28th annual summer conference


We hope you are as excited about our 28th Annual Summer Conference as we are! If you have questions about registration or the schedule below, please email michael@gmhcn.org, or call our office Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm at the numbers at the bottom of this page. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

2:00-7:00 PM Conference Check-In - Strickland Auditorium

4:00-5:30 PM R2ISE Recovery - Jones Auditorium

5:30-7:00 PM DINNER

7:00-10:00 PM Dance  - Brown Auditorium

7:30-8:30 PM Double Trouble in Recovery Meeting – Jones Craft Room
8:00-10:00 PM R2ISE Recovery - Jones Auditorium


Wednesday, August 21, 2019
7:00-8:00 AM BREAKFAST

9:00-9:15 AM Welcome and Greetings – STRICKLAND AUDITORIUM

9:15-10:45 AM Keynote Speaker – STRICKLAND AUDITORIUM

10:45-11:00 AM Break and Go to Workshops

11:00-12:00 PM Morning Workshops

12:00-1:00 PM LUNCH

1:30-2:30 PM Afternoon Workshops

2:30-3:00 PM Break and Change Workshops

3:00-4:00 PM Afternoon Workshops Repeated  

4:00-5:00 PM Y’All Recovery Meeting – Nalls 1

4:00-5:30 PM FREE TIME

5:30-7:00 PM DINNER

7:00-8:00 PM Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities Update & Peer Comments – STRICKLAND AUDITORIUM

8:00-10:30 PM R2ISE Recovery - Jones Auditorium
8:00-10:30 PM Karaoke – Strickland Auditorium

8:00-10:30 PM Movie – “HAPPY: A Small Film with a Big Smile” and discussion with Leonard Zimmerman – Clary I


Thursday, August 22, 2018


8:45-9:10 AM Welcome and Greetings

9:10-10:45 AM Keynote Speaker, Vote on 2019 – 2020 Top Priorities & Presentation of Awards 

10:45-11:00 AM Break and Go to Workshops

11:00-12:00 PM Wednesday Morning Workshops Repeated

12:15-12:30 PM Announcement of the 2019 – 2020 Top 5 Priorities; Raffle; Closing of the 2019 Conference


Using Relational Presence to Foster Healing and Strengthen Connection – Eric Atwood

Relational presence is the practice of “being with” people in conversation and group settings that involve various techniques that help people see, hear, and value others for who they are, thereby fostering deeper connection and greater understanding between people. Participants in this workshop will get to experience Relational Presence through provided information, examples, and group exercises.  Nalls #1 

HOME: A Key to Wellness and Recovery – Jerome Lawrence and Cheri Mitchell

This interactive workshop speaks to the topics of defining and finding a real home and how home is a key to wellness.  Tips (or Keys) for a successful home search, differences between ownership and rental, and assistance programs will be shared and discussed.  Nalls #2


Healing from the Impacts of Being Caged: Incarceration of Women and Girls and their Mental Health – Sharon Turner and Tabatha Trammell, CPS-MH

As returning citizens from State and Federal Institutions, we have first-hand experience of what it is like to be caged (jailed) with both diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health issues.  We look to share our experiences and to show how important it is that we, as peers, help to create some holistic solutions to address the returning of these women and girls back to safe spaces and help them heal with peer support.  Nalls #3


Hands on Art Workshop – Charlotte Cameron

Learn about recovery through the arts and have a “hands on” opportunity to complete an art

project of your own.  Nalls #4

Understanding Peer Support Services in the Department of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) – Florence Daniels, CPS-MH, CPS-AD, Army Veteran and John Bernard, CPS-MH, Army Veteran

This workshop will outline the peer support services provided within the Veterans Health Administration by veterans for veterans.  CPSs in the VA help to model the possibilities of recovery, provide guidance on navigating the VA system of care, and access community resources to instill in our veterans the hope of recovery.  Culbreth #1


Reframing Your Perspective – Heather Croas, CPS-MH

This workshop will look at the importance of not rushing to judgement of others based on behaviors used to express emotions.  Using interactive activities, we will illustrate how people make assumptions based on behaviors without communicating directly with the other person to understand the motivation for the behaviors and how to reframe our perspective to be better supporters.    

