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Mike Veny

People who struggle with mental health challenges from all over the world are singing the praises of professional drummer, Mike Veny. He's a sought after mental health speaker & drumming workshop facilitator who consistently inspires audiences, increases the visibility of mental health organizations, and makes life easy for meeting planners.

After suffering from a mental health breakdown in August of 2011, Mike made the decision to use his speaking & drumming skills to help others with similar challenges. Each day is an uphill battle with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger and depression. He is committed to inspiring people to feel hope.

This has become a critical part of his recovery. Mike has presented at the Canadian Mental Health Association Halton Region Youth Summit, along with events for affiliates, chapters and member organizations of the ARC, Mental Health America, NAMI, the National Council for Behavioral Health, the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health & Youth Move National.

Mike discovered his talent for speaking through convincing the staff at psychiatric hospitals to discharge him three times during his childhood. In addition to being hospitalized as a child, he was expelled from three schools and medicated in attempts to reduce his behavioral outbursts. By the fifth grade, Mike was put in special education. Aside from getting more individualized attention from the teacher, he learned that pencil erasers make a great sound when tapped on a desk. He had no idea that drumming would become his career or his path to recovery.

Beyond speaking, bringing interactive drumming to mental health events allows Mike to share his full time job with world. When he's not speaking, he's memorizing music, rehearsing, performing, and recording with a variety of artists. As a Member of the Board of Directors of The Fender Music Foundation & writer for Corporate Wellness Magazine, Mike enjoys helping others get the opportunity to experience music making.

Mike firmly believes that mental health challenges and people challenges go hand in hand. Once he came to this realization, he began to value relationships with others. He works hard to constantly grow relationships and immediately resolve any conflicts. His speeches address the challenge of mental stigma through a message that encourages simple, proactive actions. This provides a guideline for people to see their challenges in a positive light and organizations to increase funding.

Transforming Stigma

Gina (Terrasi) Gallagher & Patricia Terrasi

Two ordinary mothers share the extraordinary reality—the joys, challenges, and absurdities—of raising “imperfect” children in a world preoccupied with perfection.

Each year, the number of children diagnosed with special needs and disabilities increases—yet if you’re a parent of a special child, you can feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and isolated. Sisters Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian (“The Poster Sisters of Imperfection”) know the feeling well, and have set out to show parents of children with special needs that they are not alone in this highly imperfect book. Packed with humorous, heartwarming anecdotes and empowering information and advice, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid is the perfect medicine for parents of special or (gasp!) average kids, without the scary side effects. Strap on your seatbelt and prepare to laugh as they take you on an imperfect journey that will open your eyes to the gifts that every child has to offer — even imperfect ones.

Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid: Celebrating the humor, joy, and triumphs of raising “imperfect kids” in a perfection-obsessed world.

Gary M. Blau, PhD.

Gary M. Blau, Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and is the Chief of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In this role he provides national leadership for children’s mental health and for creating “systems of care” across the country. Dr. Blau has received many awards, including the Phoebe Bennet Award for outstanding contribution to children’s mental health in Connecticut, and the Making a Difference Award presented by Connecticut’s Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. For his national work, Dr. Blau received the Outstanding Achievement Award presented by the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health, and was the recipient of the HHS Secretary’s Award for Meritorious Service for his national leadership in children’s mental health. In 2011, he was the first recipient of the Rock Star Award, presented by Youth M.O.V.E., National for “being a true champion for the youth movement and advocate for youth voice.” This award has now been named the “Dr. Gary Blau Award” and is given yearly to a mental health professional who has distinguished himself/herself as a voice for youth. 

Dr. Blau was also the 2013 recipient of the SAMHSA Administrator’s Award for “unparalleled and innovative leadership in children’s mental health” and the 2016 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Spirit Award” for being “an outstanding HHS employee who is making a real difference in the Department.”  Dr. Blau has over 75 professional publications and is the editor of eight books.  He received his Ph.D. from Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama) in 1988.  He is happily married since December of 1982 to his best friend, Gwenn Blau, and they are incredibly proud of their wonderful children, Jennifer and her husband, Riley (and their sons, Logan and Evan), and Andrew and his wife, Kristina.


Dennis Embry

Dennis D. Embry, Ph.D. is a prevention scientist, and a licensed psychologist, and the president of PAXIS Institute in Tucson, Arizona. He supervises over 30 projects all over North America to better the lives of children, adolescents, families and  communities. Personally and professionally, Dr. Embry and his colleagues aim to put practical, proven simple tools in the hands of everyone to make their lives healthier, happier, more productive and peaceful.


