2021 Judges

 

We are now seeking judges to help us select the winning films. Do you have expertise/interest in directing, writing, editing, acting, journalism, public service announcements, video production, suicide prevention and/or mental health? Contact us about becoming a judge today! The entire process takes less than 2 hours of your time, all of which can be done online from home. Please note that you cannot participate as a judge if you are submitting a film or associated in any way with a film team that is submitting a team (e.g., teacher, adult advisor, family member). Regional Judging begins in March 2021 so stay tuned! 

Submit an application to become a judge today! 

A big thank you to our 2021 Judges

A big thank you to our statewide, regional, and specialty category judges

2021 Statewide Judges
2021 Through the Lens of Culture Judges
2021 SanaMente Judges
2021 Animated Short Judge
2021 Walk in Our Shoes Judges
2021 Regional Judges

2021 Statewide Judges

Angela Cohen: The Miami Herald deemed Angela Cohen, “an actress on the rise.” She’s a Sundance Labs finalist for her film, The Art of Saving a Life, was handpicked by Google for their VR Jumpstart Initiative, and her short film, Without Grace, qualified for the 90th annual Academy Awards and was released on Amazon. She currently has three television comedies in development under her banner, Charley Bear Productions, which focuses on female-helmed, social impact stories, often with a hilarious edge. You can follow her work @AngelaCohen on IG and Twitter.

Caitlin Brands: For nearly 5 years, Caitlin Brands has worked in film and television as an assistant production coordinator. They have worked with Netflix, FOX, Hulu, TNT, CBS, and TBS on various television shows including youth content, and their personal written work has placed in semi finals in various competitions. 

Caroline FitzGerald: Caroline FitzGerald, MScOT is a Project Lead at Hopelab, a social innovation lab focused on building science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. Before Hopelab, Ms. FitzGerald worked for 9 years as an Occupational Therapist supporting people experiencing serious mental illness on their recovery journey. 

Cary McQueen, MAM: Cary is the Executive Director of Art with Impact, a nonprofit organization working throughout the U.S. and Canada that uses short films to reduce the stigma of mental illness on college and high school campuses.

Chantelle James: Co-owner of production company Kid Sister Collective, Chantelle James is an award-winning actor/writer/producer who works in film & TV

Chris McCarthy is the VP of Strategy & Design at HopeLab where he and his teams are tackling complex challenges facing today’s young people.  His current portfolio includes loneliness in college students, well-being in queer youth, better health for young moms, and resilience in young cancer survivors.  His work has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, FastCompany, the New York Times and many more. 

David Ridgway has worked in the film industry since 1973 in various roles including producer, director and editor. He has worked on numerous projects over the years including music videos, television shows as well as films and documentaries including “Lord of the Rings”, “Annabel Lee” and “The Musician” which have won various awards. David is on the Board of Directors for the Capital Film Arts Alliance, with over 4000 members in Northern California. He also produced two feature films due out this year, Full Circle: The Story of New Dimensions (a documentary) and Stevie and Sandi Save the Rainbow Forest (a children’s film).

Doug Blush has worked in documentary filmmaking for over fifteen years, as a director, producer, editor, writer and cinematographer. His credits include: the Academy Award winning 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, (2013 Best Documentary), as well as WORDPLAY (2006); I.O.U.S.A (2008); THESE AMAZING SHADOWS (2011); and THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE (2015). He was also recently Supervising Editor of JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY, winner of the 2016 Sundance Audience Award. Throughout his career Doug has worked on projects that bring about social change, including the Oscar-nominated THE INVISIBLE WAR (2013), and THE HUNTING GROUND (2015). He is the co-founder of the LA-based production company MadPix, Inc. and is a Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Elle Alexander is the Vice President of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures, as well as a member of Women in Film and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Frances Gonzalez is the Senior Director of Marketing and Communication for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline.

Hilary Smith is the author of Welcome to the Jungle: Facing Bipolar Without Freaking Out, as well as the novels Wild Awake and A Sense of the Infinite. Her favorite way to maintain a healthy mind is to care for the environment.

Jacqui Blue is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, artist, writer, hypnotherapist and mother of five sons. She recently completed a documentary on suicide awareness called “I Chose Life: Stories of Suicide & Survival”.

Jen James: Jen’s the Founding Supervisor and Volunteer Experience Engagement Specialist at Crisis Text Line. She’s held many prominent roles, including creating the volunteer program & training. Serving as the voice of the community. She is a Founding Board Member of Six Feet Over, Founding Board member of NoOK App™ and Virtual counselor for Children Youth First, in Nepal. 

James Jones Ph.D. is a psychologist with LA Mayor Garcetti’s Crisis Response Team and the Services to the Armed Forces program for the American Red Cross. His background includes acting in a variety of Shakespeare festivals, 8 years as the Lead Ringmaster for the annual Napa Valley Film Festival, and a judge for many of Ohlone College’s  High School Theater & Music Festivals. 

Kathy Lindboe is the co-founder and CEO of Battlecry Productions, a female-led and female-driven horror film company. She is also a film, stage and commercial writer/director/producer and works with several L.A.-based non-profit organizations to help support important community issues by directing and producing social impact videos and live events to raise money and awareness.

Kevin Hines is a storyteller at heart. He is a best-selling author, global public speaker, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. In the Year 2000, Kevin attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Kevin now travels the world sharing his story of hope, healing, and recovery while teaching people of all ages the art of wellness & the ability to survive pain with true resilience. 

Kiki Goshay is the producer/director of the film Not Alone,  which uses intimate teen-to-teen conversations, to engage the audience about depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, getting help and treating mental illness. Film is a great tool for youth to bring issues they care about to a broad audience, and Kiki’s mission has been to give kids a voice.

Kim Kline is an award-winning singer-songwriter, philanthropist, entrepreneur and fashionista.  Best known for her single “Inside” which aired on MTV’s show The Hill’s.  Her current single “Stand Tall” is a bullying prevention anthem from her up-and-coming sophomore album.  The release of her music video “Stand Tall” which gives a universal message of hope, strength and human connectedness will debut later this year.  

Laura Carson is an actress, producer and writer with over 30 years of experience in the creative arts.  Her credits range from the stage to film and TV.  For several summers she has taught kids filmmaking at Idyllwild Arts.  Most recently, she co-founded Firefly Rev Productions and is in development on several features.

Lia Bruce: Lia worked for a Hollywood film producer as a creative executive before moving back to her hometown of San Diego. Lia currently supports furthering the programming and outreach activities of The Nonprofit Institute (NPI) at the University of San Diego.

Linda Bergonzi-King, MPH, is a Producer/Director/Health Communication Expert and Social Entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience creating a wide range of video programs, educational tools and communications with a particular emphasis on health, well-being, social justice, edutainment, and community development. She also teaches high school and undergraduate courses on multiple topics related to health communication, interpersonal communication & media relations/literacy. Linda graduated from the Yale University School of Public Health with an emphasis on Health Communication and Health Policy. 

Linda Williams is producer/show producer with KOCT, which caters to a San Diego viewership of over 65,000 households countywide. She is also a lead producer for Love Machine Films since 2005.

