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Bridging the Gaps Annual Conference

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NAMI Rhode Island’s Bridging the Gaps Annual Conference brings together heroes and allies in the mental health community. Discuss the issues side by side with consumers, family members, mental health professionals, advocates, legislators, volunteers and friends.

When: Wednesday, May 10, 8 am – 4 pm

Where: Providence College, Slavin Center. GPS directions: 251 Huxley Ave, Providence, RI 02908. Accessible by RIPTA Bus 55. For directions to Providence College, visit this page.

This full-day conference features keynote presentations and more than a dozen workshops with panelists and presenters from across Rhode Island’s mental health community. The theme is “Heroes and Allies: Changing the Conversation.”


Click here to register online.  Tickets are $20 for General Admission and free to NAMI Members. Box lunches can be purchased in advance for $15/each.

If you purchase a NAMI membership when you select your ticket, you are eligible for free admission. Regular NAMI memberships are $35 and Open Door NAMI memberships (for individuals with limited income) are $3. Please remember that lunch is not included in the price of admission and must be purchased separately.

Register by mail: Download the Bridging the Gaps Registration Form and mail with your payment to NAMI RI, 154 Waterman St., Suite 5B, Providence, RI 02906.


Bridging the Gaps is made possible by our generous sponsors, who have enabled us to keep admission prices extremely low so that we can promote access, regardless of ability to pay. Our thanks to:
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Schedule of Events

8 to 8:45 am – Registration
8:45 to 9 am – Welcome with remarks by Tom Martin, Associate Director of Behavioral Health Services, RI Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH)
9 to 9:45 am – Keynotes by Dr. James Sullivan, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical officer, Butler Hospital; NAMI Family member Jean Marandola; and NAMI RI Peer Program Manager Jeremiah Rainville, CPRS
10 to 11 am – Workshop Block One
11:15 am to 12:15 pm – Workshop Block Two
12:30 to 1:30 pm – Black History Event: “A Tribute to the Mental Health Care Achievements of Former President Barack Obama” featuring Senator Harold M. Metts; Representative Raymond Hull; Gabe Amo, Director of Public Engagement, Office of RI Governor Gina Raimondo; Felicia Delgado, Parent Support Network; Jim Vincent, President, RI NAACP, with a welcome by NAMI RI Program and Event Coordinator Annette Joseph, CPRS
1:45 to 2:45 pm – Workshop Block Three
3 to 4 pm – Heroes & Allies: Changing the Conversation Group Discussion

Workshop Block One: 10 – 11 am

Building Allies in the Mental Health Community
How do we build allies in the mental health community? What can we learn from other minority groups, such as the LGBTQ community, about how to create allies? Panelists: Joe DiMauro, Project Fearless; Melissa Fundakowski, NAMI RI Connection Recovery Support Group Facilitator; Jayna Klatzker, LICSW; Chris Lauth, Executive Director, Youth Pride RI; and Michele Paliotta, LICSW. Moderated by Michael O’Rourke, NAMI RI Board Member.

Mental Illness and the Media
Explore the opportunities and challenges associated with reporting on mental health issues, featuring Lisa Colonel Lewis, Executive Director, Parent Support Network of Rhode Island; Mary Harrington, freelance writer; G. Wayne Miller, staff writer, The Providence Journal; and Professor John Pantalone, Chair, Harrington School of Communications, University of Rhode Island. Moderated by Dave Bainer, NAMI RI Board Member.

Navigating RI’s Mental Health Care System
Let’s identify the barriers to appropriate mental health care and brainstorm ways to avoid the roadblocks. Panelists: Sarah Fleury, LICSW, CPHQ, Lead Behavioral Health Clinical Program Specialist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island; Tom Martin, Associate Director of Behavioral Health Services, BHDDH; Jim McNulty, Executive Director, MHCA/Oasis RI; Navarre Patry, NAMI RI Volunteer; John Rego, Program Director, Harbor House; Yuri Tomikawa, Founder,;  and Karen O’Hara, RN, NAMI RI Board Member. Moderated by Lori Cragan, NAMI RI Board Member.

