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 We are always seeking volunteers to judge youth-created films and art. 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 art piece or associated in any way with a youth team that is submitting an entry (e.g., teacher, adult advisor, family member).
Submit an application to become a judge today!
A Big Thank You to Our 2023 Judges!
Angela Padilla is a passionate mental health advocate. Angela’s commitment is rooted in her personal experience with mental health. For nearly forty years, Angela’s mother has lived with bipolar and schizoaffective disorders. As a result, Angela became an avid consumer of mental health information at a young age, which motivated her to earn a degree in Psychology. She learned that even in the age of the internet, accurate and reliable mental health information could be difficult for consumers to find. As part of her advocacy, Angela publicly shares her unique perspectives and experiences with a diverse range of audiences by speaking at schools, to community organizations, and at special events. She founded FundaMental Change with the mission to increase awareness and eliminate the stigma associated with mental health conditions, to improve access to quality care for individuals living with a mental illness, and to better support their caregivers.
Angela Cohen is an established producer with films sold to MGM Orion & Shorts TV. She was handpicked by Google to direct the thriller Abduction via Jumpstart VR and qualified for the Oscars with her short, Without Grace (which she also wrote and starred in). Angela founded Charley Bear Productions with a vision to affect change through cinema, telling unique and diverse stories through the female lens.
Bradley Buecker is executive producer of Fox’s shows 9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star. He is also director and producer of the Golden Globe nominated show Glee and has worked on numerous other projects including The New Normal. In 2015, Mr. Buecker received the award for “Program Supporter and Student Mentor of Directing Change” for his long-time support of the Directing Change Program.
Brian Austin Green is an actor; well-known for his role on Beverly Hills, 90210, Green has appeared in a range of film and television projects throughout his career. Green and his partner Sharna Burgess are vocal supporters of improved conversations and conditions surrounding mental health and recently partnered with the Movember campaign to help reduce mental health stigma and improve mental health services for men.
Celeste Lecesne (he/they) wrote the short film Trevor which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short and is co-founder of The Trevor Project, the only nationwide lifeline for LGBTQ youth. He has written three novels for young adults, and created The Letter Q, a collection of letters by queer writers written to their younger selves. An actor as well as a writer, Celeste is best known for his award-winning solo shows including The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey for which the NYTimes ranked him “among the most talented solo performers of his (or any) generation.” He is also the co-founder of The Future Perfect, a national arts initiative for LGBTQ+ youth (www.thefutureperfectproject.com).
Chantelle James isco-owner of the production company Kid Sister Collective, as well as an award-winning actor/writer/producer who works in film and TV.
Charlie Plummer had his breakout performance in A24’s Lean on Pete, for which he earned the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival and was nominated for a 2018 British Independent Film Award. Plummer’s other projects include All the Money in the World, Looking for Alaska, Moonfall, National Anthem, Not Fade Away, and Wildflower. Plummer also appears in the critically acclaimed Words on Bathroom Walls, which portrays a person experiencing schizophrenia thoughtfully and educates viewers while encouraging compassion and empathy. Words on Bathroom Walls was recognized by the Directing Change Program with an exemplary messaging award.
Chris Hyde is a festival and film program associate for Voices With Impact, a yearly production grant and film festival platforming underrepresented stories on the topic of mental health. Chris is also an award-winning, queer, working-class writer, director, and performer. His work has been featured on TV after The Simpsons and on radio after The Archers.
David Maximo is an animation industry professional and currently an assistant director on the upcoming X-Men ’97 show from Marvel Studios. David decided to judge for Directing Change because he remembers how when he was in high school, he was lucky enough to participate in and win a similar contest. David has always felt that such activities and programs are incredibly empowering for youths seeking a focused outlet for their artistic endeavors, especially when that art is focused around mental health and suicide.
David Ridgway has worked in the film industry since 1973 in various roles including producer, director, and editor. David is director and editor for the show The Real Deal with Barb Marshall. He has worked on numerous projects over the years including music videos, television shows, 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 recently produced two feature films: Full Circle: The Story of New Dimensions (a documentary) and Stevie and Sandi Save the Rainbow Forest (a children’s film).
Deven McNair is a professional stunt performer and actress who is known for her work on films such as 22 Jump Street, The Green Lantern, Disaster Movie, Planet of the Apes, and the Disney Channel show JESSIE.
Don Collins taught high school math, English, financial literacy, and student support programs for 25 years in San Diego. He is an Air Force Desert Storm combat veteran with the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing. Don has sat on the Directing Change Board of Directors since 2017. Don and his husband Anthony enjoy raising their twin boys.
Doug Blush has worked in documentary filmmaking for over 15 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 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 also 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 vice president of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures, as well as an actress, stuntwoman, stunt coordinator, and voice over artist. Elle is also a graduate of the Film/TV program at Long Beach State University and USC/Universal Studios Advanced Film Program.
Grant Gustin, born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, always enjoyed performing. While attending Granby High School, he attended the prestigious Governor’s School for the Arts program to focus on musical theatre and appeared in “Cabaret,” “All Shook Up,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” After graduation, Gustin was admitted into the BFA Music Theatre Program at Elon University in North Carolina. It was during his sophomore year that he decided to audition for the Broadway revival tour of “West Side Story” and was awarded the role of ‘Baby John’ and toured across the country with over 400 performances.
After wrapping the tour, Grant joined the third season of the popular musical series, “Glee,” in which he played Sebastian Smythe, the lead of Dalton Academy’s Warblers singing group. Grant has played the iconic role of “Barry Allen” for nine seasons on THE FLASH, one of the most popular series on the CW Network. He also made several crossover appearances on “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
Gustin is an advocate for mental health and uses his platform to inspire others to speak openly about their own challenges and to seek help.
Hill Harper is a humanitarian, an award-winning actor, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. Currently, Harper stars in ABC’s #1 television drama, The Good Doctor, and has starred in numerous television and film projects including CSI:NY, He Got Game and Lackawanna Blues.
Harper has authored four New York Times bestsellers: Letters to a Young Brother, Letters to a Young Sister, Letters to an Incarcerated Brother, The Conversation, and his award-winning book, The Wealth Cure.
Additionally, Harper is the founder of The Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to empowering, encouraging, and inspiring underserved youth to succeed through education, mentorship, and grant programs.
In 2021, Harper performed in a ‘Reach for Hope’ Benefit to help raise funds for suicide prevention.
Jaspal Sandhu is a distinguished leader in design, social entrepreneurship, and health equity. As Hopelab’s Executive Vice President, he provides strategic direction across the organization, leading a multidisciplinary team with expertise in venture investment, translational research, design strategy, and youth co-creation.
Jen Greenstreet is the CEO and Founder of Just Like You Films, a women-run, Oscar®-qualified, Webby’s Gold Anthem and Mid-American Emmy® award-winning nonprofit production company. Jen began her professional career as a prosecuting attorney litigating 520 felony cases and representing the state in 46 jury trials. After serving 8 years as a prosecutor, Jen took her passion for advocacy and storytelling from the courtroom to the big screen and has led JLYF for the last 17 years.
In creating Just Like You Films, Jen sought to create a kinder, more empathetic world through the power of film. She writes, directs, edits, and produces the documentary Just Like You Film series, including Just Like You – Facial Anomalies and Just Like You – Anxiety and Depression, that received nationwide theatrical distribution through AMC Theatres in over 200 theaters, qualifying for an Oscar®. Anxiety and Depression won a 2023 Webby Anthem Award and was an official selection of the Toronto International Women’s Film Festival, Kansas City International Film Festival, and the Sunback Doc Film Festivals; it was also highlighted and recommended by UCLA Health, Good Day LA, and Sirius’ Sway in the Morning and is available on 29 video on demand platforms. Jen is currently in post-production on the feature length docu-drama and virtual reality short film, Just Like You – Food Allergies featuring Hall of Fame football legend, Jerome “The Bus” Bettis and Disney’s Girl Meet World stars, August Maturo and Ava Kolker.
Jim Jones is a psychologist who works on Mayor Bass’s Crisis Response Team, working directly with the LAPD. He also works for the American Red Cross Services for the Armed Forces Program and its Disaster Mental Health Program. Jim is a filmmaker who produces, writes, and acts, and 3 of his short films earned over 20 international film awards in 2022 from film festivals around the world (including festivals in England, Sweden, Paris, Spain and Florence).
Dr. Jim Kooler has been supporting young people in finding their voice for many years through the CA Friday Night Live program and CalHOPE, and he finds Directing Change Hope & Justice category is an especially great vehicle for this work.
John Carney is an award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, and former bass guitarist of the Irish band ‘The Frames’. John’s breakout feature ‘Once’ won numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and was adapted for the stage winning eight Tony Awards. He also helmed ‘Begin Again’ and the Golden Globe-nominated Sing Street’. John is the creator and showrunner of the Amazon Studios’ anthology series ‘Modern Love’ which traverses a range of sincere emotions and mental health challenges with grace with storylines which help normalize and destigmatize important topics related to suicide prevention and mental health. Most recently, John’s film ‘Flora and Son’ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released on Apple TV+.
