“Excellence offers the opportunity to explore effective treatments that do not carry the long-term risks associated with many of the commonly prescribed drugs.” Read more
Named to “Best Doctors in America,” Steingard is Chief Medical Officer at HowardCenter, a community mental health center where she has worked for the past 21 years. She is also clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the College of Medicine of the University of Vermont. For more than 25 years, her clinical practice has primarily included patients who have experienced psychotic states. CLOSE
Gina Firman Nikkel, PhD
President & CEO, Wilsonville, OR
"Excellence provides the structure for the global community to match resources with research, education and program support to take on mental health challenges and find new answers. We expect recovery!" Read more
An Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Oregon Health and Sciences University, Gina served as Executive Director of the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs for 11 years before taking the helm of EXCELLENCE as President and CEO. She has worked extensively in mental health and addictions policy, leadership and management, health care financing and political advocacy. As a Community Mental Health Therapist, Adolescent Program Director and Clinical Supervisor, she brings experience in all aspects of community mental health. Gina's public service includes two terms as a Tillamook County Commissioner and Vice-President of the Association of Oregon Counties. She has a BA in Theatre and Dance and an MS in counseling from Portland State University and a PhD in Special Education focusing on social public policy and leadership from the University of Oregon.
Dr. Christopher Gordon is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and a Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he teaches principles of collaborative formulation, about which he has published and lectured extensively.
Dr. Gordon also has a small private and consulting practice in Wayland, Massachusetts, with a special interest in dialogical practices.
He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Gordon is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. In 2012, Dr. Gordon was named the Psychiatrist of the Year by NAMI Massachusetts. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health. In 2008, he received the Edward Messner Award for outstanding teaching of residents at MGH and McLean Hospitals. Dr. Gordon is a certified practitioner of Open Dialogue, progressive practice developed in Finland for the management of psychiatric crisis, and is a founder and clinical leader of the Collaborative Pathway at Advocates, Inc, the first US-based adaptation of Open Dialogue. He is married to Julie Gordon, and they have two sons, Morgan and Noah.
Hughes is a Vice President at the Human Services Research Institute. He has worked for more than 20 years on projects related to analyses of health care system utilization and cost assessment, behavioral health services research, evidence-based practices, cost simulation models for planning behavioral health systems, and the intersection of the behavioral health and criminal justice systems. Read more
He is currently the Project Director for the Maine Health Data Warehouse Project and the California Health Reform Initiative. In addition, Dr. Hughes serves as a Senior Research Specialist for the SAMHSA-funded National Evaluation of SAMHSA’s Homeless Programs. CLOSE
Giovan E. Bazan
Board Member, Columbia, SC
"Childhood is not a mental illness. Different is not a disorder. Individuality is not insanity."
As a nationally recognized motivational speaker, Giovan shares a message of empowerment with youth and adults all across the country. As an advocate for youth, Giovan offers his hard-won wisdom about the best interests of children and youth who have been "systemized" in the Foster Care, Juvenile Justice and Mental Health Systems. He has influenced a variety of legislation on topics like running away, homelessness, mental health, truancy, abuse, foster care and juvenile justice. Giovan has inspired thousands of youth and adults, from speaking to teens in Juvenile Detention Centers to working with the White House. He has been featured on National Public Radio, CNN Dialogues, Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, among others. He has consulted for state departments of juvenile justice, mental health, family and children services and the White House Council for Community Solutions. CLOSE
Gayle R. Berg, PhD
Board Member, Roslyn Heights, NY
"Excellence is uniquely positioned to galvanize mental health care globally, by ensuring the sustainability of scientific research that identifies best practices and innovative treatment approaches. Working together, we can transform our mental health delivery systems so that they are humane, recovery-oriented and infused with hope." Read more
Gayle R. Berg, PhD is a practicing psychologist in Roslyn Heights, New York. She received her doctorate degree in Psychology from New York University in 1983. While earning her degree, Berg worked full-time at Mt. Sinai Hospital in the Out Patient Department of Psychiatry as the Assistant Clinical Director of the Day Treatment Center. She helped to design and develop this innovative treatment program for individuals suffering from major psychological problems and diagnoses.
Berg's commitment to the recovery movement and to improving the quality of mental health care nationwide includes decades of state and national legislative advocacy and leadership and service on numerous public and private committees.
“Excellence is a unique international community foundation. Its focus is on research and programs which promote excellence in mental health care and bring a balanced, clear-eyed reporting of the evidence in the field.” Read more
A professor of psychiatry for 38 years, Harding has received 52 federal, state and foundation grants and contracts for schizophrenia research and studies of mental health services, many awards and honors, and has published nearly 100 papers about schizophrenia, rehabilitation and recovery. Trained at Yale University and the University of Vermont, her work on redesigning systems of care has taken her to 30 states and as many countries. Senior positions have included directing the Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery at New York City-based Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, and Senior Director of Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Her research has included participation in two three-decade NIMH studies of schizophrenia and other profound disorders. She established Integrated Health Outcomes, a consulting organization in Virginia. She chairs our Scientific Advisory Council. CLOSE
David Healy, MD, FRCPsych
Board Member, Bangor, Wales, UK
“Being part of Excellence feels like being in the presence of a candle in the darkness, and I’m very keen we keep this candle going.” Read more
Healy is a professor of Psychiatry at Bangor University in Wales and a former secretary of the British Psychopharmacology Association. He is considered one of the premier scholars of the psychopharmacology era and is considered to have written more about “medical optimization,” an important focus of Excellence, than any other psychiatrist in the world. Healy is the founder of RxISK.org, a data-gathering and sharing website that integrates research data with clinical expertise and the reports of those with lived experience. CLOSE
Robert Nikkel, MSW
Board Member, Wilsonville, OR
“Our mental health systems must evolve from outdated practice and embrace recovery as the linchpin of an entirely different approach. We must see a full range of possibilities for people who have experienced mental health challenges.” Read more
Oregon Commissioner for Mental Health and Addiction Services (2003-2008), Nikkel has more than 40 years of experience at all levels of the mental health and chemical dependency fields, from case manager and addiction counselor to supervisory and management responsibilities. He has been Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University and published in national peer-reviewed journals on consumer-operated case management services, dual diagnosis, supported education in a state hospital setting, and related topics. He serves as an adviser to the Oregon State Hospital Museum and Board Treasurer of Dual Diagnosis Anonymous of Oregon.
"My research focuses on the design, implementation, and outcomes of community-based psycho-social interventions that present safe and effective pathways to independence by promoting equity and empowerment. Central to my work is a commitment to exploring policy changes and historical developments in public health systems that cultivate active engagement by stakeholders and community members." Read more
Laysha Ostrow is the founder and CEO of Live & Learn, Inc., a California-based, consumer-run and woman-owned social enterprise that provides research, technical assistance, and knowledge translation services to behavioral health system stakeholders. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University and holds a PhD from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a Master of Public Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Laysha completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF and maintains a position there as a Visiting Professional.
She has been an invited speaker at the Carter Center Symposium, the Kennedy Forum on Mental Health, the U.S. Senate HELP Committee’s roundtable to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, and the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. In 2016, Laysha was the recipient of the 2016 Carol T. Mowbray Early Career Research Award from the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association.
As a person who experienced mental health systems that are often ineffective at promoting recovery and community inclusion, she is passionate about improving these systems through research that advances the use of evidence-based practices in real-world settings. CLOSE
Louisa Putnam, LPCC, LMFT
Board Member, Santa Fe, NM
Putnam is a psychotherapist with a long-established practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Read more
Andy Smith currently serves as a Policy Manager at the Association of Oregon Counties, an intergovernmental organization whose membership consists of Oregon's 36 counties. On a day to day basis, he works Read more
to support Oregon's 120 locally elected County Commissioners in a variety of policy areas including, housing, criminal justice, human services, public health, Medicaid, behavioral health, intellectual/developmental disabilities and veterans.
Before that, Andy worked six years for the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs as Legislative Liaison. He's also served in a variety of state government roles including Deputy Human Services Policy Advisor for Governor Kulongoski, Legislative Coordinator for the Addictions and Mental Health Division of Oregon's Department of Human Services, and Committee Administrator for the House Human Services and Women’s Wellness Committee in the 2007 Oregon Legislature. He served for five years as the Constituent Services Director for the Chief Executive of Multnomah County, Diane Linn, where he assisted citizens in a variety of matters including, public safety, mental health, animals services and land use.
Andy graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1997, clerked for United States District Court Judge Malcolm Marsh, and then was in private practice as a plaintiff’s lawyer for three years. He is an active member of the Oregon State Bar.
Andy graduated from Stanford University in 1989 where he majored in International Relations and received a four year Naval ROTC Scholarship. He studied abroad in Berlin and upon graduation was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy. Based in San Diego, he completed two 6 month ocean deployments to Asia aboard the USS Reasoner and is a veteran of the first Gulf War. He also participated in counter narcotic interdiction operations in Central America.
Andy is married to JeanethVillegas and has three children, Maili, Jerred and Jaden. He is a native of Wausau, Wisconsin.
“I lost my mind and found my truest self, I enjoy seeing the potential in abstract ideas for positive change, putting invisible concepts together and making them real” Read more
Ronda “Ro” Speight, New York Certified Peer Specialist, is committed to pioneering the advancement of Professional Peer Support in the mental health field. Specifically, helping to define what are “collaborative practices” between peer professionals and traditional mental health professions. Ro has been trained in various peer professional and progressive clinical methodologies, which benefit from integrating the peer professional perspective.
In the interest of this commitment, she has been trained in Social Networking, derived from Open Dialogue, currently aiming to utilize the strengths of both clinical and peer facilitation in the United States. Ro is trained as a Hearing Voices Network Facilitator, which is transforming traditional stigmas and perspectives of voice hearing and other alternative sensory phenomena. She is currently working as a Peer and Recovery Specialist at Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester, New York. MHA programs include On Track New York, a comprehensive program for young individuals experiencing first-episode psychosis and the Westchester Recovery Network, a peer-directed in-community peer support program.
Ro is also active in the larger New York community, modeling and applying peer professional competencies in traditional medical model settings. She is currently supporting the peer professional presence at New York Presbyterian Hospital- Westchester Division, developing comprehensive Peer Professional led wellness groups on inpatient units. Ro is enjoying being an agent of positive change after years of trying to personally navigate her identity and purpose through a complicated mental health system. CLOSE