2016 Conference: Meet the Friday Panelists

On the Friday of the conference, May 13th, we will be hosting our policy panels. This is a unique opportunity for conference participants to hear directly from both the state policy leaders and those responsible for implementing the policies at the local level. Conference participants will be able to ask questions and offer comments directly to the panelists. We encourage you to attend the Friday sessions. The panelists are excited about the opportunity to interact directly with you and it’s important that they hear the ideas and concerns of youth, family members, providers, advocates and other conference attendees. Friday’s sessions begin promptly at 8:30.

Panelists will be responding to the following questions:

1. What is your interest, and/or the interest of your department, in children’s mental health?

2. What do you see as the most pressing policy issues currently impacting youth with mental and behavioral health needs, and their families?

3. What is your vision to ensure that every youth in this state who has a need gets the right service at the right time in the right location and that the length of the service is appropriate to ensure that the youth will not need services again in a year from now?


Panel 1: State Policy Makers 8:30 to 9:45

The first policy panel will include leaders from state departments responsible for the care of youth and families. We want to take this opportunity to introduce them to you.

Will Lightbourne – Director of The Department of Social Services


Will Lightbourne has been Director of the California Department of Social Services since 2011. Having served as the director of three county social services agencies as well as being a member of numerous commissions, councils, boards and nonprofits, over the past four decades, he has been deeply involved in a wide range of social welfare issues in California.

Director Lightbourne’s comments about his interest in children’s mental health:

“Child Welfare is inherently about meeting the needs of children who have in most cases suffered trauma.  To do so meaningfully requires full-on partnership of mental health and child welfare services.”


Karen Baylor – Deputy Director, Department of Health Care Services
Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services


Karen Baylor has been the Deputy Director of the Department of Health Care Services since 2013. She was previously the behavioral health administrator for the County of San Luis Obispo since 2005. She worked in multiple positions at FamiliesFirst Inc. of Davis from 2002 to 2005, including director of clinical services and program development. Baylor served in multiple positions at the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, Texas from 1991 to 1996, including program director.

Deputy Director Baylor did not submit comments about her interest in children’s mental health.


Mary Watanabe – Deputy Director, Department of Managed Health Care
Health Policy and Stakeholder Relations


Mary Watanabe is the Deputy Director of Health Policy and Stakeholder Relations at the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), where she is responsible for fostering proactive and effective relations between the DMHC and its stakeholders, while serving as primary advisor to the Director on critical issues and providing strategic planning and policy direction on emerging issues and industry trends. Prior to her appointment at the DMHC, Mary served as Deputy Director for the Sales Division at Covered California, where she oversaw the implementation of the Navigator Grant Program, Outreach and Education Grant Program and the engagement of community organizations to educate consumers and small business owners about the health care options available through Covered California. Prior to joining Covered California, Mary served for 12 years with the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) in the areas of contract development, eligibility and enrollment, and benefits administration and quality monitoring of several public health care programs, including the Healthy Families Program.  She also participated in the implementation of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a federally funded high-risk pool that offered health coverage to medically uninsurable Californians.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento.

Deputy Director Watanabe’s comments about her interest in children’s mental health:

The mission of the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) is to protect the health care rights of over 25 million consumers and ensure a stable health care delivery system.  Mental health services are a critical part of the health care delivery system and the Department plays a pivotal rule in holding health plans accountable for providing mental health services to all of their members, including their youngest members.  The Department has aggressively implemented laws that target mental health care for children, including mental health parity and behavioral health treatment for autism. In addition, the Department is committed to ensuring that every child has access to appropriate mental health services at the right time in the right location.  The DMHC’s Help Center is a resource to assist consumers who are not getting the care they need.  The DMHC Help Center educates consumers about their rights, resolves consumer complaints, helps consumers to navigate and understand their coverage and ensures access to health care services.


Gordon Jackson – Director of the California Department of Educations’
Coordinated Student Support Division


Gordon is the Director of the Coordinated Student Support Division (CSSD). His Division coordinates funding processes and provides technical assistance for a wide array of programs, which include Coordinated School Health, School and Community Violence Prevention, Tobacco-Use Prevention, Foster Youth Services, Mental Health Services, School Climate/School Engagement, American Indian Education, Educational Options, and more. Gordon completed his undergraduate studies at the California State University, Chico and completed his senior year at the Universite d’Aix-Marseille in Southern France. He returned to Chico to complete graduate studies and student teaching at the secondary level in Paradise, California.

Division Director Jackson’s comments about his interest in children’s mental health:

“The Coordinated Student Support Division at CDE provides technical assistance as well as instructional and intervention strategies throughout California that aid all students to obtain the physical, social, emotional, and educational support they need to be healthy, learn, and succeed.”


Panel 2: Local Policy Implementers 9:45 to 11:00

The second policy panel will include leaders from associations responsible for implementing the policies related to the care of youth and families at the local level. We want to take this opportunity to introduce them to you.


