Intersections: A Place Where Ideas, Experiences and People Meet, July 28-29, 2017

This is the place to get all your info on our summer gathering! The event will be held at the newly opened Sheraton Hotel in Georgetown, TX. This is a unique professional development experience for Certified Peer Specialists and Certified Family Partners. The gathering will offer opportunities for both integrated learning and separate continuing education. We’ll also have a chance to wear our finery for a banquet and awards ceremony! A total of 10 (ten) CEUs will be issued to both CPSs and CFPs for the entire event. Certificates will be available at the conclusion of the conference upon submission of the conference evaluation. There is no registration fee and Via Hope will be covering the cost of hotel rooms, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. Via Hope will offer a limited amount of scholarships for travel assistance.

When: July 28-29, 2017

Where: The Sheraton Hotel 1101 Woodlawn Ave, Georgetown, TX 78628

Who: Via Hope Certified Family Partners and Peer Specialists

Registration is now closed

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Intersections: Certified Family Partner Schedule

Thursday, July 27th

5:00-7:00 Early Registration

Day 1, Friday, July 28th

7:30       Room EF   Breakfast and Registration

9:00       Room EF   Welcome and Introduction

10:00                       Break

10:30     Room JK   Compassion Fatigue: When Love is not Enough, with Cheryl Sharp

11:45     Room EF   Lunch

12:45     Room EF   Keynote - Radical Healing: Self Care and Social Change, with Naya Jones

2:15       Room GH  Viewing of Paper Tigers (part 1)

3:15                         Break

3:45       Room GH  Viewing of Paper Tigers (part 2)

5:00                         Free time

6:30       Room JK   Banquet and Award Ceremony

Day 2, Saturday, July 29th

7:30       Room EF   Breakfast

9:00                         Regional Breakouts with Certified Peer Specialists

              Room CD  Regions 1 and 2

              Room GH  Regions 3 and 4

              Room JK   Regions 5 and 6

10:30                       Break

11:00     Room C     Breakout option 1: Essentially Me with Alicia Wilson

              Room B     Breakout option 2: Exploring the Benefits of Self-Care: Make and Take

11:00     Room D     Breakout option 3: Let me Show you who I am! with Tammy Wheeles

12:00    Room EF    Lunch

1:00     Room GH   Town Hall: Developing CFP Leadership

2:00                         Break

2:30       Room GH  DE stressing the UM guidelines for Family Partners with Marisol Acosta and Christianna Hale

3:30       Room EF   Closing and sign out for CEUs

4:00                          End


Intersections: Certified Peer Specialist Schedule

Thursday, July 27th

5:00-7:00 Early Registration

Day 1, Friday, July 28th

7:30       Room EF   Breakfast and Registration

9:00       Room EF   Welcome and introduction

10:00                        Break

10:30     Room EF    Leading From our Whole Selves, with Darlene Nipper        

11:45     Room EF    Lunch

12:45     Room EF    Keynote - Radical Healing: Self Care and Social Change, with Naya Jones

2:15       Room D      Breakout option 1: Centering: Stress Reduction and Self Care for Peer Support Specialists, with Shawn Kent

              Room JK    Breakout option 2: Leadership Styles, with Darlene Nipper

              Room C     Breakout option 3: The Power of Stories to Heal, with Manuel X. Zamarripa

              Outside      Breakout option 4: Yoga under the trees, with Betsy Bunt

3:15                         Break

3:45       Room EF   Which Comes First, the Chicken of the Egg?  Understanding the Intersection Between Trauma and Mental Health  Challenges with Cheryl Sharp

5:00                         Free time

6:30       Room EF   Banquet and Award Ceremony

Day 2, Saturday, July 29th

7:30       Room EF   Breakfast

9:00                         Regional Breakouts with Certified Family Partners

              Room CD  Regions 1 and 2

              Room GH  Regions 3 and 4

              Room JK   Regions 5 and 6

10:30                       Break

11:00     Room EF   Intersections of Identity and Wellness, with Shane Whalley and Maisha Barrett

12:00     Room EF   Lunch

1:00       Room EF   Town Hall with the Via Hope PIR Unit and Executive Director, Dennis Bach

2:00                         Break

2:30       Room A     Breakout option 1: Surrendering to Play: A non-Dancer’s Guide to Expressively Moving your Body with Panda Landa

              Room JK   Breakout option 2: For Writing Out Loud: A Zine Workshop with Lanie Duro

              Room B     Breakout option 3: Playback Theatre Skills and Tools with Bess Green and Paul Normandin

                                Option 4: Self-care time on your own

3:30       Room EF   Closing and sign out for CEUs

4:00                         End




Radical Healing: Self Care and Social Change with Naya Jones

This experiential keynote explores the radical potential of self-care for ourselves and for broader social change. We will reframe self-care as more than individual, with a focus on social justice and relationship building. This keynote will invite participants to explore self care from three perspectives: personal, interpersonal, and collective. Self-inquiry will be our guide. In addition to providing content, the interactive session will invite self- and group-reflection through drumming and storytelling, storysharing and visioning. Every exercise and tool shared during the keynote is one participants can take with them. 

