Interested in joining the Board? HVN USA is accepting applications for all regions EXCEPT the Northeast. Click here for details.
HVN USA is excited to announce our newly elected Board of Directors! We invite you to take a few minutes to read about and get to know them.
- Berta Britz, Pennsylvania
- Beth Gager, Virginia
- Brenda Hammond, Idaho
- Casadi "Khaki" Marino, Oregon
- Jeannie Bass, Massachusetts
- Kate Hill, Oregon
- Lisa Forestell, Massachusetts
- Noel Hunter, New York
- Oryx Cohen, Massachusetts
- Sera Davidow, Massachusetts
- Terresa Ford, Georgia
- Tim Ness, Colorado
Berta Britz works as a certified peer specialist at Creating Increased Connections through Education and Support (CIC) in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, part of Resources for Human Development (RHD). She is strongly committed to promoting acceptance of the experience of hearing voices; and her ministry, “Hearing Voices and Healing,” is supported by Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. She participated in World Hearing Voices Congresses in England, Wales, Italy, Australia, and Greece, took a Voice Dialogue Course in England, as well as many conferences in USA, like Mindfreedom International (MFI), International Society for Psychological and Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS), and Copeland Center. Her commitment to developing different responses to early anomalous, or “psychotic” experiences, stems from her lived experience of psychiatric treatment since 1967, when she left her senior year of high school for many hospitalizations, two of which were lengthy. Berta earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 1980, and worked primarily with young children and adolescents. After many years on disability Berta reclaimed her power and connection by accepting and making sense of her voices by using a World Hearing Voices Network approach. She helped develop and now coordinates the Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network which offers systems and community education and seven Taking Back Our Power Hearing Voices self-help/peer support groups, two of which are designed specifically for young people. She started a new voices learning community group and offers training and consultation. She envisions a trauma-informed, transformed human service system that listens to and values every person and every voice and promotes more equitable distribution of knowledge and resources. She experiences much joy with her dog, Sheba, and her partner, Mona. Mona and Berta recently married after over 36 years together.
Beth Gager is a certified life coach and the author of A Rooted Mind...Saying yes to beauty, wellness and deeply-rooted mental health. She is currently working on her second book. Her passion is to show people just how powerful they really are and to help them find their way into their most clear and beautiful lives. Her own journey into what the world calls mental illness and hearing voices has led her to a life of great beauty and ever-expanding freedom. Her personal experience with multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and losing everything she loved, including her connection with her truest self, as well as her years of working in the mental health community has shown her that we all have something unique to offer to the world, and that following what we love is the key to a life of joy. She believes that those who experience what is called mental illness or hearing voices are truly healers on a healing journey. She knows that we can each find our purpose and our calling in the world, no matter how lost or broken we have seemed in our own eyes or in the eyes of those around us. Beth is dedicated to transforming the current way our world looks at those of us who have expansive spiritual experiences that are now called mental illness. Her work in the world is to join with others who know that what we experience is sacred and meaningful, and that we each have something unique and beautiful to offer to the world.
Brenda Hammond is an LCSW who lives in Northern Idaho and has been facilitating a Voice Hearers group since 2010. Her interest in hearing voices and other unusual experiences began in the early 90’s when her oldest daughter began having such episodes. Then her youngest daughter, who is a mental health clinician in Australia, heard Jacqui Dillon speak at a conference about the Hearing Voices movement in the UK. She sent for books and information and then started a group in Idaho with several of her own clients plus several others in the community. The group is still going—some people have come and gone—and some of the original group still attend weekly. There is a real scarcity of mental health services in Northern Idaho, and she is hoping that she can help recruit others who will start groups in other places. She can see how much the peer support is helpful, and wants very much to help provide that kind of support for individudals who are isolated by their experiences and by the societal stigma that exists around hearing voices—even among mental health providers. Brenda attended the Maastricht Interview training in MA last October—and hopes that trainings like that as well as facilitator training can be offered in other parts of the country.
Casadi “Khaki” Marino, PhD, LCSW, has had extreme state experiences and is mad identified. Her research focuses on peer supports, madness, identity and power, and disability and mad theories. She is chair of the Experts by Experience committee of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS).
Jeannie Bass is a peer specialist who works for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health at Tewksbury Hospital on the continuing care units. From within DMH she is able to share the Hearing Voices Network approach and her own experiences of hearing voices and other phenomenon with people staying on the inpatient units. She is also in the process of starting two HVN groups, one of which will be at the hospital. In addition, she takes every opportunity to share about HVN with her colleagues through presentations and continuous conversations.
