Pat Hunt, FREDLA Executive Director 

Pat Hunt is the executive director of FREDLA, the national Family Run Executive Director Leadership Association, a non-profit union of leaders of grassroots family-run organizations across the nation. Along with her lived experience as a parent, Pat brings over 25 years of experiences as an advocate for children with behavioral health needs and their caregivers. During this time, she had extensive experience overseeing both federal and state grants and served as the founding director of a family-run organization.

Pat has provided technical assistance in 42 states regarding policy issues that affect children’s behavioral health. Her skilled facilitation has helped families, state and local leadership develop and sustain best practices through local systems of care for children, adolescents and their families. Her leadership at a Managed Care Organization advanced national recognition and solution building in arenas such as the appropriate use of psychotropic medication with children and youth, and with outcomes and efficiencies associated with preventing undue reliance on out-of-home care.

Pat’s experience includes over 10 years in a corporate leadership role at Magellan HealthCare to advance best practices for children, youth and their families and to ensure that their experiences informed policies, practices and program development. She previously held a senior leadership position as a conduit for local grassroots experience to inform national policy decisions at the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. She has served as a VISTA Volunteer; directed a federally funded rural substance abuse prevention project; managed a statewide family-run organization, served as president of the Maine’s mental health planning council and was the only non-state employee member invited to the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet.

Pat served as a member of the steering committee for Georgetown University’s Communities Can Leadership Academy and as faculty to several Policy Academies & Training Institutes. Pat was appointed by the President of Maine’s Senate to a Legislative committee charged with oversight of landmark legislation for children and youth with behavioral health challenges and is a past nominee for both the Robert Woods Johnson and Lewis Hine Awards for Service to Children and Youth.

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Jane Walker, Senior Consultant

Jane A. Walker is a licensed social worker and the mother of five children. 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. Ms. Walker served as the first Executive Director of FREDLA from January of 2014 through December of 2018. Ms. Walker is the recipient of numerous awards for her advocacy and leadership in children’s mental health.

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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.

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Malisa Pearson, Project Coordinator

Malisa is the parent of two boys; both who have specialized behavioral health care needs. She brings more than two decades 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 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.

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