Directing Change



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 in March 2020 so stay tuned! 

Submit an application to become a judge today! 

A big thank you to our 2019 Judges

A big thank you to our statewide, regional, and specialty category 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

2019 Statewide Judges

Suicide Prevention

Angela Cohen is an award-winning actress, writer, producer, and VR director. Her short film on mental health, Without Grace, starring Ann Dowd and herself, qualified for Oscar Consideration and is now streaming on Amazon . You can follow her work @AngelaCohen in IG and Twitter.

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.

Carly Starr Brullo-Niles is an award winning filmmaker & executive director of North County television studio, KOCT. After years of success in Hollywood on major motion pictures, independent features & network tv, Carly founded production house Love Machine Films on the ethos that Love Can Conquer All. At KOCT, Carly Starr oversees all production carried out by the Oceanside facility which caters to a San Diego viewership of over 65,000 households countywide. By keeping locals well-informed and actively engaged with matters that effect their everyday lives, Carly looks to achieve her vision of providing a continual voice for the North County community.

Chantelle James is co-owner of the production company Kid Sister Collective, and is an award-winning actor/writer/producer who works in film & TV.

David Ridgway has worked in the film industry since 1973 in various roles including producer, director and editor. He has worked on numerous projects over the years including music videos, television shows as well as films and documentaries including “Lord of the Rings”, “Annabel Lee” and “The Musician” which have won various awards.

Deborah Kampmeier is an award winning filmmaker, having written, directed, produced and edited multiple short and feature films.  Her first feature Virgin, starring Elisabeth Moss and Robin Wright was nominated for two 2004 Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Actress for Elisabeth Moss and the John Cassavetes Award for the best feature made for under $500K. Her second feature Hounddog, starring Dakota Fanning was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Deborah’s third feature, SPLit, won Best of Show at the 2016 Female Eye Film Festival and was nominated for the Independent Vision Best Film at the 2016 Sarasota Film Festival. Deborah has just wrapped production on her fourth feature TAPE, starring Isabelle Fuhrman.

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.

Eileen Zeller MPH, after a fulfilling career in community mental health and suicide prevention, retired in 2018 as Lead Public Health Advisor in SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Branch. In retirement, she loves bringing her expertise home to Maryland, doing lots of volunteer work, occasional consulting, and catching up on a lifetime of friends and reading.

Jacqui Blue is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, artist, writer, hypnotherapist and mother of five sons. She recently completed a documentary on suicide awareness called “I Chose Life: Stories of Suicide & Survival”.

James Lecesne wrote the short film TREVOR, which won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short and he is the founder of The Trevor Project, the only nationwide 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis intervention Lifeline for LGBT and Questioning youth.  He has written three novels for young adults, and created The Letter Q, a collection of letters by Queer writers written to their younger selves.

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 Draper serves as Project Director of the SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, which consists of over 160 member crisis centers across the country. Under his leadership, Vibrant also administers and supports other national crisis hotline networks, including the Disaster Distress Helpline, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Crisis Line, and the National Football League’s NFL Life Line.

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.

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.

Lia Bruce worked for a Hollywood film producer as a creative executive before moving back to her hometown of San Diego. Lia currently supports furthering the programming and outreach activities of The Nonprofit Institute (NPI) at the University of San Diego.

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.

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.

Marquette Jones is a filmmaker and host of the Directing Magic podcast.

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.

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.

Michael Gilvary is a writer and executive producer on the NBC drama, Chicago Fire.

Monica Nepomuceno works at the California Department of Education as an Education Programs Consultant overseeing the Mental Health Services Program. Monica is passionate about helping all school staff, including certificated and classified personnel, parents, and community members increase their knowledge and awareness of student mental health and wellness; and providing school staff with skills and resources to help students in timely, respectful, and culturally appropriate manner.

Nagin Cox is a spacecraft operations engineer for NASA/JPL currently working as a tactical mission lead for the Mars.

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.

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, she 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.

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 many years experience working in the Entertainment Business.