Much of Jeannie’s life revolved around going in and out of the mental health system. After “falling down the rabbit hole”, she existed in a barrage of voices, unshared beliefs and other unusual experiences. It was a long, often strange journey until she found her way out and the strength to accept her voices as a part of her every day world. When Jeannie discovered Intervoice online she realized she was not alone which was life altering.
Jeannie is excited about joining the Hearing Voices Network-USA board of directors. She looks forward to being a part of furthering the hearing voices movement and hopes to contribute to the growth of HVN throughout the United Sates. She lives on the North Shore in Massachusetts where she can often be found reading Anais Nin, collecting sea glass or spending time with family and friends.
Kate is the director of Portland Hearing Voices (portlandhearingvoices.net), an educator of Hearing Voices group facilitation and philosophy, an international speaker, consultant, artist and writer. She is studying psychology at both Portland State University and the Process Work Institute in Portland, Oregon.
From the age of sixteen, Kate has worked and volunteered in the mental health arena. She has found that many of her experiences, which are commonly seen as symptoms of mental illness have, in actuality, been great sources of strength, hope, creativity and meaning, and have been essential in her personal process of growth and discovery.
Kate’s focuses include neuropsychology, anthropology, ecopsychology, the arts, spirituality, social and sexual health. Her hope is to facilitate communities that promote education and awareness, freedom of expression, financial independence and healthy relationships. She is committed to the idea of preventative psychological health, particularly within marginalized communities.
In her personal life, Kate finds joy through dance, travel and exploration, cooking and eating delicious food and in playing games with friends. She finds peace in nature and in her garden, through reading and writing, and in spending time with her animals and in her meditation practices.
Lisa has always heard voices that others do not. Contrary to the oft held belief that voices are always negative and/or directive, Lisa lives in relative harmony with her voices much as family or intimate friends. It was being besieged with disapproving and marginalizing messages from those around her upon entering public schools that Lisa closeted her relationship with her voices. In the years that followed, Lisa maintained her private dialogs while negotiating college, having a family and experiencing the seemingly tireless pull of the US mental health system. Upon learning of the Hearing Voices Network, Lisa began to live out loud once again and is now an active member of the movement worldwide. She openly speaks of her experience, facilitates and attends HVN groups and is a trainer with HVN-USA and the Western Mass RLC. Lisa is the Director of Community Supports for the Western Mass RLC and resides in Dalton, MA with her fiancé and 4 cats. She loves camping, live music and adventures of all sorts.
Noel Hunter is a clinical psychology doctoral student, focusing on psychosocial approaches to working with individuals experiencing anomalous states. In addition to being a student, she has also worked as an adjunct professor teaching a recovery model to both undergraduate and graduate students. She has published and presented papers on the link between trauma and severe emotional distress, stigma and negative attitudes towards those with a psychiatric label, and the need for recognition of states of extreme distress as meaningful responses to overwhelming life experiences. It is because of her own recovery journey and difficulties within the mental health system that Noel has formed such a deep passion for creating alternatives and working with others to forge change in mainstream services. She has served as the Chair of the Experts-by-Experience committee of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS) and as Co-Chair of the Mentorship Committee of the Trauma Psychology division of APA. In New York City, she has worked with several other dedicated volunteers to create an HVN community and increase awareness of the non-illness-based philosophy and messages about the voice-hearing experience. Additionally, she enjoys regularly studying and performing improvisational and musical comedy, and believes humor to be her most essential coping tool.
Oryx Cohen, M.P.A., is a leader in the international mental health consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) movement. Currently he is the Director of the National Empowerment Center's (NEC's) Technical Assistance Center. In addition to organizing the national Alternatives Conference every three years and other responsibilities, he assists states that have an underdeveloped consumer/survivor voice to find that voice and then work toward transforming the mental health systems in those states to become peer-driven and recovery-oriented. Prior to joining NEC, Oryx was Co-Director of the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community. He helped to spearhead an innovative peer-run approach focusing on recovery, healing, and community. Oryx is also the co-founder of Freedom Center, the Pioneer Valley's only independent peer-run support/activist organization. Freedom Center's purpose is to empower and support people with psychiatric labels while challenging oppressive mental health policies and practices. Oryx is featured in Agnes's Jacket, a book by Gail Hornstein, where Oryx and fellow Freedom Center co-founder Will Hall are compared to the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Oryx serves on several boards and committees internationally, nationally and regionally, including the Hearing Voices Network USA. He speaks and conducts trainings internationally on such topics as Emotional CPR, Hearing Voices, Trauma, and Recovery. Oryx volunteered for several years with MindFreedom International, directing its Oral History Project. This project involved collecting and documenting c/s/x stories of abuse, empowerment, and healing in the mental health system. Oryx is also adjunct faculty in the Westfield State College Psychology Department.
