All staff members can be reached at (415) 421-2926. Their extensions are listed below.
DIRECTORS & SENIOR STAFF
Eduardo Vega, M.A.
Eduardo Vega became the Executive Director of MHASF in November 2010. Over twenty years, he has worked in five states as a leader in transformative mental health programs and practices including national, state and regional technical assistance, research and training projects and major policy initiatives in suicide prevention, stigma and discrimination reduction, consumer rights and empowerment, community integration, self-help and peer support for mental health consumers. In his role as ED, he is responsible for cultivating the strategic direction and long-term organizational sustainability of MHASF. He holds an M.A. in Psychology from New School for Social Research and serves also on the SAMHSA Recovery-to-Practice Initiative, Social Justice Advisory Committee of the California Mental Health Directors Association and the Advisory Council to the national Alternatives Conference.
Mahesh Michael Venketraman, CIA, MCMA, CA, CGAP
Mahesh has 20 years of leadership experience serving non- profits. His responsibility at MHASF includes Accounting, Financial Planning, Reporting and Business Strategies. Prior to being employed by MHASF, he served as the Vice president/ Director of Finance at Center Point, Controller of Finance at Venture Strategies for Health and Development and Venture Strategies Innovations.
He is a Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Govt. Audit Practioner, Chartered Accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Managements Accountant. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Loyola College (University of Madras).
Luba Botcheva, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Strategic Projects
Luba has more than 15 years of applied research, evaluation and counseling experience in the areas of public/behavioral health and social services. She has worked in the field of mental health intervention and prevention, first as a mental health counselor for culturally diverse populations, and then as a researcher and evaluator of variety of behavioral and mental health programs in community-based organizations, schools, and clinics. Prior to joining MHASF Luba was a Senior Research Associate at Sociometrics Corporation, Los Altos where she led the design and implementation of large NIH funded research to practice initiatives for disseminating evidence based practices among behavioral health professionals.
She was a Program Director at the Children’s Health Council, Palo Alto, a research associate at the Stanford Center of Adolescence, and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford where she conducted research on youth development in changing social context. Dr. Botcheva holds a Ph.D. degree in developmental psychology from Moscow State University and post-doctoral fellowship from Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
DeQuincy Lezine, Ph.D.
Director of Suicide Prevention Innovations
DeQuincy is a suicide attempt survivor who has been active in suicide prevention since 1996, including roles in the development of national and state suicide prevention plans. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester focused on public health approaches to suicide prevention.
Dr. Lezine is the inaugural Director of the Attempt Survivor and Lived Experience Division of AAS, Co-Chair of the Consumer Survivor Subcommittee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and a member of the Steering Committee for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. He is also a member of the Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the primary writer of The Way Forward: Pathways to Hope, Recovery, and Wellness with Insights from Lived Experience released in July 2014.
Stephen K. Marks, Ph.D.
Training and Evaluation Director
Stephen Marks Ph.D has been working in health-service-related fields since 1993. Among other things he is an Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator, an Anderson and Anderson Certified Anger Management Facilitator (CAMF) and a substance abuse peer support specialist. His professional experience includes organizational development (OD); T-Group Learning; program evaluation; adult learning; training curriculum development; grass roots community organizing; songwriting and musical arrangement; and domestic and community violence reduction and prevention. He has been enjoying his own recovery and wellness for many years. He is currently at work on a novel based on his lived experience as an adolescent living in state hospitals.
Maureen DeCoste, M.A.
Director of Communications and Development
Maureen has over 18 years of experience in marketing, communications, design and business development with experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sector. As an independent marketing and communications consultant, she worked with a range of clients, including Patagonia, Habitat for Humanity, Visiting Nurses Association, Clairol, and Harley Davidson – Santa Barbara. She has also served as a volunteer tutor working with abused and neglected children at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, and as an AIDS Educator in Burkina Faso in Africa.
Maureen holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from CSUN and a M.A. in Social and Political Thought from the University of Sussex, U.K.
With degrees in Sociology and English Literature, Abraham brings a decade’s work of building and improving the administrative, financial and human resources infrastructure of non-profit and social service organizations in California. While many of Abraham’s peers went into direct community organizing right after college, he began to work in administrative roles for social justice community-based organizations. He saw administrative and operations work as a form of organizing within itself and as having a direct impact on the efficacy of community programs and institutional change. Abraham has been quoted saying, “In order for us to effect larger institutional change, we must improve and change the systems within our institution.” Before joining the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF), Abraham was the first Operations Manager for a social service agency that provided services and resources to former and current foster youth in Alameda County. He strongly believes in the mission of MHASF because of its deep movement building work in the mental health field, particularly around stigma elimination.