Lisa Klein is an award-winning director and writer dedicated to crafting groundbreaking documentary features. Her current project, THE S WORD, is a documentary that tackles one of the most cloistered issues of our time through the emotional stories of suicide attempt and loss survivors.In 2012, Lisa co-directed the award-winning film OF TWO MINDS, a journey into the lives of remarkable people living, struggling and triumphing with bipolar condition. She is co-founder, with her husband Doug Blush, of MadPix Inc., an LA-based production company dedicated to producing character-driven stories that create global impact and social change. She

Mariana Wahrhaftig is an international producer and director based in Los Angeles, California. She has produced and directed everything from Season 3 of Nintendo’s world-wide phenomenon video game hit concert-series The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses – Master Quest that toured for 5 years all around the globe, and has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people, to short films with Amazon Fire-TV, ATTN: and Google, to music videos for artists such as A.J. Mitchell, Jagwar Twin, First, Rivals, Sonna Rele, Jay Pharaoh, and Eric Speed. She also Produces and Directs videos for the UN’s World Water Forum event. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, her projects have been produced and shot in over 7 countries and seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

Marie Gallo Dyak: Emmy® Award winning producer; Produce webcasts on all facets of substance use disorders, mental health and related health issues such as concussion, trauma, diabetes, HIV, and Hepatitis C; and Co-Creator and Executive Producer, EIC’s Annual PRISM Awards Ceremony and TV Special.  

Michael Gilvary is a writer and executive producer on the NBC drama, Chicago Fire.

Michelle Taylor Greene is a creative artist, mental health & wellness advocate, and speaker who is passionate about raising mental health awareness and promoting hope, wellness & recovery. She also is the founder of Wholistic Style, a lifestyle & wellness brand that inspires others to eat well, live well, and be well.

Nagin Cox is a spacecraft operations engineer currently working as a tactical mission lead for the Mars Curiosity Rover and on the upcoming Mars 2020 Rover.

Dr. Pam Luna: An innovative career educator who uses film to inspire bold action-Dr. Luna is the lead organizer for American Public Health Association’s Global Public Health Film Festival and Senior trainer for RAND, Corp.

Pepper Carlson, C.Ht. is a creative visionary with a specialty in short-form live-action production and development. Carlson is a published author and her writing antics on her blog Life with One Eye Open won her an invitation to speak at Pepperdine University. 

Pixie Monroe: Pixie enjoys mentoring America’s Youth and California’s passionate Young Filmmakers who are eager to make a difference in their communities through accurate messaging in film, television and social media.

Sally Spencer-Thomas: As a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, survivor of her brother’s suicide and a person who has lived through depression, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas sees the issues of mental health promotion and suicide prevention through multiple lenses. Today she uses her professional speaking platform to “elevate the conversation” and make resilience, healing and suicide prevention health and safety priorities in our schools, workplaces and communities. www.SallySpencerThomas.com

Sarah Naiman: With attention for detail in visual storytelling, Sarah Naiman has been editing passionately and professionally for over ten years. She has assisted series for the CW, Discovery Channel, MTV, Netflix, HBO Max, and Youtube Originals as well as edited music videos featuring influential artists. Sarah’s career crosses platforms from development to the final edit. She specializes in documentary-style storytelling fueled by her love of film, television, and music.

Tom Kline: Tom has many years of experience working at NBC Universal and in the Entertainment Industry.

Tom Shepard: Tom Shepard has been directing and producing documentaries for PBS for 25 years.  His first film SCOUT’S HONOR won two top prizes at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.  HIs latest film, unsettled.film, is about LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who flee their home countries to seek safer lives in the U.S. In 2013, Shepard founded the Youth Documentary Academy in Colorado Springs. 

Trent Duncan is an award-winning independent filmmaker, Film Festival Director, and YouTuber. Trent has created a variety of narrative short and feature films in many genres that have entertained audiences around the world. He is most notably known for his YouTube channel featuring Epic Horror Battles.

Trish Glowacki is Executive Director of the glowmedia project, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that produces unique, free of charge, educational films addressing mental wellness and behavior health issues facing teens today.  The short films, and corresponding educational guides for Students, Parents/Guardians, and Educators represent a new approach towards educating students about mental illness, addiction, and other stigmatized issues.

 

2021 Hope & Justice Judges

Dr. Benjamin Pierre Scott is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Staff Development Officer with Riverside University Health Systems Behavioral Health in the department of Prevention and Early Intervention. Dr. Scott completed his Doctorate at Loma Linda University in Marriage and Family therapy where his qualitative study focused on Engaging Men: Optimum Transformation Conditions For Domestic Violence Offenders. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Valley College where he teaches Group and Family Dynamics and Co-Occurring Disorders.

Edwin Lim teaches AP Art and Design 2D, Photography, and Computer Art. His students have won in video, animation, photography, and digital art. His students have been exhibited, and will be exhibited, at the Congressional Art Awards in Washington, D.C., Museum of Photographic Arts, Association of Texas Photography Instructors, Riverside Art Museum, San Diego County Fair, iVIE Awards & Student Film Festival, Bonita Museum, San Diego History Center, San Diego Art Institute, and the Chula Vista Film Festival.

Guisel Contreras is a UC Berkeley alumni. Guisel is passionate about reporting on art, education, health, human rights, and issues concerning women and children. Her internships with NBC and then the CBS Evening News in New York City, combined with her love for storytelling, motivated her to explore the world of documentary film. Guisel’s most recent work includes acting as a producer and camera person on the 2019 documentary “We Are the Radical Monarchs”, and the 2020 “And She Could Be Next”. She is excited to continue to tell in-depth stories that hopefully mobilize people to create social change.Hayley Yerington has a passion for diversity and representation in the arts, and spent 8 years on staff at the non-profit American Cinematheque, an organization in Los Angeles dedicated to showcasing films and filmmakers from all over the world.

Melissa DuBose teaches filmmaking and English language arts at East Los Angeles Performing Arts Magnet. She advocates for equity in the arts and is an Art Activate Fellow. A past LAUSD teacher of the year, she received her B.A. and MFA in film and theatre from UCSC and UCLA.Michelle Fortunado-Kewin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at San Francisco Unified School District and a doctoral student at the University at Buffalo. She has done work in the field of suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention since 2012. One of her passion projects is focused on improving the services and supports for Filipino youth struggling with suicide and mental health issues.

Nancy VanLeuven: “I’m starting my fourth year in the Media, Communications and Journalism Department at Fresno State and most of my classes are about advertising, public relations, and media stereotypes. My career has spanned journalism (the San Francisco Chronicle) as well as the strategic communication space for nonprofits (American Lung Association, International Red Cross) and corporations (Taco Bell, Disney). I went back to school to learn the new frameworks and tools needed for persuasive campaigns and greatly appreciate Directing Change in its appeal to students. Plus I see Directing Change as a critical piece in MCJ’s new course, minor, and concentration in Health and Strategic Media (If it’s one thing we’ve learned during the COVIDS, it’s that we need to know more!)”

Pavel Vogler is a Multimedia Artist and Educator presently teaching high school and community college visual arts and CTE classes. Published graphic novels and awarded documentaries on the topics related to teen culture and multiculturalism on international and community level.
Soyun Park is a professional artist working in the animation industry, She is currently working in DreamWorks animation as a visual development artist. She communicates messages through visual stories. “I have always tried to give positive messages to children and young people through my artworks and have supported films that educates or conveys a healthy mind to young people.”

Tracie Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Lewis-Clark State College and her Masters in Social Work from Aurora University. Tracie has worked in a variety of settings and has extensive knowledge working with underserved children, adults, and families and disenfranchised communities. She has expertise in early childhood mental health, community violence, crisis services, and school-based services. In her role as a Mental Health Clinical Supervisor with the Prevention and Outcomes Division – Family and Community Partnerships Unit, Tracie is the lead for Anti-Stigma, Suicide Prevention, and Health Neighborhoods. She also currently serves as Co-Chair for the Los Angeles County Suicide Prevention Network (LASPN).

In addition, entries are also reviewed and judged by Directing Change team members Jana Sczersputowski, MPH, Shanti Bond-Martinez, MPH, and Devin Saragosa-Harris, MPH.  

2021 Through the Lens of Culture Judges

Amanda Lasik is the BlueSky Program Manager for Blue Shield California.

Andrea Schulz: I’m happy to return again as a Directing Change judge. I look forward each year to watching the creative and skilled entries from our amazing youth! I’m a retired clinical social worker with a BFA in film production from NYU and a NAMI member since 2003.

