From 07/2009 thru 10/2011 I also simultaneously held the position of Olmstead Advocacy Director for the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, Inc., leading a public policy campaign to educate policy makers about the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, which ruled that people with disabilities are entitled to live in communities rather than institutions.
My clients have included the California Disability Services Association, Choice in Aging, the California Collaborative for Long-Term Services and Supports, the California Association of Adult Day Health Services, the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging, CalPACE, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, Integrated Community Services, The SCAN Foundation, the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, the Colorado Foundation, the National Adult Day Services Association, the National Council on Independent Living, the Inter-Tribal Council of California, the California Advocacy Network for Aging Latinos, the California Institute for Mental Health, Partners in Care Foundation, Disability Rights California, the California Rural Health Association, Government Action and Communication Institute, the Orange County Behavioral Health Association, and a public-private partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services and the California Housing and Community Development Department.
• Produced 123 in-person/online policy and training events, including 17 podcasts, 8 conferences, 4 workshops and 3 legislative briefings.
• Gave 83 presentations on public policy topics, including 4 national presentations, 3 keynote addresses and 11 presentations of testimony to the California Legislature.
• Facilitated 29 meetings/strategic planning sessions.
• Produced 22 written policy reports on Medicaid, mental health, aging and disability policy.
• Wrote 10 grant proposals for health and human services programs.
• Administered 4 grants to advance aging and disability policy.
• Provided background and interviews to journalists reporting on state hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, adult day programs, and abuse and neglect of vulnerable people.
• Produced countless fact sheets, memorandums, briefs, advocacy letters and program accountability reports.
• Led 2 remote teams for a total of 4 years.
• Developed content for 5 websites.
• Administered 5 grants, including a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant.
• Managed a $700,000 agency budget.
• Supervised 12 staff and consultants.
• Organized and executed 2 statewide conferences attended by 800 people.
• Gave a national presentation at annual SAMHSA conference in St. Louis, Missouri as well as dozens of statewide presentations.
• Developed public policy strategies for advocacy in county mental health plans and Medi-Cal (Medicaid).
• Lobbied the Legislature on critical priorities.
• Served as spokesperson and media contact.
• Developed strong collaborations with state departments, mental health leaders and peer organizations.
• Developed written program accountability reports for funders.
• Conducted extensive policy research, background interviews and focus groups.
• Negotiated agreements among a wide array of contentious stakeholder groups about funding priorities.
• Wrote a lengthy (63-page) white paper presenting research and recommendations to spend $80 million to reduce stigma and discrimination in mental health.
• Wrote a policy memorandum presenting research and recommendations for an additional $60 million in spending for mental health services to students from kindergarten thru college-level.
• Created two powerpoint presentations summarizing my findings and presented my report to the Commission at a public hearing. All spending recommendations I put forward were successfully adopted and implemented.
• Organized and facilitated 60 weekly virtual meetings among state and county leaders to discuss and develop policies and spending plans.
• Developed and led a voting process on policy decisions for the Board of Directors.
• Reviewed, analyzed and summarized policy documents.
• Coordinated organizational responses to state policymakers and initiated legal strategies.
• Gave dozens of statewide presentations on policy issues.
• Developed and implemented a statewide training program in collaboration with California’s tribal communities and served as a trainer.
• In collaboration with state partners, initiated a $60 million diversity, equity and inclusion initiative called the Reducing Disparities Project; negotiated and secured the mental health directors’ support for the effort.
• Gave testimony and advocated for policy positions before the Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission.
• Drafted numerous position papers, advocacy letters and regulatory responses.
• Attended state/county Medi-Cal (Medicaid) workgroup meetings.
• Represented the Association to stakeholders and the public and facilitated negotiations and collaboration with a broad array of interest groups.
In 1999 I was promoted to consultant at the Senate Office of Research, where I spent the next 6 years as the policy expert on mental health, developmental disability, disability rights, implementation of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision and substance abuse recovery.
• Responded to Senators’ requests for research, data and policy information on mental health, developmental disability, disability rights, the Olmstead decision and substance abuse recovery.
• Wrote dozens of confidential memos providing background research and policy options.