Justine Fischer is an ardent community advocate and has a background of working with and for children and youth, especially those in under-served and vulnerable communities. She currently serves as the Community Director for the CalHOPE Schools Initiative Partnership to support schools, students, and communities with no-cost vital resources to support mental health and wellbeing. Justine also works with All It Takes to provide SEL programming to youth and those who serve them. Previously, she was the California State PTA President from 2015-2017, and a partnership specialist for the 2020 Census in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties.
Karimah Westbrook is an actress best known for her role on the CW series All American, which shared authentic, relatable storylines around mental health and suicide prevention and was honored with a Directing Change award for exemplary messaging. Westbrook is also a firm believer in giving back and supporting her community and was a mentor for the youth center A Place Called Home for several years.
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 LA-based nonprofit organizations to help support important community issues by directing and producing social impact videos and live events to raise money and awareness.
Katie Rotolo has over 10 years of experience in the entertainment industry and is the co-founder of the boutique production company Paper Ball Pictures, whose mission is putting the environment first while telling impactful stories. She is also the founder and yoga teacher of Set Intentions, a first-of-its-kind, mobile wellness business focused on sustainability and mindfulness.
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. She also released the single “Stand Tall,” a bullying prevention anthem from her sophomore album. Her music video “Stand Tall” provides a universal message of hope, strength, and human connectedness.
Kristen Bell is an actor and author with film and television credits including Frozen, The Good Place, and Veronica Mars. Bell helps destigmatize mental health issues by openly speaking about her own experiences with depression and anxiety, regularly using her platform and visibility to advocate for more honest conversations around mental health and empower those who are struggling to get the help they need.
Latarsha Rose has been inspiring youth for over 25 years working as a teaching artist and educator, while also working as a film, TV, and theater actor for 24 years. Latarsha has worked with after-school arts programs, ran a not-for-profit e-zine supporting digital divide exposure for teens, and has mentored youth in the arts and education. She is also currently filming and producing documentary content.
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 Studios and is in development on several features.
Lauv: For as much as he’s known for intriguing and inventive soundscapes, multiplatinum chart-topping singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Lauv asserts himself as a storyteller, first and foremost. Globally renowned for his breakthrough hit, “I Like Me Better,” which tallied over 2 billion streams and is multiplatinum in 12 territories, Lauv brings the same vulnerability and honesty that define his music to his personal life, speaking openly about mental health challenges and encouraging others to do the same. Lauv is also founder of the Blue Boy Foundation, which is devoted to increasing awareness of mental health while reducing the stigma around seeking help.
Lia Bruce worked for a Hollywood film producer as a creative executive and was the marketer of The Nonprofit Institute (NPI) at the University of San Diego. She now is getting her Master of Science in Marketing at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
Linda Bergonzi-King, MPH, is a producer/director/health communication expert with over 30 years of experience creating a wide range of video programs, educational tools, and communications with an 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.
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. 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.
Mariana Wahrhaftig is an international producer and director based in Los Angeles. She has produced and directed a range of projects, including Season 3 of Nintendo’s world-wide phenomenon video game hit concert-series The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses – Master Quest (which toured for 5 years); short films with Amazon Fire-TV, ATTN:, and Google; and 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 Dyak is an Emmy® Award winning producer. She produces webcasts on all facets of substance use disorders, mental health and related health issues such as suicide prevention, concussion, trauma, diabetes, HIV, and Hepatitis C and is co-creator and executive producer for EIC’s Annual PRISM Awards Ceremony and TV Special.
Marlee Matlin’s first film, Children of a Lesser God, garnered her the Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21, she became the youngest recipient and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for a film debut. In 2020, she was nominated once again as executive producer of the Live Action Short Film, Feeling Through, and in 2022, she was the recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the Best Ensemble in A Drama for CODA. Later in 2022, she returned to the Oscar® stage once again as CODA received the honor of Best Picture at the Academy Awards. In addition to numerous feature films, Marlee has also made her mark in television, has been twice nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Television Drama, and has been nominated for four Emmy® awards. In 2023, she made her debut as the first Deaf director of a network television and first Deaf director in the Directors Guild of America with her work as director on the Fox Television acclaimed Drama, Accused.
Marlee has been an outspoken supporter of inclusivity, equity, diversity, and accessibility particularly on behalf of the millions of Americans and people worldwide who are Deaf and hard of hearing. She was instrumental in insuring that the closed captioning technology that we are all familiar with today became available when she successfully testified in front of Congress on behalf of legislation requiring all televisions to be equipped with the technology.
Mark Powers is the Vice President of the California Broadcasters Association, representing the interests of the 1000+ radio and television stations in the state.
Mary Mast is a health program specialist for the California Department of Public Health, (Injury and Violence Prevention Branch) Office of Suicide Prevention.
Michael Gilvary is a writer and executive producer on the NBC drama Chicago Fire.
Michelle Taylor Greene is a mental health advocate, speaker, runner, and the founder of Miles & Mental Health, which uses running & community to change the conversation around mental health one run at a time.
Monica Nepamuceno is a mental health advocate who is passionate about helping all school staff (including certified and classified personnel), parents, and community members increase their knowledge and awareness of student mental health and wellness.
Nagin Cox is a spacecraft operations engineer currently working as a tactical mission lead for the Mars Curiosity Rover and the Mars Perseverance Rover.
Nkechi Okoro Carroll is the Executive Producer/Showrunner of the drama series “All American,” and the Creator/Showrunner of “All American: Homecoming,” and “Found.” Prior to those series, Okoro Carroll served as Co-Executive Producer on the drama series “The Resident” and “Rosewood.” Her other television producing credits include “Bones” and “The Finder.” Additionally, Okoro Carroll is in an exclusive, multiyear overall deal with Warner Bros Studios. Born in New York, raised in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and England, Okoro Carroll earned a B.A. in Economics and French from the University of Pennsylvania and Master’s in International Economics from New York University. Prior to her television writing career, Okoro Carroll worked for the Federal Reserve where her responsibilities included managing the reserve position for the U.S. Banking system and analyzing the impact of monetary policy decisions on the domestic money markets. All of which she did while still writing and producing plays in New York. Carroll was the recipient of the 2020 Directing Change award for exemplary messaging for the show “All American,” which shared authentic, relatable storylines around mental health and suicide prevention.
Pam Luna, DrPH, MST is an innovative career educator who uses film to inspire learning and action – Dr. Luna served for 7 years as the chair and feature films sessions founder for the American Public Health Association’s “Global Public Health Film Festival.” Currently, Dr. Luna works in training and research as adjunct faculty at the RAND, Corp.
Pixie Monroe 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.
Pepper Carlson-Humphrey, C.Ht. is an Emmy® Award nominee and 4-time Telly award-winning producer (2 gold, 2 bronze) with a specialty in short-form and documentary live-action production and development. Carlson-Humphrey is also a published author and executive producer of Timing Dragons Content.
Riki Kucheck has been working with the Newport Beach Film Festival – which screens over 300 films from around the world – for over 20 years. Riki regards film as a great way to express oneself and help others to better recognize and understand issues we all face.
Ruben Preuss is a producer/ director with 25 years of experience in film production. Ruben is also a licensed psychotherapist working at Kaiser Permanente Behavioral Health.
Dr. Sally Spencer–Thomas is a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, survivor of her brother’s suicide, and a person who has lived through depression; as such, she 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)
Scilla Andreen CEO and founder of iMPACTFUL is an award-winning producer, director, author, and founder of ImpactfulFund.org. Working closely with mental health professionals, brain scientists, educators, and experts in Wellness, DEI and HR, she created the Creative Coping Toolkit (CCT): a film-based, interactive, online learning platform built around the mental health film collection of Angst, LIKE, The Upstanders, and RACE to Be Human. Using story, the CCT is designed to normalize talking about mental health by bringing about awareness, deeper understanding, and character-building education through engagement tools and support services for educators, staff, students, and their families. Scilla works with corporations, nonprofits, and thousands of schools around the world and has produced and/or distributed the social impact films Nevertheless, Screenagers, Empowerment Project, and Finding Kind.
Shannon Jaccard, MBA is a mental health advocate and consultant, as well as the author of The Forgotten Survivors, a sister’s journey through her brother’s mental illness.
Tom Kline is an executive at NBC Universal and has many years of experience working in the entertainment industry.
Aaron M. Scullin has been supporting and empowering youth for over 30 years, both professionally and privately.
Abby Jaske works for the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium, which runs the annual Student Educational Video Awards (SEVA) for Sacramento County. She has a passion for youth filmmaking and teaches students the video skills they need to better share their visions through media.
Abby Kay is a former child and adolescent therapist with over 2 years of experience working in suicide prevention and supporting youth in expressing their own experiences and viewpoints through different mediums.
Abel Esquivel supervises interns from several universities completing master’s programs in counseling and therapy; the interns work with children, youth, and families in an outpatient clinic primarily serving low-income and Spanish speaking communities, as well as in school and LGBTQIA+ program settings in Fresno County.
Adam Lopez is a returning judge who fully supports and advocates for teens and young adults to better their lives and aspire to higher education.
Adam Sweet is an experienced project manager and scrum master.
Aerielle Nisson has over 25 years of experience in marketing and advertising and currently works as marketing manager at the Council on Aging Southern California (where she oversees eight community programs across five counties). She has also taught the PR and advertising Cal State Fullerton capstone project and was selected as PR Speaker of the Year.
Aisha Edilby has been supporting efforts to reduce stigma around mental illness since high school. Aisha believes it is vital to educate oneself and others about mental health and to foster a culture of support, understanding, and acceptance.