Senior Program Manager/ Promising Practices Program
Daniel Esparza has over 11 years of experience in providing and leading technical assistance. Previous to joining MHASF, he provided technical assistance and oversight for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on college campuses, coordinating with over 120 colleges/universities.
Daniel has also worked at various non-profit organizations as a rape/domestic violence crisis counselor, volunteer coordinator, and Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) advocate. In addition, Daniel served as a volunteer on the Women’s Human Rights Campaign National Steering Committee for Amnesty International USA, various Deaf Community organization with an emphasis on language access, outreach to communities of color and the LGBT community. Dan holds a B.A. in French with a minor in German from The University of Texas.
Senior Projects Manager
Mark Salazar is a Senior Project Manager at the Mental Health Association of San Francisco. He also leads the Institute on Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering at MHASF and is the Co-chair of the San Francisco Task Force on Hoarding and Cluttering. He has been providing education and training on mental health advocacy and community support and services for the last 10 years. He has presented on hoarding and cluttering and MHASF’s innovative ICHC program all over the United States. Mark also consults with various organizations and government agencies from all over the world on establishing service and support programs for individuals with hoarding behaviors.
Prior to MHASF, Mark was the Operations Manager at Mental Health America of Hawaii where he served on Hawaii’s Statewide Children’s Mental Health Day Committee and the Mental Health Court Advisory Board. Mark received a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Psychology from the University of Hawaii – West Oahu and is a member of Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology.
Warm Line Program Manager
Melodee oversees the development and service deliveries of the San Francisco Mental Health Peer-Run Warm Line. The Warm Line is staffed entirely by people with lived experience of mental health challenges and provides peer support within a wellness, recovery, and social justice framework. Melodee’s previous experience includes managing the administrative and training aspects of the crisis line program at San Francisco Suicide Prevention. Melodee received her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where she is currently a candidate for an MA in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Community Mental Health.
Warm Line Specialist
Katie Mills joined the MHASF team in 2015 soon after completing her graduate degree. She is deeply committed to engaging in social justice advocacy and is thrilled to contribute to the mission of the Warm Line. With a background in areas such as social research and program evaluation, community development, and web development and information technology, Katie brings a variety of skills and experiences to MHASF.
Katie serves on the board of directors for Community Crossroads of Mendocino County, a nonprofit organization serving homeless populations. She is also developing an online directory of LGBTQ activist organizations, due to be launched in 2015. Katie holds an M.A. in Sociology as well as bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Physical Sciences from Humboldt State University.
Warm Line Assistant Manager
With 20 years of lived experience of mental health challenges, Will Kamin is dedicated to the advancement of peer-based recovery resources, with a focus on increasing the accessibility of pre-crisis support. Will began their employment with MHASF in August 2014 as Peer Specialist at the Mental Health Peer-Run Warm Line, where they have collaborated on training curriculum development, referral database creation, and community outreach, as well as providing peer support as a phone counselor.
As Warm Line Assistant Manager, Will now oversees the day-to-day operations of the Warm Line and is especially invested in staff development and promoting a wellness-focused workplace culture. They believe strongly in using their personal experience with early trauma and dissociation to open dialogue with peers about overcoming silencing and isolation. Will has a B.A. in Philosophy and a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from SUNY-Stony Brook, and has been known to use video games as a personal wellness tool.
Special Projects Manager
Erin comes to MHASF with national and local-level policy and programming experience from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA, the Mental Health Association of New York City, and the City of New York’s Department of Small Business Services. She has also worked in direct clinical services, HIV/AIDS policy advocacy, and education policy. Erin is strongly dedicated to advancing mental health policy and working toward achieving health equity and promotion, as well as social and economic justice.
Erin holds a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University of New York with a concentration in Policy Practice in the field of Health, Mental Health, and Disabilities.
Project Manager, Bay Area Peer Professional Network
Terri Byrne has been working in the mental health field for over 30 years. She has witnessed firsthand the transformation of the mental health system. Over 20 years ago, Terri worked in a Psychiatric Social Rehabilitation agency that valued employing people with lived experience. She has worked in hospitals as a Licensed Psychiatric Technician is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner as well as an Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator. She is passionate about mental health recovery and has worked as a Recovery Educator and Trainer for several years. Currently as the Program Coordinator of the Stigma Reduction Program, S.O.L.V.E. (Sharing our Lives Voices and Experience) Terri is able to facilitate conversations about discrimination of people with mental health challenges and educate audiences about how they can fight stigma. Terri describes her work at MHASF as being “ a deeply satisfying experience- I get to work alongside people who have made remarkable changes in their lives and who then want to pave the way for others, so that they don’t have to struggle so hard.”