Edgar Rosa is a freelance line producer with five years of experience in LA. He began at All Def Digital putting together content geared at the under-served multi-racial demographic on YouTube before moving onto influencer content at Influential – a data based influencer platform. Since then, Edgar has worked on branded content for Alliant University, Buzzfeed, AMPM, Samsung, Johnson’s, along with a feature film for Mar Vista Entertainment and a digital series for Blackpills.

Gil Perez is a Personal Counselor at College of San Mateo and coordinates a Mental Health Peer Educator Program to promote a positive mental health culture on campus and end stigma through education, outreach, and advocacy.

Jayce Jurado is a Filipino-American activist, writer and filmmaker from Saipan, CNMI who has supported the arts, advancement of youth, mental health advocacy, and nonprofit initiatives such as AmeriCorps and Upward Bound Hawai’i beginning in her own early years, to her current background of working with many notable companies including Shondaland, CAA, STARZ, Snapchat and Pandora Media in Los Angeles.

Jayne Reinhardt: I have been working in the mental health field for many years, collaboratively with Directing Change and other organizations and outreach efforts, and have been a contest judge for several years.

Jeremy Wilson is the Senior Program Manager for CalMHSA. He has worked in community behavioral health for the past 16 years. Jeremy believes in the power of youth using their creative passions and skills to create change.

Jessica Bell

Joseph Robinson

Juan Gutierrez-Cervantes: I am the new MHSA coordinator for the County of San Benito and am tasked with expanding services to youth. I think this is a great opportunity to begin implementation into our local schools and partners.

LalaineMae Oliveria manages a school-based suicide prevention and early intervention program in North County San Diego serving middle and high schoolers. She is very passionate about reducing the stigma of mental health and advocate/encourage help-seeking behaviors.

Michael Helmick: I have worked on behavioral health policy for many years and am a returning Directing Change judge.

Michelle Fortunado-Kewin, LCSW, PPS is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at San Francisco Unified School District and a doctoral student at the University at Buffalo. She has done work in the field of suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention since 2012. One of her passion projects is focused on improving the services and supports for Filipino youth struggling with suicide and mental health issues.

Pamela Morris is a Professor of Applied Psychology at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and an Affiliated Professor at the NYU School of Global Public Health. An interdisciplinary scholar, Morris conducts research at the intersection of developmental psychology, suicidology, education, and policy.

Rachel Abenavoli is a Research Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Her research intersects developmental, education, and prevention sciences and focuses on programs and practices implemented in schools with potential to support social-emotional and behavioral outcomes among children and adolescents.

Ron Shaw: Over 25 years, I have found young people (with a lived experience challenge) have tremendous skills and talents to share for the betterment of our communities (school, home, workplace).

Sheri Hanni has worked at the Butte County Office of Education for 25 years partnering with LEA’s throughout the County to support mental health, attendance, and engagement for all students.

Sylvia Tang (She/Her): Committed to advancing health equity, Sylvia focuses on building coalitions that cultivate self love, community empowerment and social justice. She co-chairs the Suicide Prevention Committee and Mental Health Month Planning Committee.

 

2021 SanaMente Judges

Adam Lopez: I not only work as community liaison for my local church, but I also serve as commissioner for the city of Oxnard, and sit on the Chief of police advisory board. I have been a judge in the past, and truly enjoy judging video submissions from students across the state.

Carlos Lamadrid, Outreach & Engagement Coordinator for RUHS-BH is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and works with underserved communities following the Mental Health Services Act. He has been working with youth and families since 1999 and most recently he’s been providing community outreach, consultation, and engagement for increasing racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic inclusiveness in behavioral health.

Isaac Arjonilla: I’ve been a professional photographer and editor for the past 10 years and a strong supporter of using visual arts to communicate powerful messages such as raising awareness for mental health in students.

Jenn Guhl is a MHSA Program Specialist for the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health (TCBH) Department. Jenn oversees the Tuolumne County Enrichment Center, a wellness and recovery center for the local homeless population and mentally ill, represents the county during special events, community meetings, and does outreach for the center, as well as leads the May is Mental Health Awareness month activities in Tuolumne County.

Kylie Reynolds is an attorney in Los Angeles and a former journalist.

Loren Goldstein has been working with drug addicted inmates for approximately 5 years. She knows how important it is to be able to openly discuss mental health issues and looks forward to the day when there are enough services for everyone and the stigma has disappeared.

Ruth Cañas, LCSW has worked in the field of mental health for the past 25 years. She is the executive director of The Child and Family Development Center, a community mental health clinic in Santa Monica serving the children and families of historically underrepresented and economically disenfranchised communities.

 

2021 Animated Short Judges

Bart Callender: Very much enjoy supporting youth interested in taking on new challenges.

Ilana Weiss is a learning designer and user researcher who is passionate about using educational media and technology to enhance social-emotional skills. She is currently a writer for Science in Interactive Media at BrainPOP, a company that makes learning experiences and creative tools for K-8 students.

Lawrence Weisberg: I’ve judged for the past three years (I think). I’ve previously worked in the Animation industry for nearly 20 years from pre-production to hands-on artistic supervision on shorts and theatrical features (mainly for DreamWorks Animation).

Natalie Saragosa-Harris is a PhD student at UCLA studying how experiences early in life shape brain development and mental health during adolescence.

Paige Audia: I have been a social worker for over 20 years working with children and adolescents, chronically ill patients, and people who have survived a traumatic brain injury. I am always advocating for mental health to be made a priority.

Rebecca Johnson: Rebecca works in non-profit mental health field in Northern California.

Tranh Pham: Tranh Pham (she/they) is a Graduate Student and Laurie McBride Scholar in the Counseling Program at California State University at Sacramento where they continue to educate, empower, and advocate for LGBTQ+ students and their campus community through a globally unprecedented and historic period. Tranh is excited about helping young people redefine mental health and wellness for themselves and their world.

Troy Underwood is a Current Series Executive at Disney Television Animation who has overseen series including Star Wars Rebels, Star Vs The Forces of Evil, and Big City Greens.

Whitney Wilson is a Patient Rights Advocate in San Diego County, working to protect the rights of behavioral health consumers. Whitney has been a Directing Change Judge for many years, and loves the chance to review the amazing work of the youth involved.

 

2021 Walk in Our Shoes Judges

Alexandria Brooks: I am an afro-latinx woman who has had her own struggles with mental illness and suicide and have been tackling them through the proper channels. I have also worked closely with these at-risk youth at community center and during volunteer activities. I know that these demographics have a lot to offer and I want to see what people from my community have to show.

Anabel Aispuro: I love the opportunity that Directing Change gives to young people to not only think deeply about mental health issues but to also explore their creative side and becoming young voices educating their peers about mental health.

BJ Rouse is an independent filmmaker in Los Angeles, California and Chief Executive Officer of After School Arts Academy, a non-profit arts enrichment organization.

Brian Bishop: Brian is the Communication Coordinator for Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health where he helps to produce broadcast and social media surrounding Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder issues. Brian has extensive experience throughout California with film and video as well as photography and web design.

Cathy Blackstone: I think film is a great way to educate people to mental health issues that may be impacting them. It can be so powerful, and I’m glad to be able to be a part of this process.

Dr. Celso Delgado Jr is an occupational therapist who has provided community mental health services with transitional age youth for over 10 years in Los Angeles, he also is an associate professor of clinical occupational therapy at USC.

Cynthia Pancer is a teacher educator at Alliant International University. Her interests are on emotional wellness and suicide prevention among K-12 students in the California public schools.

Deirdre Hill is the Project Liaison for the PAL® Peer Assistance Leadership Program at the Orange County Department of Education. She is dedicated to helping youth have an active voice in their schools and communities.

Erin Holmes: As a survivor of trauma, I advocate for mental health awareness by teaching an 8 week wellness program I designed for the VA for the last five years. I understand the importance of connecting the mind, body, and soul when it comes to living a full life and believe in the ripple effect that self care and love can have on everyone.

Evanne Torrecillas works with and for high school youth to provide psychoeducation on mental health and to foster connections that challenge stigma and create a network of peer support.

Geneva Amas: A clinician working with severely mentally ill population within the State of California at risk for suicide.

Heather Haney: One of my favorite annual events is the directing change film contest.

Jacob Johnson: I’m a young three-time Emmy nominated assistant producer and NBC docu-series creator who has focused his projects on youth social activism, specifically tackling areas of service member depression, social media anxiety, housing insecurity, and racial justice.

Jacqueline Martinez: As someone who strongly believes Mental Health should be top priority, I look forward to seeing all the amazing support each of our contestants bring.

Jennie Ostendorf: At age 29, both of my parents died by suicide within 5 months of one another. I am a fervent believer that mental health is health and advocate for it to be treated as such. Professionally, I have spent my career in entertainment, public relations, media, and marketing. In the Fall of 2021, I will shift gears and return to school in pursuit of a Master of Social Work degree, with which I hope to contribute towards efforts of de-stigmatizing mental illness and democratizing mental health.

Jennifer Brenner: ACE and youth mental health advocacy is a personal passion of mine, as I myself have an ACE score of 6, and manage my own mental health issues as a result, I know how detrimental it is to ensure mental health is a topic we visit early and often in effort to get in front of what I believe is a global crisis.

Jess Sher

Jessica Gonzalez is a social worker intern at Centinela Valley Union High School District, she has experience providing individual mental health assessments, treatment plans, and psychotherapy services to a diverse adolescent population from educationally underserved areas. She is also a Master’s of Social Work candidate for California State University, Northridge. She has worked at UCLA for the past six years as an academic advisor in the Department of Biology.

Joao Guassi Moreira: Joao is a doctoral student in developmental psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. Joao’s research focuses on understanding what factors contribute to positive development in adolescence.

Jonathan Adams has a BA in English and a Master in Film Theory. For the last six years, he has been a board member of Auburn Community Television. Currently, he teaches Film at Placer High School and Sierra College.

Julia Jagels: As a suicide crisis counselor and volunteer trainer, I am passionate for de-stigmatizing mental health issues and spreading the word on how to help others in a mental health crisis.

Katie Kaufman is a Master of Social Work and works as a Mental Health Counselor, as well as a Program Manager at a homeless shelter in San Diego. Katie is an ardent advocate for suicide prevention and mental health education.

Kay Lund: I am a Health Educator in Plumas County at Plumas District Hospital, and was a judge last year.

Kayla Jones has 10 years videography experience. The kind of competition one takes part in does not matter because every level requires a competitor to put their best foot forward.

Kevin L. Nguyen: I currently a MSW student at UCLA and have been providing academic advice, personal counseling, crisis assistance, and other therapeutic interventions for young adults and school-aged children for the past 3 years.

Kirsten Livermore: I’m super excited to take part in this experience.

Kiyana Abouzar: I currently work in a special education program with high school students and as an MFT student, I want to be able to help them process how they’re feeling.

Laith Higazin is the CSSA community service chair at The Chicago School. He has been a 3-dimensional artist for most of his life, submitting several pieces into contests, and teaching high school 3-dimensional art as a volunteer.

Lennea Fish: I have worked on and off with ABA therapy for years and my future endeavors within the psychological field are to work with children using art therapy; any way that we can communicate with others and share information through an artistic venue expands an understanding of the seriousness of mental health issues not only clinically but also emotionally.

Letty Cerna is a Clinical Nurse Educator at Blue Shield of California who holds a Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Management and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Dance. She is supportive of efforts to reduce stigma related to mental health and to promote mental health awareness.

Lisa Schoyer has been in over 60 group art shows and over a dozen solo exhibitions, a Masters in Fine Arts from CalArts, 7 years as an adjunct professor in studio art at UC Irvine and Occidental College, and a Boardmember of NewTown Pasadena since 1998, with experience working at the County Department of Public Health advocating for families of medically fragile children for 6 years, and, at DMH since 2009, addressing access to mental health services for those with co-occurring developmental disabilities.

Lynnanne Zager: I have been supporting and empowering youth for over 30 years in the creative world of film, television and specifically voiceover… member of the TV Academy. I also have children who deal with mental and learning differences… I am very involved in the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center and look forward to the day when mental health issues are no longer stigmatized.

M Jami Macleod: I truly enjoyed judging last years films and would like to participate again. I am passionate about films and filmmaking, have been personally affected by depression and suicide and I also have a film degree from UCSD with both amateur and professional production experience.

Margaret Weakley: As a mental health advocate, I’m honored and inspired by the creativity and energy of the Directing Change Program!

Margaret Aghili: I have been teaching on and off for the last 22 years in Los Angeles and enjoyed being a part of this life changing program which, as both a parent and educator, is near and dear to my heart.

Maria Rodriguez is a school counselor advocating for the academic, emotional, personal growth, and mental health needs of adolescents in middle school.

Meagan O’Malley: I train school psychologists at CSU Sacramento. My research focuses on school mental health and wellbeing, and I am especially interested in student voice projects for improving mental health among young people.

Melissa Watrous is a passionate advocate for mental health serving on the board and volunteering with her local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

Monika Howard: I have 24 years in school-based mental health and lead teams for suicide prevention/mental health awareness.

Norma Alston: 2nd year Middle School Vice Principal, 14 year veteran in education–previously teaching elementary school. Ms. Alston especially enjoys working with foster, homeless, and other at-risk students.

Sadie Longcor: My son participated in video production when he was in high school. I saw how much enjoyment he got from it. Directing change helped drive his talent and creativity to pursue a career in audio/video production. I work in the social work field and offer support to our communities. May is Mental Health Awareness month and I very much enjoy the empathy and messages that the young adults share.

Sandy Smith: My interest in being a judge for this project is to make certain that we are spreading the correct awareness to help the population mostly affected by mental illness that needs the CHANGE!
Mental Illness is not something that happens because of the use of drugs, showing love to one another is such an important emotion that has been neglected for too long!! We need to make sure that the people who need to see a change can have a hand in making it happen – We need to make certain that whatever short film is going out to the public hits home with the people that have the will to change this community for the better.

Sarah Reinhard: I am a Registered Nurse and have directly seen the impact the role of mental health plays in both youth and adults. I think mental health needs to be focused on to a greater extent in order to ensure better health for everyone.

Savannah Prickett: I just hope to be someone who can relate to these individuals!

Shelley Graner

Traci Barker-Ball: As a former high school crisis counselor, Traci knows the importance of educating others about the importance of good mental health.

 

2021 Regional Judges

Aaron M. Scullin, Executive Director of Rim Family Services, Inc. is a life long advocate for positive youth mental health.

Ali Borowsky is the Founder + CEO of Find Your Anchor, a grassroots movement aimed at suicide prevention – with creativity and a personal touch, FYA aims to support those who may be struggling and de-stigmatize conversations surrounding suicide and mental health.

Allie Whalen: Hi, my name is Allie Whalen, and I work as a School Counselor and Suicide Prevention Liaison at Sage Oak Charter Schools. I am strongly committed to supporting kids’ mental health and preventing suicide.

Amanda Bosworth is a survivor of loss to suicide. She strives to honor the memory of Jordan her brother through suicide prevention and support for those who have lost someone to suicide.

Amanda Lance-Sexton is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Art Therapist currently working as an administrator with the County of San Diego, Behavioral Health Services in the Children, Youth and Families unit. She has over 20 years experience working within the field of children’s mental health and has a passion for creativity and art making as a therapeutic tool and an outlet for well-being.