Experiencing Recovery Connections Through Connecting With One’s Spirituality – Imam Tariq Abdur Rashid, CPS-MH, CPS-AD

This will be an interactive workshop that incorporates an eclectic way of identifying sources and tools that foster one’s whole health & wellness through a holistic spiritual journey.  Self-actualization can help to connect and sustain one’s recovery.  

Cultivating Resilience Through Compassion – Wade Lee, CPS-MH and Christina Mitrisin, CPS-MH

An interactive discussion that examines our definition of resilience – to learn how it impacts our recovery narrative.  We will look at some of the factors that test our resilience and explore how building self-compassion can lay the foundation for a lifetime of successful recovery.  

LGBT Cultural Competency – Corey Jones, CPS-MH

How can we champion well-being through peer support if we don’t know how?  Come learn how to better support your lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender peers.  Learn how to be culturally competent regarding the LGBT community and why it’s important by watching video presentations of peers sharing their experiences and the presenter’s personal story as a peer specialist who identifies as a bisexual woman. 


What Am I Doing For ME? Self-Care – For YOUR Mental Health! – Pam Brooks-Crump, CPS-MH, CPS-AD and Donna Brooks, CPS-AD

Let’s be real!  Are you doing what you need to do to maintain YOUR Recovery?  Come join us for a fun, interactive workshop where we will help you create YOUR SELFCARE Plan.  

You Can Save Lives with Q.P.R. (Question, Persuade, Refer).  Suicide Prevention…Gate Keepers – Clyde Lloyd, CPS-MH, CPS-AD and Brent Hoskinson, CPS-MH

Suicide prevention, mental health recovery, and trauma are all connected.  Asking the question “What helps you?” can change the entire conversation and help support individuals with suicidal thoughts to reach out for assistance.  From the perspective of “I have been there,” we will ask questions that are open ended and support the idea that we can both step back from our own thoughts and assist those who are having suicidal thoughts.  Jones #1

Resilience: Enhancing Recovery and Redefining Your Superpower – Lamarr E. Lewis, MA, LAPC, CPRP

This workshop will utilize evidence-based recovery principles, positive psychology techniques, and more to assist participants with developing Resilience Skills – transforming these skills into a “superpower” for their toolbox of recovery making a positive impact on their lives.  Through creative and innovative engagement, participants will leave the workshop inspired to live their lives with the ability to embrace and accept their best selves and develop an optimistic outlook for the future, despite adversity.  

Emotional Intelligence in Every Day Life – De’Adra Phillips, CPS-MH

This workshop will discuss Emotional Intelligence as a way to recognize your emotions as they happen and understanding your general tendencies for responding to different people and situations.  Recognizing and understanding your emotions and responses can help you change the way you interact with others.  Jones #3

Live Life In The Purple: Tips for Anxiety and Depression Using Positivity and Nature – Melissa “Muv” Wallace

This workshop will explore the presenter’s personal use of tools such as deep breathing, positive visualization and affirmations that have helped provide her immediate relief from racing thoughts, anxiety, and depression.  Sharing these tools with participants of this workshop may help you in dealing with these issues and living a more productive lifestyle. 

New CPS? What to Expect: The Good, Bad, and Ugly – Ashleigh Sanders, CPS-MH and Jennifer Yearwood, CPS-MH, WHWC

Presenters will use their personal experiences in the CPS workforce to help participants share on the topic of what a new CPS can expect upon entering the workforce.  Open discussion will help to facilitate understanding of challenges, self-advocacy, clinical collaboration, ethics, and more.  

