Find Help, Find Hope!

Our Distinguished Panel of Speakers

Pic - Rachel WafordRachel N. Waford, PhD

Assistant Professor, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health

Rachel N. Waford, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia.  She is currently an Assistant Professor in Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and the School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  Dr. Waford also has private practice in Decatur, GA specializing in individual and family treatment for severe mental illness, with an emphasis on early intervention for young people with psychosis.  She is also involved with a number of community organizations in the Atlanta area to promote early intervention and recovery, education, and advocacy.

A proponent of recovery in all forms and at all stages of the illness, Dr. Waford assists patients and families toward this goal.  Dr. Waford is co-author of The Psychosis Response Guide: How to help young people in psychiatric crises, a text designed to guide and empower non-mental health professionals to assist in psychiatric crises with the goal of early engagement and intervention, and long-term recovery.


Pic - Keith Kantor

Keith Kantor, PhD

CEO & Founder of NAMED Program

Dr. Kantor has been an advocate of natural food and healthy living for 30 years.  In 1994 he was appointed CEO of Service Foods, Inc., the largest all natural food company of its kind in the United States. He is currently the CEO and Founder of the NAMED Program, which frees people from addiction through nutrition.

Dr. Kantor has a PhD in Nutritional Science, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and a Doctorate in Business Entrepreneurship. He also holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Chemistry.

Dr. Kantor has is the premier doctor correlating nutritional food science with preventing and mitigating disease.  He has chaired the Natural Products Committee requested by Congress on product criteria and label specifications for all natural foods in the United States as well as the Blue Ribbon panel requested by Congress on lowering health care costs in the United States. He is on the Board of Directors and Vice President of the All Natural Food Council of North America, a 55 year-old 501c3 that helps govern the all-natural food industry. He is also on the Communications Committee for the Natural Products Association, a 75 year-old 501c3, that is the voice of the natural products industry and works very close with Congress.

Dr. Kantor has been an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps since 1976, and still serves in the reserves. He has been married for 39 years to Karen DeFiore Kantor.


Pic - Warren Sparrow

Warren Sparrow, BS, MSW

Executive Director, The Reed House

Warren Sparrow has a BS in Rehabilitation Science; is a Master of Social Work, and a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner.  He began working in the mental health field for a county run mental health center in 1990 and has continued in this field to this day. Warren is the only person in the world to have worked in five Clubhouse Model programs, having started four from scratch, three of which were the first in their respective states.

A Clubhouse Director plays a unique role, being the primary administrator and clinician for such organizations.  Warren has maintained direct contact with consumers all of these years and can be called upon to support a person on the job, providing job coaching, in between meetings with Commissioners, private donors and Boards of Directors.

He has been driven by the needs of people with severe mental illness.  Helping people realize their own strengths, find purpose, and to lead productive and fulfilling lives is what gets him out of bed each day and keeps him going.  This is needed more in Georgia than any of the five states and two counties he has worked.


Pic - Rev Alexis Chase

Rev. Alexis Chase, M.Div.

Vicar, Holy Comforter Episcopal Church

Rev. Alexis Chase started at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in September 2014. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light. Originally from Kentucky, although she hasn’t lived there since high school, Rev. Chase admits that the rolling hills and un-populated farm land of Kentucky will always hold her heart. She is married with a son and a very large dog. Rev. Chases shares that “she digs Jesus” and likes talking about God. She was an English Major in college and has her Master of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary and her Anglican Studies Certificate from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Founded in 1893, Holy Comforter Episcopal Church is a diverse worshiping community in the heart of Atlanta that seeks to restore all people to unity with God & with each other. About 60% of this congregation lives with mental illness, and everyone participates in the life of this community.  Individuals gather for the Friendship Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Friendship Center is an inclusive community that promotes the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of adults marginalized by mental health challenges and by poverty. Liz Mitchell serves as the Wellness and Recovery Coordinator for Friendship Center.


