CMHACY's 44th Annual Conference

Mental Health is Everyone's Business: Inclusive Conversations for Changing Times

Wednesday, May 15 - Friday, May 17, 2024

Virtual Conference Schedule

Wednesday, April 27

12:00 PM | Platform Opens

We ask that you take time on Day 1 to orient yourself to the platform.

  • Log-In & explore our new digital hybrid platform
  • Take time to get oriented with the platform
  • Update or link your social profile and add a picture!
  • Explore our Sponsor & Exhibitor Hall
  • Learn about the different ways to interact & engage with attendees onsite

1:00 PM | Networking & Reconnecting

  • Start a conversation & network with other attendees in a chat room
  • Meet up with other attendees for video chat sessions in our digital lounges

1:45 PM | Live Drumming Performance Live Streamed

Come to Merrill Hall at 1:45PM for a live drumming performance, & celebrate with CMHACY as we reunite after 2 years apart!

Cheza Nami Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that specializes in promoting African culture and cultural diversity within our communities. Their mission is to promote cultural education and diversity awareness to learning institutions, corporations and communities that focus on fostering a more congenial relationship among its members.

Cheza Nami envisions a culturally diverse world where individuals of all ages and nationalities can embrace the concept of global citizenship and understand the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

2:00 PM | Welcome & Opening Remarks Live Streamed

Hear from CMHACY leadership as they offer some opening remarks and words of inspiration as we kick off our 42nd annual conference.

2:30 PM | Youth Hope for Tomorrow Live Streamed

Join CMHACY Board Members, Sriya Chilla and Nghia Do, California Mental Health Advocate Juan Acosta, and Born This Way Foundation’s Maya Smith at for a session entitled Youth Hope For Tomorrow, focused on the current state of youth mental health and what we can all do to support young people at this moment and beyond. This talk will invite audience members to think about how they can be there for one another and provide the tools and resources to do so safely.

Maya Smith proudly serves as the first Executive Director of Born This Way Foundation. In this position, she engages a diverse array of partners across sectors to conduct innovative research, builds authentic youth-focused programming, and leads effective campaigns that foster kindness and advance the conversation around mental health.
With nearly 20 years of experience in the youth empowerment, civic engagement, and community development fields, Maya previously served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of and began her career as East Coast Coordinator for Rock The Vote. In addition to her work with the Foundation, Maya is a proud member of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Class of 2022 and serves on the Bullying Prevention Advisory Committee (BPAC) for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC). Maya grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, and is a graduate of Rutgers University. She currently resides outside of San Francisco with her husband, David, their two children, and their dog Kai.



3:30 PM | Spoken Word Performance Live Streamed

Join us after our break as Coon the Poet performs a powerful spoken-word performance.

Sunlighting as a teaching artist, youth mentor, community builder and youth advocate, Coon the Poet is a multi-award winning spoken word artist. He is heavily devoted to connecting, building and contributing to the spirits of young people and preserving the culture and legacy of spoken word.

The South Sacramento, California Native and traveling Poet is a Spoken word artist that lives by the philosophy—”Spoken Word” is not just speaking his heart, but wearing it. He is the founder of the brand and movement #Wearyourheart. His commitment doesn’t stop there—he is also the Founder of “Pain to Power Poetry,” a healing, empowerment and academic-based program, helping young people go from pain to power through poetry and spoken word.

Coon has been working diligently on advocating for healing and growing more poets in the city of Sacramento by partnering with multiple organizations to create platforms in the community. In addition, he is an ongoing host of various open mic venues and events in his city and surrounding areas.

He continues to break barriers with his voice, inspire minds, and motivate individuals. He is a true example of a griot, warrior, healer, young elder and survivor.

3:45 PM | Building a Coalition for Youth Panel Live Streamed

Come join Sriya, Nghia and other youth advocates that are a part of a new Youth Mental Health Coalition, to learn about how more organizations can integrate youth into their decision making process & systems.

4:15 PM | Parents in Action Panel Live Streamed

Due to the well-being of their children and family, most parents have a low tolerance for conversation.
When families are in distress the questions they are asking are, “What can you do to help?” “How are we moving forward?” What is the next step?

Our parent panel consists of parents who are on the move. They will share what they have done, what they are doing and what is next for them on their journey in changing the system. From the moment their children were born their lives have not been business as usual.