Trent Duncan is an award winning independent filmmaker and YouTuber, known for his Epic Horror Fan Films. Trent has created a variety of narrative films in many genres, which have entertained audiences around the world. From his epic horror fan films and End of Days Apocalyptic Film Festival to his educational Film School Boot Camp, Trent continues to be a major influence in the film community.

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 characterisation 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.

Mental Health Matters

Candace Yoder is the Executive Director of Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation. Its mission is to combat the tragedy of youth suicides through various types of educational programs as well as community outreach.

Caroline FitzGerald, MScOT is a Project Lead at Hopelab, a social innovation lab focused on building science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. Before Hopelab, Ms. FitzGerald worked for 9 years as an Occupational Therapist supporting people experiencing serious mental illness on their recovery journey.

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.

Chris McCarthy is the VP of Strategy & Innovation at HopeLab and the Executive Director of the Innovation Learning Network. In this dual role, he both leads innovation and connects innovators. His work has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, FastCompany, the New York Times and many more.  He has helped create better tools for new moms, safer medication administration for patients, and more robust shift changes for nurses. His insight work includes exploration of the social space of elders, the transgender person care experience, and now on teen emotional wellness.

Cindy Baer is an award-winning director and producer. Her debut feature PURGATORY HOUSE was written by a 14-year-old girl, and deals with the topics of teen suicide and drug abuse.  A critical darling, it screened at 25 festivals, won 12 festival awards and received 2 Prism Award nominations.  Most recently Cindy directed a 12-episode web series / 32-minute tv pilot called “Soci Circle” that inspires tween girls to embrace cultural diversity.

Danielle Ramo, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and Research Director at Hopelab, a social innovation lab making technology-enabled solutions to support adolescent health and emotional well-being. For 20 years Danielle has conducted research in teen and young adult substance use and mental health, focused on building and testing solutions through digital and social media. More info at

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.

Elle Alexander is the Vice President of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures, as well as a member of Women in Film and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hilary Smith is the author of Welcome to the Jungle: Facing Bipolar Without Freaking Out. Her favorite way to maintain a healthy mind is to care for the environment.”

Kathy Lindboe is the writer, producer and director of the award-winning feature NONAMES starring Gillian Jacobs and James Badge Dale. She produces, writes and directs short films, social impact videos, commercials and features and has directed 14 plays in NY, LA and Minneapolis. She worked at Miramax as their Digital Producer and currently has several feature and tv projects in development through her production company HomeSweet Films.

Marie Gallo Dyak Emmy® Award winning producer; Produce webcasts on all facets of substance use disorders, mental health and related health issues such as concussion, trauma, diabetes, HIV, and Hepatitis C; and Co-Creator and Executive Producer, EIC’s Annual PRISM Awards Ceremony and TV Special.

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

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 Re-Entry population in an effort to reduce the rate of recidivism.

Michael Axinn is a Video Producer and Founder of 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 Romero is a Producer and DOP from the southern California area. For the last 20 years he has had a camera in his hand, from DSLR to RED cinema cameras, however, his passion in filmmaking revolves around cinematography and creating the inspiring images that help tell the stories that impact people’s lives.

Michelle Taylor Greene is a creative artist, mental health & wellness advocate, and speaker with lived experience who is passionate about raising mental health awareness and promoting hope, wellness & recovery. She also works at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Urban Los Angeles, volunteers with various mental health organizations, and is the founder of Wholistic Style, a lifestyle & wellness brand that inspires others to eat well, live well, and be well.”

Natalie Daley is the driving force behind the Canadian arm of Art With Impact, responsible for facilitation, programming, outreach and fundraising for the Movies for Mental Health program north of the border as well as managing social media and engagement. Natalie is committed to providing unique ways for students to engage in conversations around mental wellness and to continue to meet the needs of individual challenges that campuses face.

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.

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 a producer/ director with 25 years of experience in film production. For the last 9 years Ruben is a licensed psychotherapist working at Kaiser Permanente Behavioral Health.

Shannon Jaccard, MBA. Mental health advocate and consultant. Author of “The Forgotten Survivors; a sister’s journey through her brother’s mental illness.”

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 which explores the lifelong process of adoption for adoptees, first/birthparents and adoptive parents in same race and transracial adoptions.

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.”

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.

2019 Through the Lens of Culture Judges

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!”

Carly Smith supports student equity programs at the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

Chia Chia Chen is the founder of the Culture to Culture Foundation, a special Directing Change partner, as well as sponsor of the Through the Lens of Culture category. Chia Chia ‘s passion for mental health became her drive to create the successful Culture to Culture Foundation, which is dedicated to shattering the barriers that prevent many Asians from getting psychiatric care—and committed to increasing the number of bilingual and bicultural mental health professionals in the Bay Area. Since 2001 she has sponsored over 50 educational seminars throughout the Bay Area with the goal of shining a light on mental illness and the importance of early intervention. Chia Chia has received a number of awards for her inspiring work including the 2005 Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from UC Berkeley, a 2008 Purpose Prize Fellowship, and a 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award in Social Work from the National Association of Social Workers.

Emily Bender is the Director of Community Engagement at The Social Changery.

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 been a film contest judge for several years.

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.

Margaret Thompson Aghili, NBCT is a National Board Certified, California Credentialed Educator, PTSA volunteer for 11 years and mother of two teenagers, one of whom experiences symptoms of depression. She learned about Directing Change at the California State PTA Convention in 2018, Was moved to take action by learning how I could help others and my own child.

Tawny Porter is a Project Director at the Social Changery and a social justice advocate with a passion for data-driven social change.

2019 SanaMente Judges

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.

Guisel Contreras

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.

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.

Lalis Vasquez is a bi-lingual therapist at the RYSE Center in Richmond, CA. She has worked with youth and young adults within community-based, clinical and school settings for over 10 years.

Loren Goldstein, a correctional counselor for the County of San Diego, 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.

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.

Maria Elizalde is a LMFT at Merced County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, and works with children and youth who have been victims of some type of abuse. She participated in the judging process last year and really enjoyed it.

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.

2019 Animated Short Judges

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.

Curtis Lelash

Heejung Lim

Ilana Weiss is an instructional designer at Kognito and is passionate about using educational media and technology to enhance social-emotional skills.

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.

Mike Rauch

Phil Rynda

2019 Walk in Our Shoes Judges

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.

Anabel Aispuro is a Clinic Program Head at Los Angeles County Dept. of Mental Health. “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.”

Ashley Flores film student studying at Sacramento City College graduating this spring.

Bart Callendar works at theLos Angeles County Dept. of Mental Health and very much enjoys supporting youth interested in taking on new challenges.

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.

Caitlyn Young, Operations Manager at UpKeep, 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.

Celso Delgado is an occupational therapist that works with youth and young adults with mental health needs in Los Angeles.

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.

Hector Manuel 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.

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 Piche is Head of Marketing & Communications with the Los Angeles County Dept. 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.

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.

Susan Wood is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working with children and adolescents in LA county community mental health for over 20 years. She strongly values youth having awareness of mental health issues and recognizes the need to reduce stigma around mental health so more youth can obtain these services.

2019 Regional Judges

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 ( who has grappled with mental illness & substance abuse throughout his life. His youngest sister committed suicide and as such this program resonates with him.

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.

Alexandra Addo-Boateng, EdD. Psy is a Program Manager at California Health Collaborative.  She is passionate about maternal mental health and promotes a holistic approach within the health care system. She is dedicated to building awareness and decreasing stigmatization as it relates to postpartum depression and infant mental health.

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 is a Board Certified Art Therapist and LMFT, currently working as a mental health administrator in the County of San Diego and is committed to helping children, youth and families.

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).

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.

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

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 is a Registered Nurse Clinic Manager at a primary care clinic in downtown San Diego, and has  the unique 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.”

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.”

Audrey Trevino is a film student studying at Sacramento City College and graduating this spring.

