Executive Committee:

Jim Gilmer, President
Jim Gilmer is the Co-Chair of the CMMC, and the Co-Coordinator of the African American/People of African Descent Strategic Planning Work Group which are both components of the California Reducing Disparities Project, administered by the Department of Public Health/Office of Health Equity. He serves on the Services Committee of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. Jim was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of Mental Health America/California, and he is one of the founding members of the Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition.

In Ventura County, Jim is the Co-founder of Multicultural Community Ventures Initiative which is collaborative of ethnic organizations and small businesses focusing on social equity in the arts, music, cultural enrichment, and community development. Cyrus Urban Inter-Church Sustainability Network (CUISN) was co-founded by Jim and local ministers to provide technical assistance for ethnic faith-based organizations.

Jim Gilmer is a member of the Black American Political Association of California (Ventura County Chapter); NAACP; Black & Brown Alliance of Ventura County, CAUSE, LULAC, and the Community Advocacy Committee.

He holds a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management, Leadership, Administration, Marketing, & Theology (Urban Ministry Emphasis) from Azusa Pacific University. He has over thirty years experience in resource development, fundraising, youth development and working with the homeless.

Daphyne Watson, Treasurer
Daphyne Watson is the Executive Director of Mental Health America San Diego. Daphyne came to Mental Health America in January, 2012. Daphyne is an experienced professional, leading and developing a vast number of human services. Daphyne has been involved in the mental health field for the past 12 years. Daphyne has dedicated her career in addressing disparities and needs of communities of color, who often are underserved. Daphyne has developed child abuse prevention programs, mental health programs, substance abuse programs, community support programs, and developed juvenile justice programs. Daphyne has operated programs in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Baltimore Maryland. Daphyne has developed unique programs such as Family Finding, Cultural Brokers, and gender specific program for girls (WINGS), Family Support programs and other mental health services.

Daphyne was appointed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to the Commission of Children/Youth/Families from 2005 – 2012. She is a professor at Springfield College-San Diego, teaching counseling and other innovative services. Daphyne has been a trainer for SDSU Center for Professional Development. Daphyne has trained extensively on cultural inclusion and diversity.

Ms. Watson earned her Master’s Degree from SDSU, School of Social Work in 1995 and continues to educate and address the needs of the community. Daphyne is an advocate, educator, and program developer, and trainer, visionary and compassionate leader.

Richard Van Horn, Secretary
In his 29 years as chief executive, Richard Van Horn built Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHA) into one of California’s leading nonprofit mental health organizations. He is at the forefront of improving conditions for adults and young adults with mental illness through service innovation, systems design and public policy change.

Mr. Van Horn became the organization’s president emeritus in 2009 and continues a commitment to advancing mental health systems change. In this capacity, he concentrates on public policy issues at the local, state and national levels, serving on numerous boards, commissions and work groups. Key among his leadership involvement, he is chair of the Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission, serves on the board of directors of the National Council on Community Behavioral Health and is chair-elect of the national Mental Health America.

Mr. Van Horn led the development of recovery-focused and client-run programs that reflect MHA’s belief in recovery. His organization designed the MHA Village, which has earned recognition for its effectiveness and emerged as a national model for recovery-focused, integrated services. His commitment to client-run services is reflected in MHA’s sponsorship of Project Return Peer Support Network, which has become an independent organization.

His long-lasting advocacy achievements include his organization’s leading sponsorship of Proposition 63, which became the Mental Health Services Act. In 2005-06, Mr. Van Horn took a leave of absence from MHA during which he served as principal consultant to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.

Among his honors, Mr. Van Horn received lifetime achievement honors from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and National Mental Health America. Other recognitions come from the American Psychiatric Association – Southern California affiliate, California Community Foundation, California Network of Mental Health Clients, Mental

Beverly K Abbott, Public Policy Committee Chair
Beverly Abbott began her career in mental health working in a California state mental hospital. From that experience she became convinced that better community services were needed for people with mental illness. She went to work for county mental health programs, the locus of care for individuals with serious mental illness. In 1977 she became the Mental Health Director in Marin County; in 1985 she became Mental Health Director in San Mateo County and served there until 2001.

