2016 Annual Conference | Thank You

Rita-roundCollaborating for Unity / Thank you!
We have so much to be grateful for!

By Rita Cronise, iNAPS Director of Operations

At the conclusion of this 10th Annual National Peer Support Conference, there are many to thank for making this year’s conference the best attended yet.

Starting with our founder and advisor, Steve Harrington, who picked the location and dates well before two life-altering strokes forced him to adopt a less stressful lifestyle. His original vision for the organization and his years of dedication to creating strong roots have taken hold and continue to grow with each new member that joins.


These days, Steve spends time in his garden enjoying an abundant harvest and an abundance of time in nature, which has been a source of joy throughout his life. He reminds us how important it is to do the things we love and, in his ever present cheerful tone, to “Live it Up!” We enjoyed having him join us by Skype from his lakeside home in Michigan for the closing ceremony of the conference.

If you were not able to join the conference in Philadelphia, you can click the links below to get a sense of what happened from excerpts of the Conference Program:

This letter is specifically one of gratitude and thanks for all who participated in the success of our conference!

Gratitude for the iNAPS Board and Executive Committee

We are fortunate to have an experienced leadership team, especially during this past year of organizational change and development. Our team consists of our executive consultant, Lori Ashcraft; board president, Matthew Federici; vice president, Andy Bernstein; treasurer, Renee Kopache; secretary, Mike Weaver; and board members: Peter Ashenden, Bill Beverley-Blanco, Lisa Goodale, Dwayne Mayes, Diann Schutter, Terrence Smithers, Lisa St. George, and Anthony Stratford. Each have guided iNAPS toward greater opportunities for organizational sustainability.

Others who have served on the board during this past year and time of transition include Lyn Legere, who made contributions toward continuing education and some organizational thoughts about national certification; Gladys Christian who served as board president for a number of years with ever present optimism and inspirational stories. We wish her the best in her retirement. Gayle Bluebird also served for many years and brought a unique and passionate perspective. A quote that reminds me of Bluebird:

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. ~Howard Zinn

Dreamcatcher Award – Volunteer of the Year

Kopache-renee_tcm7-103800We are immensely grateful to one member of our leadership team, treasurer Renee Kopache, who we honored with the Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition for the astounding number of hours of volunteer service she put in during the change, on top of a full time job, to ensure iNAPS was on track financially and developing in sustainable ways.

She deserves recognition for her dedication to the larger recovery vision; a vision in which we (collectively as all who embrace recovery) collaborate to transform service environments into genuine recovery-focused settings that fully support and work in partnership with those who are providing peer services.

She summarized the key factors for success in creating genuine recovery-focused environments in a recent webinar:


Click the link below to view the entire webinar, which is part of the Doors to Wellbeing Monthly Peer Specialist Webinar Series, titled: Peers in the Workforce – Invasion, Innovation, or Integration.

Award winners
Six remarkable leaders were recognized (and video recorded by David Barker of Creatus Media) during the award ceremony at this year’s conference.

  • Gayathri Ramprasad (Lifetime Innovator)
  • Robyn Priest (International Inspiration)
  • Gina Calhoun / Scott Heller (Lifetime Connection)
  • Renee Kopache (Volunteer of the Year)
  • Sharon Wise (Charles Willis Memorial Award)

More information on how to obtain a copy of their keynote presentations will be made available in coming months.

Group of People Holding Hands Around Letter Thank you

 Philadelphia Partnership and Sponsors

Collaborating for Unity has come to life in our conference partnership with the Philadelphia Dept. of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities Services (DBHIDS) Commissioner Arthur Evans and Deputy Commissioner Marquita Williams, and later Deputy Commissioner Roland Lamb.


We especially want to express deep and heartfelt gratitude for my counterpart in Philadelphia DBHIDS conference coordinator, Sean Brinda, and his team who spent untold hours in meetings with us during the planning and preparation and logistics for the National Peer Support Conference, as well as holding the ‘Philadelphia conference within a conference.’ Many advanced level, innovative workshops that are highlighted in the program are from Philadelphia.

We also thank Beverly Haberle of PRO ACT, Maria Del Mar Cabiya, of the City of Philadelphia, Michael Brody from the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Mark Salzer of Temple University for their assistance and participation in the Welcome to Philadelphia section of our program.