Pic - Steven Hunt

Steven Hunt, Psy.D

Region Director, Briggs & Associates

Steven Hunt is a leading expert in the field of Supported Employment. Steven began his work with Briggs & Associates as a career specialist and currently serves as a Region Director for Floyd, Bartow and parts of Cobb and Paulding counties. During his tenure with Briggs & Associates, he has proven to be very successful in both securing employment for individuals with disabilities as well as helping them to maintain those jobs.  Steven serves as a lead trainer for new staff within Briggs & Associates as well as expert trainer of staff from other agencies. Steven earned a Doctor of Psychology degree from the University of The Rockies, with an emphasis on Mental Health Administration.  When asked, Steven said his greatest passion is supporting individuals in reaching their full potential in life.


Pic - Wendy Martinez Schneider

Wendy Martinez Schneider, MS, LPC

CEO Behavioral Health Link- GCAL Director

Wendy became CEO in June of 2015. She has held several leadership roles with BHL since 2005 including Mobile Crisis Director, Director of Community Services, and Chief Clinical Officer. A Licensed as a Professional Counselor with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. she has over seventeen years of behavioral health experience in direct service and administration in both the public and private sectors. A compassionate leader with strong interpersonal, supervisory, and clinical skills, she is dedicated to responsible stewardship of public funds and consumer access to and receipt of quality behavioral health services.

As a certified NAMI Family to Family Educator, Wendy stays abreast of current legislation and advocacy initiatives and has worked diligently in multiple professional and personal capacities to encourage consumers and their families to educate themselves about behavioral health issues and the systems in place to serve them.


Pic - Brenda Smeeton

Brenda Smeeton, J.D.

Attorney & Criminal Records Program Director, Georgia Justice Project

A graduate of Bucknell University and the Georgia State University College of Law, Brenda joined Georgia Justice Project in 2010.  She manages the direct service component of Georgia Justice Project’s Criminal Records Program.  Brenda represents clients who have been denied employment, housing, or benefits as a result of their criminal history. Over the last few years she has traveled around Georgia speaking to thousands of people with a criminal history, service providers, and attorneys about barriers to reentry and criminal records.  She has worked actively on criminal justice reform issues for over 15 years.

Brenda has successfully argued before the Georgia Supreme Court and has represented clients on appeals in superior court, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the Georgia Supreme Court. She is the co-author of “A Guide to Understanding and Correcting Criminal Records in Georgia.”


Pic - Kim Grier

Kim Grier, B.AS., M.Ed.

Adult Guardianship Specialist, Georgia Department of Human Services

Kim Grier has over 25 years diversified experience in the field of aging.  She is currently the Adult Guardianship Specialist with the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services.  Prior to joining the Division of Aging Services as Public Guardianship Coordinator, Kim was an Assistant Program Director for the Georgia Centenarian Study, ran her own guardianship services business, and developed and implemented programs for the Georgia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Kim has presented both locally and nationally on aging issues, including consumer direction, dementia and guardianship and is now a certified Mental Health First Aid trainer. She is a past president of the National Guardianship Association (NGA), received the NGA President’s Award in 2013, co-chaired the 3rd World Congress on Adult Guardianship in May 2014; she currently sits on the National Resource Center for Supported Decision Making advisory board. Kim holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Gerontology from the University of Guelph, Canada, and a Master of Education in Adult Education from the University of Georgia.


Pic - Owen Dougherty Owen Dougherty, MSOD, MA, M.Div.

Deputy Executive Director, Georgia Council on Substance Abuse

Owen Dougherty grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Philosophy from Temple University in Philadelphia, Master of Divinity and Master of Christian Ethics degrees from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and a Master’s Degree in Organization Development from Loyola University Chicago.

Owen is currently working as the Deputy Executive Director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. In this capacity, he coordinates the Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist (CARES) Program and has worked on additional recovery initiatives, including a pilot program for Recovery Foundations Training with substance use treatment providers throughout Georgia and coordination of a contract to provide cultural competence training to people receiving and providing services for substance use and mental health challenges throughout Georgia. The Council works closely with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health, the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network and the Georgia Parent Support Network among other advocacy organizations.

Owen has worked in ministry as the Associate Director of a Retreat and Conference Center in Citrus Heights, CA, as a Senior Consultant for Baxter Healthcare in Deerfield, IL, an Executive Director at Career Transitions Center in Chicago and a Director at WBKearney Inc. in Alpharetta, GA providing consulting and technical assistance to Child, Youth and School Services of the US Army.

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