Keynote Speakers

Mary Ellen Copeland is founder of the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery. She has presented numerous keynote addresses, trainings and workshops all over the world and is well known in the world wide mental health recovery movement. She has received many awards for her work including In 2009 the Voices Award for Life Time Achievement and in 2006 the John Beard Award.   She is the author  of many self help resources including  WRAP Plus, WRAP: Wellness Recovery Action Plan, The Depression Workbook: A Guide to Living with Depression and Manic Depression, WRAP and Peer Support (with Shery Mead) and the popular facilitator training curriculum, Mental Health Recovery and WRAP. These resources are based on her on-going study of the day-to-day and life recovery strategies and skills of people who experience mental health difficulties, and how these people have gotten well, stayed well and worked toward achieving their own goals and dreams.  She undertook these studies out of her own frustration with dealing with these issues in her own life.  She has achieved long-term wellness by using many of the skills and strategies she learned from these studies.  She worked with Shery Mead, to develop Community Links: Pathways to Reconnection and Recovery, a program  using  education and peer support approaches for people who have repeated involuntary commitments.


Robert Whitaker has won numerous awards as a journalist covering medicine and science, including the George Polk Award for Medical Writing and a National Association for Science Writers’ Award for best magazine article. In 1998, he co-wrote a series on psychiatric research for the Boston Globe that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Anatomy of an Epidemic won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism.



Darrell Steinberg is the President pro Tempore of the California State Senate. Steinberg is a strong advocate for children and mental health issues. As a member of the State Assembly, Steinberg authored legislation to focus additional education resources on high-poverty schools and make them accountable for improvement. He also authored several nationally recognized laws to improve the state's foster care system, including measures to improve provider accountability, educational consistency, and placement stability for children in foster care. Steinberg also passed the first significant expansion of community mental health programs in more than a decade. And, in 2004, the voters approved Steinberg's Proposition 63, based on the pilot programs he championed in the Assembly, which generates more than $1 billion per year in state and federal funds to establish community-based mental health systems of care throughout the state.


Paolo del Vecchio, MSW, is the Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)'s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). SAMHSA is the lead Federal agency designed to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. Previously, Paolo was the CMHS Associate Director for Consumer Affairs where he managed SAMHSA's precedent-setting activities in addressing consumer participation and education, issues of discrimination and stigma, consumer rights, wellness, recovery, trauma, and others. A self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor, and person in recovery from addictions, Paolo has been involved for over 40 years in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate, and policy maker. He graduated summa cum laude with a master's degree in social work from Temple University, has published widely and is a highly sought after national and international speaker. Paolo has been a leader in many Federal efforts including the Mental Health Statistics Improvement Project Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee, the Federal Advisory Planning Board for the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, the HHS Multiple Chronic Conditions and Community Living Initiatives, and numerous others.

Lauren Spiro As director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (, the largest U.S. grassroots organization representing people with the lived experience of mental health recovery, Lauren Spiro's vision of social justice and liberation fuels the Coalition's work on Capitol Hill and the Washington DC metropolitan region, advancing the values, policies and legislative priorities of mental health consumers/survivor/ex-psychiatric inmates across the country. She has served on a number of boards and was a founding board member of two non-profit mental health corporations. She has served on CARF's International Cultural Diversity Advisory Group and International Standards Advisory Committee and on numerous federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's initiatives, projects, webinars, and planning committees. She has traveled a long road from being labeled and institutionalized as a teenager with chronic schizophrenia to traveling the country as an educator and advocate for systems change while inspiring audiences to think differently about the personal, organizational and social dynamics of recovery, inclusion and liberation. She is passionate about her vision of an America where every individual is respected and embraced as a valued member of the community. She has an M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology and is an artist who has awakened to the power of creative expression as a tool to transform society.