Directing Change

Advisory Council


2023-2024 Directing Change Youth Council

The Youth Council supports Directing Change by providing youth perspectives and serving as ambassadors for the program. Congratulations to our 2023-2024 Youth Council members!

Honey Leigh Aguilar
Sacramento County
“I believe that mental health is an issue that is not often discussed because it is a fragile subject to talk about even with close friends and family members. I want to see a future where people can feel comfortable talking about their emotions and heavy baggage.”

Quinn Ayala
Mendocino County
“Basically every young person I know struggles with their own issues, including myself. I know young people have always struggled in one way or another, it’s a part of being human, but if we can make it easier for people to figure out those issues, I think it’d make a big difference. So many people my age I know who have these issues never try to find help, never try and find some way to improve their quality of life in terms of mental health, and if I can contribute to efforts to help people in those mindsets and situations, I’d be honored, as I care a whole lot about this subject.”

Daisy Bateman
Orange County
“I joined the Directing Change Youth Council because I want to help people feel normal for simply feeling their feelings, regardless of how dark they are. Further, it is my goal to raise awareness for mental health help for high school to college aged people. I am from Orange County but live in DC and attend American University pursuing a double major in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies. I am also on our board of directors for my school’s debate society, as well as a staff member for our Kennedy Political Union. I was also part of Hope Squad for all four years of high school and won third place in California in my junior year’s Directing Change competition.”

Brianna Cuffney
Monterey County
“I am interested in serving on the Directing Change Youth Council because I am very concerned about the percentage of teens and young adults that suffer from mental health issues. I am very passionate about mental health and I believe that it is a pressing matter that all people should be concerned with. Even though mental health is widely talked about and discussed, I know that there is still a sort of ‘taboo’ surrounding the topic. I want to be able to encourage young people to reach out and seek the help that they need, as well as help provide information about what could be contributing to their poor mental health. I feel that as someone who is passionate about providing help and more information to others, it is my duty to step up and do so.”

Samantha Mar
Orange County
“Being involved in film has always been one of my proudest art forms, as it’s always been the easiest way for me to express my passion and emotions. Getting to work with others, collaborating and expressing our love for film together is such a special experience. I’ve learned so much from my peers and instructors through the years, and getting to represent young filmmakers (who all share one similar goal) is truly uplifting and honorable. In my final years of high school, I want to help make an impact, inspire, and encourage other young filmmakers to always put their heart into their work. Being on the Directing Change Youth Council will not only allow me to be more involved with the film community (through collaborative effort) but will be such a special experience for me to be inspired and encouraged by. I want to help make a difference for young filmmakers and I hope that they will continue to be inspired to make a difference.”

Angelica Muñoz
Riverside County
“Film has always been a passion of mine. When I submitted for Directing Change last year I was so excited to create my film, ‘Vergüenza.’ As someone who struggles with mental health I value what Directing Change does to to bring awareness to suicide prevent and mental health.”

Myla Pitzer
San Diego County
“I’m captivated at joining the Directing Change Youth Council to show my support for this program and give my perspective of a youth who knows the power of mental health resources. After being introduced to the Directing Change Program last year and attending the ceremony in Los Angeles, I learned so much more about using art as an outlet for mental health issues and being able to use film to speak out about topics that need to be addressed. I’ve been interested in filmmaking since I was 10 years old and through my school and other resources I’ve been able to learn filmmaking skills and experience opportunities I never thought were possible, which includes seeing a film I helped make on screen at the Directing Change Ceremony! As a council member I love the opportunity I have to share my intake on the power of film and get kids who don’t have access to these types of programs more resources to make their art. This is not only a fantastic opportunity for me to network and grow my expertise but I also love collaborating with other student council members to create a great year!”

Sydnie Pitzer
San Diego County
“I’m a high school senior from San Diego, California. For the past three years, I’ve been an engaged student at San Diego Met, immersing myself in a diverse range of experiences. Alongside my role as Associated Student Body President, I co-founded the media department which has been one of my most significant experiences to do. Last spring I orchestrated a dynamic team to participate in the Directing Change competition where we placed 2nd, regionally. This was a life altering experience which taught me that I want to create films of substance that offer an outlet of sanctuary, give a voice to the voiceless, and inspire change for the better!”

Isabella Quezada
Los Angeles County
“Growing up I have always been very passionate about film, I would film ‘movies’ on my iPad and create backdrops and sets out of sheets and chairs. I love learning new things and sharing that love with people. Mental health awareness is something that I find very important and something that I believe is often overlooked. If we do not take care of our mental health how can we take care of all of the other things in our lives? I would love to help find new resources and connect people. I had such a great time and fun experience creating the mental health matters short film earlier this year, I would love to help other students learn how to get more opportunities like this and develop their passions!”

