Plenary speakers for the 28th Annual Research & Policy Conference

October 17, 2014

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Scroll down to review the list of confirmed plenary speakers (more to come!)

Making Behavioral Health the 21st Century Movement 

The Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy, former US Representative, Rhode Island; Co-Founder, One Mind for Research & Founder, Kennedy Forum

  • In this era of health care reform, the behavioral health field is undergoing a significant transformation and Patrick Kennedy is advocating to address the disconnect between mental wellness and physical wellness. In this presentation, Patrick Kennedy paints a compelling portrait of the importance of bringing leaders in the areas of policy, finance and practice together to identify solution-based strategies for ensuring a strong behavioral health system for all Americans. 

kennedyRepresentative Patrick Kennedy served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is predominantly known as author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This dramatic piece of legislation provides tens of millions of Americans who were previously denied care with access to mental health treatment.

Now, Rep. Kennedy is the co-founder of One Mind for Research, a national coalition seeking new treatments and cures for neurologic and psychiatric diseases of the brain afflicting one in every three Americans. One Mind for Research is dedicated to dramatic enhancements in funding and collaboration in research across all brain disorders in the next decade. This historic grassroots endeavor unites efforts of scientists, research universities, government agencies and industry and advocacy organizations not only across the country, but throughout the world. Rep. Kennedy is bringing everyone together to design the first blueprint of basic neuroscience, to guide efforts in seeking cures for neurological disorders affecting Americans.

Rep. Kennedy is the founder of the Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health which served as a vehicle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the Community Mental Health Act, the landmark bill that laid the foundation of contemporary mental health policy and provided Rep. Kennedy with the platform to launch a bold, ongoing effort to advance the work President Kennedy began. The Kennedy Forum continues to advocate for mental health parity.

Rep. Kennedy has authored and co-sponsored dozens of bills to increase the understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act, the COMBAT PTSD Act and the Alzheimer’s Treatment and Caregiver Support Act.

Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults: Highlights from an Institute of Medicine/National Research Council Report

Maryann Davis, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School; John Schulenberg, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Research Professor, Institute for Social Research and Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan; Mark Courtney, Ph.D., Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago; Jennifer Collins, Student, University of Maryland College Park

  • Young adults are at a significant and pivotal time of life. They may seek higher education, launch their work lives, develop personal relationships and healthy habits, and pursue other endeavors that help set them on healthy and productive pathways. However, the transition to adulthood also can be a time of increased vulnerability and risk. Young adults may be unemployed and homeless, lack access to health care, suffer from behavioral health issues (i.e. mental health or substance abuse issues) or other chronic health conditions, or engage in binge drinking, illicit drug use, or driving under the influence. Young adults are moving out of the services and systems that supported them as children and adolescents, but adult services and systems—for example, adult behavioral health care systems, the labor market, and the justice system—may not be well suited to supporting their needs.

    This interactive session will focus on the October 2014 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report on the health and well-being of young adults. The report summarizes what is known about the behavioral and physical health, safety, and well-being of young adults and offers recommendations for policy, programs, and research. It was prepared by a multidisciplinary committee with expertise in behavioral health, public health, health care, social services, human development, psychology, neuroscience, demography, justice and law, sociology, economics, the private sector, family studies, and media and communication.

davisMaryann Davis, Ph.D., is a research associate professor with the Center for Mental Health Services Research in the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. She is also director of the Learning and Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (Transitions RTC). Dr. Davis is an internationally recognized expert on services for transition-age youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. Her focus is on improving treatments and services for this population that help support the development of adult role functioning during the transition from adolescence to mature adulthood. She has examined the ways in which policies and practices support or impede the healthy development of this unique age group. Dr. Davis’s work also emphasizes the development of evidence-based interventions that can improve this population’s transition to adulthood, including facilitation of mental health and related treatment, as well as interventions that reduce criminal behavior and substance abuse while supporting the successful completion of education and training and movement into mature work life.

markMark E. Courtney, Ph.D., M.S.W., is a professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He also has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin (1992-2000) and University of Washington (2007-2010). His fields of special interest are child welfare policy and services, the connection between child welfare services and other institutions serving families living in poverty, and the transition to adulthood for vulnerable populations. He is a faculty affiliate of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, for which he served as director from 2001 to 2006. He was a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy from 2003 to 2010. Dr. Courtney received the 2010 Peter W. Forsythe Award for leadership in public child welfare from the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators and in 2012 was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. He obtained his M.S.W. and Ph.D. degrees from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley. 


John Schulenberg, Ph.D., is professor of developmental psychology, research professor at the Institute for Social Research and Center for Human Growth and Development, and associate director of the Survey Research Center, all at the University of Michigan. He has published widely on several topics concerning adolescence and the transition to adulthood, focusing on how developmental tasks and transitions relate to health risks and adjustment difficulties. His current research is on the etiology and epidemiology of substance use and psychopathology, focusing on risk factors, course, comorbidity, and consequences during adolescence and the transition to adulthood. Dr. Schulenberg is co-principal investigator of the national Monitoring the Future study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), concerning substance use and psychosocial development across adolescence and adulthood. He collaborates on two international interdisciplinary projects involving several long-term studies addressing key questions about life-course pathways. His work has been funded by NIDA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), NICHD, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For these and other institutes and foundations, he has served on numerous advisory and review committees, including as chair of the NIH Psychosocial Development and Risk Prevention Study Section. He also serves on several editorial boards and for guest-edited special issues of AddictionApplied Developmental ScienceDevelopment and Psychopathology, and Journal of Longitudinal and Life-course Studies. He is a fellow of the APA and president-elect of the Society for Research on Adolescence.

jenniferJennifer Collins is a junior undergraduate at the University of Maryland in College Park, majoring in Family Science. She has been an active member of Montgomery County All Stars, which focuses on improving child and adolescent health in Montgomery County. She has also spoken at numerous forums regarding her experiences as a transitioning youth in the mental health system, most recently at the Tools for System Transformation for Young Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities conference art Georgetown University. She is also a 2009 winner of the Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program.

Integrating Mental Health through School-wide Systems of Positive Behavior Support

Lucille Eber, EdD, Director, IL PBIS Network, School Association for Special Education in DuPage County  

Increasing access and effectiveness of mental health supports through schools is a national priority supported by all federal and local youth serving agencies and departments. In 2009, leaders in Education and School Mental Health initiated the development of an Interconnected Systems Framework for embedding evidence-based mental health practices within multi-tiered behavioral systems in schools.  Building on the effective school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) framework being implemented through multiple USDOE initiatives, the Interconnected Systems Framework provides a structure and process for expanding the continuum of effective interventions provided to youth through blended school/community teams. This session will describe the history and rationale for this blended framework and provide local examples of community and school leaders and practitioners designing, delivering and monitoring an expanded continuum of evidence-based practices. 

About the Presenter 
lucilleLucille Eber, EdD is Director of the Midwest PBIS Network, and a Partner with the National PBIS Technical Assistance Center. Dr. Eber provides support and technical assistance for implementation and research and evaluation of school-wide PBIS in Illinois and multiple other states and districts around the country. This includes integration of mental health in schools, implementation of wraparound, wraparound-based RENEW and interagency initiatives for students with or at- risk of Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities (EBD). From 1993-2005, Dr. Eber was Director of the IL EBD Network, focusing primarily on wraparound supports for students with EBD. School-wide PBIS was initiated through the IL EBD Network in 1998 and was formerly renamed the IL PBIS Network in 2005 and transitioned to the IL-Midwest PBIS Network, a regional technical assistance hub of the National PBIS TA Center, in 2014. 

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