Naya Armendarez Jones, PhD is an ecstatic facilitator, action educator, and holistic practitioner based in Austin, TX. She is co-founder of Food for Black Thought, an initiative that promotes food justice through action education and advocacy. As owner of RootWork, she facilitates meditation workshops with community partners. Naya is a geographer whose academic research focuses on community-based food and healing networks. She has conducted fieldwork with Black communities in the United States and Mexico. Naya holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Texas-Austin. She is trained in trauma-informed yoga therapy and Reiki, among other mind-body modalities. She blogs about bridging scholarship, activism, and healing work at


Plenary Session for CPS

Leading From our Whole Selves with Darlene Nipper

We will discuss the importance of diverse perspectives and styles of leadership. Darlene will help us to examine the notion of leading from our whole selves and why this is important for those of us with lived experience with mental health challenges. In particular, we will celebrate the diversity of leadership styles and types needed to achieve human evolution, equity and liberation for all people.

Breakout for CPS

Leadership Styles with Darlene Nipper

It takes all types! What's your style and how do you effectively work with others whose styles are different than yours? We will do interactive exercises using the Interpersonal Leadership Styles approach to exploring our individual approach to leading and learn how this could impact teams and organizations.

With over 25 years of leadership and advocacy experience, Darlene joined Rockwood in 2012 as a member of the training team. She previously served as Deputy Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, Executive Director of the BET Foundation, founder of the Multicultural and International Outreach (MIO) Center, Chief Operating Officer at NAMI, and Director of LGBT Affairs in the Executive Office of the Mayor of D.C. Darlene, a native Washingtonian, is also an ordained interfaith minister, practices mindfulness meditation and yoga, and has practiced both near and far, including in India and the Bahamas.


Plenary Session for CFP

Compassion Fatigue in Family Partners:  When Love is not Enough with Cheryl Sharp

Session Description:  All of us understand on some level that we need to put our own oxygen mask on first.  What we often fail to remember is that addressing Compassion Fatigue only through a short term plan of getting from one crisis to the next does not keep us at our best, for ourselves, our families and those we serve.  In this session, Cheryl Sharp, MSW, ALWF will engage us in thinking about how we integrate self-care into all areas of our lives. 

Plenary Session for CPS

Which Comes First, the Chicken of the Egg?  Understanding the Intersection Between Trauma and Mental Health Challenges with Cheryl Sharp

Session Description:  The research is clear that adverse life experiences especially Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact a person mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually.  98% of those receiving mental health services have experienced trauma.  The neurobiology of trauma and its impact continues to shape how view our work and our need to move to trauma responsive practices.  In this session we will explore that impact and how it shows up in our work and in the lives of those we serve and how we can provide appropriate supports for people struggling to move from hurt to hope.

Cheryl Sharp, MSW, ALWF, Exclusive Consultant for Trauma Informed Services and Suicide Prevention, National Council for Behavioral Health. Cheryl holds the unique perspective of a person who has recovered  from significant mental health challenges, a trauma survivor, a family member of a loved one who died as a result of mental health challenges, and a provider of substance abuse and mental health services. Sharp has worked with adult trauma survivors for over 30 years and trains and speaks internationally on trauma-informed care and suicide prevention. She has worked as a hospice/medical social worker and as a director of social services for a skilled nursing facility and is an ordained minister. Sharp is a national Mental Health First Aid Trainer, a Master WRAP Trainer, and a trainer of Intentional Peer Support. She received a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Voice Award in 2015 for her work and personal stories educating the public about behavioral health and the Lou Ann Townsend Courage Award for her contributions to persons with psychiatric disabilities. As an exclusive consultant to the National Council’s Trauma-Informed Care Learning Communities, Sharp has led over 700 organizations in the implementation of trauma-informed care. 



Plenary Session for CPS

Intersections of Identity and Wellness with Shane Whalley and Maisha Barrett

This workshop is a candid conversation about personal journeys on the mental health effects of communities of historically oppressed people, with a focus on race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It will also focus on the external and internal stressors present in navigating systems of wellness

Shane Whalley, LMSW, is a social justice educator and consultant. Ze facilitates workshops on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identities, social justice frameworks and cultural humility. Shane received hir’s Master’s degree in Social Work at UT. Ze is an Adjunct Faculty member at the School of Social Work. Shane was previously the Education Coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Center at UT and worked as a psychotherapist in several non-profits in Austin.