Amber Bundy-Davis: I love seeing our youth thrive in their passion and am inspired by the stories told through art. Theater and film have always been a part of my life and hope to encourage future leaders as they practice their craft in such an important way. I am looking forward to seeing these creative minds at work.

Amber Waterford is an active content creator and editor with a 20+ years background in the arts. She supports the conversations surrounding mental health and encourages everyone to participate in activities that bring awareness and shifts the negative stigmatism surrounding mental health.

Andrew Reilly: As a substitute teacher for the past few years, I have come to love working with youth. As a grad student trying to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, it is my goal to help youth navigate difficult times and come out healthy on the other end.

Angela Brand: As the VP of Strategic Engagement at NAMI California, I support many of the NAMI programs, including NAMI On Campus High School clubs, to support and empower young people to fight the stigma of mental health and mental illness through awareness and engagement of students, youth, and their communities.

Angelica Hernandez: I am in the mental health field, currently a graduate student, have worked with patients dealing with depression and suicidal ideation. I work with California Victims of Crime program with patients who suffer from PTSD and have a great interest in providing psycho education for preventative measures to adolescents.

Anna Marie Tantillo: I have experience in both Theater and Film, I am a trained actress so my interest in judging this contest is for two reasons; my passion for short story films and I am an advocate for Mental Health and suicide prevention with lived experience. 

Anthony Da Costa: I have experience as a director in high school and was a member of the Actors Centre in London, England. In addition, I have special interest in mental health following a brain injury I experienced in 2015 and becoming aware of all the challenges faced.

Anthony Solorzano: Since college, Anthony has been self-producing his work in different Art Galleries and bars in Downtown Pomona.

Antoinette Laiolo: I have been an educator for 20 years focused on the mental health needs of our students and have a passion for suicide prevention.

Arielle Richard: I am a 28yo Registered Nurse Clinic Manager at a primary care clinic in downtown San Diego, and I have the unique opportunity to work with adults and youth in medical and behavioral health settings; I am very passionate about empowering people live their healthiest lives in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; Furthermore I believe in supporting and encouraging all people, but especially our youth, to speak up and speak out for mental health awareness. It would be an honor to serve a second year as a judge for your wonderful organization.

Armen Ter-Barsegyan is a Health Educator for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Armen coordinates outreach and education efforts in metro-Los Angeles and has background experience supporting homeless and foster adolescents in Hollywood.

Audreyrose Trevino: I am a graduate from Sacramento City Community College and would find this a great opportunity to give the younger generation my knowledge on filmmaking by being apart of this contest.

Avery Vilche coordinates activities for May is Mental Health Awareness Month and September is Suicide Awareness Month for Tehama County Health Services Agency. She teaches Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid as well as ASIST and safeTALK. She has enjoyed the submissions put out by the youth who participate in Directing Change for years and is excited to take part in this wonderful program.

Barbara Blue English

Becky Kramer: I am continuously impressed with the knowledge, wisdom, caring and concern, it would be a pleasure and inspiraton to see the work of these youth. I have judged the contest for the past several years and enjoy the creativity, passion and talent of the youth participants have for helping others.

Belen Lopez is the Equity Program Coordinator for the Foundation for California Community Colleges and has previously worked in supporting the Foundation’s Student Mental Health Program.

Brandy Ramos Nikaido: I am Director of Public Affairs, Communications and Government Relations for UCSF Fresno and a former Community Affairs/reporter for a local TV station. I have an interest in and am an advocate for improved youth mental health.

Brook Price is an educator, wife and mother, who became a loss survivor on Dec. 28, 2017 when her 15 year old son died by suicide.  She is passionate about supporting other loss survivors, educating those around her about suicide prevention, and spreading this message: #continueyourstory because #youmatter.  #20MP_remember

Brooke Frost:  Brooke has a theater background, mental health experience (working through collaborative courts for youth and adults for nine years), and has been a volunteer judge in video for high school technology projects for the County’s largest school district for about three years.

Bryanna Hayden is the student assistant at the Foundation for California Community Colleges supporting the Student Wellness Ambassador Program. Bryanna supports student leaders in mental health and wellness to conduct outreach to reduce stigma and promote wellness on college campuses.

Carolyn L. Kaneko is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Program Manager for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Carolyn manages the San Fernando Child and Family Center, a directly operated children’s clinic.

Cecilia Chavéz is a high school counselor whose caseload includes seniors. She is also earning her doctorate in educational leadership at Cal Poly Pomona. Her research is focused on how the school counselor role supports undocumented students. She is passionate about mental health access for students and destigmatizing the process of asking for help.

Chastity Eiler: As a Community Outreach Coordinator with Public Health, I have used several of the Direct Change short films for the Healthy Siskiyou County Facebook page and always found that the public liked the film posts more than just the picture and read posts.

Chela Fielding: I am a Behavioral health clinician and an artist. I work with youth in the foster system. I also am an artist. I have in the past made multiple super 8 and 16 mm films. Spent countless hours editing. Happy to continue to be a judge. It is critical to have creative outlets to de-stigmatize mental health.

Cherie Foraker is a School Counselor for Mountain Empire High School and is dedicated to helping her students reach their goals. She strives to increase mental health awareness and access for teens as well as building resiliency through instruction for teens, professional development for colleagues, and parent engagement.

Cheryl Eskin is the Program Director at Teen Line, a teen to teen hotline where teens can reach out about anything they are struggling with.  She is passionate about decreasing the stigma around mental health.

Chris Roup is the Executive Director for NAMI Fresno and actively supports and engages youth in NAMI mental health presentations and NAMI mental health clubs for schools in the Central Valley.

Christine Chai: I’m very interested in film and TV due to my household’s work in the entertainment industry producing award-winning television shows and promoting diverse and unique voices on screen.

Clarissa Pfister

Claudia Silva: I am a Mental Health Education Consultant with San Bernardino County and have been a judge for Directing Change for 8 years.

Cristina Rita: I work in the field of suicide prevention as a health educator working with both youth and adults. I have judged this contest in the past and have enjoyed seeing the creativity of the young people involved.

Cynthia Robertson: As an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention, I look forward to supporting your efforts to make a difference in the lives of our youth.

Cynthia Velasquez: I was introduced to Directing Change while taking a college course in Psychology.  It impacted my outlook on crisis intervention, and in reaching out to those who were in need.  I support the mental health community and hope to reach those who are afraid to reach out for help.

Dana Johnson (they/them) is a Juvenile Justice counselor, Health Equity PRIDE Initiative Chair and LGBTQ Commissioner for the County of San Mateo County (SMC). Dana counsels and provides evidence base services to at-risk youth; provides LGBTQ+ Health Equity services, and provides LGBTQ+ advisory to SMC Board of Supervisors.

Daniela Zanich is a licensed mental health therapist in private practice,  the co-founder of Suicide Is Different, and a Psychiatric Social Worker at Kaiser Permanente. Daniela has been working in mental health services for over 10 years and is passionate about providing suicide prevention training and support to those in need as an ASIST master trainer. . Currently, she has been focused more on providing support to suicide caregivers helping loved one’s with suicidal thoughts. She believes that the mental health community’s focus should be on expanding the safety net by providing more psychoeducation to people in the community.

Darrylann ” DaLa ” Lenoard: I have experience with suicide prevention support group work and I would love the opportunity to empower the next generation of coward thinkers.

Debbie Olsen: As an educator to teens for over 25 years, I am continually impressed and inspired by the high quality and creativity of work submitted for this contest.

Deborah Prince: Mental health is an important aspect of a person’s life and bringing awareness to it is crucial for our communities to have a better understanding of the risks of ignoring this importance.

Delrena Swaggerty supports Directing Change and the creative work they do to help prevent suicide. The youth who participate are brave leaders!

