Staff List

Chacku Mathai

Chacku Mathai, CPRP, STAR Center Director

Chacku Mathai is an Indian-American, born in Kuwait, who got involved in mental health and addiction recovery advocacy when he was 15 years old. Chacku’s personal experiences as a youth and young adult in mental health and addiction recovery in New York launched Chacku and his family towards a number of efforts to advocate for improved services and alternative supports in the community.

He has since accumulated over thirty years of experience in mental health and addiction community based services in a wide variety of roles from youth leadership and community organizing to executive and board management.

He currently serves as the Director for the STAR Center, one of five National Technical Assistance Centers funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the overall program is to provide technical assistance to facilitate the restructuring of the mental health system by promoting recovery and consumer directed approaches.

Prior to joining the STAR Center, Chacku was the Associate Executive Director for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) and an implementation partner for the New York State Center of Excellence for the Integration of Care (CEIC), the SAMHSA Northeast Addiction Technology Transfer Network (NE-C ATTC), the SAMHSA Recovery to Practice Resource Center for Behavioral Health Professionals and the SAMHSA Bringing Recovery Supports To Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS-TACS). Chacku was also appointed to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Credentialing Board and served as a founding board member and advocate for Friends of Recovery – New York, a statewide coalition of people in recovery from addiction. He is also a former member of the Commission that oversees the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) Certification Program for Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioners (CPRP). Chacku was also a National Advisory Councilmember for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and continues to provides advisory leadership and support for a number of national projects.

Chacku is regularly invited to train across the country on youth leadership development, health and wellness activation, building collaborations across addiction and mental health recovery communities and systems, peer support, cultural competence, employment and economic self-sufficiency, organizational and community leadership, systems advocacy and implementing exemplary, integrated practices in supporting wellness and recovery for people with psychiatric disabilities, diagnoses, trauma related conditions and co-occurring substance use conditions.

Tanya Ryder, M.Ed., STAR Center Project Manager

Tanya joined the STAR Center Team in January 2013. As the Project Manager, she provides daily management in the planning and implementation of STAR Center events, resources, systems, products and communications.

Tanya's experience with underserved and multicultural communities has included her work with the Department of Family Services for Fairfax County Government, the Hispanic Committee of Virginia and Disaster Services for the American Red Cross.

Tanya holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Sociology from Trinity University-Washington and a Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University. 

Her passions are her faith and her family. As a person in mental health recovery, these are her cornerstones.


Contact Us:


Chacku Mathai, CPRP, Director

Tanya Ryder, M.Ed., Project Manager

Toll-free: (866) 537-STAR (7827)

                (703) 312-7887


3803 N. Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 222-3