Alejandra Valencia is a program manager with Idea Engineering and has been working with youth, County offices of Education, Ventura County Behavioral Health in providing support for young people and communities in reducing stigma and increasing health equity education for marginalized populations.
Ali Borowsky is the Founder and CEO of Find Your Anchor – a grassroots suicide prevention movement aiming to inspire and support individuals in a creative and engaging way while growing a community of encouragement and hope.
Alicia Casey is a mental health advocate and writer with first-hand experience of mental health struggles.
Alisa Huntington has judged numerous Directing Change contests and enjoys seeing all the talent of the program’s youth participants.
Allie Mink is the president of NAMI San Bernardino Area. As the mother of a young adult who struggled with mental health during high school and college and a NAMI Ending the Silence lead presenter, she is acutely aware of the importance of reducing the stigma and normalizing conversations surrounding mental health conditions.
Allie Whalen works as school counselor and Suicide Prevention Liaison at Sage Oak Charter Schools and is strongly committed to supporting youth mental health and suicide prevention.
Amanda Lance-Sexton is an administrator working in Behavioral Health Services for the County of San Diego. She also has a small therapy practice where she supports teens and adults seeking to find balance in their lives, often through art modality.
Amanda Lasik is the senior manager of social impact for Blue Shield of California, as well as a returning Directing Change Judge.
Amanda Lipp has directed over 80 short documentary films about mental health, and her films have been utilized in stigma-reduction research papers and statewide awareness campaigns in New York.
Amen Divine Ikamba has been teaching and counseling children (ages 7-18) for 2 years and looks forward to a time when the mental health issues are regarded like other diseases.
Ammarah Bashir has been supporting mental health for the past 3 years and is looking forward to breaking the stigma around mental health in various communities.
Ana Amador is a co-founder of a mental health and consultation group practice and has been empowering systems-involved youth for over 15 years. She is passionate about supporting healing and wellbeing on both an individual and a collective level.
Anabel Gonzalez is the director for the Migrant Education Program in Tulare and Kings Counties. She has worked for the Migrant Education Program for the past 12 years, has been in education for over 20 years, and is a former social worker for Child Welfare Services in Tulare County.
Andrea Schulz is a retired social worker, a foster parent, an adoptive parent, and a peer and family support volunteer.
Anita Kostas is a school psychologist currently working with high school students and is passionate about mental health education and support.
Ann Truong-Ong Ta is a mental health clinician who considers art a strong tool for healing, as well as a creative. She is passionate about culture and mental health, has been working in the field of mental health for years, and is an advocate for equality and fighting mental health stigma.
Annetta Zheng has been enriching her knowledge in mental health issues and psychology for 10 years. Annetta fights for mental health awareness in the Asian community and supports suicide prevention programs for the LGBTQ+ community.
Annette Craig is president and founder of With Hope, the Amber Craig Memorial Foundation. Annette has created, developed, and implemented school and community-based programs that educate, equip, and empower individuals in suicide prevention and mental health awareness for over 17 years.
Annika Nelson is a therapist for Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center in Orange County. She is passionate about reducing mental health stigma and empowering both individuals and communities to realize their strengths in overcoming adversity.
Dr. April Tormey has been promoting empathy and compassion throughout her 3 decades in education and believes all adults and children should continue to learn lessons regarding how to be present, speak their truth, and obtain the knowledge and skills they need in our ever-changing global society.
Arcadia NYU Team 1
Arcadia NYU Team 2
Arthur Imperatore lost his brother to suicide in 2018. He is a screenwriter and filmmaker currently working as the showrunner assistant on an upcoming HBO Max show.
Athena Cheris is a student filmmaker and arts writer who prizes the use of art to get through difficult times.
Austin Messick is the program manager of NAMI Orange County supervising all signature mental health education programs, support groups, and stigma-reducing presentations for peers with mental health conditions and their families.
Ava Casados supervises the Mental Health Education Program at CHOC, where she is committed to spreading mental health awareness and tackling mental health related stigma in the community. She is also a pediatric psychologist working directly with youth and their families.
Avery Vilche is a health educator at Tehama County Health Services Agency. Her desire is that all people feel as comfortable reaching out for help for their mental health as they do for their physical health. She also believes that we can all play a role in keeping our communities safe from suicide.
Aviana Garcia is a psychiatric social worker with LAUSD School Mental Health and oversees their intern program. She is passionate about opportunities to address inequities through school-based social work.
Barbara Gonzalez has been in the public health field for 15 years, coordinating and managing projects including those centered on pregnancy prevention, chronic disease prevention and management, and mental health education. She has also been a judge for many youth-led projects.
Bart Callendar is a returning judge who enjoys supporting youth interested in taking on new challenges.
Becky Fein, MPH is the director of training and engagement with Active Minds, the nation’s leading nonprofit working to empower young adults to change the culture around mental health in their communities.
Becky Kramer has had the honor of providing mental health and supportive services to youth and families for over 30 years. She is truly grateful for all the people and community around her that have worked toward the same goals and have the same compassion and passion to help others as she does.
Belen Lopez is a returning Directing Change judge who finds the experience rewarding. Belen is eager to support projects that continue to destigmatize mental health and promote knowledge among youth.
Ben Courtwright has personal experiences in both mental health and art and loves to help others express themselves by channeling their emotions into creative outlets.
Beth Bythrow spent 40 years supporting LAUSD students and continues to support youth through her work with NAMI Greater Los Angeles County.
Beverly “BJ” Rouse has been a Directing Change judge since 2016.
Bhuvana Rao oversees prevention programs for Orange County residents and has done so for over 10 years. She is passionate about shifting perceptions and negative stereotypes about mental health and believes that programs such as the Directing Change have a real impact in stigma reduction and raising awareness for mental health topics in the community.
Bobby (Bojidar) Marinov learned to appreciate short films and motion pictures in college and has developed a passion for the artform. He also leads Recovery International, a self-help group on better mental health.
Brad Hammer understands the struggles that LGBTQ+ youth often experience and loves to see how they express themselves through art. Brad is also a filmmaker, whose work includes the documentary Finding Your Inner Hero.
Brenda Scott is executive director at a local NAMI affiliate and a mental health advocate. She is a two-time suicide loss survivor and cares deeply about a healing mental health system that is recovery focused.
Brent Doster is a registered associate clinical social worker in California and a lifelong practitioner and practicing visual artist. Brent has experience in grief and loss counseling, crises management, and wellness education.
Brian Bishop is communication coordinator for the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health, where he coordinates communication efforts with local media and handles the marketing around numerous mental health and substance use disorder campaigns.
Brittany Ostendorf is a school psychologist.
Bryanna Hayden has been a Directing Change judge previously and has supported and worked on mental health programs in the California Community College system for the past few years.
Caitlyn Kilgore provides mental health and suicide prevention education in middle schools and high schools.
Candice Robinson is a nationally certified psychiatric technician level 4 with a BS in organizational psychology. She provides full administrative services to private practice psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical mental health providers, and professional counselors across the US.
Carly Memoli has been engaged in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention training, outreach, and other activities in the Central Coast for 20 years. She is also a parent of two school-aged children and enjoys supporting programs like Directing Change that increase collective mental health literacy, reduce stigma, and encourage (and normalize) help-seeking.
Carlos Lamadrid has been judging for Directing Change for years and is honored to experience the talent and youth perspectives the contest participants bring to social and mental health issues. Carlos also has experience working with diverse ethnic and cultural communities as outreach and engagement coordinator for a mental health organization.
Carole Cox is a retired middle school and high school counselor. After 39 years as a counselor, she realized that the need for mental health services is greater than ever for all youth.
Carolyn L. Kaneko, LCSW is the mental health program manager II with the Hollywood Mental Health Center. Carolyn is also an active member of the Los Angeles County Suicide Prevention Network (LASPN) and is a co-chair of the LASPN Youth Advisory Board.
Carrie Brown is a member of the Student Mental Health Awareness Policy group as appointed by the California Board of Education, had been educated in Livingworks: SafeTALK and ASIST programs, and has worked with California youth in a prevention capacity for past 10 years.
Cassandra Cotton brings more than a than a decade of experience in policy advocacy, civic organizations, and nonprofit organizations, and is dedicated to creating pathways for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. As founder of 92130 Connects, Cassandra provides mentorship promoting a culture of learning and driven by diversity initiatives, helping mentees become better leaders and team players through guidance and opportunities.
Cassandra Seidler is a lead clinician supporting a team of graduate level interns who provide free on-campus clinical services as well as community-based services to hundreds of individuals in the south Orange County area. She has been working with teenagers in the mental health field for over 5 years, and with marginalized populations for over 15.
Cathie Sowell is a middle school teacher for Palm Springs Unified School District. She has taught for 18 years and uses storytelling elements in lessons and classroom projects.
Cathy Blackstone is an interested citizen who values staying informed regarding what future generations are doing. Cathy is a returning judge and is very impressed with the creative videos that the youth create.
Celesta Bates has first-hand experience with mental health struggles and loves films that spread mental health awareness.
Charles Myers has been a film and media professor for 20 years and has experience making both mental health and suicide prevention PSAs.