Ms. Abbott has been active in California mental health leadership since 1980, first for the California Conference of Local Mental Health Directors and later the County Mental Health Directors Association when the Association formed to replace the Conference. She held offices including president in the Conference and chaired numerous statewide committees in both the Conference and the Association including System of Care and Children’s Services among others. She has also been active in national leadership through the American College of Mental Health Administration serving as president from 1997-1999.

Since leaving San Mateo County in 2001, Ms. Abbott has worked as a consultant and has done special projects for the State Department of Mental Health (including work on implementation of the Mental Health Services Act), the California Institute for Mental Health, community-based agencies and private foundations. Also since 2001, she has served on the California Mental Health Planning Council a statewide body to oversee mental health policies and programs.

Board Members-at-Large:

Steve Bischoff

Karen Hart
Karen Hart is the parent of a child who was diagnosed with a major mental illness at age fifteen. Her passion and advocacy stem from the many challenges faced by her child and family, as well as all the others for whom she has advocated for the past 25 years. She has provided the family perspective on various policy-making and advisory boards and councils, including the California Institute for Mental Health, the University of South Florida Research and Training Center for Children’s Mental Health, and the California Mental Health Planning Council.

She currently serves as Past President of the Board of Directors of Mental Health America in California and is a part-time employee of the Monterey County Behavioral Health Department Quality Improvement Team. She is a member of her county’s Children’s System of Care Governance Council and was the original Family Lead for the Federal Children’s System of Care Grant in Monterey County (La Familia Sana). She has been a Volunteer Family Partner in her County for over twenty years.

Karen is a “Founding Mother” and past president of United Advocates for Children and Families. She is past Secretary of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and won their “National Claiming Children Award” in recognition of advocacy for children and their families across the country.

She is a former officer of both her local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) affiliate and NAMI California, and served as the California representative to the NAMI National Young Families Program.

As a contractor to the California Department of Mental Health, Karen was a consultant for the Plan to Plan and the Community Services and Supports Plan Requirements of the Proposition 63 Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). She served as a member of the MHSA Oversight and Accountability Commission Evaluation Committee.

Karen also advocates for Transition-Age Youth (TAY) and has served on the California Mental Health Directors Association TAY Subcommittee, the California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN) Advisory Committee, and the State Full Service Partnership Advisory Committee for the TAY Tool Kit. She is a contributing author to a book about transitioning youth to young adulthood.

Steve Leoni


Chief Executive Officer
Provided leadership to this 87 year-old community-based, mental health and social service non-profit agency serving children and families throughout the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys and Glendale with budget of $20 million and a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic staff of 300+.

Developed the agency’s governing board involving board members in planning and decision-making. Provided leadership to the agency’s Senior Management Team. Ensured effective management of the agency’s broad array of community-based, mental health and social services including: mental health treatment for children and teens, school-based mental health, services for families with children 0-5, child abuse prevention and treatment, teen family services, domestic violence treatment, services for at-risk teens and family counseling.

Significantly expanded the scope and size of agency’s program and services to meet community needs increasing the budget size from $400,000 in 1991 to $20 million in 2012-13. Secured mental health funding to expand services to over 90 schools in 12 school districts.

Developed and maintained effective collaborative relationships with an extensive network of community and governmental agencies. Took an active role in the agency’s advocacy efforts at the community, county and state levels and was an active Board Member of the Association of Human Service Agencies in Los Angeles County and CCCMHA.

Secured a $1million grant in 2001 for 3 years from First 5 LA to expand Early ESTEEM, our innovative program for children 0-5 and their families. Led advocacy efforts to reinstate Cal-Learn, a highly effective statewide program for teen parents, which was suspended by the state legislature in 2011. The funding was successfully restored statewide by the legislature in 2012.