As a prevention scientist, Dr. Embry is a co-investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, with the Promise Neighborhood Research Consortium, and on multiple projects at Oregon Research Institute. He is also a senior scientific advisor to Healthy Child Manitoba on multiple projects funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Province as well as the Parenting and Family Research Centre at the University of Queensland. He is a former National Research Advisory Council Senior Fellow in the Commonwealth.


Dr. Embry’s scientific interests and scientific publications are broad from molecular topics like brain and behavior, polygenic+environmental interactions, and evolution theory to large social issues such as policies and practices for prevention of violence, substance abuse, mental illness and the improvement of health and public safety as well as economic productivity. Since 1975, he has created, tested and produced more than 40 manuals, books and other procedures for primary prevention. Most of his efforts have focused on population-level prevention approaches—testing these strategies in whole communities, counties, states and even nations—for civilians and for the military. In 2006, the Society for Prevention Research honored him as being national leader for bringing science into practice.

He was born in Great Bend, KS, and lived in 17 communities as a child. His talents as a scientist and entrepreneur were evident as a five-year old who took apart everything, sold paintings door-to-door to get attention and pocket change, while being labeled as “educationally mentally retarded” in the Phoenix school system in 1st-grade. He sold his first exhibited painting at age 13, and won his first grant from the National Science Foundation Junior Award in the 8th grade. Today, he creates his own medical and production illustrations. His own history of familial adversity and personal risk factors fire his passion to assure that no children are written off and that they have opportunity to rise to do great things in the world.

PAXIS Institute

Greg Dicharry

Greg is the national youth empowerment director at Magellan Healthcare. Dicharry developed the MY LIFE (Magellan Youth Leaders Inspiring Future Empowerment) program, which is one of the nation's leading programs for youth who experience mental health, substance use and/or foster care- related challenges.

Dicharry oversees 15 MY LIFE groups nationally, including more than 500 youth, and works with MY LIFE to plan and produce MY Fest youth festivals and other community events designed to reduce stigma and raise awareness about mental health and other issues.

Dicharry is a Louisiana native who was introduced to the world of mental health while living in Hollywood living his dream of working in the entertainment industry. It was there he experienced his first manic episode while directing a music video, and was hospitalized and diagnosed with co-occurring bipolar and substance use disorders. He spent the next 10 years in and out of denial about his diagnosis, which resulted in over 10 forced hospitalizations, a one-month stay in Orleans Parish Prison’s psychiatric unit, two stays in drug rehabilitation and many hopeless depressive states.

Prior to Magellan, Dicharry was employed by Triple R Behavioral Health, overseeing all aspects of a Certified Peer Support Training Program, from which he also graduated. He also started 12-step recovery groups at the Arizona State Mental Hospital Forensic Unit and at two juvenile detention centers in Arizona. 

In recognition of his work, Dicharry was awarded a 2014 SAMHSA Voice Award for consumer/ peer leadership, the 2013 Howie the Harp Award for Advocacy in the Arts and a 2013 National Council Reintegration Award for mentorship.

Dicharry earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from Arizona State University and is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP).

He currently lives in Baton Rouge, La. with his wife Lacy, who is also a national expert in youth involvement in mental health and foster care systems, and their daughter, Gracy.


Hayley Winterberg

Hayley Winterberg currently is youth direct at REN a consumer run organization. She is an independent contractor for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. At age 16, she graduated with honors from Phoenix College with her Associates Degree. By age 17, she was flown to Washington D.C. to receive the “M Power” award from Mental Health America for being the top youth advocate for mental health throughout the 50 States.


In 2015, Hayley was awarded the Young Adult Leadership VOICE Award by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  In 2008, Hayley co founded MY LIFE (Magellan Youth Leaders Inspiring Future Empowerment) which started with 10 members and is now in six states. Since then, she has traveled across the country to speak, organize events, and inspire similar groups supporting behavioral health. She has served on the Youth Move National board and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Arizona board. 


Stella Wilde


Lorrin Gehring

Lorrin Gehring is a passionate leader and advocate with over 15 years of experience working within youth serving systems. At 14, she joined a youth advocacy group called Youth N’ Action (now YouthSound) in Washington state and began advocating for youth rights and voice to be heard within the systems that serve them. 