Dena Abramson Babb: Dena is the Director of Children & Family Ministries at Riviera United Methodist Church in Redondo Beach, mother to a teenage son living with Depression and Anxiety, and mental health advocate through her blog alittlebroken.org.

Denise Peterson: As a peer provider focused on helping others walk through mental health challenges, I am passionate about recovery and resiliency.

Deric Metzger is a support group facilitator for Survivors of Suicide Loss San Diego, and a loss survivor and attempt survivor himself, specializing in the LGBTQIA community.

Elizabeth Notestine: As an empowered survivor of sexual trauma, Elizabeth has developed core programming for NoStigmas (a mental health non-profit) to support suicide prevention and encourage ally-ship so no one has to face it alone.

Elizabeth R. Stone has spent 20+ years as a trainer, consultant, conference presenter, and advocate using her experiences as a recipient of mental health services to advocate for respectful and inclusive, recovery and trauma-informed behavioral health services.

Elke Petras: I enjoyed the experience last year and the more I judge the more I can help schools develop quality films in the future.

Ely Mena

Erika Kyte: I have several years of experience as a school social worker and have my undergraduate degree in Photo and Film.

Faviana Gonzalez is the Education Coordinator for the San Fernando Valley chapter of the National Alliance Mental Illness. Faviana coordinates classes and support groups in order to provide advocacy and information for those affected and in need.

Gabriela Rodriguez is the Communications and Policy Associate for The Reilly Group. Gabriela is the editor of The HUB, an e-newsletter promoting mental health activities in Orange County, and also helped facilitate the #OCStronger-Together Video Challenge.

Geovanni Cajucom is a Registered Nurse from Blue Shield of California and is very interested in watching and learning from creatively done short films.

Grace Park: With an undergraduate degree in film studies and a graduate degree in social work, that gives me a unique perspective of evaluating how the importance of mental health is expressed in a creative and artistic way.

Graham Wiseman: Losing my son Colin to suicide at 15 has made youth suicide prevention my driving passion. You are not alone.

Gwynneth Domecq is a Health Educator at Crisis Support Services of Alameda County. She visits schools throughout the county and educates youth on mental health topics and youth suicide prevention.

Heather Hale: I work in instructional design and love to see the work of others and additionally mental health awareness is an important topic that I am passionate about.

Hilva Chan is the Project Cal-Well coordinator for the California Department of Education managing a student mental health initiative intended to increase mental health awareness and expand access to services to support students’ mental wellness.

Jackie Collins is an Entertainment & Media talent who works camera as an actress and journalist and behind the scenes with producers, talent reps and television making productions happen.

James Coomes is the program manager of the Olive View Community Mental Health Urgent Care Center, a program of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and located in the San Fernando Valley, and is also a member of the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Network.

James (Jim) Wainwright is an instructor for the Pacific Clinics Training Institute and a part-time Associate Professor at Saddleback College where he teaches on a wide array of recovery-oriented subjects, and topics such as Suicide Prevention, and Safety Planning Intervention, Crisis Intervention, and After Hours On-Call Services.

Jason Halley is a returning judge and currently works as the University Photographer at California State University, Chico, photographing a variety stories involving student lifestyles and higher education features. As a former journalist, visual storytelling is an integral part of his work.

Jean Rousseau: I really enjoy the program and would like to participate however I can.

Jeff Van Ausdall: I taught at the high school level for 15 years and am currently the Behavioral Health Epidemiologist for Shasta County, CA.

Jen Winders: I am a teen social worker at Nevada County Public Health who started a program with high schoolers on digital storytelling projects to support youth in sharing stories of challenge and hope and currently I am the Assistant Director at What’s Up Wellness, a suicide prevention program in our county high schools.

Jennifer Johal is a Community Education Trainer at Crisis Support Services and leads workshops on suicide prevention in the community.

Jesse Rhodes teaches theatre at Centerville Junior High in Fremont, California.

Jessica Oakes is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for Tahquitz High School in Hemet. She is a fierce mental health advocate and has developed several programs to reduce the stigma on campus.

Jill Newman: I have the privilege and responsibility of working daily in suicide prevention. Awareness and de-stigmatization are key factors in allowing the space for individuals to seek help. This forum provides for awareness which is an area of focus for me in my current job.

Jodell “Jodie” Wingo: I am a healthcare professional with a sincere interest in mental health and suicide prevention efforts.  I am invested both personally and professionally in seeing growth in funding, education, research, and stigma reduction around mental and behavioral health diagnoses.

Joe Johnson: ETS Coordinator; retired teacher; five years judging Directing Change contest.

John Mackenzie has served as a judge for several years and is responsible for managing one of the largest TeleBehavioral Health programs in the country.

John Dent has been advising media for the past 15 years at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA.  His teams have won regional and national awards for their videos and publications. John loves to help his students become journalists and story tellers using a visual medium.

Jose Murillo: With over seven years of experience in the mental health field through various organizations and departments, Julio Murillo has demonstrated that he is an advocate for the community. Julio currently helps family be able to find their voice within the community.

Juan Zavala: I enjoy getting to know people better. Even if it means I’ll never get to know them, this reassures me to treat everyone with kindness and respect because I’ll never know what they’re going through.

Julie Cruz: I cannot think of a better way to put a voice to mental health awareness than through our very own youth!

Kayla Bereijo has been working in Youth Development, both locally and internationally, since 2015 and is passionate about building responsive and inclusive environments.

Kendra Boyce is a Prevention Specialist with Lake County Behavioral Health Services (LCBHS).  Kendra helps to coordinate prevention outreach and education efforts as well as leads the LISA:suicide prevention coalition, the May is Mental Health Awareness month activities, and September’s Suicide Awareness and Recovery activities for LCBHS.

Kevin Hannahoe: I participated as a judge for the first time last year and really valued/enjoyed my experience. I would be honored to judge again this year!

Kimberle Taitano: As one who has struggled with both mental illness and suicide, I have found healing and peace from the ghosts of my past; I am called to be of service in anyway I can. Bringing my experience in film and directing with me. I am a returning judge as I continue volunteering for change.

Kristen Batchelder: I have been working in the behavioral health system for since 2012, and I have worked with youth for most of the past twenty years. I am happy to support a project that brings those two interests together, helping young people share their voices in support of behavioral health education and empowerment, and stigma reduction.

Kristie Lui: I coordinate mental health programming for San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. As someone who works in the behavioral health field and is a dancer, I love to see the intersectionality of art as a tool for mental health.

LaTanya Green: I have approximately 20 years experience working with children with challenges (mental health, drug and alcohol, behavior). I look forward to Directing Change because of the efforts of the participants to help each other and themselves navigate the challenges of life.

Lindsay Heuer: Lindsay has participated as a Directing Change judge for the last two years, and has coordinated the Suicide Prevention program in Shasta County for three years. She is excited to see the growing interest in her region from these talented young artists.

Lissa Thomson: I am active in the emotional health community for corporate strategies.  Empowering and supporting youth in the drive to understand issues, stigma, opportunities and embrace change is critical.

Luz Pinto is the Director of PeerLINKS at NAMI San Diego, a life changing program that offers enhanced peer support services to individuals with severe mental health challenges. She is also a former board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, San Diego Chapter.

Madalyn Brion-Reed: Madalyn has been a counselor in CVUSD for 15 years and has been a judge for Directing Change for the past 3 years. She is an advocate for suicide awareness and believes in the power that students have to influence and impact their peers.

