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Keynote Speakers from Alternatives 2018

This page will be updated with the 2019 speakers in the future.

TUESDAY, JULY 31, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM


Local Welcome and Keynote:

Melinda R. Hasbrouck, JD, MPH

Black Girl Interrupted: A Mental Illness Recovery and Resiliency Story

Melinda will share in a keynote presentation how she turned trauma into healing, illness into wellness, and sorrow into joy.

Melinda R. Hasbrouck, JD, MPH, certified peer specialist, lives in Washington, DC and is in recovery from trauma and serious mental illnesses. She is founder and former executive director of a consumer-focused activity center, Our Door Community Wellness Center, professorial lecturer at George Washington University, board member of NAMI DC, a DC Ward 8 Mental Health Subcommittee Advisory Council Member, and principal consultant and owner of RoyHas LLC, a consulting company focused on transforming systems into human experiences and language. She creatively shares her recovery stories at using multiple technology platforms to promote mental health awareness. Melinda shares her unique experiences as a black woman, exchange student, traveler, law student, comedian, professor, military brat, researcher, provider, advocate, speaker, and psych patient. Her ease in talking to people from all walks of life, genuine empathy, and personal vulnerability set the stage for deep, real conversations between her and those on her podcast, “Couch Sessions about Mental Illness,” due to launch this summer.




Crazy Lives Matter Too: Imagining a World Where Everyone Is Valued

In this keynote, Wilda will discuss her vision of a successful Mad Pride movement that puts at the center of our activism the most marginalized among us, how to get there, and what the world looks like when we succeed.

Wilda L. White is the outgoing executive director of Vermont Psychiatric Survivors (VPS), Inc., a statewide mutual support and civil rights advocacy organization whose mission is to end psychiatric coercion, discrimination, and oppression. She is also chair of the Vermont Mental Health Crisis Response Commission, created by the Vermont legislature to review and improve law enforcement interactions with persons believed to be in a mental health crisis. She is licensed to practice law in New York, California, and Massachusetts.

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Reclaiming the Terms of Engagement: A Vision for User/Survivor Leadership in Research

Drawing on examples of work happening in Canada and the UK, Nev will sketch a vision for the reclamation of academic understandings and conceptualizations of “mental health” through user- and survivor-led research initiatives. 

Nev Jones is an assistant professor of mental health law & policy at the University of South Florida, affiliate faculty of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Services Institute, and affiliate faculty at the Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health. She has co-founded/co-led two regional hearing voices movement networks, and is actively engaged in working to transform response to individuals experiencing voices and extreme states across the areas of research, policy and practice and has led multiple initiatives designed to help shift power and voice back to those with direct personal experience of the public mental health system.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, 9:00 AM – 9:45 AM


How My Experiences as a Mental Health Client Shaped My Later Work as a Therapist

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This keynote will address how Daniel’s first experience in therapy led him to explore alternatives to traditional mental health services, including 12-step programs, peer support, and self-therapy.

Daniel Mackler was a psychotherapist in New York City for 10 years. He is the director of four documentary films on recovery from psychosis and schizophrenia without medication and is co-author of two books. Daniel has spent the last several years traveling the world giving lectures, workshops, and film screenings on mental health-related subjects—and studying the inner workings of international mental health systems. Daniel is a survivor of childhood trauma and a survivor of a lot of confusing and painful therapy



Creating Alternatives to Hospitalization

Speakers will introduce their Peer Respite Handbook, which gets at the heart of what peer respite is, how it’s different from options offered by the traditional mental health system, and how to develop and sustain a respite in ways that are true to the vision. 

Creating Alternatives to Hospitalization     Speakers will introduce their Peer Respite Handbook, which gets at the heart of what peer respite is, how it’s different from options offered by the traditional mental health system, and how to develop and sustain a respite in ways that are true to the vision.

Shery Mead, past director of three New Hampshire Peer Support Programs, including a peer-run hospital alternative, is an internationally known speaker on alternative approaches to crisis, trauma-informed peer services, systems change, and the development and implementation of peer-operated services. Shery’s Intentional Peer Support has been adopted by several states as a “best practice.” This trauma-informed approach sees connections and relationships as the core of healing and growth.

Chris Hansena native New Zealander, is the director of Intentional Peer Support, and has been co-teaching and developing Intentional Peer Support in the US and in other countries with Shery Mead for the past 11 years. Chris has spent 20 years involved in local, regional, national, and international peer support and advocacy initiatives, and in mental health sector planning and politics from a service user perspective.

Sera Davidow is a filmmaker, activist, advocate, chocolate lover, and mother of two very busy kids. She spends much of her time working with the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community, serving on the board of Hearing Voices USA, and blogging at

THURSDAY, AUGUST 2ND, 9:00 AM – 9:45 AM: (Keynote and Presentation of Awards)


The Power of the Local: Building a Future Beyond the Mental Health System, One Grassroots Community at a Time

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Laura Delano will lay out her vision for what is possible in a future beyond the “mental illness” and “mental health” models.

Laura Delano is an ex-psychiatric patient and co-founder and executive director of Inner Compass Initiative (ICI). ICI shares information to facilitate informed “mental health” choices and provides resources to support people who wish to leave, bypass, or build community beyond the mental health system. She also leads ICI’s The Withdrawal Project (TWP), a comprehensive web-based resource for safer psychiatric drug tapering and withdrawal. You can find out more about Laura, ICI, and TWP at