At the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (NFFCMH), Lorrin served as the Youth Resource Specialist and as Social Marketing Technical Assistance Provider/Youth Outreach Director. In her role as the Youth Involvement Resource Specialist she provided support to system of care communities throughout the country on building and supporting youth engagement and leadership for young people with system involvement. While at the Federation, she developed and managed the Federation’s first ever youth advocacy track at the NFFCMH’s annual conference. 

She has authored numerous articles on youth involvement and is the 2011 Voice Award recipient for excellence in the field of youth advocacy, as well as the 2012 Marlene Matarase Advocate for Youth Rockstar awardee. Lorrin is fortunate to currently work with a dynamic team as the Program Director for YouthSound. When she’s not traveling around Washington State doing trainings she can be found in Olympia, WA eating Poprocks and listening to grunge music with her kids Max and Avenlea.  

Youth Sound Washington State

Travis Rybarski

Travis Rybarski is a driven and energetic 22-year old dedicated to supporting under-served youth in Washington. He began his leadership journey as a rapper and event promoter raising funds for Washington teen shelters, before providing peer support to youth in Kennewick, WA.

Today he's a Certified Peer Counselor and the Statewide Program Specialist for YouthSound. His positions include:

· Technical Assistance provider for Regional FYSPRTs

· Statewide Trainer for Wraparound w/ Intensive Services Training, Certified Peer Counselor Training, and Youth Professional Leadership Training

· Youth Tri-Lead to the Statewide FYSPR

Youth Sound Washington State

Lacy Dicharry

Lacy is an internationally known expert in youth engagement and the former director of Youth MOVE National. She is a national leader in developing and implementing innovative youth-led programs and has helped set national standards for youth engagement practice. She was a 2014 VOICE Award winner for her advocacy efforts to promote youth engagement. Lacy had to work to overcome many challenges, including abuse, multiple mental health diagnoses, suicidal ideation, alcoholism and trauma responses before finding her way to recovery. Lacy currently serves as the CEO of LacyDee Coaching & Consulting and continues to advocate for positive changes for youth through sharing her story and consultation for local, state, national and international initiatives and organizations. Through coaching and mentoring other young people, she inspires them to do the same.

Lacydee Consulting

Marieke Johnson

Marieke serves as Youth MOVE National’s Director Member Services, supporting a chapter network of youth advocates spanning 38 states. Her work includes providing technical assistance and support in the areas of youth engagement, positive youth development, youth peer support, youth voice in advocacy and policy, trauma informed care, and more. Prior to joining Youth MOVE National, Marieke was involved in the growth and development of a youth peer support organization. She a is credentialed Youth Support Partner Coach for High Fidelity Wraparound through PA’s Youth & Family Training Institute. Through this work, Marieke has seen the tremendous positive impact that youth voice can have on all systems that serve adolescents and young adults. 


Marieke has combined her personal, professional and educational experiences to support and mentor youth support staff and has presented and provided technical assistance at both the local and national level on a variety of topics related to sustaining and supporting the professional development and personal wellness of youth peer support.


Marieke strives to bring a trauma-informed care approach to all of her work. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, Marieke recently completed her Masters in Professional Counseling at Carlow University with a focus on trauma-informed counseling. 

Youth MOVE National

Madeline Zielinski

Currently the Member Services Youth Program Specialist at Youth MOVE National, Madeline Zielinski began her work with Youth MOVE as the State Coordinator for Youth MOVE Indiana beginning in 2014. In that time, she has gained the credential of Certified Youth Care-Associate level, completed her Associate of Science from Ivy Tech Community College, and has received training on a variety of subjects ranging from suicide intervention to sexual assault prevention for youth, and is even certified to train others on how they can recognize and prevent suicide.


A survivor of a suicide attempt at a young age, she sought social supports to help her build resilience. Madeline got her start in advocacy attending an LGBTQ+ drop-in center in Indianapolis called Indiana Youth Group. This sparked a desire to bring more understanding and education about LGBTQ issues and how stigmatization has a dramatic effect on the mental wellbeing of these young people. Through her work with Youth MOVE Indiana, Madeline has served as a youth representative on the IN-Suicide Prevention Network Advisory Council, the State LGBTQ+ board, the Commission on Improving the Status of Children, and serves as the Vice-Chair of the Indiana Systems of Care Youth and Family Subcommittee. She also has a passion for Pearl Jam and eggs benedict.

Youth MOVE National

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