Chaundra Belton hasbeen supporting the population of those experiencing homelessness and mental illness in Long Beach for the past 11 years with MHALA. Chaundra believes empowerment, encouragement, self-awareness, and self-worth should be spread far and wide (including among youth).
Chen Liu has been doing a mental health and meditation research project for many years and is looking forward to expanding relevant resources and building up relationships for that work.
Cheryl Eskin is the senior director of Teen Line, a Program of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services and teen-to-teen hotline where teens can call, text, or email about anything they are struggling with (800-852-8336 6-10 PM PST, text “teen” to 839863, or visit teenline.org).
Chris Nihil is the outreach/ education Coordinator and phone counselor for suicide prevention at Buckelew Programs. She has worked previously as a trainer and EAP counselor and has a master’s in counseling psychology.
Christel Reyna has been providing resilience life coaching to teens and young adults and producing bullying awareness and suicide prevention assembly programs for middle and high schools nationally for over 15 years. Christel’s mission is to create safe and supportive spaces for people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, and religions to seek mental health support and guidance to overcome life challenges.
Christian Alan is a communications and film student at UCLA. Participating in the Directing Change contest in 2020 helped Christian realize the need for more philanthropic filmmaking. He has since founded the UCLA student-fellowship, Believe You Are The Best, a network of young filmmakers that create content for nonprofit organizations all while perfecting their craft.
Christina Dale has been supporting the Directing Change program since its beginning and is passionate about the annual event. Christina finds the creativity and depth of feeling in the video submissions to be inspiring, providing one clear message in many voices: don’t give up on life.
Christine Chai has been supporting Directing Change as a volunteer for several years.
Cindy Hicks is prevention coordinator for the Poway Unified School District where she works in the Student Support Services Department coordinating the student services specialists and assistants. Cindy also coordinates the Suicide Training Program, School Safety Trainings, and various social-emotional activities and prevention programs to ensure all students reach their maximum potential.
Claudia Avalos-Garcia has been working with adolescents ages 16 and older for the past 12 years in a community-based setting. Claudia supports youth in overcoming obstacles as well as in gaining awareness of their own mental health by identifying triggers and implementing adaptive coping.
Colter Diehl was previously a high school English teacher and is now a therapist specializing in working with youth and adolescents. He has spent time working with youth in schools, nonprofit settings, and private practice.
Connie Jones is concerned about the increase in suicide in youth and supports Directing Change efforts to educate youth on resources and suicide prevention.
Cristina Rita has worked in the suicide prevention and mental health field for the last 17 years and provides information to community members on how to prevent suicide.
Cynthia Metler is VP and managing partner at Media Solutions where she has worked on programs involving mental health awareness among all Californians for several years. In addition, both of Cynthia’s daughters struggled with their mental health as teens and she am committed both personally and professionally to breaking the stigma.
Cynthia Pancer, EdD trains teachers at Alliant University. A survivor of suicide loss, she incorporates suicide prevention into her courses and speaks frequently on suicide prevention at conferences and workshops.
Cynthia Robertson, MD is a QPR trainer and advocate for suicide prevention in San Diego County.
Cynthia Soares has been supporting youth in educational and community settings for over 30 years.
Cynthia Velasquez believes that making a difference in a young life can have great impact on the possibilities for their future.
Daisy Gomez is both professionally and personally passionate about elevating culturally affirming practices in populations that exhibit the highest risk of trauma to provide healing pathways that work. She also specializes in working with youth and young adults involved in systems of care.
Daniel Kennedy is a social work filmmaker in his last year of the Doctor of Social Work program at USC. Daniel’s doctoral focus is the use of film to lower the risk of suicidality and suicide in teens, and his documentary series, Healthy Long Life, is available on Amazon Prime.
Daniel Kwong serves on the Scholarship Selection Committee for Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund and as a mentor for both Cornell University and Cal State LA. He is also an ordained minister.
Danielle Segal is a social worker with a passion for ending suicide in both her professional and personal life. Danielle currently works with the unhoused in Truckee, CA and organizes an annual Hike for Hope through AFSP.
Darrylann ” DaLa” Lenoard has experience with suicide prevention support group work and values Directing Change judging as an opportunity to empower the next generation of thinkers.
David Giammona strives to foster inclusion and belonging in tech to create new opportunities for all.
David Gomez Calderon is a film graduate from UC Berkeley who has spearheaded production sets for Film Independent’s Project Involve, worked for numerous film productions, and supported his local Los Angeles community through many organizations. David recently worked at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures as a museum educator and is currently a Spanish teacher for 9th-12th graders.
Dayna Li is film director and actor who recently graduated from Chapman’s directing MFA program. Having experienced her own mental health struggles, Dayna values the opportunity to contribute to mental health awareness.
Della Kerr has provided substance abuse prevention and self-respect messages to youth for the last 12 years, helping youth recognize that their strengths empower them like nothing else.
Dena Abramson Babb has worked in youth-serving nonprofits and faith-based organizations for over 25 years. As a parent to a teen living with bipolar disorder, she is a tireless advocate working to help break the stigma and silence surrounding mental health.
Denise Gosdinski-Espinoza is a filmmaker in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area, has worked at Mental Health America of Los Angeles for over 10 years, and is drawn to films that share stories of hope and perseverance to connect and empower people.
Denisse Montes is a social worker for the County of San Diego and has been working in public service for over 15 years. Denisse holds a bachelor’s in Psychology from SDSU and is a strong advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
Derek Ellingson is an editor from film and television, as well as a digital film instructor at Coachella Valley High School.
Dionne Lafferty has judged over 300 cheer and dance compilations.
Donna Cederlund does community outreach, education, and advocacy for mental health organizations – such as CHADD, NAMI and The TLC Foundation – in an ongoing effort to end stigma so more people can get the help they need.
Dr. Margaret A Sedor is the district suicide prevention and wellbeing coordinator for the Sweetwater Union High School District. Dr. Sedor has partnered with students, staff, parents, and community members for over 30 years to foster an equitable systemic framework for suicide prevention, mental health and wellbeing.
Ed Waiskopf has been an advocate for foster care youth and underserved populations for his entire professional life. Ed has also worked in foster care and in community mental health.
Edwin Yau is mental health coordinator for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Edwin provides technical assistance and support to districts within Los Angeles County and is a part of various groups that support suicide prevention and positive mental wellness.
Elizabeth Menzies is a creative working across a range of forms in performance, film, and media. Elizabeth lives by the philosophy that “all of life is a creative process – I am just the delivery system for the creator.”
Ellen Murphy works as a school psychologist statewide in California.
Elly Love is an art-lover, artist, community volunteer, traveler, and retired educator who loves to see the creative work of young adults as they express their talents.
Emily Gerofsky is director of programs for The Social Changery. Emily develops programs and campaigns for a variety of public and behavioral health initiatives, including [ ] DECODED, a youth substance use prevention campaign.
Erika Jewell is a mental health professional who has worked with children and families for over 20 years. Erika also has a son living with mental health issues.
Esther Allen has been a student of the arts all her life and takes great pride in uplifting and learning from the artistic journeys of others.
Evanne Torrecillas works with and for high school youth to provide psychoeducation on mental health and to foster connections between youth, families, and school staff.
Evelyn Wan is UCLA alum and reader for Amazon, best known in the industry for her role in Stimuli(e), in which she played an influencer afraid of who she might find in herself if she were to live a life unplugged.
Floyd Strayer is a suicide prevention advocate and group facilitator for Survivors of Suicide Loss San Diego. Floyd is also a filmmaker and is always impressed with the films the Directing Change youth create and the stories they tell.
Frank Navarro is a police officer with the Val Verde USD Police Department and a Ret. Detective with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. Franks has been in law enforcement for over 31 years and has had the opportunity to mentor and support youth as an SRO with an emphasis on those suffering from mental health issues.
Gabriela Rodriguez Gabriela Rodriguez is communications and policy associate for The Reilly Group. Gabriela is also the editor of The HUB, an e-newsletter promoting mental health activities in Orange County, and helped facilitate the #OCStronger-Together Video Challenge.
Geneva Amas is a mental health clinician working with the challenges surrounding suicidality every day. Geneva has judged for Directing Change for years, as it is her hope to help make mental health more inclusive and part of overall wellness for the generations to come.
Geovanni Cajucom is a Registered Nurse at Blue Shield of California. Geovanni understands the importance of Mental Health and supports all efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and promote mental health and wellness.
Gina Reed is a former director of behavioral health at El Dorado Community Health Center and now owns a private practice. Gina always supports educating and promoting change around mental health and can’t wait for the day when mental health care is as normalized and accessible as physical health care.
Giuliana Valdovino is regional mental health coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education.
Grace Park has been a Directing Change judge for 12 years. Grace is also a social worker (MSW) by training, holds an undergraduate degree in film studies, and has a keen eye for storytelling using the medium to educate, inform, and change lives.
Graham Wiseman co-founded BeingwellCA after the loss of his son to suicide; the nonprofit is dedicated to improving student mental health in California and beyond.
Hannah Moss is a lifelong film buff who enjoys seeing the work of new and young artists in the field.
Hannah Tedesco is a marriage and family therapy trainee at Dominican University of California and provides psychotherapy to undergraduate and graduate students, supporting the personal growth of adolescents and young adults. Hannah is passionate about mental healthcare and is eager for a future where it is destigmatized and accessible for all.