Barbara Blue English is a Social Services Provider at San Bernardino County Children and Family Services.

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.

Benjamin Pauw is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who provides psychoeducation in schools on preventing suicide for Crisis Support Services.

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.

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.

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 is a Program Coordinator at Survivors of Suicide Loss. “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.

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.

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.”

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 who has 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 is a Director at the Mental Health Theatre Collaborative. Featured on Saturday Night Live, Cheryl uses humor to spark interest and understanding about the effects of trauma on mental health and recovering the authentic self.

Chris Pogue works with programs that support mental health awareness and stigma reduction for California community college campuses, and has experience in assessing films.

Christina Roup is the Executive Director of NAMI Fresno and is a trained NAMI Ending the Silence presenter.  She knows the positive impact these videos have for youth to reduce stigma and to 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 Lemos works 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 is a Mental Health Education Consultant at San Bernardino County Behavioral Health Department.  She 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.

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 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.

Danielle Segal is a Residential Program Manager at the Tahoe Safe Alliance. “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 Giammona: “I am inspired by those who help create potential and understanding in the world.”

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.

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

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.”

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 his connection to mental health awareness and support networks within southern California.

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.

Evan Marsh has worked with Suicide Prevention Service for eleven years, is a registered ASIST trainer, and is currently completing an MSW at CSUMB.

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.”

Fiona Lo is a Behavioral Therapist at Aultruism. “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 is a Program Coordinator at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center, where she 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.”

Gerardo Zavala is an Assistant Principal at Tahquitz High School, and is excited to judge a contest geared especially toward Latino population.

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.

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.  .

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 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.

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.

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.”

Ilana Weiss is an instructional designer at Kognito and is passionate about using educational media and technology to enhance social-emotional skills.

Ivan Johnson is a dean and a human development teacher at Oakwood School who has been involved in this work for the last 15 years.

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, where she monitors 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.”

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.

Jason Halley is a returning judge providing visual expertise through his 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 in the Fresno Unified School District, “ I support the vision of Directing Change and am excited to play a very small part in it.”

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.

Jennifer M. Maravillas is the public information officer for the Department of Behavioral Health for the County of San Bernardino.

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 and now serves as the Program Coordinator for the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.  “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.”

John 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.

Joseph (Joe) Johnson is a Coordinator at Namisloco.“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.

Julie Flores is a Bilingual Prevention Specialist for San Diego Youth Services.  She works for a school based suicide prevention and early intervention program that aims to break the stigma on mental health.

Julie Howard currently works 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.

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.

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.

Kathleen Green-Martins is currently the coordinator for the Central Valley Film Festival which attracts over 1,200 filmmakers between 6-12 grade.

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.

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.

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.

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 is a Mental Health Clinician for the Solano County Behavioral Health Dept. He  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.

Latasha Thompson

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, a LCSW at San Diego Youth Services, has sought to provide a platform for safe expression since 2011 through her work advocating for youth.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Madalyn Brion-Reed is a School Counselor in the Cajon Valley Union School District for the past 13 years. She has had a few family members die by suicide over the past 3 years and is looking forward to being a part of this program.

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

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

Dr. 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.” Her role as a principal helps her understand the needs of today’s youth.

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 Parra has worked in the mental health prevention domain at theLA County Department of Mental Health for several years and believes that efforts such as Directing Change can deeply affect hearts and minds to support youth and support our communities.

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. is the Director of Behavioral Health Services at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Ctr., and 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.

Melissa Olsen

Michael Huffman has been a Peer Support Specialist for theVA San Diego Health Care System, working with and suffering from serious mental illness, and is honored to participate as a Judge.

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.

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 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.”

Molly Brassil, Director of Behavioral Health Policy at Harbage Consulting, 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 is a San Bernardino County Dept. of Behavioral Health staff member who participates as a judge for this county’s video submissions.

Monica Ortiz  is a youth and family support partner at San Diego Youth Services, working 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.”

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 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 Newson: “Together we can make a difference and ensure mental wellness for all!”

