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Meeting Location:


Forsyth County United Way Offices

240 Elm Street

Cumming, GA 30040

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  • DeLisa Rodney Come celebrate Mental Health Awareness month with your friends and family at NAMI FDL.   Our speaker DeLisa Rodney, president of NAMI FDL, will highlight the importance of Curing the Stigma  surrounding mental illness.She will discuss the ways that NAMI FDL is fighting to support and educate individuals and families in our county living with a mental illness condition. Tuesday May 15, 2018, 7:00 PM.
  • DeLisa Boyd will be speaking about the “Nurtured Heart Approach” in dealing with difficult children.  It has a proven impact on every child, including those who are challenged behaviorally, socially and academically. The Nurtured Heart Approach has been shown to create transformative changes in children diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder and other behavioral, emotional and anxiety related symptoms – almost always without the need for long-term mental health treatment.
    • DeLisa Boyd is Chief Executive Officer of the GEMS Network, LLC.  DeLisa founded The GEMS Network in 2016.  Prior to that, she held positions including:
    • Chief Executive Officer of Blooming Elegance
    • New Jersey Department of Children and Families – Investigator/Forensic Specialist
    • Union County Children’s Mobile Response and Stabilization System Clinician
    • Psychiatric Rehabilitation Work Unit Coordinator at the New York Mount Sinai Hospital

    DeLisa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Kean University and is currently a Masters of Social Work degree candidate. She holds a Advanced Trainer’s Certificate from the Children’s Success Foundation for the implementation of the Nurtured Heart Approach.

    DeLisa’s true passion is developing programs to help youth and their families live fulfilling lives through the implementation of the Nurtured Heart Approach.  The concept of family is top priority for DeLisa, as studies have shown a correlation between unstable environments and mental illness in children.  DeLisa believes that every child and family can flourish, in healthy environments. DeLisa is married and resides in Alpharetta, GA with her husband, three children and their dog Burberry.

  • Jessica Jones of Avita Community Partners and Cindy Driggers LCSW of Benchmark Human Services.  They will speak about the challenges and resources available in securing housing for individuals with a mental health diagnosis.Jessica Jones is the Regional Housing Outreach Coordinator for Avita Community Partners. Since 2007, Jessica has been working with adults with developmental disabilities, and getting to experience many different roles throughout the years. In her current role, Jessica’s goal and job is to network and collaborate with local jails, prisons, and hospitals in order to assess client’s housing needs through the Unified Referral process. She is proud to be a part of the Avita family and looks forward to many happy years as a dedicated employee.Cindy Driggers, LCSW is the Regional director of Mobile Crisis response services in DBHDD Region 1. This region is located in the North Georgia area and borders four neighboring states. Cindy has worked in the field of Behavioral health for 25 years. She is an advocate for persons living with both mental illness and/or addiction. She understands the impact that these behaviors have on the individual and their families and she works daily to improve their situations and make the system work better for them and their families.
  • Lisa Poore, LPC will discuss what self-care is and how to assess whether your self-care routine needs some help.  We will look at signs of burnout and learn how to recognize if you are headed toward burnout.  She will present different ways of practicing self-care and will help you develop your own self-care plan.  Caregivers, join us to learn some practical strategies!  Lisa earned a Master of Science degree from Georgia State University and a diploma in Christian Counseling from the Psychological Studies Institute, now known as Richmont University.  She is Board Certified and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia.  She is also certified in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, which is used to help victims of trauma and disaster.
  • Cindy Levi  Our speaker for the October Educational Meeting is Cindy Levi. She will be speaking about the many resources that Avita brings to our community.  Avita is a public agency that formed by the 1993 Georgia State Legislature that serves persons suffering from the disabling effects of mental illness, developmental disabilities and addictive diseases.  They treat clients holistically dealing with health issues, lifestyle issues and in gaining employment assistance.  They are funded by Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration, private insurance and sliding scale payments.  No one is turned away because they cannot pay.
  • Cynthia Schwartzberg, LCSW  brings a wealth of training and experience to her current private practice in Integrative Therapy called Cynthasis:  integrating various cutting edge therapies to help people integrate.  Ms. Schwartzberg obtained her Masters in Social Work from New York University and her Bachelors in Psychology from American University.  She is presently President of the Southeast Brainspotting Institute and  has a private practice in the Buckhead area serving individual, couples and training professionals in Brainspotting.Cynthia comes to NAMI to speak on a cutting edge therapy, Brainspotting, a brain/body based therapy.  David Grand, Founder and Developer of Brainspotting states, Brainspotting is based on “Where You Look Affects How You Feel.”  Cynthia will teach us how the way we see and orient in our environment affects our well being.  She will explain the various ways Brainspotting can help us find balance in our lives and overcome stress, anxiety, PTSD, trauma and other challenges.  Cynthia has been helping people from all walks of life with Brainspotting and will end teaching us how we can apply this process to ourselves to reduce stress.
  • Nancy Garfield–  She is an experienced clinician with broad experience in the management of a wide variety of diagnoses. Nancy has experience with both severe, and oftentimes chronic, mental illness, while also working with persons navigating transitions and desire for growth and change on a more personal level.Nancy graduated with honors with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of South Carolina where she also earned Master Degrees in Social Work and Public Administration. She is currently licensed and Board Certified as a clinical social worker (LCSW) in the state of Georgia. She has been in private practice at Northwest Behavioral Medicine since 1999 and is owner and president of Psychological Source, Inc. and Psychletherapy© and Managing Director of the nonprofit Psychsource, a database of local and national mental health resources.Nancy’s years as a cyclist led her to research the effects of exercise on the brain, which led to the development of Psychletherapy. Psychletherapy™ is an experiential treatment modality combining group psychotherapy with physical exercise through the use of indoor spin bikes.
  • Dr. Ritu Chadha is a local psychiatrist with the Veterans Administration and board adviser to NAMI FDL.   Dr. Chadha specializes in psychiatry and neurology.   We are pleased to have her speak to our group this month.
  • Carol Simpson will discuss the program and how this valuable program has helped individuals with mental illness receive the proper services. “This accountability court program addresses an under served population in Forsyth County by diverting defendants with severe and persistent mental illness from jail and introducing them to treatment services within the community,” State Court Judge Leslie Abernathy-Maddox said in a news release.
  • Dr. Buchanan has been licensed as a psychologist in Georgia since 1988. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Georgia State University, with an emphasis in Clinical Child and Family Psychology.  His passion in working with children and adolescents began when he was a Young Life leader and continued while working the adolescent units of two Atlanta psychiatric hospitals. During that time it became abundantly clear to him that if he was going to work with children, adolescents and families he had better know a ton about ADHD since it is the most common mental health diagnosis of children and adolescents.He specializes in working with children and families and conducts comprehensive psychological evaluations of children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Buchanan uses state-of-the-art technology to assess ADHD and the effects of stimulant medication. He is Board Certified in Clinical Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), a distinction held by only 5% of U.S. psychologists.


