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Awards of Excellence Ceremony on April 21 in Orlando

Contact: Ali Siemianowski,, 202.684.7457 x262

February 24, 2015 (Washington, DC) — The National Council for Behavioral Health is pleased to recognize 18 individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to people recovering from mental illnesses and addictions. The honorees will be celebrated on April 21 at the National Council Conference in Orlando, FL.

“The Awards of Excellence honorees are our heroes, they have turned private pain into public passion, focused on people’s gifts and abilities, not their disabilities, and blended business sense and common sense into community-based solutions,” said Linda Rosenberg, National Council President and CEO.

The National Council Awards of Excellence feature three categories. The Impact Awards honoring the innovative efforts of individuals and organizations — staff, boards, volunteers, consum­ers, families and partners — who change the lives of children, adults and families living with mental illnesses and addictions. The Inspiring Hope Awards honoring the contributions of individuals living with mental illnesses and addictions, as well as those treating and supporting them — inspiring others and improving lives. The Advocacy Leadership Awards honoring individuals and organizations that have led legislative or regulatory advocacy efforts to expand access to services for people living with mental illnesses and addictions.

An independent panel selected the honorees from a large pool of very worthwhile applicants. Grants of $10,000 — supported by Eli Lilly and Company, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., myStrength, Negley Associates, Relias Learning, Qualifacts, Inc., the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Missouri Department of Mental Health are made to a nonprofit organization of the honoree’s choosing.

Read about the honorees below or visit



Artistic Expression
PSA Art Awakenings Studios, Phoenix, AZ
PSA promotes empowerment, recovery and self-advocacy through the creative arts in a supportive studio setting for adults with serious mental illness and addictions. PSA has 13 studios in six counties throughout Arizona, serving 1,200 people each year.


Doc of the Year
Scott Zeller, MD, Chief, Psychiatric Emergency Services, Alameda Health System, San Leandro, CA
Dr. Zeller created and led a multicenter guidelines project for Best Practices in the Evaluation and Treatment of Agitation. In addition, his Alameda Model addresses the problem of individuals spending long hours in the ER, providing timely, quality care in a more appropriate setting, reducing delays by more than 80% and unnecessary hospitalizations by more than 75%


The Mission Continues, New York, NY

The Mission Continues awards more than 300 fellowships annually to returning members of the military and veterans. The fellows work as leaders with a nonprofit organization of their choice for six months and report that they have greater access to higher-level employment and more interviews after the program.


Integration & Wellness
LifeWorks NW, Portland, OR
The Community Care Coordination Team helps reduce high utilization of Providence St. Vincents Medical Center ER and hospital — and provides integrated primary care and behavioral health services to those frequent users. The team quickly assesses and addresses a range of complex medical, mental health, addiction and social issues, as well as works with no fewer than three different health systems.


Mental Health Professional of the Year
Marcia Gonzalez Monroe, Vice President of Network Development & Clinical Services, Central Florida Behavioral Health Network, Inc., Tampa, FL
Ms. Monroe created the SunCoast system of care, which serves 14 large Florida counties through 85 individual addiction and mental health service providers, with roughly $160M in funding. Services include acute care, residential treatment, housing, medical, intervention, outpatient and recovery support services.


Peer Specialist of the Year
Dina Tyler, Coordinator of Peer and Family Support Services, PREP Alameda County
Felton Institute & the PREP program, San Francisco, CA
As a young adult outreach specialist, Ms. Tyler provides individual peer support to other young people struggling with schizophrenia. She shares her experience with bipolar disorder and psychosis, as well as the “baby steps” to start working again. Ms. Tyler returned to school, ultimately graduating from the University of California-Berkeley with honors.


Public Education
Tennessee Co-Occurring Disorders Collaborative, Nashville, TN
The Tennessee Co-Occurring Disorders Collaborative, made up of 12 behavioral health organizations, brings education and awareness of the impact of co-occurring disorders to individuals, families and the communities. Their unique statewide approach is the only one of its kind in the U.S.