Natalie Rodriguez is an award-winning writer, director, producer, mental health and anti-violence/trauma advocate based in Los Angeles, CA. In 2014, she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in TV-Film from CSU Fullerton. Her first entertainment job was an internship at the Conan O’Brien show and Peter Guber’s Mandalay Pictures, where she worked at the offices of producers, Matthew Rhodes (“Men in Black: International,” “Mile 22”) and Academy Award-winner, Cathy Schulman (“Sharp Objects,” “Crash”). Recently, she wrote, directed, and was the executive producer on her first feature film, “The Extraordinary Ordinary.” The film is about three young adults, their history with mental health, and how one can cope with it when triggers and old coping-mechanisms resurface. The film stars John Posey (“How to Get Away with Murder” and “Lucifer”); Maddison Bullock (“Stasis”); Alex Montalban (“My Dinner with Herve”); Ana Marte (“Amigos,” co-starring alongside, LeLe Pons). You can check out more details on the project @theextraordfilm. Some of Natalie’s previous writing work can be found at the HuffPost Blog; Amazon Books; Thrive Global; Anxiety Resource Center; Opposing Views; NowThis News; Zooey Deschanel’s Hello Giggles; The Mighty; Short Kid Stories; GoDaddy; TheRichest; TheTalko; Writer’s Weekly; and more. Her screenplays and films have been featured and placed in the final rounds at Hispanicize; HollyShorts Film Festival; NALIP: Latino Lens Film Festival; ShortsTV; Stage 32: Comedy Screenplay; Beverly Hills Film Festival; Culver City Film Festival; Indie Night Film Festival; Hollywood Screenplay Contest; Table Read My Screenplay – Austin Film Festival; YouTube; and others. In 2017, she founded her production company, Extraordinary Pictures LLC., focusing on both feature films, digital, and television. Currently, she has multiple projects in development, including a TV sitcom, “The D,” which placed in top-ten for best comedy screenplays at Stage 32. Her Young Adult manuscript, “Elephant,” was also a finalist at Clare Books’ the Binge-Watching Cure II contest for ‘Best Novel and is in-consideration with a few publishing houses. Natalie continues to build her creative background and is always open to collaborating with other artists and advocates. She was most recently an ambassador for Jen Zeano Designs (JZD), a clothing company in association with USA Networks and who donates $1 per sale to ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. Many Hispanic actors and filmmakers, including “Jane the Virgin’s” Gina Rodriguez and “Elena of Avalor’s” Aimee Carrero, promote JZD. For details on previous and upcoming projects, be sure to check out @natchristinerod.

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.

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 and works for the El Dorado County Substance Use Disorder Services.

Norma Alston is a Vice Principal at Elk Grove Unified School District. ”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 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.

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.

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.

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 is an Administrative Officer at the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences. “This is such a serious issue and I am happy to help in any way I can.”

Robb Layne is the Director of External Affairs and Communications for the County Behavioral Health Directors Association. Robb coordinates press, social media and all outwardly facing activities for the association. He also plays a key role in strategic initiatives, legislative efforts and and policy positions.

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, a Captain in JROTC, has 20 years training in extensive Army suicide awareness and mitigation techniques.

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.

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.

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 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.

Ryan Kennedy is an analyst for Butte County Behavioral Health with a background of making films in high school.

Sadie Longcor: “I’m supportive of my community and stomping out stigma against mental health and want to show my continuing support.”

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.

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.”

Sandy Morales is a Program Manager for the YWCA Greater Los Angeles and an advocate for victims of gender-based violence, including male survivors. She provides trauma-informed services to those who have been victimized, through crisis intervention, advocacy and empowerment to go from victim to survivor.

Saundra Schmidt is a family support provider at IHOT North. ”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.

Shana Duran is a school counselor at John Muir Middle School. “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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.”

Tina Burke is a business director at Gary and Mary West PACE. “As a mom of recent high school graduates, this is something close to my heart.”

Tom Norton works for theAmerican Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  “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.

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.

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.

Tyler Norris

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.

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.









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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