  •  Stephen M. Mathis, Psy.D., A.A.P.T.A., M.A.C., I.C.A.D.C., C.C.A.D.C., C.C.D.P.-D., C.R.A.T., C.C.S., C.S.P., C.G.P., B.C.F.E., B.C.F.M., D.A.B.P.P., F.A.C.F.E., C.C.J.S., C.C.J.A.P.-II, C.R.S.T., F.P.P.R., F.A.C.A.P.P., F.C.I.C.P.P., is a licensed psychologist and certified addictions counselor who has been formally assessing and professionally helping adolescents, young adults, middle adults, couples, and families cope with a myriad of life concerns since 1988. In addition to his advanced degrees, licenses, and certifications, Dr. Mathis recently completed diplomas in Personal Nutrition and Sports and Exercise Nutrition. Given his own commitment to wellness and the stated positions of many persons coming for services who prefer to handle biochemical issues with alternative and holistic approaches (rather than traditional Western medicine methods), Dr. Mathis is able to incorporate some of these techniques into his therapeutic paradigms when and if appropriate.
  • Dr. Bennett MD is a clinical Psychiatrist and practitioner of Functional Medicine at the Amen Clinics.  He has more than 25 years of experience working with the full spectrum of mental health disorders.  From children to adults, he has used a combination of treatment approaches to help many people recover from the ravages of ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and problems with memory and concentration. Wykeisha Highsmith, ARNP, a graduate of Yale University School of Nursing (YSN), Wykeisha is a national board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC), family specialty, with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). As a Family PMHNP-BC, Wykeisha provides psychiatric support for all ages, with a sub-specialty working with children and adolescents. Being a nurse practitioner, Wykeisha joins the Amen medical team with a unique approach, incorporating great empathy and compassion into her medical delivery. Using a nursing model, she promotes health, restoration and wellness to each individual patient with a unique treatment plan.
  •  Lori Albert-Walker, MSW with Ridgeview Institute in Smyrna, GA, will talk about the Impact of Substance Use and Co-occurring Disorders on the Family.  Lori will  provide brief definitions of problems areas related to diagnoses and disease process in the individual.  She will describe common feelings and common challenges experienced by the family members.  Lori will introduce a recovery path of healing for both the family and the individual.
  • Author and mental health advocate, Felicia Johnson, joins us to discuss her own experience in dealing with a loved one suffering from child abuse, depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Inspired by her own life story and the journey of her childhood friend, Felicia has authored the novel, Her, which is the story of a young girl dealing with BPD. Through her book, Felicia helps to bring understanding of BPD within reach of many young people and families afflicted by it and continues to help many come to terms with mental health issues they face.
  • Faith Fanning, a Victims Advocate from the Forsyth County Sheriffs Office.  She discussed Domestic Violence and FCSO response to calls and resources in the community.
  •  Liza Reed, LMFT.  She will discuss the topic of Boundaries and Co-Dependency
  •  Benchmark Human Services. Benchmark Crisis Response Teams serve adults and children five years and older who have mental illness, serious emotional disorders, substance-related disorders, who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis or are in a situation likely to turn into a crisis.
  •  Mark Biernath, P.C. Mark is a lawyer with the Law Offices of Mark E. Biernath, P.C. He will discuss Special Needs Trusts and Guardianship. These important topics will be presented for families to hear options for the planning and protection for our family members future. For more information visit