Rachel Del Rossi
Director of Community Recovery Resources
Rachel has been a dedicated social service provider for the last 15 years. She has extensive experience working with individuals in crisis, including foster care youth, gang affiliated youth, homeless parents and children, domestic violence survivors, and trauma victims. Before joining the MHASF team, she was the founding director of the Compass Family Resource Center for 9 years, providing direct support to homeless families. She has developed Human Service Agency approved curricula and is a seasoned trainer and group facilitator. Rachel is passionate about education’s ability to empower individuals and change lives.
Project Coordinator, Peer Hoarding and Cluttering Response Team
John Franklin is a career adult educator for progressive groups and causes. He is co-founder and former Executive Director of Educational Development Group, Inc. (EDG, Inc.), an educational non-profit in Boston. He moved to SF in 2007 and is currently Project Coordinator of the Peer Hoarding and Cluttering Response Team. John holds an M.A. in Drama from University of Toronto.
Monica has her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from San Francisco State University. Upon graduation she was the research assistant for Yo Puedo, an NIH funded pilot intervention study with Mission District youth 16-21. Her interests in research are focused on reducing health disparities among disadvantaged populations, particularly youth, women, and racial and ethnic minorities.
Youth Initiative Coordinator
Nicole Plata is a passionate and uncompromising advocate for Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) in the mental health system. Having overcome a variety of challenges in her youth, from abuse and community violence to involvement in the criminal justice system and a traumatic brain surgery, Nicole offers a well-informed perspective to those she works with. She seeks to use her perspective and experience to advocate and inform services for the diverse youth of California. She does this through her work as the Youth Initiatives Coordinator for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco and her involvement on various Transition Age Youth advocacy groups within San Francisco County and statewide. In her free time, Nicole is an artist and muralist who loves to awaken her roots through salsa dancing.
SOLVE Program Manager
Julian Plumadore manages the SOLVE Speakers Bureau for MHASF. In his previous position as Community Advocate, he drew on his years of lived experience as a mental health consumer to take an active role in discussions affecting San Francisco’s mental health community, including hearings on AB 1421 (Laura’s Law) and the SFPD’s Taser Proposal. In addition to offering peer support and facilitating recovery-oriented support groups, Julian has worked extensively with the Institute on Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering (ICHC) and is the co-creator of Language Matters, a training on how using recovery-oriented language can change the way we think about mental health challenges. Julian has 4 years of academic training in Humanities from the University of Oregon, and 30 years of lived experience as a mental health consumer.
Shukri has been the bookkeeper of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco since 2011. Shukri has worked in accounting for many nonprofits including Huckleberry Youth Programs and People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER). He is currently pursuing his bachelor’s in accounting, and lives in Daly City with his wife and 2 kids.
PEER RESPONSE TEAM
Sharon Scott Kish
Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Team
PCORI Peer Facilitator
PCORI Research Assistant
Gillian Croen is a certified mental health peer specialist. She has volunteered at several mental health agencies in the Bay Area, including administrative support for Access Institute for Psychological Services and facilitating young adult groups for the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance. She began her involvement with MHASF in 2012 as a SOLVE peer educator. Gillian has a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Francisco State University.
PCORI Peer Facilitator
With a background in technology, education and psychology, David brings a wide range of skills to MHASF. David has lived in San Francisco since 1984, and has experienced the challenges and changes in the city and the LGBT community over time. His introduction to the mental health community in San Francisco began with an internship at the former Tenderloin Mental Health Clinic as a PhD student in clinical psychology. His training and work in HIV education with the Federal government has prepared him to work with a diverse client base, as he advances the treatment of hoarding and cluttering and removes the stigma associated with finding and keeping. David holds a MS in Education from Southeast Missouri State University.
Valerie is currently a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco. Valerie received her MPH in Epidemiology from Columbia University and BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. Her research interests include mental health stigma in underserved populations and reducing barriers to care using integrated behavioral health. Valerie has worked in China with rural health outreach and program evaluation, as well as at the VA with health care evaluation. She is also on Student Committees for the American Psychological Association (APA) Division on International Psychology and the APA Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues.