All staff members can be reached at (415) 421-2926. Their extensions are listed below.
DIRECTORS & SENIOR STAFF
Eduardo Vega, MA
Eduardo Vega became the Executive Director of MHASF in November 2010. Over twenty years, he has worked in five states as a leader in transformative mental health programs and practices including national, state and regional technical assistance, research and training projects and major policy initiatives in suicide prevention, stigma and discrimination reduction, consumer rights and empowerment, community integration, self-help and peer support for mental health consumers. In his role as ED, he is responsible for cultivating the strategic direction and long-term organizational sustainability of MHASF. He holds an M.A. in Psychology from New School for Social Research and serves also on the SAMHSA Recovery-to-Practice Initiative, Social Justice Advisory Committee of the California Mental Health Directors Association and the Advisory Council to the national Alternatives Conference.
Michael Gause, MA
Michael has worked in the nonprofit sector in San Francisco for the past 8 years with a particular focus on supportive housing, program development, and consumer empowerment. Prior to working at MHASF, Michael created the Family Housing Program with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, as well as the Children and Youth Program with Community Housing Partnership. He oversees all program operations at MHASF, including the SOLVE Program, PREP Program, and the Institute on Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Duke University and a Master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Bennington College.
Mahesh Michael Venketraman, CIA, MCMA, CA, CGAP
BIO COMING SOON!
Luba Botcheva, Ph.D.
Statewide Project Manager
Luba has more than 15 years of applied research, evaluation and counseling experience in the areas of public/behavioral health and social services. She has worked in the field of mental health intervention and prevention, first as a mental health counselor for culturally diverse populations, and then as a researcher and evaluator of variety of behavioral and mental health programs in community-based organizations, schools, and clinics. Prior to joining MHASF Luba was a Senior Research Associate at Sociometrics Corporation, Los Altos where she led the design and implementation of large NIH funded research to practice initiatives for disseminating evidence based practices among behavioral health professionals.
She was a Program Director at the Children’s Health Council, Palo Alto, a research associate at the Stanford Center of Adolescence, and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford where she conducted research on youth development in changing social context. Dr. Botcheva holds a Ph.D. degree in developmental psychology from Moscow State University and post-doctoral fellowship from Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Stephen K. Marks, Ph.D.
Training and Evaluation Director
Stephen Marks Ph.D has been working in health-service-related fields since 1993. Among other things he is an Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator, an Anderson and Anderson Certified Anger Management Facilitator (CAMF) and a substance abuse peer support specialist. His professional experience includes organizational development (OD); T-Group Learning; program evaluation; adult learning; training curriculum development; grass roots community organizing; songwriting and musical arrangement; and domestic and community violence reduction and prevention. He has been enjoying his own recovery and wellness for many years. He is currently at work on a novel based on his lived experience as an adolescent living in state hospitals.
Senior Communications Manager
Maureen has over 18 years of experience in marketing, communications, design and business development with experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sector. As an independent marketing and communications consultant, she worked with a range of clients, including Patagonia, Habitat for Humanity, Visiting Nurses Association, Clairol, and Harley Davidson – Santa Barbara. She has also served as a volunteer tutor working with abused and neglected children at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, and as an AIDS Educator in Burkina Faso in Africa.
Maureen holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from CSUN and a M.A. in Social and Political Thought from the University of Sussex, U.K.
With degrees in Sociology and English Literature, Abraham brings a decade’s work of building and improving the administrative, financial and human resources infrastructure of non-profit and social service organizations in California. While many of Abraham’s peers went into direct community organizing right after college, he began to work in administrative roles for social justice community-based organizations. He saw administrative and operations work as a form of organizing within itself and as having a direct impact on the efficacy of community programs and institutional change. Abraham has been quoted saying, “In order for us to effect larger institutional change, we must improve and change the systems within our institution.” Before joining the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF), Abraham was the first Operations Manager for a social service agency that provided services and resources to former and current foster youth in Alameda County. He strongly believes in the mission of MHASF because of its deep movement building work in the mental health field, particularly around stigma elimination.
Community Programs Manager
Jennifer Awa, MPH is a harm reductionist, an activist of social justice, and a community facilitator of change and healing. She specializes in working with some of the highest-risk and most marginalized community members in San Francisco, including incarcerated populations, active substance users, LGBTQIQ (specifically the Transgender community), homeless, and co-occurring populations. Jennifer currently works in the nonprofit sector overseeing, designing, implementing, and evaluating mental health programs from an advocacy perspective. She possesses a Masters in Public Health, focused on Community Health Education, as well as certificates in HIV testing and counseling, sexual violence prevention, and community health outreach. She has been a leader throughout her community in HIV prevention and care services, harm reduction, peer services, and outreach. For the past 15 years, she has been developing programs, facilitating health information, developing curricula, and creatively enriching the knowledge of her community by disseminating health information in a way that is culturally relevant.
Senior Program Manager/ Promising Practices Program
Daniel Esparza has over 10 years of experience in providing and leading technical assistance. Previous to joining MHASF, he provided technical assistance and oversight on a national campaign to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on college campuses, coordinating with over 120 colleges/universities on.
Community Projects Manager
As a Community Projects Manager and Program Manager, Mark is responsible for leading and overseeing major community based projects and operational functions of the organization as well as oversee the day-to-day operations of the Institute on Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering (ICHC). He is also a Co-chair of the San Francisco Task Force on Hoarding (SFTFH). Mark’s is also experience in conducting trainings and presentations both regionally and nationally on the topic of hoarding, MHASF, and SFTFH’s innovative services, resources, and policy advocacy. Mark has working experience in nearly every aspect within a mental health non-profit organization from program management and community advocate to organizational operations. Prior to MHASF, Mark was the Operations Manager at Mental Health America of Hawaii where he served on Hawaii’s Statewide Children’s Mental Health Day Committee and the Mental Health Court Advisory Board. Mark received a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Psychology from the University of Hawaii – West Oahu and is a member of Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology.
Aran Watson, MA
Program Manager – Resource Development
Aran is currently a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at the California School for Professional Psychology in San Francisco whose research has focused primarily on the complexities of trauma assessment and treatment in young people exposed to multiple layers of violence. Aran has over 10 years experience in the field of Youth & Community Development, having most recently worked in developing clinical and non-clinical supports for youth and families as the Community Health Director for the RYSE Center, a youth serving community-based organization in Richmond, CA. Aran has led Trauma and Development trainings for stakeholders at local, regional, and state levels, as well as guest lecturing on trauma complexity and diagnosis at several local institutions including UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and San Francisco State University.
SOLVE Program Coordinator
Terri Byrne has been working in the mental health field for over 30 years. She has witnessed firsthand the transformation of the mental health system. Over 20 years ago, Terri worked in a Psychiatric Social Rehabilitation agency that valued employing people with lived experience. She has worked in hospitals as a Licensed Psychiatric Technician is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner as well as an Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator. She is passionate about mental health recovery and has worked as a Recovery Educator and Trainer for several years. Currently as the Program Coordinator of the Stigma Reduction Program, S.O.L.V.E. (Sharing our Lives Voices and Experience) Terri is able to facilitate conversations about discrimination of people with mental health challenges and educate audiences about how they can fight stigma. Terri describes her work at MHASF as being “ a deeply satisfying experience- I get to work alongside people who have made remarkable changes in their lives and who then want to pave the way for others, so that they don’t have to struggle so hard.”
Rachel Del Rossi
Rachel has been a dedicated social service provider for the last 15 years. She has extensive experience working with individuals in crisis, including foster care youth, gang affiliated youth, homeless parents and children, domestic violence survivors, and trauma victims. Before joining the MHASF team, she was the founding director of the Compass Family Resource Center for 9 years, providing direct support to homeless families. She has developed Human Service Agency approved curricula and is a seasoned trainer and group facilitator. Rachel is passionate about education’s ability to empower individuals and change lives.
Project Coordinator, Peer Hoarding and Cluttering Response Team
John Franklin is a career adult educator for progressive groups and causes. He is co-founder and former Executive Director of Educational Development Group, Inc. (EDG, Inc.), an educational non-profit in Boston. He moved to SF in 2007 and is currently Project Coordinator of the Peer Hoarding and Cluttering Response Team. John holds an M.A. in Drama from University of Toronto.
Suicide Prevention Specialist
Melodee promotes and advocates for innovative suicide prevention projects and strategies dedicated to advancing wellness, recovery, and social justice practices. Most recently, Melodee worked at San Francisco Suicide Prevention where she managed all administrative, development, and training aspects of the crisis line program. Melodee received her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where she is also currently finishing a year-long academic writing, research, and teaching fellowship through the Center for Writing & Scholarship. As a suicide prevention professional with lived experience of her own suicidal thoughts and actions, Melodee believes that the most effective suicide prevention efforts must directly incorporate lessons learned from the expertise of those who have personal connections to suicide.
Monica has her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from San Francisco State University. Upon graduation she was the research assistant for Yo Puedo, an NIH funded pilot intervention study with Mission District youth 16-21. Her interests in research are focused on reducing health disparities among disadvantaged populations, particularly youth, women, and racial and ethnicminorities.
Khoi has a background in training, working with student initiatives and corporate training departments. He holds a BA in Psychology and a BA in Economics both from the University of California San Diego. Khoi offers his personal experiences as a unique perspective to link mental health advocacy to the general public hoping to incorporate new strategies with proven methods.
Community Empowerment Coordinator
Nicole Plata is a passionate and uncompromising advocate for Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) in the mental health system. Having overcome a variety of challenges in her youth, from abuse and community violence to involvement in the criminal justice system and a traumatic brain surgery, Nicole offers a well-informed perspective to those she works with. She seeks to use her perspective and experience to advocate and inform services for the diverse youth of California. She does this through her work as the Youth Initiatives Coordinator for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco and her involvement on various Transition Age Youth advocacy groups within San Francisco County and statewide. In her free time, Nicole is an artist and muralist who loves to awaken her roots through salsa dancing.
Julian Plumadore has 4 years of academic training in Humanities from the University of Oregon, and 30 years of lived experience as a mental health consumer. As MHASF’s Community Advocate, he has taken an active role in discussions affecting San Francisco’s mental health community, including hearings on AB 1421 (Laura’s Law) and the SFPD’s Taser Proposal. In addition to offering peer support and facilitating recovery-oriented support groups, Julian leads regular trainings and presentations as part of the Institute on Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering (ICHC) and is the lead Peer Educator for the SOLVE Speakers Bureau.
BIO COMING SOON!
Julia Tagliarini is the Wellness Specialist at MHASF, working exclusively on California’s Wellness Works! program. She fully believes in the mission of the Mental Health Association and works at increasing overall knowledge and accessibility to wellness in the workplace through her ongoing work in the field of integrative health and her dedication to protecting mental health at work. Julia has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a proven passion for Corporate Wellness.
Program Assistant, The Center for Dignity, Recovery and Stigma Elimination
Susan has a diverse and dynamic administrative background in both non-profit and private sectors. As the Office Coordinator in the visitation department at Family Service Agency of San Francisco, she worked in case management, including oversight of the Access database. Her private sector experience includes office management at Coldwell Banker’s escrow division.
Susan attended UCLA where she studied European History, with a specific interest in French intellectual history. She participated in Caminar’s Supported Education Program, where she studied Peer Counseling and Psychosocial Rehabilitation. She is also trained in WRAP.
PEER RESPONSE TEAM
Valerie is currently a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco. Valerie received her MPH in Epidemiology from Columbia University and BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. Her research interests include mental health stigma in underserved populations and reducing barriers to care using integrated behavioral health. Valerie has worked in China with rural health outreach and program evaluation, as well as at the VA with health care evaluation. She is also on Student Committees for the American Psychological Association (APA) Division on International Psychology and the APA Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues.