Taking Charge Speakers
Rachel Cooper is a mental health advocate and peer support specialist. Rachel’s experience living, and thriving with mental illness informs her passion for supporting others who are experiencing challenges.
Rachel’s peer support training includes: OPDI’s Peer Support Core Essentials™ Training Program, Peer Zone Facilitator Training, WRAP 1 & 2 and ASIST. Rachel has spoken at the CBC, the University of Toronto and at numerous high schools across the city. She has consulted on projects involving the co-creation and co-delivery of educational curricula and frequently facilitates classes and workshops for both peers and professionals.
Pam is a Certified Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist and a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with a specialty in teaching yoga to children. Pam began her yoga journey in 1993 after her doctor advised Prozac would be part of her daily life unless she “found something else” to deal with the stress of her job.
As circumstances would have it, “The Today Show” had a segment with Ali Macgraw talking about her challenges with depression and how practicing yoga had literally “saved her”. Intrigued, Pam picked up the VHS of Ali’s video with yoga master Erich Schiffmann, popped it in the machine and was hooked! The results were astonishing and, inspired to learn more, Pam began her yoga studies seeking out Erich, and other master teachers. In 2004, Pam began to teach children with special needs at The Key School in Alexandria, VA, and most recently taught in a Durham Region school, as well as at a Community Care Day program for older adults. This summer, Pam will be attending Ayurvedic Graduate School at the Himalayan Institute and plans to open a private practice.
Deputy Chief Michael Federico
Deputy Chief Federico has served 42 years with the Toronto Police Service and is currently in charge of Operational Support Command which is comprised of three core functions: Operational Support Services, Corporate Risk Management, Audit & Quality Assurance. Included in his portfolio is the responsibility to help lead the Toronto Police Service’s response to the needs of those with mental health concerns, and to establish and maintain liaison with the agencies that support and serve them.
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He supports the Toronto Police Service Board Mental Health Committee and community consumer associations such as the Empowerment Council, and Voices From the Streets; the Toronto Human Services and Justice Committee; and the Toronto Mental Health and Justice Network. In each of these forums the police, service providers, and consumers discuss matters of mutual concern including police training, equipment, tactics and relationships.
Currently, one of the special assignments Deputy Chief Federico leads is the Toronto Police Service’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT). This program teams a police officer in selected divisions with a mental health nurse from one of the partner hospitals to respond to non-criminal incidents involving emotionally disturbed persons at the request of the Primary Response Units (PRU).
In addition to his regular police duties Deputy Chief Federico is the Co-Chair of the Use-of-Force Advisory Committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and the Use of Force Advisor for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), among others.
Deputy Chief Federico is a Member of the Order of Merit of Canada and a recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal.
Larissa Fleurette Ho is a writer who has recently published a book called “Becoming Silver Girl”, a raw portrayal of her experiences in a mental health unit at the age of sixteen. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, during which time she wrote for the campus newspaper, the Medium, and was the Editor-in-Chief for the UTM creative non-fiction literary journal, Mindwaves. She will continue to pursue her talent and passion as a writer in the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.
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She graduated in June 2015 from the University of Toronto with a bachelor of arts in English and professional writing and communication. During her undergraduate years, she wrote for the Office of Advancement at UTM, the VP Research Office, worked at the campus newspaper, the Medium, and as the Editor-in-Chief for the UTM creative nonfiction literary journal, Mindwaves. She will go on to complete an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia—after which she will travel the world. She enjoys storytelling more than anything else in life and spending time with family and friends.
Dr. Joseph Geraci
Dr. Joseph Geraci is a mathematical physicist whose research focus includes cancer and psychiatry. He is currently a scientist at University Health Network, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and an associate professor at Queen’s University. Dr. Geraci develops mathematical systems that allow computers to learn what treatments are optimal for patients who suffer from major depressive disorder and Schizophrenia in order to improve their lives.
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Dr. Joseph Geraci is a mathematical physicist with academic experience in both cancer and psychiatry. He is a scientist at the University Health Network, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and an associate professor at Queen’s University. Dr. Geraci develops mathematical systems that allow computers to learn what treatments are optimal for patients who suffer from major depressive disorder and Schizophrenia.
He is involved in ushering in the era where physicians will be able to tailor treatments for patients depending on data obtained from brain scans, blood tests, and questionnaires. These efforts require a broad understanding of biology, a deep knowledge of computation and mathematics, and the collaboration between physicians and basic scientists. What does a person’s genome tell us about how they will respond to medication? What course will their disorder take? What does the way a person interacts with Twitter or other social media tell us about these same things? Dr. Geraci is fascinated by all the hidden information embedded in our biological machinery and the data that we strew about as we interact with the world and he intends on developing systems that will help make sense of it in order to improve people’s lives.
Dr. Hahn’s research interests lie in the complex interplay between mental illness, antipsychotic treatments, and cardiometabolic risk, with a special interest in diabetes. She currently is the principal investigator on a clinical trial examining a pharmacological intervention for younger patients with psychosis and glucose abnormalities. She co-leads the Mental Health and Metabolic Clinic at the CAMH, which specializes in metabolic monitoring, and interventions for metabolic risk factors in individuals with serious mental illness.
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Dr. Hahn’s research interests lie in translational work focused on the complex interplay between mental illness, antipsychotic treatments, and cardiometabolic risk, with a special interest in diabetes. Given the early accrual of metabolic risk leading to a 20% reduction in life expectancy for patients with schizophrenia, she has an interest in early episode individuals and prevention strategies.
She currently is the principal investigator on a clinical trial examining a pharmacological intervention for younger patients with psychosis and glucose abnormalities. She co-leads the Mental Health and Metabolic Clinic at the CAMH, which specializes in metabolic monitoring, and interventions for metabolic risk factors in individuals with serious mental illness. From a translational perspective, Dr. Hahn oversees a basic science laboratory that studies underlying mechanisms of antipsychotic-related metabolic disturbances and their attenuation.
To learn more about Dr. Hahn, please visit her web page.
Dr. Samim Hasham
Samim Hasham obtained her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Pharmacy from Robert Gordon University, Scotland, her Master’s in International Health Leadership from McGill University, and her Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of Colorado. She has been involved in community pharmacy, and specifically with mental health, for over 25 years and is the owner of Morrish Pharmacy in Scarborough, Ontario. She is the satellite pharmacist for the New Dimensions, East Metro, and Scarborough Hospital ACT programs. Samim is the recipient of the Spirit of Belonging Award from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Toronto for her outstanding commitment and dedication in the area of mental health.
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Samim was instrumental in initiating ACT Now, a weight loss, healthy living, and fitness challenge program for CMHA and helped develop the Medication Management Standards for CMHA Toronto’s successful application to Accreditation Canada. She runs a number of smoking cessation and diabetes clinics for patients with mental illness often utilizing the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). She is also involved in community-level Primary Health Care and Chronic Disease Management initiatives, with previous hospital pharmacy experience in ICU, nephrology, and transplant units.
Samim frequently presents at community, local, regional, and international conferences, including at the Toronto District School Board. She recently delivered a web lecture on Clinical Pharmacy Practice in Psychiatry for the University of Florida’s graduate degree program.
Samim is a board member of the Central East LHIN Health Professionals Advisory Council and Self-Management Advisory Council for CCAC, and a member of the Human Justice Services Coordinating Committee for Scarborough and the Scarborough Addictions Services Providers. She is excited to be on the Pharmacy Team for the upcoming Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
Mami Ishii is a “Delicious Life” mentor, educator, speaker, writer and a licensed Naturopathic Doctor. With a long-standing passion for the integrative holistic care, she practices combining various therapeutic modalities and understandings including Naturopathic medicine, music therapy, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, aromatherapy, metaphysics, and Reiki healing. Synthesizing the modern scientific understanding of mind-body-spirit medicine with the ancient wisdom of traditional healing practices, she enjoys working together with her clients and their families and communities to reconnect, restore, and flourish their authentic self and share the joy together.
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After completed her training in music therapy at the University of Miami, she worked as a crisis counselor in Toronto and Japan, and as a research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Then she competed her medical degree at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. She is a co-director of the Integrative Mental Health Centre of Toronto where she practices. She has also served as a project coordinator for the Clinical Cultural Competence Consultants, a consultant for the Asian Initiative in Mental Health Program at the Toronto Western Hospital, and a lecturer at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and the Mahidol University in Thailand. Pioneering the wellness concept of “Delicious Moments”, she has written articles and conducted a number of workshops and presented at conferences locally and internationally, including Diversity and Equity in Mental Health and Addiction Conference 2015, International Congress of Naturopathic Medicine 201, and Intercultural Counselling and Education in the Global World Conference 2013.
Pat Jacklin is a CPA, CMA and the Chief Financial Officer of GoodLife Fitness, a position she has held for the past 14 years. Pat’s 28 year old son was diagnosed with Schizophrenia 9.5 years ago. She is looking forward to sharing a unique combination of fitness industry knowledge and the latest research about the benefits of exercise for both body and mind, along with her family’s personal experiences living with mental illness.
An advocate for change in the mental health and addictions, and Aboriginal communities, Diane works tirelessly to bring together innovative organizations and individuals, who provide, promote and pioneer residential and community-based care in Canada. Diane currently services as the Executive Director of the Residences of 1425 Bayview, a private residential and programming model for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness in Toronto. Diane is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a Career & Life Coach, a past member of the Peel Multi-faith Community and proud co-founder of the Peel Aboriginal Network.
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Diane Marshall has served as Executive Director of the Residences of 1425 Bayview since 2008. The Residences of 1425 Bayview is a private, independent living housing model in Toronto for those with serious mental health challenges. Their philosophy recognizes that family, faith and community in an environment which is both professional and holistic is integral to facilitating wellness and recovery.
Diane’s extensive experience in Human Resources and Program Development spans both public and private sector in the aboriginal and mental health communities.
Mental health and addictions is particularly close to her heart. In Montreal in the 1970s, her family helped to found Portage, which has become a recognized international model of therapeutic community for addiction treatment. As an advocate for creating positive change in the mental health and addictions community, she now works to bring together and create a platform for innovative organizations and individuals, who provide, promote and pioneer residential and community-based care in Canada.
Deeply committed to social change and the environment, Diane’s career choices have always been informed by organizations and work for which she has a passion. She has actively sought out opportunities to facilitate innovative learning and collaborative partnerships. She has worked with myriad environmental and faith-based organizations to expand global community as well as developing and participating in international symposia, spiritual learning circles and peace vigils.
Diane is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a Career & Life Coach. She is a past member of the Peel Multi-faith Community and proud co-founder of the Peel Aboriginal Network.
At 24 years old, Bill was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He found himself trapped in a world of illusions, delusions, paranoia and depression. He lost his friends, his home, and his will to live. After six hospitalizations and three different group homes, Bill was able to regain control of his life with the help of medication, therapy, the support of his loved ones. He has since become a prominent mental health advocate who travels North America to share his story. Bill is also a successful business owner as the founder of Magpie Publishing Inc., which publishes SZ Magazine, a quarterly magazine intended to bring hope and information to people affected by schizophrenia.
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From Fort Erie, Ontario, at 19 Bill was working in Singapore as a commercial scuba diver on oil rigs in the South China Sea. The future looked bright but five years later, Bill was living a nightmare. Bill was 24 years old when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and found himself trapped in a world of illusions, delusions, paranoia and depression. He lost his friends, his home, and his will to live, attempting suicide once. After six hospitalizations and time spent in three separate group homes, Bill knew something had to change if he ever wanted to triumph over the disease and regain control of his life.
With the help of medication, therapy, and the support of his family and a new network of friends, Bill took slow but steady steps on the road to recovery. He embraced new opportunities by volunteering and getting involved with community projects.
Within a year, Bill launched his business, Magpie Publishing Inc., and published his first Canadian issue of SZ Magazine, a quarterly magazine intended to bring hope and information to people affected by schizophrenia. Since Magpie’s debut in 1994, Bill has prided himself on his work as a mental health advocate to help those who struggle with schizophrenia, just as he once did. In addition to producing SZ Magazine, Bill travels throughout North America to give inspirational talks about how he pulled himself from the depths of depression to become the successful businessman, husband and father he is today.
Bill is also the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his dedication to mental health and recovery. Please see Bill’s website to learn more.
Dr. Gary Remington
Dr. Remington is Professor of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, and Schizophrenia Lead, Division of Brain and Therapeutics, University of Toronto. He is also on faculty at U of T’s Institute of Medical Science, School of Graduate Studies, and Department of Psychological Clinical Science. Clinically, he oversees the Subspecialty Clinics for the Schizophrenia Program within the Complex Mental Illness Division, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, where he is a senior scientist in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.
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Dr. Remington presently combines teaching with basic and clinical research focused on the treatment of schizophrenia as it applies to the pharmacology of antipsychotics and clinical decision-making. He has received external funding from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), Research Hospital Fund–Canada Foundation for Innovation, Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMI), Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO), Ontario Mental Health Foundation (OMHF) and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). He has co-edited a text on brain mechanisms of psychotropic drugs, published 19 book chapters and over 300 refereed articles.
Marvin Ross is a family member who expanded his medical writing into advocacy and publishing when his son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the late 1990s. In 2008, he wrote Schizophrenia Medicine’s Mystery Society’s Shame which was endorsed by the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders. His company, Bridgeross Communications, publishes a number of books on schizophrenia which have been endorsed by NAMI in the US and EUFAMI in Europe.
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Three of his titles have been recommended by Dr E Fuller Torrey and three by Healthyplace.com. His author, Sandra Yuen MacKay (My Schizophrenic Life) won the Courage to Come Back Award in Mental Health in BC in 2012. She was also one of the Faces of Mental Illness in Canada that same year. Dr Carolyn Dobbins (What A Life Can Be) was awarded the Spirit of the Americans With Disabilities Act Award in Knoxville in 2012.
