Mental Health Board Biographies
District 1 - Susan Gorin
Patricia Gray (General Public)
Patricia has been a member of the board since 2016. Her main interest is in re-entry programs for people with mental health challenges leaving jail and leaving prison. She has been involved in mental health since her 20’s when she worked at Eldridge and Napa State Hospital. At 26, she went back to school to become a lawyer when she saw how important law was. In 1994, she became a judge, and in the capacity of a criminal trial court judge, she established the first mental Health Court in California. While getting her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, she studied recidivism rates for different re-entry programs for inmates. She is currently Director of Gray Haven, a 32-bed re-entry program opening in Napa County in November. As a Sonoma County resident, Patricia hopes to be of service to residents of our county. She was one of the board members who established the PAM (Program Assessment Matrix) committee to organize and facilitate visits to programs that serve Behavioral health clients.
Peterson Pierre (General Public)
Peterson joined the board in 2019 as a Registered Nurse with over 30 years in the acute care setting. He is currently reading for a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree at Pennsylvania State University. Peterson also holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Sonoma State University. He also practices as an emergency nurse at a local hospital in Sonoma County. He noticed mental health patients are not treated with the same urgency as medical patients during his career, and transfer to inpatient behavioral facilities is much delayed. He is hoping to see improvement in that area. Peterson is a part-time clinical faculty at UCSF School of Nursing and current Mental Health Board Vice- chair.
Betzy Chavez (General Public)
Betzy joined the board this year. She graduated from Sonoma State University with a BA in Spanish and Psychology, and a master in Counseling. Betzy is a member, and current co-chair of the CDC and also a board member of CAP. She is an advocate for the Hispanic population of Sonoma County. This is the largest ethnic minority in our county and one of our most vulnerable and underserved communities. She works at Hannah Institute, a leading provider of trauma-informed care training in Sonoma County and Northern California. Hannah Institute is dedicated to advancing nonviolent communication, social justice and trauma recovery. Betzy is very active in the community and a welcome addition to the board. Her understanding of and advocacy for the Latin-x community is a valuable asset.
District 2 - David Rabbit
Carol West (Consumer)
Carol joined the board in 2020. She lives in Petaluma where she raised four children. She has traveled extensively, immigrating to the USA in 1993 with her husband from South Africa. This experience helps her bring a diverse worldview to her work on the Mental Health Board. As an Occupational Therapist, medical doctor, Community Health Worker and now a Peer Support Specialist Carol's life goal is to dismantle disparities in the social determinants of health and to work diligently towards mental health parity. Her priority is to identify and mentor other people with lived experience of mental health challenges into positions where their perspectives are taken into consideration in policy decision-making. Her favorite saying is "If we are not at the table we are what's for lunch!" Carol pays close attention to what is happening in the State Legislature and helps us keep aware of those issues. Carol's credentials include being a person with lived experience of mental health challenges, a Peer Support Specialist, a graduate of SRJC Community Health Worker (AA), University of Witwatersrand South Africa MBBCH Medical Doctor, and University of Witwatersrand South Africa BSC Occupational Therapy. She is a member of the MHSA Steering Committee and Jail ad hoc committee.
Mary Ann Swanson (General Public)
Mary Ann joined the Mental Health Board in 2004. She retired from running Valley of the Moon Children's Center. She is a member of the Professional Social Workers Organization and has been working on trying to get a School of Social Work at Sonoma State University. At this point, the program is being offered through Long Beach distance learning. Having spent her whole career working with abused and neglected children, Mary Ann is aware that there are many holes in the system. She is a past chair of the board.
District 3 - Chris Coursey
Michael Johnson (Consumer)
Michael joined the board in 2020. Michael graduated from Clayton School of Arts as an art major. He wants to use his first hand knowledge of the mental health system to advocate for change in the system with more of an emphasis on conversation and communication instead of just medication. Michael wants to acknowledge the strengths he saw from within the system and address those areas that need change.
To meet the minimum number of Consumers on our board, this position should be filled with someone with lived experience.
District 4 - James Gore
Bob Cobb (General Public)
Bob was appointed to the Mental Health Board in 2016. He has a background in engineering and agricultural economics and obtained an MSW at Loyola University, Chicago, with a specialization in mental health. Professional activities have included: hospital Medical Social Worker, rape crisis counselor/survivor advocate and adult, individual and couples, therapist. Bob supports local civic issues, both individually and with established community groups. His particular interest is participation with groups focused on mental health and wellness, including involvement with Windsor Wellness Partnership and as a cancer support group facilitator.
Peter McAweeney (General Public)
Peter was appointed to the board in 2018. He has been a lawyer for 30 years. His career began in San Francisco in litigation. He currently works in Cloverdale doing Estate Planning. He is also on the board of the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Sonoma County. He is interested in equitable access with a focus on mental health and early childhood development. He continues to raise funds for organizations in Northern Sonoma County.
District 5 - Lynda Hopkins
Kathy Smith (Family Member)
Kathy was appointed to the board in 2000. She is the parent of a daughter who has experienced many programs in the county system during the time she has been a member. She was a participant in the first NAMI Family to Family class taught in Sonoma County and found that teaching that class to other family members was both educational and grew her understanding of both the family member and client experience. Kathy began her career volunteering at California School for the Deaf. She went on to work with students in the dorms, both deaf and deaf multi-handicapped students. This experience led her to spending most of her career teaching special education K-8. She is currently teaching part time in Cazadero, one of the more remote areas of western Sonoma County. Kathy and her husband also had the pleasure of having a foster child and gained some understanding of that system as well. Kathy is current board chair. She also serves on the Quality Improvement Committee and MHSA Steering Committee.
Robert Hales, MD, MBA (General Public)
Robert is a Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Emeritus of the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Hales served as Chair of the Department and Medical Director for Behavioral Health for the County of Sacramento for more that 20 years, retiring from both positions in 2018. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and retired as a Colonel in 1990 having served for 20 years on active duty. He was appointed to the Mental Health Board in 2019. Dr. Hales wishes to gain a better understanding of the mental health challenges facing the Sonoma County community. He seeks to work collaboratively with consumers, family members and the Behavioral Health Division staff to increase public and professional awareness of the behavioral health care programs currently operating in the county and to consider new programs or initiatives. He also seeks to work with the community to reduce stigma associated with mental illness and to reduce disparities in access to care and treatment. He is on two ad hoc committees, one dealing with the MHB relationships with the jail, and PAM (Program Assessment Matrix) a committee to organize and facilitate board members visiting programs serving Sonoma County consumers of mental health services.