Kirsten Barlow – Executive Director, County Behavioral Health Directors Association


Kirsten Barlow began serving as Executive Director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA) of California in October 2015. The prior year Kirsten worked as Executive Officer of the Council on Mentally Ill Offenders, a position to which she was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. The Council on Mentally Ill Offenders develops strategies for keeping youth and adults with mental illness out of the criminal justice system. Between 2009 and 2014, Kirsten was Associate Director at CBHDA, where she directed the Association’s legislative and budget advocacy efforts. Prior positions included serving as public information officer at the California Department of Mental Health, legislative advocate and information officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and Principal Consultant to the California State Assembly Committee on Human Services under the leadership of former Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley). Kirsten earned her Masters of Social Welfare degree in management and planning from the University of California – Berkeley and her Bachelors degree in psychology from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Kirsten and her husband Ian live in Sacramento, CA, where they are raising their two sons, Myles and Bennett.

Executive Director Barlow’s comments about her interest in children’s mental health:

“CBHDA advocates for quality, cost-effective, culturally competent behavioral health care for the people of California, including children and youth impacted by behavioral health needs.”


Victor Carrion – Chairman, Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission


Dr. Carrion is Associate Chairman and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Early Life Stress and Pediatric Anxiety Program. He is in the faculty at both Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. His multidisciplinary research on the behavioral, academic, emotional, and biological late effects of experiencing trauma has led to the development and implementation of effective new interventions for treating children who experience traumatic stress. Using Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as an anchor, Dr. Carrion is investigating, through longitudinal studies, the effects of stress on developmental physiology and brain development and function. Dr. Carrion has published numerous peer-reviewed publications addressing the social, biological, and policy implications of violence and trauma in the lives of children. He has worked as associate editor for the Journal of Traumatic Stress and has served as a reviewer for the National Institute of Mental Health and Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences Review Board of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Medical Research Service. Dr. Carrion is a Co-Founder of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, where he served on the Board and chaired the Scientific Advisory Council. In 2011, Dr. Carrion was appointed by California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris to the Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission of the State of California which he now chairs. He also serves on the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Committee at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Commissioner Carrion’s comments about his interest in children’s mental health:

“The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission strives to eradicate stigma and disseminate effective prevention and early intervention programs across the State.”


Sheree Lowe – Vice President, Behavioral Health, California Hospital Association


Sheree Lowe is Vice President, Behavioral Health at the California Hospital Association. In this role, Ms. Lowe serves as primary legislative advocate for hospitals serving individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.  She monitors federal and state regulatory, legislative, and policy activities that impact general acute care hospitals. Her efforts support the association’s members as an advocate for affordable, medically necessary, quality health care services in the state of California. Prior to joining CHA, Ms. Lowe served 10 years as director of developmental services with the California Association of Health Facilities. She is a frequent consultant and lecturer on health care issues and has coordinated nationwide trainings on federal regulations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Ms. Lowe received her BS degree from California State University, Sacramento and her Master of Public Health from the University of San Francisco.

CHA Vice President Lowe’s comments about her interest in children’s mental health:

“Health insurance coverage does not equal access and of all access needs – child MH should be at the top of the list-failure to do so sets the child and their family at heightened risk for lifelong involvement in the MH delivery system.”


Edgar Zazueta – Director of Policy and Governmental Relations
Association of California School Administrators

edgar-zazuetaEdgar Zazueta has been the Director of Policy and Governmental Relations for ACSA since 2015. Over the past few years, ACSA has taken on a leadership role as student advocates in California. Prior to his position at ACSA position, he served as LAUSD’s chief lobbyist for six years, representing the District in crucial state education policy decisions. He had also been heavily involved in LA, directing constituent outreach and education efforts and making sure the voices of LAUSD students and parents were heard in Sacramento.



Closing Speaker and Call to Action 11:00 to 11:30

Friday’s panels will end with comments from Assemblymember Mark Stone.

mark-stoneAssemblymember Stone is the author of Assembly Bill 403 (AB 403), which was discussed in a previous CMHACY newsletter. In short, AB 403 was written to improve outcomes for youth in foster care by increasing community based integrated care and support for youth and their family members and caregivers. Following his comments, Assemblymember Stone will welcome comments and questions from conference participants and offer suggestions on how participants can become more involved in the legislative process.

Mark Stone represents California’s 29th Assembly District, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Monterey Counties. In his second term, Mark has emerged as a leader on anti-poverty efforts, environmental protection, child welfare, and public safety.

Mark chairs the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which reviews bills on a range of issues including family law, immigration, court and jury procedure, and civil procedure. Previously, Mark chaired the Assembly Human Services Committee, where he led policy decisions on child welfare, temporary cash assistance, and CalFresh food benefits. He wrote laws to help foster youth graduate from high school, poor pregnant women better prepare for the arrival of their babies, and help people released from prison reintegrate into the community. He held key oversight hearings to discuss ways to address childhood poverty and improve information sharing in the foster care system.

Before his election to the Assembly, Mark was a Santa Cruz County Supervisor, Scotts Valley Unified School District President, an attorney in the tech industry and a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School.

We are excited to have these individuals join our policy panels this year, and we are looking forward to a productive discussion. We hope you will join us and join in the conversation at the conference on Friday, May 13th.

If you have any questions or comments please email advocacy@cmhacy.org.

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