He is a regular blogger on mental illness for the Huffington Post and has his own blog called Mind You which he writes with a psychiatrist. In addition to producing two documentaries on schizophrenia, Dr E Fuller Torrey, in his latest edition of the classic Understanding Schizophrenia A Manual For Families, called him “one of the leading Canadian advocates for individuals with serious psychiatric disorders”.
Dr. Michael Sarin
Dr. Michael Sarin is involved in a number of academic and community projects that seeks to address the correlation between Schizophrenia and health outcomes, such as diabetes. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, and a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of UK, an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, University of Toronto and is currently Program Physician and Diabetes Educator for Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle Program for Cardiac and Diabetes Programs at University Health Network / Toronto Rehab Institute.He emphasizes an “exercise as medicine” model in the prevention of diseases resulting from sedentary lifestyle.
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Dr. Michael Sarin is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, and a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of UK. He is a general Internist and a Certified Diabetes Educator with the Canadian Diabetes Association. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, University of Toronto and is currently Program Physician and Diabetes Educator for Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle Program for Cardiac and Diabetes Programs at University Health Network / Toronto Rehab Institute.
Dr. Sarin is member of working and research group of EPION(Early psychosis intervention in Ontario). The mandate of EPION is to improve health outcomes in youth with first episode psychosis through knowledge sharing. Dr.Sarin is a member of Schizophrenia society of Ontario which has a mandate to educate, advocate and support those living with schizophrenia and their families. He has designed an outreach program to increase capacity within the community mental health system in Ontario to promote physical activity and healthy eating for people with serious mental illness to support recovery.
Focus of his research is use of “exercise as medicine” in prevention of diseases resulting from sedentary lifestyle. He has made presentations at various Expos of Canadian Diabetes Association for which he receive award of “Health Professional of the Year” in 2009.
Martin Sumner-Smith PhD is a senior advisor with MaRS Health Venture Services, where he advises early digital health start-up ventures. He is particularly interested in how technological developments with empower people to take a more active role in the management of their own health, and how technology is transforming healthcare.
Originally trained as a molecular biologist, he worked in the biotechnology industry, and later in bioinformatics and enterprise software, holding executive, research management, marketing, communications, public relations, business development and licensing roles. As an entrepreneur, Martin has founded several start-up companies.
Since graduating from the University of Saskatchewan in 1992, Wende Wood has worked in several hospitals and community pharmacy settings in Ontario and Saskatchewan. A highly sought after speaker, Wende frequently speaks to a wide variety of groups, from community organizations, allied health professionals, the media and university students, on topics including psychiatric medications and substances of abuse, drug interactions and reducing the stigma of concurrent disorders. In 2002, she became the first person in Ontario (tenth in Canada) to achieve the designation of Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist. In March 2012 she became Education Pharmacist at the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association.
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Wende graduated from University of Saskatchewan in 1992, and then moved to Toronto where she completed a residency in drug information. She has worked as a staff pharmacist in general hospital, psychiatric hospital and community pharmacy settings in Ontario and Saskatchewan. She joined the pharmacy staff at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in January of 1999, where she was Drug Information and Drug Use Evaluation Pharmacist. More recently she was Education Pharmacist at the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association. In 2002 she became the first person in Ontario (tenth in Canada) to achieve the designation of Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist. She is also a Lecturer with the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto.
A highly sought after speaker, Wende has given over 400 presentations, speaking frequently to a wide variety of groups, from community organizations, allied health professionals, the media and university students, on topics including psychiatric medications and substances of abuse, drug interactions and reducing the stigma of concurrent disorders. She has also been interviewed by the publications such as the Globe and Mail, National Post, Chatelaine, Canadian Living, Macleans and Best Health magazines, and has appeared on national and international television speaking on everything from crystal meth, beer, to medications and shopping, and has been seen by million viewers. When her friends and family see that a story about mental health or addictions is going to be on the news, they have been heard to remark that she will probably be interviewed as ‘the expert’. Her YouTube Channel has over 500,000 views.
Further information regarding Wende can be found at her website.
Ms. Purple Yip is a family worker in the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario’s (SSO), Early Psychosis Intervention Program. She is also the co-ordinator of SSO’s family education program, Strengthening Families Together. Purple is a registered psychotherapist and a pre-clinical fellow of marriage and family therapy with fifteen years of experience working with teenagers and adults with mental health and substance use issues.
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Purple holds a B.A (Hon) degree in Business Studies from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and worked in marketing for the first ten years of her career. In 2003 Purple came to Canada to pursue studies in theology and counselling. She graduated from Tyndale University College and Seminary in 2007 with a Master of Divinity and a major in counselling. Since then, Purple has worked as a mental health worker and addiction therapist in several organizations.
Purple’s passion is to empower people with mental health challenges to live full lives and to provide education to families and friends in supporting recovery.