Reintegration Lifetime Achievement
Alice Medalia, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Columbia University Medical Center, The Lieber Clinic, New York, NY
Dr. Medalia was the first in the nation to show that people with severe mental illness can improve their cognitive functioning. Her research demonstrated that after as few as 10 sessions of problem-solving training, people in residential care for schizophrenia could improve their cognitive skills and daily functioning. She also created the Neuropsychological Educational Approach to Remediation (NEAR), a therapeutic approach to cognitive disorders in people with psychiatric conditions.


Rising Star
Erica Trejo, Therapist/Project Director, Military Families are Resilient
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Culver City, CA
Through her leadership of Military Families Are Resilient, Ms. Trejo becoming a champion for FOCUS (Families Overcoming Under Stress), a program that meets the unique mental health needs of military families. Due to her efforts, Didi Hirsch currently treats 33 military families and another 19 benefit from the FOCUS practice.



Excellence in Behavioral Healthcare Management
Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center, Skokie, IL
Turning Point’s “living room” provides adults in psychiatric crisis a calming center to avoid an unnecessary trip to the ER. The organization has an extraordinary success rate: after visiting the living room, 97% of guests did not go to the ER.


Excellence in Health Information Technology
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
The Inpatient Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services program incorporates health IT in assessment and interventions and offers comprehensive diagnostic assessments, state-of-the-art pharmacological treatment and psychosocial interventions to children and teens and trains students and professionals from a broad range of disciplines in health IT.


Excellence in Addictions Treatment Innovation
Preferred Family Healthcare, Inc., Kirksville, MO
Preferred Family Healthcare began using virtual world counseling to provide addiction treatment to adolescents leaving residential care and returning to rural areas where outpatient services and transportation present significant barriers to continuing treatment.


Mental Health First Aid Community Impact
Kameelah MuMin Rashad, M.Ed, MRPYC, Founder and President, Muslim Wellness Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
Ms. Rashad founded the Muslim Wellness Foundation to reduce the discrimination associated with mental illness, addiction and trauma through dialogue, education and training. She facilitates training with sensitivity to the religious, spiritual and sociocultural context in which Muslims experience and understand the underlying factors that contribute to behavioral health disorders and lack of emotional well being.


Visionary Leadership
George DelGrosso, CEO, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, Denver, CO
Mr. DelGrosso’s leadership drove Colorado’s construction of a coordinated, statewide Mental Health First Aid program that boasts outspoken advocates among civic, education, public safety, criminal justice, faith and public health leaders.

Charles Faris, President & CEO, Spectrum Health Systems, Inc., Worcester, MA
Mr. Faris organized Spectrum Health’s first central intake unit and reached out to a range of referral sources to help individuals with addictions and/or mental illnesses sustain their recovery in the community; she did this well before continuing care planning became an industry norm. He fought to integrate medical care through a partnership with a federally qualified health center and to implement a new electronic health record system throughout 15 inpatient and outpatient sites to help patients move seamlessly between levels of care.


Individual Achievement in Advocacy

James Gillen, Director, Recovery Services, The Providence Center, Providence, RI
With Mr. Gillen’s vision, The Providence Center opened Rhode Island’s first recovery community center five years ago, serving more than 100,000 visitors in just its first year. He both secured the funding and fought for the policy change necessary to support long-term community-based support, and his tireless advocacy led to Senator Whitehouse’s sponsorship of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014.


Organizational Achievement in Advocacy
Association for Behavioral Healthcare, Natick, MA
When Massachusetts saw a growing increase in fatal overdoses, ABH assembled a coalition to push the state legislature to pass a comprehensive addiction treatment bill to expand access to treatment for individuals with all types of insurance. Despite significant opposition from the health insurance lobby on a mandated requirement, ABH led a coalition that pushed the bill through to become law.


Elected Official Service in Advocacy
Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, County Judge, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Judge Lerner-Wren created the nation’s first mental health court and was instrumental in the model’s national implementation. In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed America’s Law Enforcement and Mental Health Project into law for funding 100 mental health courts across the country. Now, more than 250 mental health courts have been established based on Broward County’s model. Through her efforts, thousands of people with serious mental illness have received the treatment they need instead of becoming a part of the criminal justice system.