4:45 PM | Jim Preis Advocate of the Year Award Live Streamed

CMHACY continues to honor Jim Preis’ memory by recognizing an individual who demonstrates an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children, youth and families and who shares the values and commitment to service that Jim stood for and for which he fought.

This year’s 2022 Jim Preis Advocate of the Year honoree is Nancy Shea.


For 40 years, Nancy Shea has dedicated her professional career to advocating for children, youth and families to assure that they receive all the services to which they are entitled. She was Jim Preis’ colleague at Mental Health Advocacy Services for over 40 years.

Nancy Shea represented parents of children with disabilities in special education proceedings including IEP meetings, mediations, and due process hearings. Nancy was the lead attorney in the first 3632 federal litigation against several school districts, CDE, and CDMH which led to regulations requiring the implementation of 3632.

In addition, Nancy was appointed by LA County Juvenile Court to represent children in both dependency and delinquency proceedings and to assure that behavioral, developmental and educational issues were addressed by the court. She has been involved in all EPSDT litigations that have brought millions of dollars to California – starting with the original lawsuit (1991) that opened the door for EPSDT—she worked on that lawsuit with Jim Pries directly.

Though Emily Q (of the Emily Q EPSDT litigation) was not officially her client, two of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit (both dependents) were her client. She has been apart of the CMHACY Board and Friends for many years now, and has played an integral role in developing CMHACY into the organization it is today. Congratulations Nancy!

4:55 PM | Gift Card Raffle & Closing Remarks Live Streamed

Stay until the end of the session for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card and hear closing remarks from CMHACY leadership.

Thursday, April 28

8:30 AM | Welcome & Innovative Program Award Live Streamed

One of the CMHACY conference’s primary goals has been to disseminate amongst peers promising practices and culturally specific programs that are youth/family focused in nature with measurable results that can be replicated throughout California.

This year’s 2022 Innovative Program of the Year honoree is Michael Baldwin & the Legacy Alliance Outreach.

No one could have predicted that one of the most innovative programs of our time would come from a heroin addict who served 26 years in the California prison system. Yet, Michael Baldwin and his team managed to do just that. For years Michael confesses to feeling ashamed, frustrated, crippled and unable to do anything about the killing of unarmed black and brown men at the hands of law enforcement, the increase of violence among youth and the decay of our educational system.

“My choices had silenced me at a time I felt my community needed me most, so all I could do was prepare, plan and pray for a chance to make a difference.” On October 22, 2018, Michael was given that chance when he was released from Corcoran State Prison. He began working at the Law Offices of Tracy R. Lum while simultaneously serving his community. He began training Modesto School Teachers on: Relational Healing, Trauma Informed Care, Cultural Sensitivity, Criminal and Gang intervention, Unconscious Bias, and Restorative Practices with an emphasis on Emotional Intelligence.

When George Floyd was murdered Michael stepped forward to start a cultural relations and community building program that brought minority community members and law enforcement together. He has worked diligently along side the police chief in Modesto to establish an incredibly innovative program. It shocked many when Michael included incarcerated youthful offenders in the workshops. Never before had we seen police in uniform in a prison sit down and have conversations with inmates, laugh-cry-eat and discuss tough subjects like racism, impact of crime on victims and bias. The result was transformational for the incarcerated community and law enforcement. Police reform cannot be done solely through legislation. Rehabilitation of inmates can’t be done solely by placing them in a prison. We have found a way to wrap a framework to accomplish this into one program, while simultaneously creating a shared dialogue and language with minority community members and law enforcement. Shifting culture is what we desire to do. And save lives. Save the life of community and law enforcement.

Michael and his team at MBSC are motivating and inspiring change and transformation by providing keynote presentations, workshops, and coaching sessions through customized curriculum for personal and professional development in California, and continues to spread throughout the country. Michael Baldwin is recognized as a thought leader and leading advocate for social justice and founded the non-profit Legacy Alliance Outreach to be a bridge between those that serve and those in need of services!

8:45 AM | I Won't Go Speechless Live Streamed

Jessica will share her powerful & triumphant journey to finding her voice and the healing that came along for the ride. Stay until the end of the plenary for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!

