Experts on the panel who will share research-and-practice-based practices for supporting mental health, thereby providing a ready toolkit of strategies for all leaders to utilize, include:

  • Ms. Donna Ambrogi: Co-founder, Kyle Ambrogi Foundation

 

  • Mr. Gregg Blender: Assistant Chief, Mental Health Special Defense Unit  Gregg Blender has worked as an assistant public defender for the last thirty-one years.  During this period, Mr. Blender has worked in nearly every department at the Defender Association of Philadelphia.  He has tried numerous jury trials including capital homicide and insanity cases.  He has spent the last eight years in the Mental Health Special Defense Unit, the last five as the Assistant Chief.  He has supervised staff while maintaining his own heavy caseload of clients charged with criminal offenses facing behavioral health challenges.  Mr. Blender has lectured extensively on Mental Health Law at law schools, universities, professional organizations, continuing education and in-house training.  Mr. Blender first caught the bug for mental health law many years ago while working on the case of United States v. John Hinckley, Jr. while a law clerk at the United States Attorney’s Office Special Prosecution Branch in Washington D.C.  

 

  • Ms. Marissa Marschall: Pennsylvania Regional Director, Minding Your Mind  Marissa Marschall received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Delaware where she developed a passion for helping youth cope with life’s challenges. She attended Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine where she earned a Master’s in Counseling and Clinical Health Psychology. As a licensed professional counselor, Ms. Marschall provided therapy for youth and adults struggling with mental illness and addiction in outpatient, residential, and inpatient settings. She has conducted behavioral health assessments to students in Philadelphia schools and referred them to appropriate counseling services. Previously, Ms. Marschall supervised a therapeutic after school program aimed to divert youth from entering the juvenile justice system. Ms. Marschall is now the Regional Director for Minding Your Mind which is an organization aimed to reduce the stigma of mental health and increase help seeking behaviors through mental health education programs. 
  • Dr. Gregory Nicholls: Director, Counseling and Psychological Services at Saint Joseph’s University

 

  • Ms. Akeesha Washington: K-12 School Counselor for the School District of Philadelphia