Sera Davidow is a mother, an advocate, an activist and a film lover and maker. She devotes much of her time to the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (www.westernmassrlc.org), which includes Afiya (www.afiyahouse.org), the 13th Peer Respite in the United States. She is also an avid writer and regular blogger on Mad in America (www.MadinAmerica.com).
Sera herself entered the mental health system as a teenager and cites ‘non-compliance’ as a part of what saved her from a very different path through life that surely would not have included the freedom she now enjoys from all psychiatric labels and medications. Her passion for the Hearing Voices Movement has grown out of that experience in that its very foundation is steeped in making room for many different beliefs, experiences and approaches to healing and moving forward.
Terresa is a native of Buffalo, New York. After receiving a BFA in painting from the SUNY College at Brockport, she continued and earned a MFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is also the product of 10 years of study at the free school, MollyOlga Art School (a.k.a. Locust street Neighborhood Art Classes), in Western NY.
She has been a voice hearer for most of her life. For almost two years she has provided assistance to peers in creating the life they want to live as a Certified Peer Specialist. She currently works as a Certified Peer Specialist at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. She facilitates wellness groups and works one on one with peers to assist them in reaching their goals. She finds it extremely rewarding and challenging. Work has always been a source of pride and accomplishment for Terresa. As a CPS, work has taken on new meaning. She has more than a sense of pride and accomplishment; she has a sense of purpose. Her purpose now is to assist her fellow peers in creating the life they want. When she witnesses their struggles she is humbled and when she sees their successes she is filled with hope.
Tim Ness has worked in many roles with the Windhorse program, a residential group of associates that considers mindfulness meditation a cornerstone to working with extreme states of all kinds. He has co-facilitated a Hearing Voices group for 4 years in New England and is relocating to Boulder, Colorado to continue similar work there. He shares his lived experience of spiritual emergency and devotes much of his time to researching the nature of extreme consciousness, particularly voices that come with visual manifestation. Since 2009 he has worked closely with several nurses and psychotherapists to forge a balance between clinical approaches and open groups such as Unusual Beliefs, Living With Spiritual Emergency, and Hearing Voices.
The chair of the Paranoia Network, Pete Bullimore, is testament to how effective these methods can be. Pete heard his first voice aged seven, after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a child minder. "I heard a child's voice telling me to keep going, that everything would be OK. It was reassuring, a bit like an imaginary friend," he says. But as the abuse went on the voices increased in number, eventually turning sinister and aggressive. "They told me to set myself on fire, to slash myself and destroy myself, often 20 or 30 voices all shouting at me at once," he says. By his mid-twenties Pete had lost his business, his family, his home, everything. "The voices just encompassed my life; I curled up in a chair and didn't wash or eat. "I was locked in a world of voices, paranoia and depression, and it was probably the most frightening time of my life," he says. Pete spent more than a decade after that on heavy medication, but the voices never went away. He had to get out of the psychiatric system to recover. It was only when he came off the medication and met people who share his experience that he was able to stop being so afraid of the voices and actually start listening to them. He changed his relationship with his voices and worked through the meaning of his paranoia. Life isn't easy. Pete still hears up to 40 voices at a time - it is worse when he is tired or stressed. But he has rebuilt his life and has even been hearing a more positive voice recently, which has dictated a children's book to him. It has recently been published, titled "A Village Called Pumpkin". He now runs his own training and consultancy agency delivering training on hearing voices childhood trauma and paranoia internationally. He also currently teaches at eight Universities in the UK. "I wouldn't want to get rid of my voices now, they're part of me," he says.
Rai is an trainer and consultant specializing in developing respectful approaches to supporting those who struggle with voices, visions, overwhelming beliefs and post-traumatic reactions. She managed the London Hearing Voices Project from 2007 – 2015, where she launched an innovative project developing a sustainable network of Hearing Voices Groups in London’s prisons and forensic hospitals as well as establishing Voice Collective to creatively support children and young people who hear voices, and their families. Rai hears voices, sees visions and - during her 20s - spent years in hospital diagnosed with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder. She credits the Hearing Voices Network with helping her make sense of her experiences and reclaiming her life - and no longer identifies with these diagnoses, and feels lucky to live a life that she loves. Rai is a trustee of the English Hearing Voices Network and an executive committee member for ISPS (International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis). For more information, see her website here.