The National Advisory Caucus is a diverse group of nationally recognized leaders from across the country who guide the STAR Center's efforts on youth leadership and developing sustainability for peer and family run organizations.
Johanna Bergan is an advocate for youth with lived experience in the mental health system who is working in the field of youth engagement to promote and encourage the inclusion of youth voice in policy change. As Youth M.O.V.E. National’s Executive Director, Johanna assists chapters of the Youth M.O.V.E. network in creating youth-driven organizations working to unite the voices and causes of youth at the local, state and national level. Johanna has eight years of experience advocating for system change and has found a deep sense of purpose in helping youth live a well life. Her voice has been present on national platforms providing technical assistance and advising on the value of youth voice.
Viviana Bonilla Lopez
Viviana is a Puerto Rico native committed to mental health and disability justice.
In 2014, she graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, earning a BA in journalism with a minor in entrepreneurship. As an undergraduate, Viviana worked in the mental health system as a volunteer, intern, and research assistant. In 2011, she co-founded Rethink: Psychiatric Illness, a student organization aimed at raising awareness about mental illnesses and increasing help-seeking behaviors among students. In this role, she spearheaded the creation of the university’s first-ever mental health advocacy training, which has attracted over 680 students. In March 2015, Viviana presented Rethink’s work at the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics’ Symposium.
In the journalism field, she has experience as a writer, photographer, videographer, researcher, translator, and editor. Her storytelling focused on health issues and the experiences of people with disabilities.
Stephanie Orlando is a founder and the Executive Director of YOUTH POWER!, a statewide network comprised of young people who have disabilities and experiences in multiple state child-serving systems. Building upon her personal experience of having received children’s mental health, special education, and residential services, Ms. Orlando began her work with youth peer advocacy in 1998 in Buffalo New York. She is dedicated to promoting positive change within child-serving systems, increasing the availability of peer support for young people and teaching youth how to advocate for their own needs and rights on all levels of service.
Ms. Orlando is a nationally recognized advocate for youth with disabilities. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Diana Vietz Award in 2008 from the National Council on Independent Living and mpower Award in 2006 from the National Mental Health Association. In 2012, Ms. Orlando was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the US Senate to the National Council on Disability for a term, which expired in November 2014.
David McClung is the youth engagement specialist at Texas System of Care where he helps to lead ACCEPT, a cross-system group of youth and young adults ages 13-25 from across the state who work together for system transformation by supporting partnerships between, youth, young adults, and organizations. David graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Baylor University with a Masters in Social Work and Master of Divinity. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work at Baylor University and hopes to graduate in 2018. His research interests include natural support systems, the role of congregations in mental health, and youth participatory action research. In his free time, David enjoys spending time with his family, keeping up with current events, reading, and watching movies.
Leah Harris, M.A., is a mother, advocate, and storyteller who has written and spoken widely about her experiences of trauma, addiction, serious mental health challenges, and healing/resilience. She is a suicide attempt survivor who works to help change our national approach to suicide prevention/intervention. She is passionate about promoting trauma-informed approaches across systems, sectors, and communities, and provides training and technical assistance with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Center for Trauma Informed Care (NCTIC). Leah is a peer integration strategist with the National Association for State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). She is also the CEO and founder of the Shifa Project, a woman-owned and operated social enterprise specializing in customized training in mind-body resilience practices and creative/expressive arts as vehicles for trauma resolution and personal and collective empowerment.