  • Jennfier Manly LPC.  is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) since 2005 by members of Behvioral Tech LLC which was founded by the developer of DBT, Marhsa Linehan, Ph.D. Jennifer has over 17 years of experience working directly with adolescents in direct care long-term facilities, and then a a clinican in long-term residential facilites in Atlanta. She will discuss DBT, and the benefits of this treatment therapy to individuals dealing with psychological, emotional or trauma issues. She provides individual therapy, family therapy, DBT Skill Training groups for Adolescents and DBT Skills Training groups for Parents. For more information visit
  • Dr. David Janzen, a Motiventionist based in Atlanta, and specializes in Interventions for individuals struggling with chemical and behavioral addictions and families under the strain of dealing with addicted or mentally ill loved ones.
  •  Dr. Scott Friedman, Psy.D. from Atlanta Area Psychological Associates, P.C.. spke about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorders.
  • Marti Vogt from Mental Health First Aide. Mental Health First Aid is an 8 hour course that individuals may attend to learn to handle developing mental health problems or mediate a mental health crisis. To learn more visit
  • Pat Strode from NAMI Georgia.  Pat discussed the CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) program that our law enforcement officers utilize to prepare for interactions with individuals who face a mental health crisis.  
  • Ellen Jeager from Mental Health America discussed the MHA organization and the education and advocacy opportunities that they provide families and consumers.
  • Dave Lushbaugh, from PLAN of Georgia that provides solutions to families concerned about present and future care of a relative with a severe disability, including mental illness and/or physical disability
  • Joe LaBranche and Carole LaBranche, from Warrior to Citizen spoke about Post Traumatic Stress.
  • Sheri McGuinness, President and CEO from SPAN – Georgia, spoke about Suicide Prevention and Community Awareness.
  • Marzena Holly, LPC from The Alyse Group spoke on  “Family involvement in the recovery process for severe mentally ill youth and older adults”
  • Dr. Larry Giltman, spoke on “Medical Quakery”
  • Lynn Thompson LPC, Founding Clinical Director of Ray of Hope Counseling Services, discussed “Personality Disorders”
  • Attorney Rusty Hodges spoke about “handling the legal concerns of special needs persons”.
  • Miranda Franklin, Rehabilitation employment specialist, Ga Vocational Rehab Agency spoke on “Vocational rehabilitation basics including supported employment” Agency website –
  • Boyd McLocklin is former CEO for the Georgia Mountains Community Service Board and has also worked with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health.  He has worked in private practice in the areas of mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and pastoral counseling.  He brings us a holistic approach to recovery, addressing the mind, body and spirit.
  • Heather Durham Nadler, CELA,   “Elder Law and Special Needs Attorneys: Providing legal and financial demands of senior citizens, their adult children and individuals with special needs.
  • Joe Stapp, Blue Ridge Couseling, LLC “Calming the Emotional Storm:  Skills to Manage Your Emotions and Balance your life.”
  • Winne Sanders, Caring is Giving:  “Finding Housing for the Disabled”
  • George Ackron, Paraclete Services “The Social Security Disability Process: An Inside Look”
  • Dr. Scott Friedman, Psy.D.,  Atlanta Area Psychological Associates, “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Therapy Interventions”
  • Dawn McCloskey, Ultra Organized, LLC, “How to Handle Interruptions and Overcome Procrastination”
  • Dot Keith   “Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD)”
  • Janice Shomo, LMSW, CAS, LMT and Carol Reynolds, MAI, CCIM  The Cottages on Mountain Creek.
  • Kim Waters-Rose, LPC, New Hope Counseling, Cumming, GA “Addiction and Mental Health”
  • Kanya Glymph,M.Ed., NCC, LPC, Director of New Leaf Counseling and Recovery, Cumming, GA “ Addled by Anxiety”
  • Ashley Smith, Executive Director of Embracing My Mind,