Assistance League of Southern California Family Service Agency 1985-1991
Glendale Family Service Agency – Therapist 1976-1985
Ross Loos Medical Group, Dept. of Psychiatry – Therapist 1978-1979
David and Margaret Home for Girls – Therapist 1976-1978

M.S.W. University of Southern California

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, LCS 6775
Licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor, MFC 11890

Former Board Member and President of the Association of Community Human Service Agencies, Los Angeles County
Former Board Member of the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies

Recovery Happens: Peer Support
My world changed as I listened and learned from others who seemed to have risen above their destructive and humiliating past. I began my first step into service work as I helped to provide coffee and warm space at a local drop-in center. The volunteer tasks were minimal yet I began to feel a sense of belonging and really felt the unity amongst my peers. My service benefits were twofold. Not only was I helping others in their quest for sobriety but also for the first time I too remained sober. Now educated on the facts about sobriety my life took on new meaning. This service work, backed by a strong conviction to follow my psychiatrist’s direction, proved very beneficial in opening the gates to freedom. Armed with a vision of hope and a reluctance to remain on Social Security, I chose to volunteer. My first mental health volunteer job was during the development of a new conceptual Stanislaus county mental health program, Wellness Recovery Center. We answered calls for peers and facilitated recovery support groups at a variety of locations including inpatient psychiatric hospital settings. I soon achieved purpose as a peer mentor. The position raised my self-esteem and fired my imagination. Now my career has expanded into a position with Stanislaus County as the Behavioral Health and Recovery Service Peer Advocate with assignment as coordinator of Wellness Recovery Center. In addition I founded and serve as CEO of Peer Recovery Art Project a community service arts as well as an emotional health and wellness organization.

Reintegration: Community
I set high goals for my education and received full scholarships at the junior college level. I served as a teacher’s aide and received recognition as a goodwill ambassador to the college due to my efforts to enroll others. In 2010 I finished my studies at California State University at Stanislaus, participating in a leadership development program, and my bachelor degree in Social Sciences with Phi Kappa Phi honors. The long road of reconstruction filled with heartache and feelings of uselessness has now subsided. I have become through my life’s experiences a better man. My example of strong recovery and perseverance has set the tone for others who may struggle on their respective paths to freedom. My life is full of passion and through my production company I have raised thousands of dollars for charity and developed a widely recognized Peer Recovery Art Project Incorporated and speak regularly on College gatherings. Even with all the education and now 61 years of age I must work even harder on my recovery to try to be a model for others. I believe in recovery from mental illness, I live it and I share it!

Nancy Carter
Fearless leadership, boundless energy and endless support. These are just a few phrases that describe Nancy Carter. Co-founder and former executive director of NAMI Urban Los Angeles, Ms. Carter has made a name for herself as a family advocate, nationally renowned lecturer and champion of the rights of those suffering with brain disorders.

A native of West Virginia, Ms. Carter attended Howard University before moving to New York City to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Nancy began a career as a professional model in New York City while studying acting at the famed Negro Ensemble Company and working as a tour guide at the United Nations. Disappointed at the lack of female representation on the business end of the entertainment industry, Ms. Carter moved to Los Angeles and started her own talent agency. Later Ms. Carter founded Applause! The Audience Company. Applause successfully provided audiences for top sitcoms like: Seinfeld, Moesha, The Steve Harvey Show and M’onique. Black Enterprise magazine featured Applause in its entertainment section.

After a family member was diagnosed with bi polar disorder, Ms. Carter left the entertainment industry and began her career in advocacy. In 2003 she started the Urban Los Angeles chapter of NAMI. In 2007 she received the Family Advocate Award from the LA County Board of Supervisors and the NAMI California Consumer of the Year Award of Excellence. She has received numerous other awards including: the Outstanding Contributions in Mental Health from SHARE. Ms. Carter served on the NAMI California Board of Directors as well as the NAMI National Board and in 2006 received the award for Outstanding Service.

Upon realizing that people with brain disorders frequently come into contact with the law, Ms. Carter – as part of her advocacy – became involved with the criminal justice component of mental health. She is a member of the LAPD Mental Health Crisis Response Advisory Board and Mental Health Task Force; Twin Towers Jail Justice Committee and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Advisory Crisis Team. Also, Ms. Carter has worked tirelessly with leaders on the California Mental Health Services Act.

