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Creating Community Through Active Citizenship

Keynote Speakers

The conference opens on Wednesday evening with a dinner, Welcome to Buffalo, NY and Keynote session. Each morning begins with a breakfast and keynote session. Daily luncheons provide an excellent opportunity for networking and connecting (time for "creating your community").

Wednesday Dinner and Plenary Session 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Social Responsibility
From the Native American Community Perspective

Michael Martin, Executive Director
Native American Community Services [ Buffalo, NY ]

Michael Martin

Michael Martin is an Onondaga of the Beaver Clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River reservation in Southern Ontario. He was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Michael is a graduate of both Buffalo State College (BS) and Babson College (MS), and in February of 2004 was named the Executive Director of Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties, Inc. In 2007, Michael traveled to Guatemala and Ecuador to participate in a cultural exchange and conference on sustaining indigenous cultures. In 2008, Michael was selected by the Americans for Indian Opportunity organization to become one of 18 Native Americans across the United States to participate in their two-year American Indian Ambassador Leadership Program.

Most importantly, Michael is a proud single father of his eight-year-old son, Dawit. Currently, Michael and Dawit reside in North Tonawanda, NY.

Being in the Driver’s Seat by Shifting the Power Paradigm

LaVerne D. Miller, Director
Howie the Harp Peer Advocacy Center [ New York, NY ]

LaVerne D. Miller, Esq. JD

Laverne D. Miller, Esq. JD, is a former Assistant District Attorney with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Ms. Miller has worked as a community organizer and housing advocate in southeast Queens. Since 1996, she has worked as the director of the Howie T. Harp Peer Advocacy Center in Harlem. The center’s mission is to train consumers with histories of homelessness,
mental illness, and incarceration to work in human services. The center also works to increase the recruitment, hiring, retention, integration and advancement of consumer staff in the workforce. Ms. Miller served as the co-chair of the New
York City Federation for Mental Health, Chemical Dependency, Mental Retardation and Developmentally Disabled from 2006 to 2008. She is also an advisor consultant with the Center for Mental Health Services/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to increase the engagement and meaningful involvement of consumers, family members, and youth in state transformation grant activities and initiatives.

She is also the mother of William Gibson who has benefited the most from his mother’s recovery.

Thursday Welcome Session   8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Creating Community Through Active Citizenship

Dan Fisher and Debbie Whittle of the National Empowerment Center (NEC), host organization, will share how NEC has been inspired by the
concepts of active citizenship, and invite conference attendees to create an intentional learning community while here at the conference.

Dan Fisher has used his recovery experience as a driving force in his work to unite consumer/survivors nationally and internationally
in finding and amplifying their voices and in actively influencing the policies and practices that affect their lives. In the process, people
step more fully into their own recovery. Dan has played an instrumental role in the c/s/x movement for the last 25 years and is a cofounder
and executive director of The National Empowerment Center.

Debbie Whittle is director of NEC’s Technical Assistance Center, providing capacity building through training, mentoring, and assistance to help build strong statewide consumer/survivor organizations. Debbie believes in the innate wisdom and state of wholeness within each individual and holds a vision of a transformed system of care based on wellness rather disease. Her wish is that we all find a place of belonging in the communities of our choosing.

Friday Keynote Session 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Claiming a Vital Place in the Community

After reaching “recovery” by everybody else’s measure, Ann discovered that she was smothering in the safety of risk-free programs for “people like her.” She set out to find and claim a place in the community for an ordinary person, complete with challenges and gifts, and uncovered some ideas about how to enjoy the “risky” journey. Her address will share that journey and how she has turned its lessons into programs that help others claim that place in the community at large.

Ann RiderAnn Rider is a social worker and mediator by training, and a writer and gardener by avocation. Using her own experience recovering from psychiatric disability and addiction, Ann developed and implemented Peer Specialist training for two agencies and for the state of Arizona. She worked as the mental health advocate for Arizona’s Protection and Advocacy system, and has taught peer support and recovery classes in Arizona, Canada, and New Zealand. Ann is the CEO of Recovery Empowerment Network in Arizona, an advocate, and a faculty associate at Arizona State University.

Saturday Morning Plenary Session 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

YOUTH POWER! The Growing Force of Young Leaders

Youth Power! The Growing Force of Youth LeadersSaturday morning’s plenary session will highlight the multiple generations of the youth movement of the past 15 years and describe how young people in New York have united as active citizens to work for change, alternative options and the protection of their rights.

John Donnelly, Youth Advocate and Secretary of YP! Advisory Board

Stephanie Orlando, Director of YOUTH POWER! New York State (NYS)

Lauren Tenney, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the College of Staten Island, CUNY

Christina Felix, Youth Advocate and Treasurer of YP! Advisory Board NYS

Dally M. Sanchez, YOUTH POWER! Coordinator, NYS

Eva Dech, Director of Systems Advocacy The Empowerment Center, NYS