Keynote Speaker: Dr. Bea Luna,Staunton professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
She is the founder and Director of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive Development, as well as the founder and president of the Flux Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.
Dr. Luna studies brain development, examining the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the adolescent period, from decision-making to vulnerabilities to the emergence of mental illness. Her research uses multimodal neuroimaging methods including: functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Magnetoencephalography (MEG), and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). The findings from her studies have led to an influential model of adolescent development, which indicates that the brain systems supporting executive processes are available by adolescence, but are driven by neural processes supporting motivation. Her model emphasizes that adolescence is a critical period of brain specialization in which adult modes of operation are determined – underlining vulnerabilities for the emergence of psychopathology. Dr. Luna has published over a hundred peer-reviewed articles describing her innovative studies, in addition to several review papers and chapters discussing her theoretical models of development. She has received numerous awards, notably the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering. Her research has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health, and has informed US Supreme Court briefs regarding extended sentencing in the juvenile justice system. Her extensive media history also includes a cover story in National Geographic and a PBS Special with Alan Alda – “Brains on Trial”.
Heather Hallman- Special Advisor to the Secretary/ Advisor to the Governor on Food and Nutrition Programs, PA Department of Human Services
Heather Hallman joined the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) in November 2011 as the chief of staff of the Office of Children, Youth & Families and moved into her current role as special advisor to the secretary in February 2013. InSeptember 2015, she was also named the advisor to the governor on food and nutrition programs. As the advisor to the governor on food and nutrition programs, she works with six state agencies and multiple community organizations to develop a plan for eliminating hunger in Pennsylvania. Prior to DHS, Ms. Hallman was the deputy director of social services and the fiscal officer for the York County Human Services Department. She also served as the legislative liaison for State Representative Bev Mackereth. She earned an undergraduate degree in speech communications and a master’s in public administration from Penn State University.
Vince Mercuri- Executive Director, The Open Door Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Center and Crisis Intervention Program of Indiana County
Vince has been employed in the field of treating chemical dependency, mental illness, and related issues for thirty plus years. Prior to his current position he held management and clinical positions at Great Lakes Behavioral Research Institute, Pyramid Healthcare and St. Francis Medical Center.
He is a DDAP registered trainer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has conducted trainings throughout the state on various topics for over 30 years.
Vince is recognized on a state and national level, having been acknowledged by the National Association of Mental Health Program Directors and the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors for developing a model program for the treatment of co-occurring mental health/substance abuse disorders.
Vince has been interviewed and featured on many television programs, radio shows, and newspaper articles regarding today’s social issues and related problems.
Brandi Phillips- CEO, Allegheny HealthChoices
Ms. Phillips is the Chief Executive Officer at Allegheny HealthChoices, Inc. (AHCI), where she and her team support local government agencies, providers, family members, and individuals with experience using services in a collective effort to improve the community behavioral health system.
With over twenty years of experience in health care and human services, Ms. Phillips has expertise in financial modeling, budgeting and contract negotiations. By leveraging these technical skills with her knowledge of behavioral health policy, she leads AHCI in advancing evidence-based practices and supporting innovative solutions to meet the needs of the community.
Ms. Phillips holds a Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Economics and Policy Studies from Syracuse University. Prior to her current position, Ms. Phillips served in a number of operational and financial roles at AHCI, and previously worked as a practice administrator, managing multiple primary care physician practices for a large health system.
In her personal time, Ms. Phillips sits on a number of boards of directors in the social services field. Along with two other women, she founded the Pittsburgh chapter of 100 Women Who Care in 2015, a giving circle intended to provide impact one-time donations to local charities. When she’s not spending time with her husband, she loves shoe shopping, baking, and sharing her practice as a certified yoga instructor.
Brinda Penyak- Deputy Director, County Commissioners Associations of PA; Executive Director, PA Association of County Human Service Administrators
Currently serves as the Deputy Director of the County Commissioners Association of PA (CCAP), formerly the Director of Government Relations for the Association. As Deputy Director, Brinda heads up the policy division at CCAP including the government relations activities, and the work of our six human services affiliate associations. She serves as the chief lobbyist for CCAP and affiliates, and is liaison to the CCAP Human Services Committee, the CCAP Courts and Corrections Committee, the Committee on Criminal Justice Systems Best Practices for the 21st Century, Liaison to the CCAP Comprehensive Behavioral Health Task Force, and Co-Chair for the Department of Corrections County/State Liaison Committee. Prior to joining CCAP, she was the CCAP Director of Government Relations beginning in 2003, and the Director of Government Relations for the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. From 1978 until 1995, she held various positions in the State Senate, including senior staff to State Senator Hardy Williams, and Executive Director of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.
David Rizzo, LCSW, Program Manager of Women’s Behavioral Health Program at West Penn Hospital
He received his graduate degree in clinical social work from Boston College in Massachusetts. His special interests include depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and adolescent emotional health. In addition, he’s participated in research focused on the screening of postpartum women for depressive disorders. In his spare time, David enjoys outdoor activities, including gardening and fishing.
Bawn Maguire, MSN, RN- Programmatic Nurse Specialist, Magee Hospital of UPMC
She has worked in the field of high risk obstetrics for over 38 years. She began the Maternal Methadone Conversion Program at Magee in 2002 in response to the closure of an area hospital and opened the Therapeutic Nursery at the same time. Since 2002 she has seen the women with substance use program grow to include the Pregnancy Recovery Center /Womens Recovery Center and the Parent Partnership Unit.
Kara Mackinson Peters, LSW, MPH- Transition Care Coordinator/Social Worker, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
In her role as transition care coordinator, Peters participates in the hospital-wide Task Force 13 which aims to improve the process by which patients with complex health need transition from pediatric to adult care. Peters co-leads the Transition Readiness Quality Improvement project which implements transition “vital signs” and readiness assessments with patients to promote patient self-efficacy around their health and health care transition.
Peters serves a field instructor with a Health Resources and Services Administration grant for the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, which aims to address the development and expansion of the substance-abuse and mental health workforce. Peters supervises master’s students completing field placements through this grant within the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, specifically with training and development in the Integrated Health Care Model. This workforce will support behavioral health needs of children, adolescents, and transitional-age persons 16–25 years old who are at risk for mental illness, substance abuse, and suicide and who are among the least likely to seek continuous help.