Magdalena Garcia: I am an advocate for suicide prevention especially in our youth 10-23 years of age; my nephew died by suicide. I am a field advocate for American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

Magdalena Victoria Leon-Bianchi: Victoria is the CEO and founder of Fostering Kids For Life a California nonprofit that works with at risk youth in the Inland Empire. She enjoys utilizing her clinical and professional experiences from being a health care provider and from acting and singing and performing in the arts, when providing inspiration and clinical resources respectively, to fortify disadvantaged youth with a wide spectrum of opportunities to thrive. She is a 26-year registered dental professional and currently manages all of the program direction, fundraising, grant writing and Grant Management for the nonprofit she founded, Fostering Kids For Life. She is the mother of a child with a mental illness. Victoria resides in San Bernardino CA.

Maria Chairez: I am deeply committed to helping youth in crisis get resources to address their needs. By being involved as a Judge I can do my part to help create media tools to real all youth. My role as a principal helps me understand the needs of today’s youth.

Marianna Morales: Marianna has been empowering children, adolescents and parents in her community as a Behavior Technician and a Family service worker. Marianna hopes to continue empowering her community and break the stigma of mental illness in the Latinx community as she completes her degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Marisa Crandall: I have provided mental health services to children and adolescents in school settings  since 1990.  I have found that Peer-to-peer interaction is often the most effective communication for adolescents, so I love this opportunity for teens to create art that may also be helpful to their peers and to the greater community.

Marisela Trenado works as a Peer Mentor at the Transitional Age Youth Center, for Glenn County Behavioral Health, and she believes this Directing Change project is a great opportunity for youth in our community. She has participated in this before through her school, and thought it was a great learning experience.

Melissa Olsen

Merida Saracho: I have supported and assisted with empowering children and adolescents for 20 years, and with the role I currently have I am able to ensure kids are treated fairly and human when their rights are violated. I would love to see that mental health is address and medical health without the child being stigmatized.

Michael Kearns is an award-winning veteran of the entertainment industry–having worked in television, film, and the theatre as an actor, producer, director, writer, and solo performer–who has consistently involved himself artistically in social services that involve youth.

Michelle Martinez is the Senior Peer Support Communications Specialist for the Riverside University Health System- Behavioral Health. She is a woman who has lived experience with mental health challenges and lives in recovery as an advocate and mentor for those she serves. Michelle Martinez is an U.S. Air Force Veteran, Wife, & Mother of two Daughters.

Michelle Carlson is the Executive Director of Teen Line, a Los Angeles based non profit providing peer based services, including a youth hotline and outreach program services.

Michelle Wright: A Town Council Member; a father of 5; Martial Artist, who has worked with children for over 30 yrs.

Michelle E. Carlson is a returning judge for Directing Change. “Getting to make this connection with youth all over California is a highlight of my year!” Reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health challenges, continues.

Milagro Gonzalez is a preschool teacher and a therapist. Milagro Gonzalez is a Psychological assistant and works at FamilyTherapy LA.

Mimi Kramer: I am a survivor of suicide loss, the loss of my brother, and I have a Bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Arts and Dance; I could judge this contest with the experience of both a performing artist and survivor.

Dr. Nancy Doi is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice for approximately 30 years. She has enjoyed working with a varied population, but her experiences with adolescents are some of the most rewarding.  She has lived in London, New York, Los Angeles and finally returned to her home town to live on the ranch where she was raised.  She is a musician and hopes to resume playing once again at some point.

Natalie Rodriguez is an award-winning writer, director, producer, mental health and anti-violence/trauma advocate based in Los Angeles, CA. Recently, she wrote, directed, and was the executive producer on her first feature film, “The Extraordinary Ordinary.” The film is about three young adults, their history with mental health, and how one can cope with it when triggers and old coping-mechanisms resurface. For details on previous and upcoming projects, be sure to check out @natchristinerod.

Nathan Lichtman: I have been both a volunteer and a shift supervisor at the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center. But for the last 3 years, I have served on the management staff as the Training and Volunteer Coordinator. I would like to be a judge in Directing Change, because it is so important that we erase the stigma around suicide and mental healthcare for our adolescents.

Neal Troiano: I was lucky enough to participate last year and enjoyed it fully. I am a Substance Use Disorder Counselor and I work with Adolescents in a Innovating Program called Tx Chat that works with adolescents who are experiencing Mental Health and SUD issues (co-occurring).

Nirmin Asali: For the last 3 years, I have been working in elementary and middle schools, helping, empowering, and supporting kids to reach their full potential. I am also a full-time student in the MCFT program to expand my knowledge and expertise in mental health to become more supportive to kids, adolescents, adults, and families. I am looking forward to this opportunity.

Nora Mays is a Health Educator for El Dorado County Substance Use Disorder Prevention Services. She is a California Certified Prevention Specialist, El Dorado County Friday Night Live Program facilitator, and Certified Mental Health First Aid instructor. Nora is passionate about ensuring the youth voice is heard and valued by stakeholders and decision-makers across the state.

Olga Jurado: I am a Psychiatric Social Worker with LAUSD School Mental Health. My passion for Mental Health and serving those in need has taken me in a path of committment to empower and educate our school community on mental health and suicide awareness.

Oriyan Maor: I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee who enjoys all forms of film and understands the complexity and stigmatization of depression and suicide.

Otto Wahl: I have many years experience and special expertise in efforts to improve public understanding of mental illness.

Owen Thomas: As the Outreach Coordinator at Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast, I work with local school districts to provide presentations on mental health and suicide prevention to their students.

Pamela Jones: I have worked in the mental health field for sixteen years and realize the films are a way to reduce the stigma of mental health.

Peggy Geier: I am the health technician in a high school health office and see mental health issues on a daily basis.

Phrani Diksa was delighted to judge last year. I am a Wellness Counselor for a public school high school. I am also a co-teacher for a Peer Assistance class and an advisor for a club – BC2M (Bring Change 2 Mind) – a club originally developed Nation-wide, to reduce the stigma of mental illnesses.

Raymond Salas has always been a film enthusiast which eventually lead to his work with film directors Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer as a dialogue consultant on the indie film “Quinceanera” that would go on to win the Top 2 awards at Sundance (Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award) and eventually obtain limited theatrical release.

Rebecca Russell is the Training & Volunteer Coordinator for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center’s 24/7 crisis line in Los Angeles, CA.

Rebecca Bray: As a former casting director with a degree in Film and Television and now as a high school counselor specializing in mental health, I am excited to combine these skills and passions as a judge for Directing the Change.

Rebecca Zeitlin joined Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Suicide Prevention Center in 2007 as a passionate Volunteer Suicide Prevention Counselor and since then has become a Shift Supervisor, Program Coordinator and is currently the Assistant Program Director for the 24-Hour Crisis Line. Rebecca’s passion is evident as she actively helps out on the crisis line, is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and facilitates Survivors of Suicide Attempts support groups along with seeing individual clients.

Renee Cookson: This is my 6th year as a judge. I have worked in Behavioral Health for over 4 decades and seen the continued progression toward Mental Health prevention and intervention and suicide awareness.

Rennee’ Brown-Hollibaugh: I am someone that has been personally affected by mental illness as well as suicide. Having the chance to judge this contest that would help show people the true pain and serious issues amongst our youth and our nation hits me deeply. I have many years of theatre experience having starred in all of my high school’s plays as well as assisted in directing, costume design, and set design and understand that the message is in the details. So whether you are the lead or someone that works behind the set, your contribution and message is important, valid, and respected.

Rick Newmyer, Senior Lecturer with the USC Suzanne-Dworak Peck School of Social Work, has over 20 years experience developing and administering programs for children, youth, and families.

Robert Mansfield: Such an important topic; happy to participate!

Robyn Gantsweg is the Peer Self-Advocacy Program Manager at Disability Rights California for the past 18 years and  is very passionate about finding new and creative ways to help reduce mental health the stigma and discrimination.

Rosemary Rubin is the co-chair of the Los Angeles County Child and Adolescent Suicide Review Team and on the board of the California Association of School Counselors Emeriti Executive Committee.

