MHEP Staff

MHEP Staff

Amy Colesante, Executive Director Greetings! My name is Amy Colesante and first and foremost, I am the mother of two beautiful young boys: Matthew and Daniel. There was a time when my tendencies toward perfection defined my work, but now, I have tossed my work perfections aside to pursue my quest for mommy greatness! Before my boys were born, I defined my life through my work, through the system, even through peer support. Either my life was filled with no boundaries, or the walls were too high to break down. I had a life, but felt like I had no reason to live. Today, I am defined by my passion to see the world through Matt & Danny’s eyes. Love, literally, saved my life.

Amy Colesante

I am also a former user of mental health services and a trauma survivor with a long history working as a systems change agent, both inside and outside the system. My passion is to introduce people to community organizing strategies that help them to find their voice, connect to their personal power and help them to move into their rightful place as equal citizens.

I became the Executive Director of Mental Health Empowerment Project, (MHEP) Inc. in 2005 where I lead an amazing team of people to achieve the agency’s mission of developing, nurturing and sustaining self-help related activities throughout the United States. I also bring lived experience into the mental health system by participating on many boards and committees and organizing/inspiring others to do the same. Prior to my position at MHEP, I am proud to have supported transformation efforts from inside the mental health system as the Deputy Director of the Office of Mental Health’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

So, here I am: the Executive Director of MHEP! Life without love is like a tree without fruit, and I think of MHEP as another piece of fruit on my tree. I love this agency and all that it stands for. I come to work every day and do what I love to do … help people find their passion and connect to their personal power. What more could a girl ask for?

Pam Maxim

Pam Maxim, Director of Administrative Services  A woman of many interests (and little talent), I’ve dabbled in cake decorating, card and paper crafting, crocheting and quilting, among other things. (I’m known to family and friends as the queen of unfinished projects.) I view myself as a country girl at heart and enjoy activities that keep me connected with nature: gardening, biking and walking. Reading has been a joy to me since childhood and it’s rare to find me without a stack of books at my side.

Cleaning house is my de-stressor; so, it’s no surpise that my greatest sense of satisfaction comes from bringing the organizational and administrative skills gained from my work history to MHEP.

Cleaning house is my de-stressor; so, it’s no surpise that my greatest sense of satisfaction comes from bringing the organizational and administrative skills gained from my work history to MHEP.

Bill Gamble, Statewide Trainer/Community Organizer  Bill Gamble is a resident of Montgomery, NY and a lifetime Motorcycle Enthusiast. He began riding as a child in 1970 and plans on riding until 2070. He is a Statewide Trainer and Community Organizer for the Mental Health Empowerment Project. His training background includes training peers on advocacy and related topics that range from self-help to history of the survivor movement to self-advocacy.

Bill Gamble

Marianne Briggs

Marianne Briggs, Peer Support Mentor  I come to peer support from a lifetime of rooting for the underdog, challenging authority and questioning conformity. I love finding and sharing the stories in local history and helping people remember and preserve the memory of their own experiences. In my time, I’ve written press releases, balanced budgets, conducted research, led tours, taught classes, made payrolls, and labeled natural foods. I’ve interviewed actors, musicians and artists; reviewed plays, films and restaurants for lousy pay but great meals and tickets. Some day before I am too old, I hope to travel on a trapeze.

Kathie Cascio, CPRP, Peer Support Mentor  In February 2011, I packed my many, many bags and my cat Pooh Bear and relocated from Long Island to join MHEP at The Empowerment Exchange, and follow my dreams of changing the world and making it a more equal place for all human beings! (I am not a small thinker!) I want to spend lots of time being a squeaky wheel at the Legislative Office Building fighting against all forced treatment and educating legislators about alternatives to psychiatric treatment.

When I first came to Albany I decided to take an apartment next to the neighborhood bar; how noisy could it possibly be? Within two weeks I was changing apartments with my friend: thanks – now I can sleep! I am a survivor of the psychiatric industry; I am a human rights activist. I believe everyone should have the right to participate in the communities of their choosing and be free from all coercion and force.

Kathie Cascio

I have been involved in advocacy on several levels for over ten years. I am a member of The Opal Project and We The People in Remembrance of Esmin Green. My advocacy/activist work is not just my job – it is my passion and my life’s mission. I love my family and friends – they are my lifeline – and I thank them for their continued support.

Lisa Fish

Lisa Fish  I am a middle aged Pagan woman, I love the outdoors, cooking gaming and all sorts of geeky pursuits. I live in Lansingburgh with my cat, the Grey Mouser. My mission is to change the world for the better, one person at a time.

Kathy McKnight, Self-Help Facilitator  I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and doing the self-help groups at Samaritan Hospital. When people say to me, “I’m glad you came!” it makes me feel good. I’m blessed, and I feel good about myself when I give back.

Kathy McKnight