Ashley brought a copy of the new documentary (released May 6, 2011) “Living with Schizophrenia: A Call for Hope and Recovery” for us to view. The documentary explores the lives of three people living with schizophrenia– their daily struggles, personal insights about the illness, and paths in the mental health recovery process. Two of the three consumers in the movie are members of NAMI in Atlanta and Columbus. Many of the family members interviewed in the movie are also members of NAMI in Georgia.

  • Evan Katz, MC, LPC, MAC  “Inside the Mind of an Angry Man”
  • Kanya Glymph,M.Ed., NCC, LPC, Director of New Leaf Counseling and Recovery, Cumming, GA  “Identifying and Confronting Codependency: Remembering to Nourish Yourself While Caring for Others”
  • W. David Wallace, attorney  “Legal Issues: Guardianships, Conservatorships and Special Needs Trusts”
  • Michael Banov, M.D.   “Taking Antidepressants”

Dr. Banov spoke about his new book, “Taking Antidepressants: Your Comprehensive Guide to Starting, Staying On, and Safely Quitting”, which currently has a 5 star rating on Amazon. Dr. Banov is Medical Director of Northwest Behavioral Medicine and Northwest Behavioral Research Center. He did his Psychiatry Residency and Fellowship at McLean Hospital, Boston, MA., Harvard Medical School, 1990-1993 and is Triple Board Certified in Adult, Adolescent and Addiction Psychiatry. He is also a Board Certified Clinical Research Investigator.

  • Patricia Jacob-Hopkins     “Housing”

Patricia Jacob-Hopkins, executive director of FIR (Family Initiative Residence) in Conyers, discussed housing for those with a mental illness. She told how she moved and expanded the FIR residential program from DeKalb to Rockdale County. She shared her vision and future goals to use the FIR model in other communities like ours. She is considered one of the leading housing experts in Georgia. Click here to read more about the Conyers location.

  • Cathy Coone-McCrary         “In Our Own Voice” Presentation and Holiday Dinner.
    In Our Own Voice (IOOV) is a unique public education program developed by NAMI, in which trained consumer speakers share compelling personal stories about living with mental illness and achieving recovery. Cathy Coone-McCrary lead the brief, yet comprehensive and interactive, presentation. We were lucky to have Cathy, who is the state trainer for IOOV; she lives in Cobb County with her husband but grew up in Dahlonega. Click here to read more about IOOV and watch a You Tube video.
  • Nikki Araoz and Sue Howell (her mother) told Nikki’s story and shared her steps to recovery. Nikki is a North Georgia graduate who works full time in Dahlonega as a counselor, and Sue is a trained Family-to-Family teacher.
  • Nicole Morgan   Forsyth County Community Connection, Executive Director, “No Longer Silent” Her story made the front page of the Forsyth County News.
  • Dr. Branko Radulovacki, MD, MBA, a NAMI GA member is founder and leader of FaithWorks, a faith-driven initiative to help Georgia citizens who suffer from mental illness. FaithWorks is bringing together faith leaders and nonprofits such as NAMI to address the mental health crisis in Georgia. After earning a MBA, Dr. Radulovacki graduated from University of Illinois College of Medicine with honors, did his residency at Yale University, and is in private practice in Atlanta.
  • Sgt. Bill Anastasio “CIT Training and Experiences”
  • Jenny Wood, MA, NCC, LPC, Program Director, Child and Family Focus
  • Alicia J. Saile, “Understanding Your Social Security Benefits”
  • Debbie Ellison, “The Benefits of Laughter”
  • Michael Anderson, D.C., “Chronic Pain & Fatigue”
  • Nancy Austin RN, Laurelwood Hospital, “Dual Diagnosis”
  • Janet Fishman, CPS (Certified Peer Specialist)    “Healthy Recovery”
  • Dave Lushbaugh, NAMI National Board, “Solutions to the Fragmented Mental Health System”
  • Nora Lott Haynes, president NAMI Georgia, “Mental Health Advocacy”
  • James Fugedy, MD, Anesthesiologist, “Techniques of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)”
  • Gwen Frothingham, MS, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Georgia Dept. of Labor, “Supported Employment”
  • Sally Atwell, MS, CRC, LPC, Social Security Benefits Navigator, “Work Incentive Planning”
  • Ruby Moore, Executive Director, The Georgia Advocacy Office

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