Losing and Finding Your Well-Being: A Workshop of Discovery – Bonita Holder and Gary Holder

Because those living with mental illness frequently feel unwell, finding the way to a better place can be a challenge.  As peers, it’s important for us to understand how to help anyone, including ourselves, to tackle the difficult path to better well-being.  An interactive workshop in search of well-being.  Clary I

Forensic Peer Mentoring Project: Past, Present, and Future – Angela Murphy, CPS-MH, AS, Gena Garner, CPS-MH, CPS-AD, WHWC, ITE and Lindsey Sizemore, CPS-MH, CPS-AD, ITE

The Forensic Peer Mentoring Project provides support, linkage to services, and care coordination to returning citizens from the criminal justice system with behavioral health and/or substance use concerns by utilizing our most valuable tool – lived experience.  This presentation will overview the past, present, and future of the Forensic Peer Mentor program sharing an understanding of the positive vision and outcomes. 

Social Security and Going to Work: What You Need to Know – Sally Atwell, MS, CRC, LPC Director, Benefits Navigator WIPA Project

This workshop will provide attendees with an overview of the two programs that Social Security administers for people with disabilities: SSI and SSDI.  The focus will be on work incentives associated with each program such as the Trial Work period, the PASS plan, and the Ticket to Work.  Information will also be provided on the two WIPA (Work Incentive Planning and Assistance) Projects that serve Georgians with disabilities.  The workshop will provide attendees with the tools they need to be able to understand Social Security work incentives and make informed choices about starting or returning to work. 


We Are More Than A Single Story – Jean Olshefsky, CPS-MH, CPS-AD and Ashley Tricquet, LPC, CRC, MAC

Who am I? What labels do others place on me?  What labels do I place on myself?  This workshop will watch a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Danger of a Single Story and use the talk to reflect on our lived experiences of being stereotyped or identified by a diagnosis or our “single story.”  How do we keep an open mind to asking “what happened to you?” and not “what’s wrong with you?”  Together we will discuss ways we can challenge ourselves to interrupt single stories to champion our peers, as well as our own, well-being.  

Trauma + – Freda Jones and Jonathan Spuhler, CPS-MH

The purpose of this workshop is to explore the effects of trauma and stigma on people living with HIV, and how peer support plays an essential role in their care. We will identify how trauma in one’s past can inform a person’s life up to and through an HIV diagnosis, how the diagnosis itself can be traumatizing, and how the stigma of those traumas play out in the individual’s engagement in care. Much in the same way peer support is essential in empowering people with mental health and/or substance use diagnoses, we will demonstrate how those principles are applicable to people living with HIV, particularly those who are newly diagnosed.  


Pocket Pals – Mary Shuman, CPS-MH

Engaging with supportive peers, friends, and loved ones help us see situations, experiences, and ourselves differently.  While we may do our best to stay in regular contact, there are times when we don’t have immediate access to their supports.  Workshop participants will have an opportunity to explore the many ways we are positively impacted by others.  Create a simple self-help and wellness tool to tap the benefits of our greatest supporters even when they’re not around.  

CPRP Certification: Is It For Me? – Beth Boersma, LMSW, CPRP

This workshop will explain the Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) credential offered by the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA), eligibility requirements, the application process, and potential benefits of achieving this certification for CPSs and other interested individuals to enhance the power and performance of the recovery workforce.  We will also provide a description of the Georgia chapter of PRA and the opportunities and benefits available through becoming involved in the chapter.  

See Our Voices – Ivory Moore, CPS-MH

This workshop will look into diversity, inclusion, and how we all, women especially, have labels placed upon us.  Led by a woman self-identifying as black and lesbian with multiple diagnoses, she will take you on her journey known as RECOVERY/LIVING/MANAGING in living life without being ashamed of who you are because of your understanding of who you are.  There are others out there to support you and understand rather than judge.  

Food and Mood – Making the Connection – Phyllis Smith, B.S., CPS-MH, WHWC

The focus of this workshop is to give peers information that will help them begin to understand the relationship between the food we eat, our own mental health, and our mood.  Guidance will be provided for using available resources to help accomplish whole health goals.  

Mental Health Recovery Messaging Training – Roslind Hayes, BS, CPS-MH, CARES, WHWC and Chris Johnson, MFA, CPS-MH, CPS-AD

This workshop will provide peers and allies the skills necessary to develop and deliver a positive message of mental health recovery that can be adapted to any setting.  

Georgia Peer Support Institute (GPSI) Projects – Michelle Reyes, CPS-MH and GPSI Graduates

The Georgia Peer Support Institute is a three-day recovery oriented, self-directed training.  Come hear graduates of the Institute make presentations about the community projects they conducted from what they learned at GPSI.  

The RESPECT Institute of Georgia: Sparking Resilience and Transformation – Jen Banathy, CPS-MH, CPS-AD, Joel Slack, & RESPECT Institute Team Members

RESPECT Institute (RI) of Georgia graduates will discuss the transformative effects of the RESPECT Institute training and speaking experience.  More specifically, they will describe the benefits of the RI experience in the context of resilience, recovery, and personal growth.  A RI graduate will present his/her story and then discuss how it has evolved since the initial RI training.  

Moving Forward with Managing Diabetes, Hypertension, and Chronic Pain: Living Life To Its Fullest – Julie Spores, CPS-MH and Kathy Schrieber, CPS-MH

A workshop on managing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and chronic pain in recovery.  Our physical wellness is linked to our mental wellness – live life to its fullest in better health!  

Injury of the Conscience – Beverly Ragland, BBA, CCS, CACII, CPS-MH, CPS-AD, Army Veteran and E. Joseph Sanders, BS, CPS-MH, HHC, ASIST, ACE (Chief Clinical NCO, USAR)

This workshop will discuss challenges faced by both veterans and non-veterans in recovery from injuries of the conscience.  Discussion will include identifying injuries of the conscience, help to dispel many of the related stigmas, and illustrate how Peer Support can be effectively used in the recovery from these traumas.

Creative Recovery: DYI (Do-It-Yourself) Projects to enhance Wellness and Recovery – Brenda Brunston, CPS-MH and Roberta Williams, CPS-MH

In this workshop participants will learn about a variety of simple, do-it-yourself, projects that can be used to enhance wellness and recovery.  Participants will have the opportunity to make their own calming jar to take home and receive a packet of do-it-yourself ideas that can be re-created at home with simple items.   

Nature’s Lessons: Resiliency, Recovery, and Wellness – Alice Delaney, CPS-MH and Emily Seabury, Friendship Center Greenhouse and Gardens

In this workshop, we will discuss ways in which gardening can help with our recovery and how gardening with peers further enhances our recovery journey.  Gardeners will answer your gardening questions and each participant may choose a plant to take home.  

Ladies, Let’s LeVel Up: Because You Are Enough – Denise Hardy, CPS-MH, CPRP and Fre’Chessca Foster, CPS-MH

*WOMEN ONLY WORKSHOP* This workshop looks at the importance of self-care, supporting women in improving their self-esteem, self-love, self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-respect as well as taking better care of your body image and self-acceptance to assist in developing self-awareness and inner wisdom to help make choices that honor beliefs and values.  Connecting with your dreams, passions, leadership potential, goals and actions working toward achievement of them, and celebrating accomplishments can enhance your attitude and outlook on life! 

Whole Health Wellness Through Bodywork/Massage & Breathing Techniques – Marie Smalls, CPS-MH, Licensed Massage Therapist in Georgia and Deborah Daughtry, CPS-MH, WHWC, ITE, BA, MA, ABD

This workshop will emphasize the benefits of using massage and breathing techniques as a means of alleviating anxiety and depression.  We will briefly discuss the health benefits of bodywork/massage and demonstrate how to locate different pressure points on the face, hands, and neck; engage in mindfulness breathing exercises; and receive resources on related health benefits.  

27th annual summer conference - 2018

Thanks to everyone who travelled to join us at our Annual Summer Conference. We know how very fortunate we are to have this opportunity each year to join together as peers to celebrate our individual and collective progress, and to prepare ourselves to keep moving forward. Making new friends, seeing old friends, building connections, breaking bread, singing, learning, laughing, and even dancing in the rain—this year we did it all!

Each year’s conference inspires us in a different way, and this year there was a persistent and explicit message of hope from each of our speakers. They were really just fantastic. If you were not able to attend this year, we hope you will be able to make it in 2019. We aren’t sure how we will be able to surpass this year’s conference, but we will spend the next twelve months trying.

Some highlights from this year’s conference are pictured below, but it is not possible to capture every special moment that happened at the conference. With over 600 people in attendance, there were just too many smiling faces to capture, but we hope these will give you a sense of what we experienced—both the hard work to make it happen, and the joy of the peer community experience.

Please join us in congratulating our award winners, listed below, whose immeasurable service to Georgia’s behavioral health community is truly appreciated.

2018's honored guest speakers include:

Keynote Speaker Judy Fitzgerald, MSW Commissioner, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities

Keynote Speaker Leonard Zimmerman
Keynote Speaker Robyn Priest
, Peerlink National TAC


Judy Fitzgerald was appointed Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) by Governor Nathan Deal in 2016. She has been with DBHDD since 2012, previously serving in the roles of Chief of Staff and Deputy Commissioner.

Fitzgerald is a social worker with a career-long focus on behavioral health and public service delivery systems. Prior to joining DBHDD, she worked in a variety of health and human service settings. She served as Vice President of Strategy for View Point Health, one of Georgia’s twenty-six community service boards. She has also worked as a consultant on child and adolescent services in several states and was the Executive Director for the Mental Health Association of Georgia. Fitzgerald was privileged to begin her career in the Mental Health Program of The Carter Center, working for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter on domestic and international advocacy and policy efforts to promote mental health and reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Fitzgerald earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Georgia. She and her husband Tim Gould live in Cobb County with their two children, Abbie and Jack.


Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman’s creative path began at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and he’s been a frequently-awarded and creatively-coveted graphic designer for almost two decades. Adopting the nom-de-brush, “Porkchop,” Zimmerman’s work has been presented in group and solo exhibitions throughout the American South. He’s also been commissioned to create inventive mural projects for The Augusta Water Works, Children’s Hospital of Georgia, Public Library of Augusta-Richmond County, and Unisys. In 2010, Zimmerman was voted Best Local Artist by Augusta Magazine, and Metro Spirit. In 2014 he made his public speaking debut with a TEDx talk about being happy. 2016 saw the feature length documentary "Happy: a small film with a big smile”, based on Zimmerman’s Happy Campaign, begin it’s film festival tour. It has since become an international award winning documentary.  In 2017 Leonard won the artist award from the Greater Augusta Arts Council for his contribution to the arts community.


Robyn Preist is the Lead Project Coordinator with Peerlink National TA Center , co-founder of Robyn Priest Live Your Truth, a mental health strategy firm and also a Consultant for the Center for Innovation in Peer Support. Her Post Graduate Diploma involved majoring in Social Research Methods and Public Policy and Health care. She has worked in business, government and non-profit organizations.  Robyn has been involved in the development and training of mental health and peer services for over 20 years. She has completed, as part of an international team of consultants, the Mental Health Commission of Canada "Making the Case for Peer Support".

Robyn has consulted in 10 different countries related to mental health.  Her signature strengths are connecting with people through collaborative efforts, networking and facilitation. 

Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network 2018 Annual Awards

Ben Achord Peer Supporter of the Year: Karen Daniel, CPS–AD Georgia Council on Substance Abuse Stockbridge, GA

Delois Scott Peer of the Year: Thomas Ingram Georgia Pines CSB Thomasville, GA
Peer Support Program of the Year: Albany Peer Center AmericanWork, Inc. Albany, GA
Charles Willis Certified Peer Specialist of the Year: Jean Olshefsky, CPS, CPS–AD Georgia Collaborative ASO Atlanta, GA
Humanitarian of the Year: Shirley Smith, RN, Conference Nurse Macon, GA
Service Provider of the Year: Arthur Taylor, Ph.D. Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta Decatur, GA
Lifetime Achievement Award: Lynn Thogersen Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network Finance Director, Decatur, GA