Mental Health Board Biographies
District 1 - Susan Gorin
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
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.
Michael serves as Co-Founder and Executive Director of Living Life Well, a recovery residence providing the most effective and evidenced-based support for those seeking life-long recovery. This grew out of the relationships he developed through his own recovery and involvement on the leadership team for Celebrate Recovery.
In addition, he serves as the Peer Programs Coordinator for West County Community Services where he develops professional development opportunities for managers and staff as well as seeking Peer outreach opportunities in the community.
Michael has dedicated his life to discovering things that prevent him from being who God designed him to be and ﬁnding ways to constantly grow closer to that. His greatest joy comes in building a community with those who are seeking the growth that leads to a meaningful life of fulﬁllment, in order to build the Kingdom of God.
In his spare time, you will ﬁnd him on a trail listening to a sermon, jamming to music or telephoning with his parents and walking with his constant companion and best friend, Ella. If it’s Sunday afternoon, however, he’ll be on the couch enjoying a pizza and watching a NASCAR race.
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.
Vanessa was born and raised in Sonoma County and joined the board in May 2021. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a major in Nutrition & Toxicology - Physiology and Metabolism. Vanessa is very excited and humbled to start her first year in medical school starting Fall 2022. Vanessa aims to decrease mental health stigma within the Hispanic Community and bridge the gaps in access to mental health services. Seeing family members and friends go through unaddressed trauma, anxiety, depression, and suicide, she hopes to be an advocate for immigrant populations to be able to make mental health a priority.
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.