Jane Walker, Executive Director

Jane A. Walker is a licensed social worker, mother of five children and the first Executive Director of FREDLA. Ms. Walker’s second oldest daughter, Cathy, developed mental health needs as a young child and was sent out of state to residential care at age 12 because, at the time, services were not available in Maryland. As a result of that experience, Ms. Walker has devoted her life to improving services for children with mental health needs and their families.  She was a founding member of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health in 1989 and served as President of the Federation Board of Directors for two years. In 1999, she founded the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health and served as Executive Director for 14 years. In January 2014, Ms. Walker became the first Executive Director of FREDLA. Ms. Walker is the recipient of numerous awards for her advocacy and leadership in children’s mental health.

Contact Jane at:  jwalker@fredla.org

Millie Sweeney, Deputy Director

Millie Sweeney holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, is the mother of two daughters, and has worked in the children’s mental health field for nearly twenty years. Spanning the child-serving systems, she has direct experience in navigating systems with and on behalf of families, advocating at both the individual and policy level, and building collaborations with professionals and systems. For twelve years, she operated as a member of the management team within a large statewide family organization, participating in the administration of six system of care sites and managing up to twenty local and statewide programs. She specializes in grant and program development, staff supervision and training, curriculum development, and systems of care. Over the past decade, Millie has assisted organizations and states with system of care and family driven program development, consulted nationally on certification and family support services, offered curriculum and training on a variety of topics related to children’s mental health and participated on policy-making groups at the state and national level to advocate for family voice and choice in child-serving systems.

Contact Millie at: msweeney@fredla.org

Malisa Pearson, Project Coordinator

Malisa is the parent of two boys; both who have specialized behavioral health care needs. She brings over 15 years of direct experience navigating systems, advocating for services, and partnering with professionals on behalf of her own child and family’s needs. Ms. Pearson’s fourteen years of experience, leadership skills, public speaking abilities, partnership and collaboration efforts, and training skills, have made her a highly respected individual in the family-run organization and family driven care movement. Malisa brings her first hand involvement working with systems of care, collaborating across service systems, developing peer to peer parent to parent support service programs and developing diversified budgets that includes the blending of state and local contracts, foundation funds, state and federal grants, and Medicaid. During her numerous roles over the past decade, she has worked as a Lead Family Contact for a federally funded system of care community, served as the Statewide Parent Support Partner Coordinator to implement Michigan’s certified parent to parent support services program, and served as the Executive Director of Michigan’s statewide family network.

Contact Malisa at: mpearson@fredla.org

Sireyia Ratliff, Project Coordinator

Building on her experiences as the parent of a daughter with behavioral health care needs, Sireyia Ratliff brings substantial expertise at the community, state, and national level; working with diverse communities as a consultant, technical assistantjavascript:ajaxSubmitwidget("cs_pb_image","363") coordinator, and program manager.  She spent 20 years in the military as a member of the United States Air Force where she led the development of training programs, policies, and procedures for staff and management. Ms. Ratliff has firsthand experience providing training and technical assistance to a variety of grantees and projects, including the Statewide Family Network under SAMHSA. She has spent nearly two decades working across California to cultivate youth and parent leadership, developing peer to peer training, implementing support services, and enhancing county and community-based collaboration and partnerships.  Sireyia has successfully orchestrated projects and programs that were government and foundation funded, including the Stigma and  Discrimination Reduction efforts of the California Mental Health Services Authority, the California Mental Health Services Oversight  and Accountability Commission, and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Contact Sireyia at sratliff@fredla.org

Peggy Nikkel, Project Coordinator

Peggy raised a son who struggled with emotional and behavioral disorders and this experience launched her into the field of family support and advocacy for children’s mental health. She served UPLIFT (Wyoming’s Statewide Family Network and Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health) as their executive director for 16 years. During her tenure with UPLIFT, Peggy developed contract management skills and visionary leadership to grow this small family organization of 3 part time employees working from one office with an annual budget of $60,000 to a statewide organization with an annual budget of $3.7 million. Staff grew to 27 employees working from 6 regional offices to better serve families in a large rural and frontier state, allowing for cultural appropriateness in each region. Peggy has over fifteen years of experience serving as a consultant and providing technical assistance to other family organizations in addition to representing the family voice on numerous state and national initiatives. She has experience with program development, managing diverse funding sources, multiple programs, data collection, and reporting for family organizations.

Contact Peggy at pnikkel@fredla.org