• Briefed Senators and their staff on policy issues and assisted in developing policy initiatives.
• Provided expert testimony to Legislative committees.
• Tracked and analyzed emerging state and federal policy issues.
• Wrote white papers, reports, fact sheets and press releases.
• Organized informational Legislative hearings.
• Drafted legislation.
• Staffed the Senate Bipartisan Committee on Homelessness, preparing briefing books and reports on the Committee’s proceedings.
• Gave a presentation to a delegation of foreign dignitaries on California’s mental health system.
• Prepared background information and questions for the Senate Rules Committee for their hearings confirming Governor’s appointees to lead state departments.
• Initiated, wrote and staffed SB 130 (Chapter 750, Statutes of 2003, Chesbro), successful system- changing legislation which reformed the practices of seclusion and restraints in California mental health facilities.
Social Work Experience
Earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work concurrent with work in the Senate. These positions comprised graduate-level internships through the Social Work Division at California State University, Sacramento:
• Wrote a federal Administration on Aging grant for an older adult case management program, with methods based on training with Dr. Francis K.O. Yuen outlined in his manual “Practical Grant Writing and Program Evaluation.”
• Served as a member of the Sacramento County Elder Death Review Team.
• Edited and produced Sacramento’s strategic plan for senior and dependent adults.
• Participated in ride-alongs to observe programs and services and made policy recommendations to the director.
• Specialized in clients with complex issues such as dementia and mental health problems, and worked with Adult Protective Services and other local health and human services agencies to assist them.
Fundraising And Political Experience
Served as the finance director or fundraiser for a variety of political clients, helping them to re-election and to achieve their political goals. Clients included the California Democratic Party fundraising event featuring President Bill Clinton, State Treasurer Kathleen Brown, State Senator Byron Sher, United States Senator Barbara Boxer, the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute, Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna and Sacramento City Councilmember (now Mayor) Darrell Steinberg. Most of this work was freelance, but I was also hired for several employee positions during this period, returning to my consulting work as projects and campaigns were completed. Employee positions included:
• Labor Campaign Organizer, Service Employees International Union
From 08/1997 thru 02/1998 I organized on behalf of a successful campaign to create a Public Authority for In-Home Supportive Services workers in Sacramento County. Responsibilities included organizing a hearing at the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, recruiting witnesses and drafting testimony.
• Finance Director, California League of Conservation Voters
From 10/1995 thru 08/1996, I supervised the Finance department, securing funds and working with the Board of Directors on fund development, raising over $100,000 at the annual fundraising gala.
• Finance Director, Assemblyman Phil Isenberg
From 02/1989 thru 11/1990, I managed all aspects of campaign financing and raised funds for a successful California state Assembly re-election campaign. I also served as a Field Representative in Assemblyman Isenberg’s state Assembly office, providing representation at community events, responding to constituents, solving their problems with state government, community organizing, and liaising and collaborating with leaders of Sacramento’s Black community.
• Field Organizer, Jerry Brown for State Party Chair
From 11/1988 thru 02/1989, I served as the Northern California campaign staff, marshaling support among delegates to the State Party Convention. Organized steering committees and local leaders, managed special events and participated as a floor whip at the State Democratic convention for this successful campaign.
Master’s of Social Work Degree
California State University, Sacramento 2005
Bachelor of Arts Degree, Political Science
University of California, Davis 1987
Community Service and Awards
• Member, American Association of University Women, Sheridan WY Chapter 2019 – Current
• Founder, Laurel A. Mildred Resilience Fund for Students in Mental Health Crisis –
An Endowment at California State University, Sacramento 2017 – Current
• Graduate, City of Sacramento, California – Management Academy 2011
• Honored by the California State Senate for Leadership in Advocacy 2010
• San Francisco State University Student Success Program Advisory Committee 2010 – 2016
• California Social Work Education Center Advisory Committee 2008 – 2009
• Sacramento County Division of Mental Health Advisory Board 2001 – 2003
• Mercy Hospice Volunteer 2001 – 2002
• Elected to the national Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society 2005
• Public Service Award from the California Network of Mental Health Clients 2003
• Elected to the national Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society 1987
• Awarded the UC Davis Frank Mesple Political Science Scholarship 1986