Our partnerships in Philadelphia include years of ongoing support from Susan Rogers at the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse who assisted with promotions and details related both to Philadelphia and to holding a national conference! We especially appreciated the loan of projectors to ensure that our presenters were able to give quality presentations!


Michael Brody, Robert Turri, Clarice Bailey, Onzie Travis, Elisha Coffey, and several others at MHASP provided many forms of assistance, particularly in helping the independent organizers who were offering pre-conference Summer Institutes and local scholarships.  Philadelphia has clearly demonstrated the spirit of brotherly love and sisterly affection!


Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

Another huge thank you goes to Maureen Feeny-Byrnes and Nancy Wieman (who helped with the Welcome to Pennsylvania portion of the conference program) from the Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) Dept. of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities. Maureen in particular served in a variety of capacities and assisted the independent organizers with space at the Montgomery County Community College as a venue for the pre-conference programs.

Conference Planning, Promotion, and Presentation

Planning, budgeting, organizing, selecting workshops, and putting together a conference is a true collaboration for unity and we had the best team ever! Like a major motion picture there are many who deserve credit….

Conference Oversight / Governance

  • Matthew Federici (iNAPS Board President)
  • Roland Lamb/Sean Brinda (Philadelphia DBHIDS, Deputy Commissioner)
  • Ethel Sidney (iNAPS/Sheraton Hotel Coordinator)

Conference Coordinators

  • Rita Cronise (iNAPS Director of Operations)
  • Sean Brinda (Philadelphia DBHIDS)
  • Maureen Feeny-Byrnes (Preconference Institutes / Montgomery County

Vital contributors

Ethel Sidney, Esq (Tuscon, AZ), who came on board to help out last year to help with the San Antonio conference, immediately after Steve had his strokes, and has continued to offer pro bono legal supports and services as the hotel contract coordinator and for Robyn Priest of PEERLINK (Portland, Oregon), PeerZone USA (Resiliency Unleashed, Austin, TX), and PSACC of Canada, who provided assistance based on her experience with coordinating the Alternatives conference. Both of these highly experienced professionals made significant contributions toward planning, organizing, and offering their professional expertise at various stages throughout the development of the conference.

Martha Barbone of the Transformation Center (Boston, Massachusetts), Onzie Travis of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern PA (Philadelphia), Nick Holstein (San Antonio, TX), Shane Walley (Austin, TX), Rachelle Weiss (Copeland Center/Doors to Wellbeing), Kim Maldonado (Philhaven, Harrisburg, PA), Gayle Bluebird (retired), Bill Beverley-Blanco of the VA (Atlanta, GA), Shelley Brown (Oklahoma), Anna Gray of Prosumers International (Austin, TX), Terrence Smithers and Lisa St. George of RI-International (Arizona), Lisa Goodale of DBSA (Chicago, IL), and Angela Ostholthoff of the Recovery Center of Hamilton County (Cincinnati, Ohio) also made major contributions of time and expertise.

(Note: The size of each name in the Word cloud represents the number of hours spent in planning meetings for the 2016 Conference!)

Planning Committee
Coordinators: Rita Cronise, Robyn Priest, Ethel Sidney

Lori Ashcraft (Celebration), Clarice Bailey, Martha Barbone, Andy Bernstein, Bill Beverly-Blanco (Global Peer Supporter Celebration Day), Gayle Bluebird (Arts), Sean Brinda, Shelley Brown, Harry Coe, Elisha Coffey, Deborah Clark, Rita Cronise, Holly Dixon, Crystal Edwards, Matthew Federici, Maureen Feeny-Byrnes (Summer Institutes), Shirley Robinson-Flood, Lisa Goodale, Anna Gray, Jacek (Jack) Haciak, Tammy Heinz, Nick Holstein (Arts and Youth), Renee Kopache, Kim Maldando, Dwayne Mayes, Jody Ann Newell, Larry Nulton, Robyn Priest, Vicki Rainey, Dawn Reinhardt-Wood, Mike Runningwolf, Lisa St.George, Ethel Sidney, Frances Skerritt, Terrence Smithers, Anthony Stratford, Onzie Travis, Mike Weaver, Rachelle Weiss, Shane Whalley, Jessica Wolf

Program Selection Committee
Coordinator: Robyn Priest

Lori Ashcraft, Clarice Bailey, Martha Barbone, Gayle Bluebird, Sean Brinda, Shelley Brown, Rita Cronise, Nick Holstein, Renee Kopache, Lyn Legere, Robyn Priest, Vicki Rainey, Frances Skerritt, Rachelle Weiss

Marketing Committee
Coordinators: Rita Cronise, Robyn Priest, Ethel Sidney

Lori Ashcraft, Martha Barbone, Andy Bernstein, Bill Beverly-Blanco, Gayle Bluebird, Sean Brinda, Harry Coe, Rita Cronise, Holly Dixon, Maureen Feeny-Byrnes, Jacek, Nick Holstein, Renee Kopache, Kim Maldando, Dwayne Mayes, Robyn Priest, Vicki Rainey, Mike Runningwolf, Ethel Sidney, Terrence Smithers, Onzie Travis, Rachelle Weiss, Shane Whalley, Jessica Wolf,

On-Site Conference Volunteer Coordinators
Coordinators: Diann Schutter, JodyAnn Newell, Ethel Sidney, Kim Maldonado, Angela Ostholthoff

On Site Volunteers (alphabetically)

Na’im Ali, Lori Ashcraft, Jazmin Banks, Martha Barbone, Concelia Bell, Andy Bernstein, Bill Beverley-Blanco, Sean Brinda, Donnel Brown, Shelley Brown, Larry Burg, Cynthia Butts, Gina Calhoun, John Carlson, Eleanora Carney, Victoria Craig, Pam Crawford, Rick Cronise, Crystal Edwards, Maureen Feeny-Byrnes, Alise Ferguson, Tonia Gaskins, David Hailey, Jonathan Harold, Jamila Harris, Renee Kopache, Elena Kravitz, Jack Land, Hazel LeCount, Anthony Maddox, Kim Maldonado, Enid Mann, Joseph Martin, Judy Mburu, Theresa McCausland, Jim McGovern, Carie McManus, Winston Neblett, JodyAnn Newell, Angela Ostholthoff, Noelle Pollet, Melody Schofield, Diann Schutter, Jeffrey Shair, Ethel Sidney, Elena Sinatra, Kenya Smith-Johnson, Terrence Smithers, Aretha Spady, Joan Vieldhouse, Mika Walton, Cathy Washington, Mike Weaver, Rachel Weiss, Robin Weiss, Rober Williams, and Garnell Worthington

10th Anniversary Celebration

Lori Ashcraft, Andy Bernstein, Steve Harrington

Global Peer Supporter Celebration Kick-off Event

Bill Beverley-Blanco, Jay Zimmerman, Dan O’Brien-Mazza, Andy Bernstein, Shelley Brown

Conference Presenters

Angela Abbott, Flo Alberque, Marcus Anderson, Michelle Andra, John  Anglin, Lori Ashcraft, Peter Ashenden, Clarice Bailey, William Baker, Jazmin Banks, Martha Barbone, MacKenzie Barclay, Soliana Berhane, Andy Bernstein, Dan Berstein, Laure Biron, Philippe  Bloch, Jessica Bloom, Gayle Bluebird, Faith Boersma, Michael Boeswetter, Elizabeth Breier, Sean Brinda, Gabriel Bryant, Larry Burg, Rev Paula Burnett-Kimmer, June Cairnes, Gina Calhoun, John Carlson, Liz Castaneda, Christie Cline, Elisha Coffey, Oryx Cohen, Marcie Cole, Brian Coleman, James P Collins, Stacey Conway, PW Covington, Rita Cronise, Charles Curie, Mika Dabney Walton, Allen Daniels, Patrick DeBow, Maria Del Mar Cabiya, Holly Dixon, Sean Donovan, Crystal  Edwards, Jonathan P. Edwards, Mary Fala, Rand Faulkner, Raymond Federici, Brooke Feldman, Evan Figueroa-Vargas, Monique Flynn, Phyllis Foxworth, Zach Garafalo, James P Garvey, Casey Goldberg, Beverly Haberle, Sheila Hall-Prioleau, Melinda R. Hasbrouck, Eve Hauser, Patrick Hendry, Robert Hickox, Galvin Holloway, Yumiko Ikuta, Amie Jackson, Melodie Jackson, Penny Johnson, Demetrius Jorden, Renee Kopache, Roland Lamb, Jan Landis, Tom Lane, Lyn Legere, Erin Levesque, Bill Lichtenstein, Michael Little, Chaz Longwell, Ameika Malcolm, Kim Maldonado, Fred Martin, Chris Martin, Gregory Martin, Shannon McCleery-Hooper, Lisa McGonagle, Carrie  McManus, David Measel, Anise Milbourne, Pamela Miles, Kenneth Minkoff, Kathie Mitchell, Stephen Morgan, Jody Ann Newell, Malkia Newman, Sheryl Newton, Debbie Nicolellis, Marslyn O’Berry, Dan O’Brien-Mazza, Michael Oestreicher, Angela Ostholthoff, Jennifer Padron, Andrew Parrish, Kirk Parsons, Ryan Petros, Amy Pierce, Cynthia Piltch, Noelle Pollet, Elizabeth Prewitt, Robyn Priest, Sharon Pritchett, Maggie Pruett-Saratan, Kelsey Pyron, Gayathri Ramprasad, Brenda Rogers, Michael Runningwolf, Mark Salzer, Annie Scharff, Diana Schrader, Julie Schwager, Suzan Schwarz, Sue Shannon, Melissa Shuster, Jomel Silverio, Karen Simpson, Yolanda Smith, Phyllis Solomon, David Son, Lauren Spiro, Bryan Stoffregen, Kim Sunderland, Peggy Swarbrick, Beth Terrence, Howard Trachtman, Diana Viglucci, Shira Walinsky, Michael Weaver, Sandra Webster, Victoria Welle, Denise Westfall, Kyra Wilson, Sharon Wise, Jessica Wolf, Tracy Woods, Cindy Zatcoff-Mochan, Jeff Zitofsky

Press Coverage

Dennis Grantham of Open Minds (former editor in chief for Behavioral Healthcare Magazine) drove from Ohio to Philadelphia to interview the leadership team and key coordinators of this year’s conference and plans to share what he’s learned about iNAPS in future publications. So stay tuned.

Webinars and other ongoing support

Once again we thank Peter Ashenden and Optum, who have consistently contributed to our efforts to support and educate the peer workforce. In July, we offered a webinar that was a sneak preview of the theme of our three featured Saturday morning keynote presenters. Gina Calhoun and Robyn Priest will be joining Gayathri Ramprasad (of ASHA International) for a series of TED-like talks on story telling techniques that uplift and inspire hope.

Gayathri-squareA recording of the Optum-sponsored July webinar with Gayathri is now available in our archive of recorded webinars and it is well worth watching. If you’re a member of iNAPS, you can get the added bonus of a certificate of attendance for watching. To learn more, visit the past webinars page on our website.

Thank you to David Barker of Createus Media for continuing to record our webinars and for your work at the conference to record stories for the ASHA International You Can Recover Project – and for also video recording our keynote presenters! More about how to obtain a copy of the Keynote Presentations will be made available in the future.


On September 30, iNAPS and Resilience, Inc. team up again to offer the second in webinar series (Finding Healthy Me) on Peer Educating Peers on the Affordable Care Act.

ACA - Healthy Me

This webinar series, hosted by Optum, was part of a joint project, funded by SAMHSA BRSS TACS, for peer workers in the state of California. The goal was to take the opportunities offered thorough the Affordable Care Act, which can be difficult to access and understand, and offer inspirational and innovative training for peer workers to help those they support receive health care they are entitled to receive, even if there are interruptions in employment or other life circumstances. The first part of this webinar series was broadcast in June and a recording of the June webinar is available for viewing now (click here).  For more, on this and other recorded webinars, visit the “Past Webinars” page on our website.

Support from family and friends

This conference is the result of an army of volunteers, who have helped to plan, organize, and manage the many aspects of putting on a successful event. Among those volunteers are family and friends who step up to take care of things and/or step aside to allow those of us who are very involved to do what needs to be done. In particular, I want to acknowledge and appreciate the patience, generosity, and help of my husband Rick and son Jon Cronise who have given much to help ensure our success.

For more on the Conference Program, Artistic Submissions for the conference theme, and the full list of Sponsors, click the links below.

Conference Program at a Glance

Artistic Submissions | Our Sponsors