerra is a Program Coordinator at Didi Hirsch’s 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. Ricardo believes that love and appreciation for diversity can help erase the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Rick Newmyer has worked with at-risk youth for over 25 years and is a Senior Lecturer with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

Robert Mansfield lives in San Francisco and works in global health sciences and sees daily tragedies that could be avoided.

As the County Coordinator, Robin Meloche handles all Suicide Prevention outreach and education including teaching the ASIST and SafeTALK workshops. Robin enjoys taking the Directing Change clips into the public and receives many appreciative comments.

Robyn Gantsweg is the Peer Self-Advocacy Program Manager at Disability Rights California who educates people with mental health disabilities and the community about our rights and how to advocate for them to empower individuals and help eradicate the stigma and discrimination that pervades our society.

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 interested in getting people of all ages talking about mental wellness and short films create an easy and creative way to start conversations.

Rosemary Rubin, LA County Child and Adolescent Suicide Review Committee

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 is the Emotional Wellness Coordinator at Latino Health Access, and strongly believes 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 an independent film producer/director with 25 years of experience and has been a  psychotherapist at Kaiser Permanente for the last 5 years.

Ruth Canas, LCSW is the Clinical Director of Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica and has been in the mental health field for over 20 years working with at risk youth in Los Angeles County.

A TV creative professional for 25 years, Ruth Golden 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 lost her son to teen suicide 22 years ago and has not stopped trying to make a difference with our youth and believes this is just one more way.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Sabrina Ullah has worked in the community mental health field for the past 10 years in South Los Angeles, primarily serving children, adolescents, and their families; Sabrina’s main interests are in community capacity building and leadership in the social work field.

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.

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 has helped to create art, outreach materials, digital banners and collateral for Each Mind Matters for the past several years and has become very interested in removing the stigma from mental health issues. Sandy believes we need compassion and education to help spread the word that people with mental health problems are just like everyone else and need support.

Saundra Schmidt is employed by Mental health Systems, Inc. as a Family Support Partner for the In-Home Outreach Team of San Diego’s North County. She is also a Graduate Student in a Counseling Program, focused on Community Non-Profit Mental Healthcare. She has lived experience with the way mental health issues can affect families, and believes that supporting the dreams of youth and young adults can help prevent problems with emotional health throughout the lifespan.

Scott Rose is a principal at RSE, a Sacramento-based communications agency and that has led the way in developing and implementing social marketing campaigns addressing key public health issues including Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement.

Scott Tommey has provided psycho-dynamic psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and young adults struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings for over thirty years and recognizes the urgent need to educate and empower individuals in communities to take compassionate action when they encounter someone in need.

Sheila Ganz is a documentary filmmaker of the work-in-progress film Piece of Mind credits include the Emmy-nominated documentary On Life’s Terms: Mothers in Recovery and Unlocking the Heart of Adoption.

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.

Sherry Lecocq

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.

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.

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.

Steven Cathy is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento with a bachelor’s in Digital Video and has had video experience at KCRA, KVIE, and (currently) Sacramento Legal Video Center.

Susan Wood, LMFT is a Program Manager for mental health programs in the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita valley and has been working with children and adolescents in the mental health field for over 20 years. Susan’s passion is reducing the stigma of mental health services in the county.

Sylvestre Espinoza loves when young filmmakers have an idea in their head and they make it into a reality.

Sylvia Tang 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. As Project Director for The Social Changery, Tawny works to create sustainable solutions that are culturally responsive to the needs of unserved and underserved populations.

Terrie Hawthorne has a  strong commitment to eliminating stigma and increasing awareness of mental health treatment and is vetted in over 20 years of individual, family and group treatment and education.

Theatrina Roque has 9 years’ experience working in a County hospital in the psych ER as a nurse and one year inpatient bed. In addition, has been working in Los Angeles Department of Mental Health for 2 years.

Thom Birbeck is an instructional Coach for Fremont Unified School District and works with teachers in a variety of areas, one of which it to help identify students who are having emotional stress.

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 Soman has 20 plus years animation experience and is an assistant professor of animation.

Tim Tunner  is a mental health professional who also has personal experience coping with both suicidal ideation and a completed suicide by a close friend.

Traci Barker-Ball has been a personal/social/emotional/crisis counselor for over 20 years and has seen the toll that mental illness and suicides have taken on the youth in her community.

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, a site to help people find help for mental illness.

As the Executive Director of NERDS RULE INC. for the past 6 years,  Tristaca McCray has been planting seeds of determination with programs and workshops for bullying and suicide prevention in communities for youth and teens around the world.

Valentina Vallejo

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 e been a member of the board of Directors for the Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC) for 7 years.

Vera Calloway is the Director of client-run wellness center, SSG-BACUP, in Los Angeles. She has been an advocate for mental wholeness and peer support for a number of years and also serves on the California Behavioral Health Planning Council.

Veronica Scarpelli has been in healthcare for 35 years, 15 years in mental health advocacy, a suicide loss survivor, and a chaplain facilitating groups impacted in suicide loss. A former LA Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Veronica continues to educate with evidenced based information, dispelling the many myths that still exist.

Author and freelance writer, Victor Yates 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.

Whitney Wilson is a Patient Rights Advocate in San Diego, working to ensure and protect the rights of people who are receiving behavioral health services.



If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255This is a free 24-hour hotline.
The contest is part of Each Mind Matters: California's Mental Health Movement and statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by counties through the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. The program is implemented by Your Social Marketer, Inc.
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