Ms. Carter is also a nationally renowned keynote speaker. She has headlined lectures for the LA County Department of Mental Health, California Annual Law Enforcement and Mental Health Conference, Southern California Black Psychiatrists Association and the National Association of Black and Hispanic State Legislators.

Ms. Carter is a much sought after media personality as well. She has appeared on BET, Power 106, 92.3 the Beat and PBS. She was featured in a special section on mental health in the Los Angeles Times magazine.

Ms. Carter lives in Santa Monica, CA and works as a private consultant. She is currently working on her first book entitled, “Brain Flu”.

Andrew Rubin
I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Greenwich Village, graduated Occidental College (71) and Stanford Law (74). My Dad was the volunteer head of the dental dept of a psychiatric hospital (Hillside [now LIJ] in Queens). He got me interested in volunteerism, not mental health.

One of my early criminal cases involved a person with mental illness who was charged with two misdemeanors (maximum sentence a year) under a statute allowing for a commitment to a psych hospital after the jail time, potentially for life. I co-authored an article about the law and got interested in mental health advocacy. I joined the board of the MHA in San Bernardino, became chair of the board, then chair of the MHAC board, on the NMHA (now Mental Health America) board. The rest is in the CV other than the fact that I have never been married, have no kids, and live in Marina del Rey with two Yorkshire terriers.

Affiliate Representatives:

Jill Bolster-White

Chad Costello, M.S.W, C.P.R.P., MHA Los Angeles
Chad is the Director of Public Policy for Mental Health America of Los Angeles, (MHALA) a non-profit mental health services provider and advocacy organization. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing local, state and federal legislation, regulations and policies affecting the agency and the people it serves.

Chad serves as one of the lead trainers for MHALA, and has presented at numerous conferences and universities on topics such as recovery, mental health advocacy and system transformation. As a primary trainer for the Milestones of Recovery Scale (MORS), he has trained hundreds of line level and supervisory staff in the use of the scale. Chad is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP), and has participated in the development of test items for the certification exam.

He has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Cal State system on the subjects of social work policy and recovery focused practice, and currently teaches in the Mental Health Worker Program at Cerritos College and in the Social Work Program at Cal State University Dominguez Hills. He has served on several institutional advisory committees tasked with advancing the teaching of recovery based mental health services.

Chad formerly served as Director for Village West at MHA Village, where he supervised a diverse team of 15 mental health professionals serving 125 adults living with mental illness utilizing an integrated, assertive, community based treatment approach.

Prior to working for MHALA, Chad was the Director of Programs for MHA of Orange County, where he oversaw the agency’s services for the homeless, and the County’s initial AB34 intensive mental health services program. He negotiated contracts with the local county mental health authority, wrote numerous successful proposals for county, state and federal funds and served as the agency’s point person for public policy issues.

Chad received his Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California, and his bachelor’s degree in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine.

Charles Krugman

Dave Pilon, Ph.D., CPRP
Dr. Dave Pilon received his doctorate in Social Psychology from Harvard University in 1981. He is a licensed psychologist and is currently serving as the President and CEO for Mental Health America of Los Angeles. In 1989, he was the lead writer for the grant writing team that produced the successful bid to design and implement the Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, a program recognized by the President’s New Freedom Commission. He has consulted in the design and transformation of mental health programs and systems throughout the United States, New Zealand and Japan.

From 1999 through 2007, he served as the lead evaluator coordinating the collection and analysis of data documenting the effectiveness of the Integrated Services for the Homeless (AB34) program serving nearly 5000 people who are mentally ill and had been incarcerated and/or homeless. He is the co-creator of the Milestones of Recovery Scale and has served on the Performance Measurement Advisory Committee (PMAC) for the California State Department of Mental Health. He is the Principal Writer for the FSP Performance Measurement Toolkit and is a past president for the California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies. In 2004 he received USPRA’s Armin Loeb Award for outstanding research in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation.