Destination Dignity Summit 16 | The Carter Center | Monday, August 15

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The Carter Center, Atlanta August 12, 2016


Destination Dignity Inaugural Summit: August 15, 2016 The Carter Center – Atlanta, Georgia #DDSummit16; Call in * Dial 1-866-398-2885 (USA Toll Free) Enter Code: 851-630-6835#


(A) To convene leadership across stakeholder groups into dialogue to clarify and galvanize a collective national agenda for change grounded on social justice, dignity and recovery, and

(B) to advance/ refine directions for a national stigma/discrimination reduction program that supports such directions. Summit


1. Consolidate Destination Dignity collective action framework

2. Identify functional intersections between prevention, health equity, public & institutional stigma

3. Create draft domains and indicators for a US national Mental/Behavioral health strategy 4. Envision, refine, expand Destination Dignity Theory of Change

Program for the Day 9:00 Gather & Networking (Coffee and snacks provided)

9:30 Welcome: Destination Dignity Strategy Circle (10) Why And Why Now; Rebecca Palpant-Shimkets (10) Charge for the day: Collective Mind Map Framework (Vega) (15) Flash Introductions; Debbie Plotnick (20) Flipping the Script to Recovery– The Destination Dignity! Project: Eduardo Vega

10:30 Seeing the Big Picture: National Strategies, Rights & Recovery, Health Equity and Social Justice Devorah Kestel; Glenda Wrenn; Mark Salzer; Michael Pietrus

11:25 Break/Transition to Workgroups

11:35 Work Session A: Neuroplasticity – What will it look like when we get there?

12:50-1:30 Break and Working Lunch: Feedback from Work Group Session I

1:30 Afternoon Session Convene and Focus

1:40 The Fulcrum of Change: Structural Stigma, Cultural Variability and National SDR Programs Palpant Shimkets, Pietrus, Bernice Pescosolido, Ginger Lerner-Wren, Larry Yang 2:40 Break -Transition to Workgroups

2:50 Work Session B: Spreading Activation: an SDR Theory of Change for America

4:05 Lever and Fulcrum: Consolidating goals and commitments 4:25 Appreciation and Close

4:30 Adjourn Special thanks to the Carter Center Mental Health Program and to Summit Sponsors:


Coming Home

Orlando, BlackLivesMatter, rage and unrest in the streets of Baltimore where I reside up near Johns Hopkins University, and laying in excruciating pain for 4 days and nights sweating, from ER to hospital, seeing ghostlike faces of death hover near me scared me.

Terribly. I thought I was going to die. The surgeons, nurses and doctors and techs thought I was going to die. I get that. Embarassingly enough, my infection grew from one small mosquitoe-bite size spider bite into my laying getting 24/7 IV of one of the world’s strongest antibiotics to knock the shit out of the infection.

Eventually, I grew stronger. No one visited me. I called no one but my Beloved and facetimed, talked, wept and I pondered how I got to ER and kept in Medstar’s Union Memorial Hospital alone, precariously close to physically dying.

It’s been nearly 3 weeks now and I’m stronger. Infection gone. No more needles pulling vile after vile of my blood, no more needle shots into my abdomen to abate terrible things, no more finger needle pricks, no more wound prods from the team of surgeons, medical students looking on, nurses running in and out. I’m better. I’m home.

What I realized while being holed up in Hospital was this:

Get better. Fight. Community. Community. Community. Support. Friendship. Trusting Colleagues. Run home quickly. Leave fast. Get there anyhow, anyway. I didn’t know how but I managed to get out and I walked wearily, slowly, to the elevator, got hugs from the nursing staff and tech team, got in the elevator, only wearing what I’d worn to ER 5 days earlier holding my white plastic bag full of wound care from Case Management, to my car, home to North Charles and went to bed, weeping, still, that I made it out and came home knowing home health nurses would continue to poke, prod, tenderly care and give me some kind of hope I could recover.

Since going All In to work for myself, there is nothing but bills piling up in my mailbox. No voice mails. No calls. No emails. No texts. No facebook messages. I recall Ayn Rand’s strength of will and hammer on and yet everything I can possibly need is provided for. I am exactly where I need to be at any one moment and NOW is what matters only.

I realized, in hospital, that my deepest love is my behavioral health Peer to Peer work and maybe I love it more than I do my own life but it kept me alive through this grueling physically painful event. It was a wake up call to take better care of my health and I am today. I must survive.

A few days later, Val Marsh and her family, and I sat at her dinner table and I’d made a lemon cake with raspberries and blueberries with lemon cream frosting and took it with me for dessert and I listened to history of her brave family. She wrote and planned for the Wednesday House Hearing on 2646 and I cold called a handful of people for social media supports. Origami, taco’s and comparing wound to wound with Eric, Val’s housemate, was lightening.

The other night, I attended a meditation online with Lauren Spiro and Rita Cronise on video and the phone and post the call, I was embarassed and then became angry over where I sit in their labeled Community. Very clear white privilege and dismissiveness of my struggle to survive being in this place enraged me and Spiro’s suggestion to me, “… change your word… struggling to something else…” and I did softly calmly facing a steep learning curve of appropriate vocabulary.  It was pompous and self-congratulatory on their part and still, I don’t care. I’m home.

I’ve come home to myself. I am a Peer. I am a brown Queer woman of color and I AM actually scared and angry as hell at the world for fucking up and exploding in this way around me. In Baltimore streets. In Atlanta parks with hangings. In Dallas with shooting inside a barrel at cops. We are all NOT “One” in this.  We fight our own battles. We walk on. We really, have nothing in common. Please don’t push your quest for wholeness and wellness (“I’m taking excellent care of myself and my body”) onto me dismissing Jen Padron’s  brown Queer psychiatric survivor sense of self. Just keep walking your own journey.

I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk this morning and quite agree knowingly, that we, “… Live out your existence here in the middle of the chain of human experience where everything is normal and reassuring and regular, but failure catapults you abruptly way out over here into the blinding darkness of disappointment.”

Gilbert strikingly kept on, “… The remedy for self-restoration,and that is that you have got to find your way back home again as swiftly and smoothly as you can, and if you’re wondering what your home is, here’s a hint:Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself.So that might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure,faith, service…” is so simply and subtly stated.

James Ruckle Analysis on US National Certification of Peer Services | Supports and Standardization

Last June 2014, Pamela Hardin and I co-authored a White Paper on US Peer Leadership and Workforce with Dr. Ron Manderscheid (Hardin & Padron, Ed. Manderscheid, 2014) editing and there is very good research, study and analysis being written on US peer supports | services around a national credential, standardization for the Certified Peer Specialist, Recovery Coach and Community Health Worker Promotora.

James Ruckle’s analysis on US national certification and credentialing is interesting to note.  I’m including the link to the entire paper for your review here:

Steve Harrington, Executive Director, of the International Association of Peer Specialists is pre-eminent in global peer services certification, standardization, development and growing. Others colleagues at work in this field at an inherent level of growing US peer leadership and a national peer workforce include Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), Patrick Hendry, National Consumer Liaison, Mental Health America (MHA) National and Susan Bergeson with Peter Ashenden, both of OptumHealth are doing work in supporting peer services | supports in an integrated health environment which is key and instrumental.

The ACMHA College for Behavioral Health Leadership Peer Leadership Interest Group (PLIG) has been instrumental in think-tanking, researching the state of the state of US Peer Leadership and a National Workforce for peer services | supports in behavioral health integration from the 2014 Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The PLIG has released a National ToolKit for consumer operated service providers (COSP’s) and providers use.

I invite your work here which is supportive of US peer leadership, a workforce development, national credentialing and standardization.  Email me at to share here.