Improving Lives

The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Conference

September 27th and 28th, 2022
8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Dena’ina Convention Center, Anchorage, Alaska

Plenary Presentations

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Serving Alaskans with Complex Needs

Participants include:

  • Kristy Becker, PhD, Director of Clinical Services, Alaska Psychiatric Institute
  • Kim Champney, MSW, Executive Director, Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities
  • Adam Crum, MSPH, Commissioner, State of Alaska Department of Health
  • Richard Ellsasser, MD, Behavioral Services Department Medical Director, Southcentral Foundation
  • Jared Kosin, J.D., M.B.A., President and CEO, Alaska Hospital & Healthcare Association
  • Nicole Nelson, MPS, Executive Director, Crossroads Counseling & Training Services
  • Steve Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (the Trust) (moderator) 
  • Anne Zink, MD, FACEP, Chief Medical Officer, State of Alaska Department of Health (moderator)
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Transforming Behavioral Health Crisis Response in Alaska

Panelists include:

  • Thea Agnew Bemben, Principal, Agnew::Beck Consulting, Inc. (moderator)
  • Michelle Baker, MBA, Executive Vice President of Behavioral Health Services,
  • Southcentral Foundation
  • Jacob Butcher, ENP, Communications Manager, Matcom Dispatch
  • Renee Rafferty, MS, LPC, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Services, Providence Alaska
  • Karl Soderstrom, CDC-S, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, True North Recovery

Keynote Speakers


Chief Medical Officer, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Ken is a double board certified adult and child and adolescent psychiatrist and is NAMI’s Chief Medical Officer. Ken has worked in many roles from early psychosis programs to assertive community treatment teams to being the commissioner of Mental Health for Massachusetts.

Ken has worked for the last year working on NAMI’s first book, “You Are Not Alone.” The book is a celebration of lived experience as expertise and is a practical resource for individuals and families who have mental health conditions. All proceeds from sales go to NAMI. Ken’s passion is fueled by his loving dad, who had bipolar disorder.


Chief Executive Officer, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Dan Gillison brings expertise in non-profit leadership and a passion for advocating for people with mental illness to NAMI. Before coming to NAMI, Dan led the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF), where he was responsible for strategic planning, personnel management, board communications, oversight of APAF’s public education programs and outreach, and formulating strategic alliances and partnerships to further APAF’s mission. Prior to APAF, Gillison led County Solutions and Innovation for the National Association of Counties (NACo) where he was instrumental in repositioning the organization’s programs to provide expertise in health and human services, justice and public safety.

Dan has over 30 years of experience and has previously held leadership positions at Xerox, Nextel, and Sprint. Dan holds a B.A. from Southern University and A&M College.

Dan spearheaded the creation of the CEO Alliance for Mental Health in 2020, which represents some of the most vulnerable and diverse populations affected by disparities in the mental health care system. The leadership collective has collaborated to identify and amplify their priorities for creating a future of quality mental health care for all who need it.


Attorney & Neurodiversity Expert, Haley Moss LLC


Haley Moss is a lawyer, neurodiversity expert, and the author of four books that guide neurodivergent individuals through professional and personal challenges. She is a consultant to top corporations and nonprofits that seek her guidance in creating a diverse workplace, and a sought-after commentator on disability rights issues. The first openly autistic lawyer in Florida, Haley’s books include “Great Minds Think Differently: Neurodiversity for Lawyers and Other Professionals” (ABA Book Publishing; June 2021) and “The Young Autistic Adult’s Independence Handbook” (Jessica Kingsley Publishers; November 2021). Her articles have appeared in outlets including the Washington Post, Teen Vogue, and Fast Company.

Pre-Conference Workshops

September 26th, 2022

9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Dena’ina Convention Center, Anchorage, Alaska


It is the duty of the Trust to provide leadership in the advocacy, planning, implementing, and funding of services and programs that improve the lives and circumstances of Trust beneficiaries. The Improving Lives Conference meaningfully addressed behavioral health systems across Trust beneficiary groups, data-driven innovative and promising practices, and strengthening Alaska’s continuum of care.


The Improving Lives Conference was proud to partner with the Alaska Training Cooperative, UAA Center for Human Development to offer continuing education credits for select presentations at the 2022 event. This program (Improving Lives Conference) was approved for 12.25 total General Contact hours by NASW-Alaska Chapter, and could be used to meet continuing education requirements for Social Work Licensure/Certification renewal. Due to concurrent CEU sessions happening at the same time during the two day conference, a total of 7.25 General Contact hours (CEUs) could be earned. Eligible presentations were noted on the schedule of events, conference program and conference app. CEU oversight was provided by the Alaska Training Cooperative, UAA Center for Human Development.

2022 Conference Themes

Behavioral health support across beneficiary groups and the lifespan, including co-occurring disorders

Innovative and Promising Practices for Serving Trust beneficiaries

Strengthening our Continuum of Care for Trust beneficiaries

Incorporating lived experience and beneficiary perspectives into programs and planning

The work of the Trust aligns with Strengthening the System: Alaska’s Comprehensive Integrated Mental Health Program Plan (Comp Plan), that was developed in a partnership between the Trust and the Department of Health and Social Services in coordination with community stakeholders. The Comp Plan identifies priorities for the next five years to inform planning and funding decisions to meet the needs of Trust beneficiaries. The intent is to strengthen the system of care to allow a comprehensive approach that quickly meets their needs.

View the Comp Plan here.

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