Ruth Golden: After 25+ years producing television, Ruth is currently producing her first film, The Silent Goldens, about breaking 30 years of silence in her family following her mother’s suicide.

Ryan Corbin: Working in public health, I do work in prevention and early intervention, which includes mental health awareness, suicide intervention, bullying prevention, substance use prevention and much more.

Sabrina Williams: I am a mother of two, both of my children have mental health issues, so I would like to support adolescents with mental health awareness.

Sabrina Z. Ullah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and oversees mental health, substance use disorder, and low income housing programs in Los Angeles County serving children, adolescents and adults.

Sam Lyday: I’ve been in several short films, I have a psychology degree, and 5+ years of experience working in the mental health field.

Samantha Olson: I have the pleasure of working alongside youth for the past 17 years in the K-12 setting and look forward to many more years as hope and healing become more readily available to all people.

Sandra Rodriguez is a Youth Programs Instructor for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, San Fernando Valley chapter. Sandra focuses on teaching Youth Mental Health First Aid and QPR (Suicide Prevention) courses to local communities, in order to help reduce stigma when it comes to supporting individuals who are experiencing issues with their mental health.

Sandra Black, MSW is a suicide prevention consultant who works primarily with statewide projects and county agencies to develop and improve suicide prevention programs.

Sara Geierstanger: I am a school health services evaluator, focused on school-based behavioral health in California for several years.

Sarah Keeney is a health educator for Crisis Support Services of Alameda County involved with suicide prevention. She was a judge for Directing Change last year and really enjoyed the experience.

Sarah Clair: Although I technically would be considered a new judge, I did help my colleague with judging last year and enjoyed the videos!

Saundra Schmidt is a Family Support Provider for Mental Health Systems, Inc. IHOT North Program, with lived experience supporting the mental wellness of families and individuals, both professionally, and as her purpose in life.

Sean Maulding: I believe very strongly in the transformative power of education and creativity in our lives. I’m happy to support this community as they express their own creativity.

Shana Duran: I work with students and enjoy their creative sides and look forward to being part of an amazing program.

Shanelle Abeywardene: As a graduate student working towards my Psy.D in clinical forensic psychology, I have a deep passion for mental health advocacy and awareness, and how fine arts can shed light on this topic in creative and insightful ways.

Shelia Young: I am the first Associate Clinical Social Worker at our agency; my interest in judging this contest is help reduce the stigma by reminding all participants and the guest(s) we serve, they are not their diagnosis. They are “Shelia Young” with a diagnosis of “insert mental illness”.

Shellie Swain: As a lifetime volunteer and high school mentor, participating in mental health awareness with our youth will hopefully build additional channels enabling more education and treatment opportunities.

Sherry Lecocq: I was the former Account lead on the statewide mental health and Directing Change campaign when I worked for Civilian a few years ago. I have continued to be a judge every year since I left that agency. This campaign is near and dear to my heart and I look forward to this year’s submissions.

Sister Regina Fox is Executive Director of the Sisters of St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation that has as one of its areas of interest mental health prevention and services. Current societal circumstances demand an increased awareness of the needs for mental health.

Sithy Farook is interested in education, communication, and promoting awareness of suicide prevention.

Soheil Mojtahedian: I have done video production and editing last year. I have also been an artist and a peer counselor in the victory wellness center is a branch of Sanfernando valley community mental health in Van Nuys, Ca.

Sridhar Mallikharjuna: I am always passionate about acting and acted in 60+ stage plays throughout my school days in India.

Stacy Ma Du Bois is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  In the past 9 years, Stacy has worked as a mental health clinical supervisor in a program that is focused on behavioral health integration and providing early intervention services to adults in a healthcare setting through collaboration with primary care doctors. In this area, there is room for suicide risk assessment and interventions in which Stacy is passionate about.   Providing education and consultations to healthcare providers offers an avenue to suicide prevention in an arena where it is widely needed.

Stacy Santolaja

Stephanie Loscko is a Program Specialist for the Student Advocates for Mental Health (SAMH) program at the Orange County Department of Education. The SAMH program supports youth-led mental health awareness campaigns, activities and Directing Change projects on school campuses across Orange County.

Stephanie Carlson: I work with a number of youth in the County as I run our teen court program and would like to help reduce stigma.

Suzanne Duval Lopus is a Senior Learning Developer with Blue Shield of California. She loves supporting youth and ensuring they feel supported and heard.

Tatyana Reveles: I have worked as an ABA Therapist with autistic children and adolescence for over 6 years and as I work to obtain a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy; gaining experience in religious private school settings for youth Pre-K up to 8th, grade, I hope to provide skills that allow growth and the confidence needed in order to power through life’s difficult challenges and find strengths within themselves to ask for help if needed, no matter the biases against mental health.

Terrie Hawthorne, MSW: My strong commitment to eliminating stigma and increasing awareness of mental health treatment is vetted in over 20 years of individual, family and group treatment and education.

Thomas Birbeck: Believe this is a powerful tool for young folks on taking control of their lives.

Tiffany Carmona is a Senior Account Executive at Civilian, the marketing agency that developed the It’s Up to Us campaign in San Diego and Riverside counties. Tiffany currently works on the Riverside It’s Up to Us campaign.

Tom Tamura: Executive Director of the Contra Costa Crisis Center, an AAS accredited agency, answering local and national crisis and suicide calls via our 211 and NSPL hotlines, and providing community-based suicide prevention trainings and grief groups focused on suicide loss.

Tonya Ross is the Coordinator for Health Services for the Division of Pupil Services at Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). Tonya coordinates suicide prevention training for all Pupil Services staff and oversees policy and procedures for the suicide prevention awareness program.

Tracie Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Lewis-Clark State College and her Masters in Social Work from Aurora University.  Tracie has worked in a variety of settings and has extensive knowledge working with underserved children, adults, and families and disenfranchised communities. She has expertise in early childhood mental health, community violence, crisis services, and school-based services. In her role as a Mental Health Clinical Supervisor with the  Prevention and Outcomes Division – Family and Community Partnerships Unit, Tracie is the lead for Anti-Stigma, Suicide Prevention, and Health Neighborhoods. She also currently serves as Co-Chair for the Los Angeles County Suicide Prevention Network (LASPN).

Tracy Spitz: I am a credentialed school psychologist and administrator overseeing an intensive counseling program within the high school district.  I come from a family with clinical depression and completed suicide so know, first hand, the impact suicide can have on a family.  I am committed to reducing the youth suicide numbers and promoting increased access to mental health supports for our youth.

Vadim Redko: I think a film can take some of the worst moments of our collective experience and, through the audience’s eye, add a glimpse of hope, catharsis, and maybe even strength to the tragedy.

Veronica Scarpelli has been an advocate and educator in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention for over 16 years, with the goal of consistently aiding young people to be the voice of future changes in global mental health.

Victor Yates is a writer, storyteller, performance artist, video editor, and filmmaker, whose Black Lives Matter video project, Death Sentence, received grants from the cities of West Hollywood and Glendale to produce.

Virginia Medina Gonzalez has a history in film production with Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with SoCal Crossroads; she is pursuing her Master’s in Marital and Family Therapy as she hits four years of being a Mental Health First-Aider.

Yasmin Irfani: Yasmin Irfani, M.S is the Youth Programs Director at NAMI-San Fernando Valley, a Mental Health First Aid instructor, QPR Suicide Prevention instructor, and Ending the Silence presenter.

Zoe Brown: After graduating from USC, Zoe Brown recently co-founded the Mental Health Content, where she leads discussions with entertainment leaders, students, and advocates about mental health in the media.

Zoey Eberle is the Sr. Health Educator for the Teens for Life program. TFL is a county wide suicide prevention education program that visits classrooms 6-12. Zoey is returning for her 3rd year as a Directing Change judge.

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255This is a free 24-hour hotline.
Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by counties through the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
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