Maisha Barrett has been working in the nonprofit sector for seven years. Her educational background includes psychology, women’s studies, human services, music therapy, and art. She received her BA from St. Edward’s University in 2009. Six of her years in the nonprofit sector involved crisis intervention, and four years have focused on domestic violence and sexual assault. She has facilitated trainings and presentations in a professional setting for three and a half years. She currently works as the community education training specialist at SAFE.


Plenary Session for CFP

Screening of the film Paper Tigers

Set within and around the campus of Lincoln Alternative High School in the rural community of Walla Walla, Washington, Paper Tigers asks the following questions: What does it mean to be a trauma-informed school? And how do you educate teens whose childhood experiences have left them with a brain and body ill-suited to learn?

In search of clear and honest answers, Paper Tigers hinges on a remarkable collaboration between subject and filmmaker. Armed with their own cameras and their own voices, the teens of Paper Tigers offer raw but valuable insight into the hearts and minds of teens pushing back against the specter of a hard childhood.

Against the harsh reality of truancy, poor grades, emotional pain, and physical violence, answers begin to emerge. The answers do not come easily. Nor can one simply deduce a one-size-fits-all solution to a trauma-informed education. But there is no denying something both subtle and powerful at work between teacher and student alike: the quiet persistence of love.



Plenary Session for CFP

DE stressing the UM guidelines for Family Partners with Marisol Acosta and Christianna Hale

In this presentation, Marisol will help Family Partners understand the UM guidelines and how they impact our services as well as our centers.

Marisol Acosta is a Program Specialist V and Project Director for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). As the Project Director of the Texas Children Recovering From Trauma Initiative (TCRFT) of the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) Section of HHSC she oversee and direct the initiative that aims to a statewide trauma informed care behavioral health systems transformation. As a Program Specialist V, she is responsible for the implementation of evidence-based and promising practices in childrens mental health services statewide.

Christianna Hale is a parent, Certified Family Partner and Social Worker with 10 years of service as a Family Partner. Christianna is parent to a 16 year old son with co-occurring developmental and mental health disorders. Christianna works at the Health and Human Services Commission in the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services Unit. Her key initiatives are workforce development and technical assistance for Certified Family Partners, inclusion of family voice across systems and Wraparound fidelity across the state. Christianna’s mental health experience with her son began in early childhood and continues with a new focus on high school and transition services.  Christianna joins her lived experience with her background in Social Work to ensure best practices in mental health care and recognition of family voice throughout the State of Texas. Her goal is that all children and families in Texas have the resilience they need to achieve mental wellness. 


Breakout for CPS

Surrendering to Play: A non-Dancer’s Guide to Expressively Moving your Body with Panda Landa

In this workshop, we will explore our bodies, and the language they want to speak. With fun exercises and loose structures, we will move our bodies improvisationally, and give them the reverence and the non-judgment that they so much desire. We will approach movement with pure curiosity and play. You don't have to be a "dancer" to be here, but my hope is that you will leave calling yourself one.

When a body moves, it communicates beyond language. It allows a deeper release of emotions that you might not even know were there. Here you will find time and space to connect with yourself and others, and to playfully explore what it means to communicate without words and to surrender to your own curiosity.

No previous experience is necessary. Opportunities for solo and group work will be incorporated throughout the workshop. Physical touch is not a requirement to participate. Any form of physical touch must be verbally consented to during the workshop. Wear whatever you like to move in.

Panda Landa is a non-binary artist, spiritual coach, and educator. They are really interested in the intersection of gender, creativity, spirituality, vulnerability and movement. They have a dedicated improvisational movement practice for Instagram, a profound curiosity for people and their stories, a humble connection to their emotional depths, and a deep desire to connect at a heart level. They experience the privileges related to having a middle-class upbringing, being perceived as a cis white female, and no disabilities. See their work at


Breakout Session for CPS

For Writing Out Loud: A Zine Workshop with Lanie Duro

A zine-making workshop focused on the process of creating zines as a method of witnessing, healing, and sharing stories. Zines are small-press, non-commercial publications that are often personal in nature. During this workshop, we will explore benefits, pitfalls, and practical information about the production of zines. An assortment of zines, books, and art supplies will be provided to inspire and encourage participants to begin producing their own zines and exploring how to integrate the practice of zine-making in the context of peer support.

Lainie Duro has been producing, sharing, and collecting zines since 1985. At the age of 16 she created her first zine, Lime Green Bulldozers, and it changed her life. Currently, she resides in Austin, TX with her two children, two dogs, two cats, seven chickens, and the thousands of zines that comprise the Crustacean Zine Library. As a zine librarian, she provides a reading space for zine enthusiasts, conducts monthly workshops at local libraries, and promotes the benefits of participating in the small press, independent publishing community.


Breakout Session for CPS

Centering: Stress reduction and self care for Peer Support Specialists with Shawn Kent

We will discuss and experience simple techniques that can reduce stress, protect us from secondary trauma and prevent burnout. The session will cover mindfulness, relaxation, breathing and basic stretching for Peer Specialists, as well as perspectives on burnout prevention.

Shawn Kent has a Masters in counseling, is a licensed massage therapist, and a certified Yoga instructor. He has spent the last six years studying mind body therapy and providing yoga therapy groups for youth in Juvenile Detention. Shawn specializes in mind body integration and teaches yoga as a practical wellness discipline. He encourages students to practice both mentally and physically, teaching practical skills that can be used on and off of the mat.        



Breakout Session for CPS

Playback Theatre Skills and Tools with Bess Green and Paul Normandin

Playback Theatre uses the skill of active listening and the tools of improvisational theatre to develop and foster trust within audience members during their shows. Audience members share a story and the performers recreate the story or some facet of the tale, while the other audience members bear witness to the interaction, the story and the playback. This process fosters a trust environment between each of the audience members sharing a story, those that bear witness, and the performers. The result is a rich set of tools for growing and fostering communities and the trust that can bind them. This is a beginners workshop and participants will be able to use these tools and techniques for their own needs in different settings.

Bess Green is a founding member of Austin Playback Theatre. As an Art Therapist (and generally dramatic person) she has always valued creativity as a path to learning about self and the world. Bess learned the Playback forms from Russ Roten as a member of Austin State Hospital Playback Theatre. The forms provided structure, safety and empowerment for clients working on their recovery and empathy and community for staff working in a challenging environment. Bess currently works as an Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor in Cedar Park, Texas.

Paul Normandin is a member of Austin Playback Theatre. Paul is a regular Improvisational Performer and Storyteller and can be found around town on stage and off doing bits or telling stories to unsuspecting people. Paul is a Senior Advisor and Project Management Professional for the State of Texas. Paul took up performance at the age of 48 in hopes of forestalling old age. He remains unsuccessful.


Breakout Session for CPS

The Power of Stories to Heal with Dr. Manuel X. Zamarripa

The telling and sharing of stories can be healing for our past and current soul wounds. Narratives can play a powerful role in how many of us navigate and shape meaning in their lives. Participants will learn basic principles regarding the benefits of storytelling for mental wellness; learn to recognize how family and societal stories can be limiting in our identity development; and learn how to recognize the strengths and positive aspects of family and individual life stories

Dr. Manuel X. Zamarripa is a Counseling Psychologist, a Licensed Professional Counselor & Supervisor, and an Associate Professor and Program Director of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at South University in Austin. His primary focus has been with issues of cultural identity and acculturation in mental health. As a diversity consultant and trainer he utilizes a strength-based and culturally responsive framework. He has presented and published on multicultural and social justice issues within the fields of counseling and psychology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.


Breakout Session for CPS

Yoga Under the Trees with Betsy Bunt

Join Betsy under the trees of Rivery Park for yoga.

Betsy Bunt, Person Centered Recovery Planning Program Coordinator. Betsy received her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010. Her social work experience prior to Via Hope has included inpatient mental health, hospital social work, community mental health, outpatient counseling, and eating disorder specific therapy. Outside of work, Betsy’s main passion involves practicing and teaching yoga. She is a 200 hour Certified Yoga Instructor and regularly teaches several classes a week at a studio in Austin. Betsy is excited to share her love of yoga any opportunity that she gets!

Breakout Session for CFP with Alicia Wilson

Essentially Me

Have you ever walked through a lavender or rose field and enjoyed that uplifting floral aroma? Or peeled an orange and felt refreshed by its fragrance? This is the splendor of the aromatic qualities found in essential oils, yet aromatherapy is simply just the beginning of their magic. Essential oils are aromatic compounds extracted and distilled from various aspects of plants, providing innumerable therapeutic benefits. Essential oils can help with self-care. Learn about essential oils then make a roller of essential oils to take home.


Breakout Session for CFP

Let me show you who I am! with Tammy Wheeles

Tammy Wheeles a CFP from Center for Health Care will host a workshop "I AM".  In this workshop we will make a collage representing "who we are, how we see ourselves and what we might want for our daily lives and our future.”  It gives us a chance to dream.  These motivational posters are used as a visual to inspire hope.  Learn the unique way to make posters to show your unique self while learning how to apply this into a support group activity.


Breakout Session for CFP


In this make and take session we'll be exploring the benefits of self-care. More info to come!

Intersections: A Place Where Ideas, Experiences and People Meet, July 28-29, 2017