Recovery Now! Speakers
Spokespersons for Recovery Now! are experts in the fields of mental health policy and practice, and are available for media interviews. Fill out the form below to contact our experts.
Robert Bernstein, Ph.D., is President and Executive Director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. He is a psychologist with a strong interest in ensuring meaningful community participation and promoting the consumer voice within mental health systems, particularly for individuals who are marginalized or neglected by public systems. In the 19 years prior to his position at Bazelon, Dr. Bernstein was the architect and director of one of the nation's oldest and largest mental health and aging programs. NSO-Older Adult Services in Detroit, Michigan, featured and innovative system that blended in-home services and advocacy to support older adults with persistent mental illnesses in integrated community settings. In addition to his work with that trail-blazing program, he also ran a private practice where he specialized in treating children and adolescents.
Dr. Bernstein is a leader in the field of mental health policy and advocacy. He has published several important papers and served as an expert in litigation concerning such areas as conditions in psychiatric institutions, the use of seclusion and restraint, community mental health, older adult needs, and fair housing. He also contributed to the preparation of the 1999 Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health and the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.
Leah Harris, M.A., is a mother, a storyteller, Recovery Now! campaign coordinator, and the director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, an advocacy organization created to ensure that people with psychiatric disabilities have a meaningful voice in the development of mental health policies, programs, and practice. Her personal experience, both as the daughter of two people with severe mental illness who died young and as a person in recovery from serious mental illness herself, fuels her commitment to transform the way we understand and respond to people with mental health challenges in America. She has fifteen years of experience in mental health advocacy, and her areas of expertise are: recovery-oriented services and systems, peer support, trauma-informed care and approaches, suicide prevention, and crisis services.
Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D., serves as the Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors. The Association represents county and local authorities in Washington, D.C., and provides a national program of technical assistance and support. Currently, he is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, and Immediate Past President of ACMHA- The College for Behavioral Health Leadership. Dr. Manderscheid serves on the boards of the Employee Assistance Research Foundation, the Danya Institute, the FrameWorks Institute, the Council on Quality and Leadership, the International Credentialing and Reciprocity Consortium, and the National Research Institute. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Coalition for Whole Health. Previously, he served as director of Mental Health and Substance Use Programs at the Global Health Sector of SRA International and in several federal leadership roles in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Throughout his career, he has emphasized and promoted peer and family concerns.
Debbie F. Plotnick, MSS, MLSP is the Vice President for Mental Health and Systems Advocacy at Mental Health America (MHA). Previously, she was the Director of Advocacy and Policy for the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP), where she developed policy, organized grassroots advocacy activities, and designed recovery-oriented, community services. in her role at Mental Health America, Debbie provides leadership for mental health and systems advocacy initiatives within its affiliate network, with outside coalitions, industry/business, and policy makers. She also coordinates the efforts of the Regional Policy Council (RPC), a six person council of MHA affiliate policy experts. She provides technical assistance to policy makers, government officials, and is frequently called up to speak to the press and the general public about what is needed to create a community-based continuum of mental health care, and to challenge entrenched mindsets and misinformation.
Debbie earned a degree from Bryn Mawr College in political science. And she holds dual master's degrees in Social Service (MSS) and Law and Social Policy (MLSP) from the Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. But her real understanding of mental health recovery and ehr passion comes from the people she works with and for, and her true expertise comes from her own lived experience, as a family member, and a mental health systems advocate.
Harvey Rosenthal currently serves as a member of New York's Medicaid Redesign Team and its Most Integrated Settings Coordinating Council and sits on the board of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. He has over 40 years of experience working to promote public mental health policies and services that advance recovery, rehabilitation, rights and full community inclusion of individuals with psychiatric disabilities and/or diagnoses. His advocacy has helped to transform state and national mental health systems, increase access to community based housing, employment and support services and to advance numerous recovery and criminal justice related mental health reforms. He has helped to create several nationally acclaimed and replicated self-help, employment and transformational training innovations.
Harvey has also worked to fight stigma, discrimination and human rights violation and to expand informed choice protections and cultural competence. His expertise is regularly sought by state and national print, radio and television reporters. His work has frequently been recognized by numerous NYS and national groups, including the highest honors from Mental Health America, ACMHA: The College for Behavioral Health Leadership, the US Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, and the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery.
Harvey's interest in promoting mental health recovery is personal, dating back to his own hospitalization at age 19.
Phyllis Vine, PhD., MPH, is an historian and journalist who has been teaching and writing about health matters for thirty years. She has taught at the University of Michigan, Union College, Barnard College, and Sarah Lawrence College where she was a co-founder of the Health Advocacy Program. Her research in the Department of Epidemiology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute addressed family experiences and needs. After leaving college teaching, she has been writing full time, and was the founding editor of MIWatch.org, an on-line site publishing news and commentary. She is author of three books, including Families in Pain: Children, Siblings, Spouses, and Parents of the Mentally Ill Speak Out; articles have appeared in Extra!, The Nation, Parents Magazine, Progressive, and City Limits. Phyllis' dedication to the recovery process comes from the personal knowledge and respect she has for generations of relatives who have struggled with mental health challenges and benefitted from appropriate community resources enabling social integration and personal fulfillment. She is currently writing a book on the history of mental health reform.