Finding Balance with Yoga
Are you searching for an alternative way to calm waves of anxiety and emotion? Using the support of a chair for sitting and standing in yoga poses, you’ll practice with breath, movement, chanting and meditation. Presented by Janet Larson, MS MA CCC-SLP, CYT, Certified Yoga Therapist.

Workshop Block Two: 11:15 am – 12:15 pm

Handcuffs or Hospital
How we can build a system that appropriately diverts people experiencing a mental health crisis toward treatment instead of prison. How can families and police work as partners to prevent crisis? Panelists: Bradley Brockmann, JD, Mdiv, Executive Director, The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights; Megan Clingham, RI State Mental Health Advocate; Brandee Crowley, MA, CAGS,  QMHP, LMHC, Court Clinician, The Kent Center; Meagan LeBeau, NAMI RI Office Manger; Officer Steve Turner, Taunton Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team; Rep. Aaron Regunberg and AT Wall, Director of RI Department of Corrections.

See It Through My Eyes
Individuals living with mental illness share their stories of challenge, hope and recovery. Join us and learn how to share your own story. Presented by Penny Ferrara, NAMI RI Manager of School and Public Programs, with NAMI members Courtney Bumsch, Melissa Fundakowski and Janice Vashon.

The Role of Faith Communities in Mental Health
Join this interfaith discussion on how faith communities can help to diminish the stigma of mental health. Presented by Peggy Matteson, PhD, RN-BC, Faith Community Nurse and Minister of Congregational Health with the Rhode Island Conference of the United Church of Christ; with Christine King, Executive Director of the Interfaith Counseling Center and Steve Hollaway, Pastor of the Harbor Church and President of NAMI Block Island.

Issues and Obstacles in Mental Health Today
Discover and discuss the major issues and legislation facing the mental health community today, from the Olmstead Act and parity to diversion and “gap” kids. Presented by Ruth Feder, Executive Director, Mental Health Association of Rhode Island.

Black History Luncheon Event: 12:30 – 1:30 pm
A Tribute to the Mental Health Care Accomplishments of Former President Barack Obama
Featuring presentations by Senator Harold M. Metts; Representative Raymond Hull; Gabe Amo, Director of Public Engagement, Governor Gina Raimondo’s Office; Felicia Delgado, Parent Support Network; Jim Vincent, President, President, Providence NAACP. With remarks by Annette Joseph, NAMI RI Program and Special Event Coordinator, and Karen Jacques, NAMI RI Volunteer.

Workshop Block Three: 1:45 – 2:45 pm

The Healing Power of Advocacy
Healing can take place when individuals living with mental illness and their family members step up to become advocates. Explore your own path toward healing through advocacy. Panelists: Marcia Boyd, NAMI RI Board Member and Advocacy Committee Chair; Ken Howells, NAMI RI Advocacy Committee; Stefanie Kaufmann,  Founder of Projects LETS; and Eliza Lanzillo, former leader of Active Minds at Brown University.

Healthy Transitions for Youth
How do we address the unique needs of 16- to 25-year-olds who are at risk of developing a serious mental illness or first episode psychosis, many of whom fall through the cracks of our behavioral healthcare system? Presented by the Health Transitions Team, RI Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).

Mental Illness and the Arts
Explore the therapeutic power of music and the visual arts. Presented by Alison Longo, Register Art Therapist, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and Supervisor of the Department of Psychology at Eleanor Slater Hospital; and David Hirschberg, Board Certified Music Therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

Innovations in Treatment and Care
What are the emerging trends in the treatment and care of mental illness? Learn about innovative treatments, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, and hear from consumers who have benefitted from new approaches. Panelists: Ian Lang, Executive Director, Continuum Behavioral Health; Dr. Richard Miller, RWM Consulting; Dr. Michael Wolfe, Program Director, Young Adult Partial Program, Butler Hospital; a consumer, and a family member.

Mental Health on the College Campus
How can colleges promote mental health, fight stigma and create a positive environment for students living with depression, anxiety and other conditions? Presented by Dana Dillon, PhD, Professor of Moral Theology, Providence College, and President of NAMI Rhode Island, with a team of colleagues and students from Providence College.

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