Heather Hale has judged with Directing Change for a previously and enjoys seeing the creativity of the youth participants and connecting with the community. Heather has also studied in Instructional Design, Business, and Organizational Leadership.
Heather Lenz is a documentary filmmaker best known for directing and producing Kusama-Infinity, a feature length documentary about Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist who overcame sexism, racism, and mental illness on her path to becoming the top-selling living female artist in the world.
Hector Ramirez has lived experience with a mental health condition and has supported Directing Change as a judge previously. Hector is also an emeritus Los Angeles mental health commissioner and a committee member with the Mental Health Services and Oversight Commission on the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Committee.
Heidi Hanna, PhD is a NY Times best-selling author and global speaker on topics including stress, brain health, and leadership. She has been a longtime advocate for mental health awareness and education, supported by both her professional and personal experiences.
Holly Prince is a studio art and art education major at Loyola Marymount University who thrives when working with youth and admires the power of the dramaturgical process to serve as a catalyst for strengthening the mental health system.
Howard Somers lost his veteran son to suicide in 2019 and has seen been dedicated to advocacy and nonprofit work aiding veterans and service members.
Ioana Ferariu is a poet, dancer, cognitive scientist, UX researcher, and strong mental health advocate. As an artist, Ioana cherishes the transformative power of storytelling.
Isabella Ho is a teen author with an interest in anime art and animated film. Isabella has been writing and drawing since childhood and sees volunteering with Directing Change as a way to help others while also learning more about art.
Ivette Virgen has been supporting and working with children and adolescents for the past 7 years. She is currently a mental health therapist for children and also works with children in dependency systems who have been victims of abuse.
Jacqueline Avena has been working with students in K-12 education for over a decade. Jacqueline is also pursuing an MSW to be better equipped to help students with mental health needs.
Jamal Gerren has taught filmmaking for over 20 years and has directed 4 feature films.
James Schotter is veteran engagement specialist for Mental Health America of Los Angeles and both works and lives in Long Beach. He is also a US Marine and Iraq veteran who works to connect Veterans with mental health and homelessness prevention resources, as well a certified peer support specialist working with those experiencing various mental health struggles.
Jami Macleod holds a BA in media studies and believes in the mission of Directing Change.
Jamie Moran, LCSW, CGP is in private practice in San Francisco focusing on group therapy and group training for mental health clinicians. Working with adults, Jamie witnesses the many ruptures of childhood experiences and desires to be part of community efforts to rectify these injuries.
Janet Borrus has cowritten and coproduced a feature film about teen parenthood, Bellyfruit, and was a high school theatre teacher. She has recently returned to acting.
Jason Halley is a returning judge and currently works as university photographer at California State University, Chico, capturing a variety of stories involving student lifestyles and higher education features. Jason is also a former journalist, and visual storytelling is an integral part of his work.
Jaspal Sandhu is a distinguished leader in design, social entrepreneurship, and health equity. As Hopelab’s Executive Vice President, he provides strategic direction across the organization, leading a multidisciplinary team with expertise in venture investment, translational research, design strategy, and youth co-creation.
Javier Blas is a licensed clinical social worker, provides direct services to youth in a high school setting, and is part of CHOC Children’s School mental health program team.
Jayne Reinhardt is recently retired from San Diego County’s Health and Human Services agency where she held various health education and community organizing positions for nearly 30 years. Jayne has served as a Directing Change judge for many years and is excited to continue her involvement.
Jeanette Cruz is senior outreach community manager for Blue Shield Promise and a returning Directing Change judge. Jeanette is impressed by the talent of youth participants and enjoys the short films they create.
Jen Winders is assistant director at a high school suicide prevention program and has been screening in schools for 10 years offering mental health support and resources. Jen also works with teens in groups, on opioid overdose response, and in overall mental health support though a public health “prevention” department.
Jeniffer Penalber is the founder of Resilient Therapy Center, Inc and is excited to support and empower adolescents as they use creative arts to showcase difficult topics.
Dr. Jenn Carson is a board member at the American Association of Suicidology and the supervisor for the Inland SoCal Crisis Helpline, a 55-year-old crisis and suicide hotline.
Jenna Lane brings nearly 20 years of experience in daily news to her work supporting journalism grantees through Blue Shield of California Foundation. She has also worked on behavioral health and homelessness at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Jennifer Estrada has been a peer mentor for NAMI OC for over 2 years and connects with people who are experiencing mental health crisis almost daily. Though mental health struggles are common, Jennifer sees that they are still heavily stigmatized and hopes that encouraging people to discuss mental health more openly and frequently will encourage people to be less judgmental and foster a culture of help-seeking.
Jennifer Guhl is the MHSA Agency program manager for the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health Department in Sonora, CA. Jennifer has been supporting various mental health awareness and suicide prevention efforts in Tuolumne County for more than 5 years.
Jennifer Johal is healthcare engagement program coordinator at Crisis Support Services of Alameda County. She provides education to the community on how to recognize and support someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Jennifer Wiedeman has been actively involved in the CalHOPE outreach and education program, as well as numerous government and public health prevention campaigns focused on youth throughout her more than 35 year career in California and as the communication director for both the Hawaii and Delaware state health departments. As a behavior change specialist, Jennifer hopes to reduce stigma associated with mental health and provide youth the resources they need to foster hope and improve their mental wellbeing.
Jenny Reed is a creative director for the Bureau of Small Projects. Jenny builds creative solutions for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Jenny has formerly worked at the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds mental health research including suicide prevention.
Jeremy Aguilera-Gaudette has volunteered with youth for many years through after-school tutoring programs and has programmed for a variety of film festivals in Southern California.
Jeremy Hsing is the entertainment news and media apprentice at RespectAbility and a former diversity equity & inclusion intern at WarnerDiscovery. He has also written and directed 2 short films titled Iridescence and Fish.
Jessie Bucci is the California program associate for Bring Change to Mind (BC2M). She works with high schools in California to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness and discuss topics pertaining to mental health while creating empathetic high school environments.
Jewel Forbes is project director II for the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Division of Student Support Services. Jewel has worked in student services and education for over 25 years and serves as the lead for school counseling, school-based mental health, and violence prevention. In her role at LACOE, Jewel provides technical assistance and support to the 80 school districts in Los Angeles County in the areas of mental health, school counseling, and violence prevention.
Jilliana O’Neill is program coordinator for Applied Crisis Training and Consulting. As such, Jilliana is a part of a team working with various counties to train and implement strategies regarding suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention.
Jim Wainwright is a senior clinical director for pacific clinics. He oversees operation of the HOPE Drop-In Center in the San Gabriel Valley and is part of the Pacific Clinics Suicide Prevention Initiative where he presents workshops on safety planning and crisis intervention.
Jiyoung Choi is a visual development artist at DreamWorks TV Animation and has experience in both 2D and CGI animated series, such as Trolls: TrollsTopia and Abominable and the Invisible City. Jiyoung is currently working on an unannounced show at DreamWorks, for which she designs main sets, backgrounds, props, color and lighting keys, and FX.
Joanne Rubino is a TV and film producer with a long career telling true stories and supporting new talent in their efforts to share their stories and narratives with the world. Joanne values the opportunity to use her expertise to help young film makers and shed light on subjects that are too often kept in the dark.
Joao Guassi Moreira is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. His scholarly research is focused on understanding promoting mental wellbeing during adolescence.
Joey Holland is a 211 operations supervisor with the Inland SoCal United Way. Joey also assists with Helpline 951686HELP, the crisis/suicide hotline for Riverside County.
Jose Aguirre is program manager for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office CARON, a community program that builds trust between the community and law enforcement through educational activities, including academies, workshops focused on well-being and mental health, and drug prevention efforts. Jose is also a journalist and a professional photographer.
Jose Julio Murillo is a co-founder of life-better.org, a site dedicated to writing on his experiences with mental health issues and as a peer support specialist. Jose’s goal is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to bring awareness on how mental health impacts the Hispanic community.
Juan Garcia is a US VETS Peer Outreach suicide awareness and mental health advocate, whose background as a young Latino migrant worker informs his approach to art and advocacy. Juan also regards arts as an invaluable resource for safeguarding his own mental health.
Judith Miller Thomas cherishes the opportunity to support mental health education and awareness by volunteering for Directing Change. Judith also values efforts to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness.
Justine Fischer is community director of the CalHOPE Schools Initiative Partnership and Outreach and Engagement Manager for All It Takes. In both capacities, Justine works to support the wellbeing and development of youth and those who serve them.
Karen Crouch is an employee of The UPS Store, Inc. in San Diego and has served as a Directing Change judge for several years.
Karla Duarte is a San Diego-based filmmaker, creative content producer, and expressive arts therapist with roots in the US/Mexico border of Tijuana. Karla has received both national and local filmmaking grants to create social change from funders including the Latino Public Broadcasting Digital Media Public Fund, YAB State Farm®, Boys and Girls Foundation, and Gould Foundation. She focuses her lens on social justice, creating contemplative and poetic narratives.
Kathleen Derby is a patients’ rights advocate at Jewish Family Service. With 40 years of lived experience, Kathleen advocates for the rights of people in mental health facilities throughout San Diego County.
Kathy Cromwell, LCSW is an executive director at Hinds Hospice and oversees the Fresno Survivors of Suicide Loss and the Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) team.
