Staff of the MHATC
Executive Director, Certified Peer Specialist
I have been at the Mental Health Association since April of 2000. I am born and raised in Ithaca and a graduate of LACS. I received my BS in Human Services from Empire State College. I became the Executive Director in 2015 after serving as both the Assistant Director and the Wellness Services Program Director.
I wish to live in a world where an individual who experiences a mental health issue is treated with dignity and respect. And like physical health, mental health is promoted and treatment is both preventative and accessible. It is important to me that our agency fulfill it’s mission of service to this community through education, advocacy and support.
I have been at the Mental Health Association since 2016. I am a Tompkins Cortland Community College graduate. I currently live in Danby with my two sons and two cats.
Family Support Services Director, Family Peer Advocate
I have been at the Mental Health Association for more than 18 years. I was born and raised in Lansing which is one of my greatest assets as the Director of Family Support Services. I have worked in the Ithaca area in human services for over 40 years. My knowledge of the community services available and my relationship with those agencies is a benefit I share with all the families enrolled in our programs.
I am a pioneer graduate of Tompkins Cortland Community College, a member of the first graduating class. I received my Bachelor’s degree at Cortland College. I am a certified Family Peer Advocate Specialist, a Wellness Recovery Action Plan facilitator and a Parent Empowerment Program facilitator. I am also trained in Suicide First Aid and Special Education.
I currently live in Lansing with my husband Kevin. I have two children, four grandchildren that are my pride and joy.
Originally from Rochester, NY, I came to Ithaca to attend Ithaca College, and fell in love with the area. Upon graduating with my BA in 2013, I was delighted to join the Mental Health Association as a respite provider for the KIDS FIRST Summer Camp. I found a passion for the work and the agency’s mission of supporting our community and fighting the stigma around mental health. After that summer, I continued on as a skill builder and respite provider for youth and co-director for KIDS FIRST before joining the administrative staff in the fall of 2016. I am a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and graduate of the University of Youth Power Peer Advocacy training program. At MHATC, I am driven to create spaces where youth can be themselves, find their voice, support each other, and grow.
Charles Niven, LMSW
Director of Peer Services, Certified Family Peer Advocate & Certified Peer Specialist
I believe there are two basic functions as Director of Peer Services. I see my task as helping to prepare individuals who have lived the life of a person with eccentric behaviors realize the power they have to change. Second, that Certified Peer Specialists provide effective services to nearly all individuals in need of advocacy, mentoring, or simply of being heard.
I have lived in Ithaca for too many years, so I am aware of most of the aids to individuals concerned with mental health issues. I have two children, one of whom has Downs Syndrome. This young man has provoked my interest in working with folks who are unable to articulate their emotional needs vocally–of course most people have such difficulty. I have BS from Cornell University (College of Agriculture, as it was known back then) and a MSW from Marywood University. Please call, write, e-mail to let me know how we can help one another.
Coordinator of Jenkins Center for Hope and Recovery
I first became involved with the Mental Health Association nine years ago when I was hired to co-direct Kids First, MHA’s summer camp for children; a gig that I held for seven summers. Since then, I have retired after thirty-three years of teaching public school and have recently returned to MHA but this time as coordinator of the Jenkins Center, a drop-in center that provides a safe environment for mental health consumers. I am married, have two grown sons, and have lived and worked in Tompkins County since 1983. It is an honor and a pleasure to be working in the human service field with such a reputable organization.
Advocacy Services Director
I have worked as the Director of Adult Services at the Mental Health Association starting in 1998. Prior to this I worked as a supervisor at a community residential program which served adults with mental health issues. I also worked in retail sales, as a carpenter, the banking industry, and as a marketing director in the computer industry, coordinating national as well as international sales. Starting in high school and for years afterwards I have enjoyed worked as a professional musician.
Before actually working in the mental health field I often found myself in the position of coordinating access to mental health services for individuals who were in crisis or whose family members had requested some assistance in getting appropriate professional help.