Vanessa Ramos
Los Angeles County
“I joined the Youth Council because I truly believe Directing Change is an important resource for everyone to be aware of. I had the opportunity to submit for 2021-2022, Directing Change Mental Health Matter category, and this has taught and awarded me more about mental health. Mental health is an important topic to be talked about and as part of the Youth Council, I’m committed to informing others about the importance of mental health.”

Ruby Schultz
Orange County
“Directing Change is a very good program and should be well known. I love what it stands for, and I love to motivate younger versions of me to pursue their interests while fighting for a cause they believe in.”

Karen Soares
Los Angeles County
“I feel that being on the Directing Change Youth Council will allow me to spread resources to those who are suffering in silence, especially minorities such as members of the LGBTQ+ community, POC, and be a voice for the many children and teenagers who are silenced everyday by their teachers, peers, parents, and even themselves. Ever since I was six years old, I have wanted to change the world. I believe that being on the Directing Change Youth Council will allow me to make an imprint on this world, in one way or another.”

Vianca Terriquez
Riverside County
“I first heard about Directing Change through another youth council I am part of. We created videos and art speaking out about mental health and I was excited for an opportunity to do so. I think mental health is something that, as time progresses, is becoming addressed more and more. It is important to educate ourselves and others about this topic so that we can all live our best and happiest lives. I want to join the Directing Change Youth Council to do just that, learn more about mental health and share what I know with others.”

Kaser Winn
Sacramento County
“Serving on the Directing Change Youth Council is an amazing opportunity to further serve my community and spread awareness surrounding the ever relevant topic of mental health. I look forward to participating in community engagement and peer exchanges in hopes to destigmatize discussion of mental illness and help those in need.”

Naya Winn
Sacramento County
“I first became aware of Directing Change when my school counselor introduced me to the annual film contest. The process of researching and filming my video piqued my interest in how society can connect with young people about stressors and coping mechanisms as they relate to mental health. Directing change has so many unique opportunities for youth to engage with each other through various modalities. Being part of the youth council will allow me to share my unique perspective in an authentic way and connect to my community. I also hope to learn more avenues to reach students at my own school since mental health is an issue that needs more recognition and support.”

2022-2023 Directing Change Advisory Council

Thank you to our Adult Advisory Council for your invaluable insight, feedback, and collaboration!

Sue Abito
Volunteer Services Coordinator
San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health

Kenny Bowman
Twin Lakes – Mountain View School District, Los Angeles County

Christina Castro
Wellness Center Student Assistance Program (SAP) Counselor
Ramona High School, Riverside County

Noelle D.W. Chandler
Arts Program Specialist
Merced County Office of Education

Brad Clark
Film Production Teacher
Franklin High School, Sacramento County

Derrick Davis
Film Production Teacher
Clovis High School, Fresno County

Alex Graham
Art of Film/Television • Advanced Media Tech/Film Ed • Broadcast • Career Focus: Arts Teacher
Canyon High School, Orange County

Diana Gutierrez, LMFT LPCC
Administrative Services Manager
Riverside University Health System – Behavioral Health

Sara Hills
Cinematic Arts & Broadcast Journalism Program Teacher
Claremont High School, Tri-City (Los Angeles County)

Katherine Kasmir
Executive Director
BRITE / Reality Improv Connection Inc., Ventura County

Tamara Kirkpatrick
Visual and Performing Arts Teacher
Claremont High School, Tri-City (Los Angeles County)

Lisa Krch
Video Production Instructor
Kern High School, Kern County

Renee Linares
Program Specialist II, Public Relations and Outreach
County of San Bernardino Behavioral Health

Andrea Martin
Lincoln Street School, Tehama County

Melanie Merkner
Peer Support Coordinator
Vintage High School, Napa County

Lisa Naranjo
MHSA Program Supervisor – PEI
Tri-City Mental Health

Sonia Navarro
Program Manager – Prevention and Early Intervention
San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health

Brittany Nguyen
Stigma Reduction / Suicide Prevention
Tri-City Mental Health

Mark Switzer
Digital and Media Arts Academy Coordinator and Instructor – Video Production and Broadcasting
El Dorado High School, Orange County

Jackie Valadez
Career Technical Education
Southwest High School, Imperial County

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend, call or text 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (24/7)
Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by counties through the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Your Social Marketer, Inc.