Katisha Jallow is the founder of California Suicide Prevention Network for the Los Angeles, California, as well as a mental health and resiliency advocate.
Kay Lund has been a Directing Change judge for several years and is always impressed by creativity and awareness demonstrated by contest participants.
Kayla Jones works for BlueShield of California as a technical learning developer. She has knowledge in developing content and is a returning judge for Directing Change.
Kelly Seymour is a returning Directing Change judge.
Kendra Boyce works with Lake County Behavioral Health Services to bring suicide prevention education, mental health wellness, and stigma and discrimination reduction into local schools and communities.
Kenneth Tong is a licensed mental health worker with experience providing mental health services in both public and private school environments. Kenneth also works to provide therapy to individuals, couples, and families (especially those in the underserved communities).
Kevin Hannahoe is a returning Directing Change judge who finds the experience both enlightening and heartwarming.
Kim Kartinen works to prevent suicides – both professionally and personally – through enhancing lives and loves promoting new, engaging ways to support such efforts.
Kima Russell is director of operations for Black & Brown Opportunities Program. She coordinates efforts to help women of color become entrepreneurs and leads efforts to promote mental health awareness within the community.
Kiran Dhillon is a clinical assistant professor in the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, as well as an advocate for accessibility and mental health.
Kong Vang has participated in multiple film festivals as a top competitor, as well as an experienced Directing Change judge. Kong values the effort of participating youth to tell their stories while destigmatizing mental health.
Kristin Macapagal is a professional leadership coach, facilitator, and program designer with over a decade of experience working in PreK-12 education who has facilitated diversity, equity and inclusion and leadership development work for thousands of education leaders and is passionate about centering student voices. She taught technological literacy to educators in rural Namibia, as well as high school English in a Title I schools on the Navajo Nation, and she has and facilitated leadership development to hundreds of educators through Teach For America’s Rural School Leadership Academy and School Leaders of Color Conference. As a coach, she also supported the winners of the 2018 Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Social Innovation Award.
Krystal Duncan is the coordinator of social emotional supports for the Fontana Unified School District. She is also a licensed professional clinical counselor and a credentialed school counselor.
Kyle Michael “K.M.” Mendiola is the program coordinator for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA), a nonprofit arts and cultural organization that celebrates and provides opportunities for emerging filmmakers and storytellers. He coordinates members, internships, and volunteer programs at NFMLA, and organizes monthly in-person film festival events which provide opportunities for new filmmakers.
Lauren Gallegos is prevention director of the Wellness & Prevention Center based in San Clemente. Lauren coordinates substance use and prevention programming for youth and families in south Orange County and has been working with youth since 2014. Lauren has both professional and personal experience with mental health and been a longtime advocate for mental health education and support for youth.
Leah Brooks is a licensed clinical social work with over 10 years’ experience working with adolescents. She can often be found helping her community (whenever she isn’t out hiking with her dog).
Lee Laurence has 45 years’ experience as an licensed psychiatric technician and mental health patient rights advocate and is a 60-year survivor of childhood sexual trauma.
Leilani Baldwin is an actress who is most well-known in the film and media space for portraying the titular character ‘Lupe’ in BYATB’s mental health coming-of-age series, Lupe’s Graduation.
Leo Maldonado is a screenwriter studying at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angles. Leo is also a seasoned contest participant with a passion for raising awareness about mental health through storytelling.
Les Forster is a retired school principal who has volunteered with his wife as a presenter for NAMI’s Ending the Silence program for many years. He is also a returning judge.
Liliana Chavez has worked in the public sector for the last 10 years of her legal/administrative career. She has experience in fashion design, runway shows, and production and manufacturing. She also coaches recreational soccer, which she regards as a healthy outlet for youth and parents in her community.
Linda Kelson is an artist specializing in oil painting. She has also tried to use her art to address social and environmental issues all her life.
Lindsay Heuer coordinates suicide prevention outreach and education efforts in Shasta County. She is happy to support Directing Change and is especially excited to see the growing interest in the program from talented young artists in her region.
Lisa Lee, PhD, NCSP is clinically trained as a school psychologist, focusing on trauma-informed, school-based mental health services. Lisa truly believes that students know themselves, their mental health needs, and the most creative and most effective ways to reach their peers.
Lisa Schoyer has over 60 art exhibitions under her belt, with 12 of those being solo exhibitions. Lisa also holds an MFA from CalArts and has 6 years of studio art teaching experience at UCI and Occidental in subjects including visual culture, drawing, sculpture, and installations.
Lissa Thomson has been a judge for Directing Change for several years and continues to volunteer with the program because she believes that empowering and supporting youth should be a high priority. Lissa seeks to help youth openly examine and find productive responses and solutions to mental health challenges and looks forward to the day when open discussions and community solutions are commonplace.
Dr. Lorry Leigh Belhumeur is a licensed psychologist and has served as the CEO of Western Youth Services for over 20 years. She believes that the foundation of positive mental health in children and youth is having a caring dependable adult who believes in them, uncovering their strengths and using them to heal, and helping them become their most confident and resilient selves.
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.
Lynne Ashbeck is a long-time advocate for improving the mental health systems of care for children, her community, and the state, and her work includes 6 years of service on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) with 2 terms as chairperson.
Madalyn Brion-Reed has been a school counselor in Cajon Valley Union School District since 2006 and is passionate about students being agents of change in their communities.
Maddi Perry has first-hand knowledge of a range of mental health challenges and uses her personal experiences to help others who maybe struggling with mental health.
Magdalena Garcia looks forward to the day when youth mental health is truly recognized as a public health issue. As a survivor of suicide loss, Magdalena works tirelessly to destigmatize mental health issues in young people.
Magdalena Victoria Leon-Bianchi is a 30-year dental healthcare provider, as well as a CEO of a nonprofit supporting at-risk youth in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. She finds working with youth and supporting their creativity to be one of life’s most rewarding experiences.
Marcia Reily coordinated a Suicide Prevention Ongoing Resiliency Training (SPORT) project for about 3 years and has enjoyed collaborating with Directing Change.
Maria Rodriguez is a school counselor advocating for the academic development, personal and emotional growth, and improved mental health support for adolescents.
Mariam Ansari is a mental health advocate supporting young people in their mental health journeys. Mariam also specializes in immigrant and POC mental health literacy and inclusion.
Dr. Marian Williams is a licensed psychologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and professor of clinical pediatrics and psychology at the University of Southern California. In her work, she seeks to raise awareness about suicide prevention and reduce stigma around mental illness.
Marisa LaDuca Crandall has worked with children and families for the past 30 years as an educational psychologist and mental health coach and is currently director of educational and counseling services at the Marlborough School in Los Angeles. Marisa wants everyone to know that good mental health includes expression of the full range of emotions, as well as the development of healthy coping strategies.
Marissa McGillick has been an advocate for mental health and social justice since high school and will soon graduate with a BS in psychology. Marissa has volunteered to do work supporting the end of mental health stigma in both elementary and high schools.
Markov Manalo has been involved in mental health advocacy for 15 years and has facilitated courses on recovery throughout the state of California and in other parts of the country.
Marlowe Stone is the co-owner and co-founder of 336 Productions, an Orange County based video production company, which specializes in producing client-branded video content for marketing and advertising purposes.
Mary Algiers is a senior public health nurse with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). Mary advocates for best practices in mental health services delivery for multiple county agency recipients.
Megan Sprague is the youth mental health & warmline program coordinator for NAMI Sonoma County. After recovering from her own experience with a mental health condition in her teens, she shares her story as part of NAMI’s free educational mental health awareness presentation, Ending the Silence, to teens and youth throughout Sonoma County.
Merida Saracho has supported and assisted with empowering children and adolescents for 20 years, and currently works to ensure kids are treated fairly and human when their rights are violated. Merida looks forward to a day when mental health care is no longer stigmatized and is more accessible for youth.
Michael Paraskevas is always trying to push young people to expand their dreams and firmly believes we all have something to say. Michael is also the creator of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast for NickJr. and is a well-known illustrator of children’s books.
Michelle Buckley is a returning judge who is impressed by the talent of contest participants and looks forward to experiencing their creative approaches to mental health and suicide prevention topics.
Michelle Carlson has been working in the mental health field for over 20 years, including supporting youth and young adults through suicide prevention initiatives and programs, as well as crisis hotline services.
Michelle Carlson works for Tuolumne County Behavioral Health and is a returning judge for Directing Change.
Dr. Michelle Fortunado-Kewin, DSW, LCSW, PPS is a Filipino-American social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works part-time as a school social worker and as an adjunct instructor/lecturer at San Francisco State University and SUNY University at Buffalo. Most of her experience has been working in different nonprofits and educational settings in California.
Michelle Martinez has lived experience with mental health challenges and works with community members who struggle with these same challenges. Michelle has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than 30 year as mentor to those with mental health diagnoses and is a public spokesperson for reducing mental health stigma and promoting wellness in people of all ages.
Michelle Nguyen is the grant administrative assistant for the Norooz Clinic Foundation, a nonprofit mental health clinic. Michelle supports staff in grant proposals, assists in curriculum development, and aids in community outreach efforts to destigmatize mental health and to ensure health equity for all.
Michelle Wright is father to a son who died by suicide, as well as co-founder of Choose2LiveUnlimited, and organization building bridges of communication between government agencies, mental health workers and organizations, faith-based organization, and those in need of their services.
Midge Costin is an award-winning filmmaker and a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and has a deep and long-standing interest in mental health issues.
Mimi Kramer is a survivor of the loss of her brother to suicide. Mimi also brings experience as a performing artist and holds a bachelor’s in dramatic arts and dance.
Minda Harts is the bestselling, award-winning author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table, Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace, and her first YA book, You Are More Than Magic. Minda is a highly sought-after speaker and thought-leader, frequently presenting on the topics of advancing women of color, leadership, diversity, and management, as well as the founder of The Memo LLC, a career development company.
Mira Patel is project manager for Media Solutions, the media buying agency for Department of Healthcare Services, CalHOPE campaign.
Molly Touse is assistant director of training and education for Suicide Prevention of the Central Coast. Molly trains new responders to the 988 Suicide Crisis Line of the Central Coast and coordinates community outreach and education for the Tri-County area.
Monika Howard is a program specialist supporting mental health of students ages 3 to 21 for the last 26 years. Monika leads the suicide prevention team and mental health outreach for vulnerable students and their communities in Sacramento County.
Moses Fleischman is a student with an affinity for video and filmmaking courses. Moses has a passion for filmmaking and working with other youth to make films.
Nanci Ruby trains student directors to communicate with their actors and their production team to bring their directorial visions to fruition at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
Dr. Nancy N. Doi is a clinical psychologist dividing her time between private practice in downtown Reedley, California and at Adventist Health Behavioral Health in Selma. Dr. Doi enjoys working with teenagers and encouraging their creative process. She is also interested in the latest research involving trauma and utilizing movement, drama, and art to help the healing process.
Natalia Lax is a freelance production manager in the commercial and branded content space. She has worked on several campaigns focused on youth mental health awareness.
Natalie Saragosa-Harris is a PhD student studying brain development and mental health in adolescents.
Natasha Ellis is a person in long-term recovery from mental health. Natasha is also a certified mental health and addiction counselor who has worked with youth and school-aged children, supporting them and educating them on mental health.
Nathan Lichtman is a returning judge who works to recruit and train volunteers for a crisis line. Nathan finds encouragement in Directing Change’s efforts to help youth gain filmmaking skills and learn about suicide prevention at the same time.
Nicole Paiz has been a dental professional for 3 years. She also uses her social media presence to advocate for an improved culture surrounding mental health and mental health topics.
Nicole Ramirez is a returning Directing Change Judge who has been impressed contest entries in the past. Nicole wants to be part of helping the world be more understanding and accepting when it comes to mental health.
Nisha Joseph has been supporting and empowering young children for over 5 years as a mentor and tutor in an elementary setting and in transitional housing complexes. Nisha looks forward to the day when mental health issues are instead embraced by society and not stigmatized, so that no one battles the battle alone due to fear of being judged and misinterpreted by society.
Nivedita Meethan is a physician epidemiologist working for the Behavioral Health Bureau of Monterey County. Nivedita’s field experiences affirm the power of prevention, and she firmly believes that a focused, well-planned practice of social and preventive medicine will improve health indices globally.
Norman Cohen is a father of teens, who finds that judging for Directing Change keeps him grounded in the mental and behavioral health of youth. Norman also brings previous experience as a professional photographer; currently, he is works with Blue Shield of California supporting behavioral health and is pursuing a master of public health degree.
Olabode Lawal is an instructor at Cal State San Bernardino, Victor Valley College, Mount San Jacinto, and Chaffey College. A graduate from CSUSB’s master’s program in communications, Olabode is originally from Nigeria and has a strong interest in African representation in Western media.
Olga Jurado has been supporting Suicide Prevention and Awareness policies in her district by educating and training staff and students on knowing the signs. Olga believes we all play an important role in the lives of others and is passionate about the work she does to serve others, especially those in need.
Olin Richey Jr. is a seasoned Legendary Productions actor and chief editor for Believe You Are The Best. Regardless of the specific project, Olin always seeks to uplift the human spirit for whoever experiences his work.
Olleanna Stahler is an artist who works primarily with mental health themes. It is extremely important to Olleanna that these subjects are approached with the care and nuance they deserve.
Omar Salazar is the lead peer navigator with TAY Project Opportunity for Mental Health of America of Los Angeles (MHALA). Omar is also a youth who creates short films and aspires to be a filmmaker.
Onder Yetiskin is a visual artist and film director.
Otto Wahl has been working toward improved public understanding of mental health conditions for several decades and has judged for Directing Change multiple times.
Paige Brogan works for Blue Shield of California.
Pamela Washington is principle program manager at Blue Shield of California.
Patricia Saldana is a psychiatric social worker in the Department of Crisis Counseling and Intervention Services at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Patricia has worked with youth for over 15 years, addressing various mental health issues and providing support and resources to students and families in need.
Paula Hall is a school board trustee for the largest secondary school district in California and has been a strong advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention for students, teachers, and staff, as well as her community at large.
Pavel Jech is a professor at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University. He has also been on several international film festival juries.
Peggy Geier is a health technician in a high school health office, where she encounters mental health issues daily.
Peggy Xu brings previous experience judging essays remotely, as well as working with the Atlantic Institute.
Peter Dy is the associate director of Care Transformation at the California Primary Care Association. Peter supports community clinics and health centers across the state of California to integrate behavioral health services into primary care. Growing up in a Southeast Asian family, Peter experienced stigma around behavioral health and is personally committed to helping reduce that stigma.
Phrani Diksa is a school social worker and has worked in various capacities with youth of all ages for over 30 years. Phrani is excited and relieved to see mental health taking a more prominent position culturally.
Pierre Scott has helped lead local Directing Change contest participation for Riverside County and enjoys seeing the amazing talent of youth addressing issues as important as suicide prevention and mental health stigma reduction.
Prizila Vidal has been working in the San Diego community as an advocate for foster youth, HIV/AIDS, and SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression) specific services since 2006. Prizila has worked with nonprofits, government agencies, and various service providers to offer training, consultation, and client advocacy.
Rachel Krebs brings lived experience with mental illness and is a survivor of suicide loss.
Ramona Rogers has worked within the educational system for 15 years and is committed to the delivery and advancement of mental health supports.
Ray Santillan has been supporting the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health for the past 4 years.
Rebecca Russell has been a program coordinator for the Suicide Prevention Center at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services since 2019; she helps manage day-to-day program operations and shift supervisors for 24/7 crisis lines.
Reema Dutt is co-founder and head of business development at Luminoustudios, a digital video marketing production company for tech and lifestyle startups and small businesses (with clients including companies like Polaroid, Google and Splacer, among others). She has worn many hats – including commercial writer, creative producer, business developer, market researcher, and content creator – and produced her first feature film at 24.
Reg Clarkinia is the community programs coordinator for NAMI Glendale, which brings mental health awareness to junior and senior high schools and other community venues. Reg has also taught 6th-12th graders collaborative multimedia projects, such as radio stories, poetry videos, and creative coding.
Rennee Brown-Hollibaugh is proud to see youth putting more of a spotlight on issues surrounding mental health and suicide prevention. As a returning judge, she loves seeing the creativity of Directing Change participants and supports efforts to normalize mental health conversations.
Renee Gibson has numerous people in her life who have been diagnosed with mental health issues and wants to further her awareness so she can better advocate for those who are struggling.
Rick Newmyer is a senior lecturer with the USC Suzanne-Dworak Peck School of Social Work. Prior to joining USC, he spent two decades developing and administering programs for children, youth, and families.
Robert Byrd has made promoting prevention and recovery and working to reduce stigma around mental health a priority throughout his 30-year career.
Robert Mansfield is a returning judge who finds volunteering with Directing Change to be both important and rewarding. Robert is continually inspired by the work of participating youth and their efforts to make a difference.
Roderick Allen works for Blue Shield of California.
Ron Shaw has judged with Directing Change for years and values the opportunity to experience the creativity and quality of contest entries. Ron also enjoys seeing the diversity of California youth and the vibrant prevention messages they share.
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 Cañas has been working in the field of mental health for over 25 years and is now the director of a community mental health agency. Her focus is on children and adolescents. After many years in direct
Samantha Olson has had the pleasure of working alongside youth for the past 17 years in a K-12 setting and looks forward to many more years as hope and healing become more available to all people.
Sandra Espinoza lost her sister to suicide and would like to help anybody going through what she went through for 18 years. She wants to help educate people on mental illnesses without stigmatizing individuals who suffer from them.
Sandri Kramer is the projects and grants manager for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center. She is suicide prevention specialist and has worked in the field for over 25 years.
Sandy Nelson has worked on designing materials that talk about mental health issues for many years. Sandy thinks it’s important to let people know that it’s okay to reach out for help, and that it’s okay to let friends or family know that you are there to listen or offer support.
Sandy Young is an inpatient psychiatric case manager for Kaiser Permanente and wants to do everything she can to support youth in speaking up about mental health.
Sanjai Chandrasekaran is a filmmaker and director working in the Tamil film industry.
Sara Caldwell teaches filmmaking and screenwriting courses at UCSB and the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita. Sara is also an independent filmmaker and animator and has been a judge for numerous film festival competitions.
Saundra Schmidt is a family support provider for Mental Health Systems, Inc. IHOT North Program. Saundra has lived experience supporting the mental wellness of families and individuals, both professionally, and as her purpose in life.