Jessica Chandler spent most of her adolescence bouncing between group homes and Juvenile Hall until she emancipated at age 18. Jessica is a national advocate for children and families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Jessica is a passionate speaker who believes that through partnership and love, we can disrupt the negative outcomes prevailing in the lives of our nations most vulnerable populations. She is currently a social worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, working with children and families navigating LA county’s dependency and juvenile justice systems. Jessica utilized the supportive adults in her life to change the trajectory of her life and she believes that for every foster youth “we are all one caring person away from being a success story!”


10:30 AM | Full Day of Workshops Over 3 Sessions Around Campus

Join CMHACY’s workshop presenters from 10:30AM – 5:00PM for 3 workshop sessions. (See full schedule below). Breaks will be from 12:00 – 1:30PM & 3:00 – 3:30PM.

Friday, April 29

8:30 AM | Welcome & Policy/Legislative Leadership Award Live Streamed

Improvements in public child/family mental health at the local and state levels does not happen without the efforts of a champion or leader. This category seeks to identify a colleague(s) who has seized upon opportunities to build something bigger, something better – either as a pilot program or through legislation or regulatory changes – and who is undaunted by competing priorities and/or funding and authority conflicts.

This year’s 2022 Policy/Legislative Leadership honoree is California State Senator Anthony Portantino, Senate District 25.

Senator Anthony Portantino represents California’s 25th State Senate District, which stretches along the 210 Freeway from Sunland/Tujunga to Upland. He proudly represents the Rose Bowl, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Griffith Park, Warner Brothers, Disney, Caltech and the Claremont Colleges.

Supporting public education, mental health, and sensible gun control have been priorities for Senator Portantino during his time in office. His accomplishments include increasing funding for special education and the K-12 Local Control Funding Formula. He has authored legislation that created California’s umbilical cord blood collection program, pushed back school start time for middle and high schools, banned the open carry of handguns on Main Street California, raised the purchase age of firearms to 21, and placed the suicide hotline number on student identification cards. In addition, his efforts have created a science fellowship in the State Capitol and established a unique partnership between the University of California and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

He personally negotiated the end of the 710-freeway tunnel with the Brown administration and authored SB 7, which formally ended the threat of the freeway, protected the non-profits in the corridor, and paved the way for Pasadena to develop the dormant freeway stub.

Senator Portantino currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a Select Committee to foster trade between California, Armenia and Artsakh.

Prior to his years as a representative, he spent many years working in film and television production, served on the California Film Commission, and spent nearly eight years on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council, with two terms as Mayor. In 2019, he was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Award at a ceremony in the historic island’s great hall.

Senator Portantino grew up in New Jersey, where he attended public schools and graduated from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Ellen, a longtime business executive at Warner Brothers and Disney. They have two daughters.

8:45 AM | The Power of Youth-led Mental Health Advocacy Live Streamed

High school students are keen to lead opportunities in their schools and communities to help change the conversation and culture about mental health. But do they have a seat at the table when decisions are being made about mental health programs and resources? Hear how students who participated in the Active Minds Mental Health Advocacy Academy are championing mental health advocacy campaigns in their schools and how adults can support their efforts.

Lauren has spent her entire career advocating for youth and young adult programming in K-12 education, higher education, and community spaces. Most recently, she worked for the Colorado School of Public Health School recruiting schools to participate in the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS), Colorado’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), and Smart Source. In this role, Lauren supported schools in administering the surveys and provided technical support to schools and community partners as they navigated using results to inform school and adolescent health work across Colorado. She is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusive school board policies and ensures the work she is a part of has an equitable and intersectional lens. Lauren’s background is in student leadership, health education and equity, policy and advocacy, and equity and inclusion. She enjoys hiking, baking, and exploring the Denver art and music scene.


10:15 AM | Advancing Equity into Action Panel Discussion & Call to Action Live Streamed

Advancing equity into action requires exploring organizational and community implications, barriers, and opportunities to diversity, equity and inclusion. This panel will elevate the voices of youth, educator and behavioral health leaders that will share what equity means to them, why it matters and what it looks like in action for our systems of care.

11:45 AM | Closing Remarks & Grand Prize Give Away Live Streamed

Join CMHACY leadership for our final closing remarks as we close out our 42nd annual conference & stick around for our final grand prize giveaway for a $250 Visa gift card!

12:00 PM | Conference Ends


Attendees must use this link to get the hotel room package that includes meals as well as the special conference registration rate.


Coming soon!