Sean Maulding has personal experience with mental health challenges and supports efforts to reduce stigma. Sean is encouraged by Directing Change’s mission.
Serena Orman-Ochs works within her community to break the stigma of suicide, bring awareness to mental health topics, and connect those affected to the prevention resources they need.
Shana Duran works as a school counselor and feels that greater suicide prevention awareness is of vital importance.
Shannon Luu is a graduate student in a clinical psychology program who values the dissemination of mental health education among youth populations in America. In her clinical placement site at a university psychological center, Shannon has facilitated mental health presentations and supported students in individual therapy sessions.
Sharon Nilsson is an experienced educator and a proud change-agent working toward a more inclusive and just world.
Shellie Swain is a returning judge who loves evaluating the art and films created by Directing Change youth.
Sheri Hanni has worked at the Butte County Office of Education for 30 years partnering with LEA’s throughout the county to support mental health, attendance, and engagement. Sheri is also dedicated to bringing student voices into mental health conversations in a more meaningful way.
Dr. Sheri Stevens-Parker is a counseling therapist supervisor for the Val Verde Unified School District. Dr. Parker is a mental health advocate with a special interest in increasing awareness and decreasing stigma and shame regarding mental illness in Black and Brown communities.
Shuting Gao is a student.
Silvana Garetz has a family member living with a serious mental illness and has had the opportunity to educate herself on many issues pertaining to mental health. She also believes there is room to improve the way medical institution address mental illness.
Simone Ravicz has worked with teens, young adults, and adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma and addiction for many years. Simone is excited about young people helping to bring mental health struggles out of the shadows.
Sofi Thompson is the community education specialist for the Community Mental Wellbeing program in Shasta County. Sofi’s work is to increase awareness and knowledge about mental health tools and resources in the community with emphasis on youth ages 16-25.
Soheil Mojtahedian has been a volunteer at the Victory Wellness Center for several years and is excited to gain experience evaluating films.
Stephanie Alvarez is the operations manager for the NAMI Orange County Warmline, a 24/7 service providing emotional support and resources to the residents of Orange County. She is an advocate for mental health recovery as a way to bring about community change.
Summer Coleman is a communications and outreach intern for NAMI, Santa Cruz County, as well as a volunteer for the Crisis Text Line. Her goal is to help her community achieve mental wellness and end the stigma that comes with talking about mental health struggles.
Sunny Lee is pursuing a master’s in social work at California State University, Fullerton and is a student intern at the County of Orange Health Care Agency, Mental Health & Recovery Services. Sunny also holds a bachelor’s in studio art and has created digital and physical illustrations about providing mental health education and reducing stigma.
Susan Abito started her career with San Bernardino County 21 years ago and has been in her current position as the volunteer services coordinator for the Department of Behavioral Health for the past 11 years. Susan is passionate about outreach to students and community members, as well as speaking about mental health careers and volunteer opportunities with students throughout San Bernardino County.
Suzanne Duval Lopus holds education close to her heart and believes that educating youth leaves them better equipped to deal with life in a positive light. Suzanne also has a teen and understands the pressures young people feel and the importance of mental health and suicide prevention.
Syeda Mariam Naqvi believes it’s essential for society to better understand that mental health issues are just like any other health condition and should be treated with the same level of care and attention. She wants more people to understand that seeking professional help – such as therapy, counseling, or medication – can significantly improve one’s mental health and quality of life.
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh is an award-winning performer, writer, director, and producer, and is currently working toward a master’s degree in psychology. She served for many years on Entertainment Industry Council’s Prism Awards review panel and is glad to serve again for Directing Change.
Taide Mier has been a social worker supporting the mental health of children, youth and their families for many years. Taide’s goal is to continue working to decrease stigma around mental health and seeking services.
Tanner Woodley is creative director at AIT, where he strives to recognize the genius within youth and empower them to use their unique voices in positive, impactful ways. Tanner also wrote, directed, and edited a statewide PSA that achieved over $3 million in broadcast ad-value and an audience of over 60 million over 3 months.
Tatiana Wilson is a psychiatric nurse working with children and adolescents who wants to make a difference.
Tawny Crane is a senior social services supervisor for the Orange County Social Services Agency, Children and Family Services and has worked for over 25 years advocating for the mental health needs of children and youth at risk of abuse and/or neglect.
Terence O’kane volunteers as a judge to do what he can to help suicidal teens and brings lived experience of youth mental health struggles to his evaluation of Directing Change films.
Terrie Hawthorne, MSW is working as a community college counselor in the Riverside Community College District. Terrie is a strong advocate for mental health and collaborates with the mental health director to provide programming at the college.
Thomas Birbeck taught in the public school system for 18 years and has recently retired. Thomas feels that Directing Change is essential for assisting students to manage their mental health.
Tia Shipman is a yoga instructor who focuses primarily on mental health awareness. Additionally, LA City College’s newspaper, Collegian, recently featured Tia’s op-ed article centered on mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
Tiara Parker has a career in the field of public health and is interested in learning more about kids’ ideas on how to prevent suicide more effectively.
Tiffany Hollis is an advocate for mental health awareness and want to support young artists’ voices in this space. I have experience with cinematography and film analysis, so I am confident that I can give thoughtful judgement.
Tin Kei Kei is a video artist with an interest in creative works about mental health issues and a career dedicated to supporting community mental health.
Tina Ryder is senior programmer for the Newport Beach Film Festival and has been reviewing short and feature films for the festival for 12 years. Tina also served as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) in Orange County, which included holding education rights for a CASA child from the ages of 13-18. As the mother of 4 grown children, she has a strong interest in supporting youth as individuals, meeting them where they are, and encouraging their passions and interests.
Toni Rodarte is a great supporter and advocate for juvenile mental help assistance.
Traci Barker-Ball retired after working as a high school teacher and counselor for 35 years. In her work, she created the Student Services Office, which helped teens deal with their mental health issues.
Tracie Andrews works for Department of Mental Health for Los Angeles County and is co-chair for the LA Suicide Prevention Network. Tracie is a returning judge and is continually inspired by youth.
Tracy Arenal is a returning judge who greatly enjoys watching the films youth create for Directing Change.
Traute Winters is the executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Los Angeles County (NAMI GLAC), which promotes wellness, recovery, equality, and dignity for individuals and families affected by mental illness and the community at large. NAMI GLAC also provides leadership in advocacy, education, support, and public awareness throughout Los Angeles County.
TreaAndrea M. Russworm, Ph.D. is a professor in the interactive media and games division at USC. She founded a youth community engagement program and lab, Radical Play, and her research areas of specialty are race, popular culture, and digital media.
Vanessa Hernandez is a marriage and family therapist associate and has worked in mental health for the past 6 years. Vanessa currently works with court ordered adults who have a co-occurring disorder but has also worked with children and adolescents. Vanessa supports Directing Change efforts to increase awareness which decreasing the stigma that too often serves as a barrier to seeking support.
Vera Calloway is a seasoned peer specialist in Los Angeles County. Vera is also Founder of Calloway Holistic Peer Concepts, which offers guidance to behavioral health systems on developing creative, holistically oriented, trauma-informed programs for consumers living with multiple behavioral health challenges.
Vickie Merk is a single parent whose child has struggled with mental illness; as such, Vickie recognizes the importance of intervention and support individuals and their families.
Victoria Montgomery navigated mental health issues in her youth and now works to help others who are struggling. The opportunity to view creative works made by youth fighting mental health stigma is what drew her to Directing Change.
Virginia Kuhn is a film professor who teaches media for social change and believes that awareness of rampant mental health issues is key to destigmatizing them.
Vivian Brocato is passionate about helping children and families heal from various adverse childhood experiences and mental health concerns, including suicide and suicidal ideation.
Wardah Seedat has been working with children most of her career and hopes to bring more awareness to mental health and suicide prevention and mental health. As a film major, Wardah also looks forward to seeing the concepts and films created by Directing Change participants.
Wayland McQueen is a comedian and actor. He has also spent numerous years working with children of all ages in tutoring and mentoring capacity.
Whitney Wilson is a patient rights advocate in San Diego County, is excited to be a returning judge.
William Kilby looks forward to when mental health is not stigmatized and speaking about mental health is normalized.
Yael Koenig is a Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services administrator who is committed to supporting children, youth, and families.
Ye Eun (Ella) Jeon is a student from Korea, who experienced numerous struggle and challenges upon coming to the US. Ella is studying Psychology and wants to gain further insight into various mental health issues.
Yiyi Wang is a student and artist, currently enrolled in AP Art and Art History and preparing for her art portfolio.
Yuriko Curiel is a program coordinator for The Foundation for California Community Colleges, where she works closely with community college students to coordinate and train them around basic needs and mental health resources. Yuriko is also an intern in San Bernardino County helping adults with mental health concerns and a graduate student at California State University of San Bernardino working on a degree in psychology.
Yurun Wu is a music composer with multi-cultural influences. His work has been featured on projects ranging from award-winning films and games to Chinese box office hits and commercials for leading brands. Yurun loves working on projects exploring socially relevant topics and has scored films and documentaries related to children with mental health problems and veterans with PTSD.
Zarina Sheikh is an avid art enthusiast and advocate for those struggling with mental illness.