Board of Directors
Laurie Coker, Executive Director Winston-Salem, NC
After many years of state and local advocacy, Laurie accepted the role of interim volunteer director for the fledgling organization, North Carolina Consumer Advocacy, Networking, and Support Organization which became a nonprofit in 2009. Having worked as a psychiatric nurse in both public and private settings in the past, she realized she had a different perspective on working with patients in hospitals. When she was eventually diagnosed with a mental illness herself, it became obvious that she saw patients—and then herself—as persons who live either on a continuum toward better total health and a higher quality of life or toward chronic diseases and permanent disability.
In 2002 Laurie was chairperson of the Centerpoint CFAC which covered three counties. In 2003 she was appointed to the NC Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services and served for six years. In 2005 Laurie was presented with The Bell Award by the MH Association of Forsyth County and in 2006 the Excellence in Advocacy Award by North Carolina TASH. She received the NC NAMI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
Tragically, Laurie’s son Peter committed suicide in 2009. In spite of all she and her husband, Mark, had learned, they could not help him overcome the serious challenges faced by so many in our culture who have mental health challenges or addiction issues. Stigma is so great. People are “clinicalized”, not challenged to reclaim their lives. And there are no resources to help so many pay for health care, not to mention mental health care. Peter’s loss re-fueled Laurie’s vision for a better state-wide community for people who need the support so they can rise above labels and live meaningfully. She got involved with helping to get NC CANSO on sound footing.
In 2010, through discussions with the Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, Laurie was instrumental in setting up monthly meetings between consumer leaders around the state and leadership of the Division and DHHS.
Laurie has served for two years on the Recovery Conference planning committee where she campaigned for scholarships for consumers who had never been able to attend. In 2012 Laurie was selected to serve on the legislative subcommittee on LME Governance with members of the General Assembly, County Commissioners, Division staff and government experts. Rep. Nelson Dollar, chairman of the subcommittee said that Laurie “brought a lot of good ideas, insight and perspective to this effort.”
In 2013 Laurie was asked to join the Transitions Planning Advisory Committee in response to the Department of Justice settlement with NC over appropriate placement of those with Mental Illness in the community. She has subsequently been asked by DHHS to participate on the Long Term Care Continuum Workgroup which will focus on the service continuum needed as well as infratructural issues to ensure a better coordinated system of care for people needing longer term system involvement. She also participated on the Supported Employment Committee and has attended the community level stakeholder discussions, offering input to clarify a vision of employment of a possibility and and a necessity for people to integrate back into community living.
Laurie’s current passion is working with her peers in Winston-Salem who participate in the Green Tree Peer Center which she has helped to found. She envisions a future where peer led centers all over NC offer the mutual support which helps people to heal while giving them a safe place to be with friends, even a crisis, with the support of caring peers.
Ken Blackburn Wilson, NC
Carol Cannon, Vice Chair of the Board Greenville, NC
Having lived in Northeastern North Carolina in Hertford, Bertie or Northampton County for forty years, Carol recently moved to Greenville, which is in Pitt County. She has been a recipient of mental health services since 1995. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and taught children who have developmental disabilities or learning disabilities for fifteen years. When she stopped working due to mental illness struggles and began receiving Social Security Disability, she had no hope that she would ever work again.
In 2002, she joined Roanoke Chowan Human Services Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (CFAC). In 2005 she received the State CFAC Leadership Award. In 2006 she took a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) class, followed by the Facilitator’s course and Peer Support Specialist training. Carol was approached by Recovery Innovations in October of 2009 to work as a Pool employee until March of 2010 when she became a rural Outreach Coordinator. She resigned November 2011 due to physical health issues and state teacher’s retirement coming into effect.
Carol currently serves as NC CANSO Board Vice-President, East Carolina Behavioral Health LME/MCO Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (CFAC), and is a Pitt County NAMI member. Carol is a North Carolina Certified Peer Support Specialist and Reiki Master/Teacher. Carol’s mission is to bring recovery education classes like WRAP to rural areas.
Pamela Chevalier Carrboro, NC
A cum laude graduate of Kent State University, Pam considers herself a social-cultural anthropologist since she began to volunteer during the Mental Health Transformation in North Carolina and has watched consumers and management cope with rapid change.
Court-ordered into Substance Abuse treatment after a domestic violence tragedy made her a widow, Pam is especially interested in giving support for those coming out of the criminal justice system and finding housing. She is a hot-line volunteer for the Family Violence Prevention Center and part of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness.
Pam received Peer Support and WRAP training from the Triangle Empowerment Center, as well as Mental Health First Aid.
At the OPC LME Pam serves on the local and regional Global Continuous Quality Improvement Committee (CCQI). She was secretary of the OPC Consumer & Family Advisory Committee and is now an appointed member the State CFAC. Someday Pam would like to be part of opening a Self-Confidence Clinic.
Marianne Clayter Raleigh, NC
Marianne Clayter works with Wake County Human Services as an Outreach Worker/Peer Specialist. She works with the PATH federal grant program. Marianne outreaches homeless persons who are chronically homeless who are severely persistently mentally ill. She is a member of the NAMI Wake Board and is on the NC-CANSO board. Marianne is also a Certified Peer Support Specialist through the state of North Carolina and a member of the National Association of Peer Specialists. For over 15 years Marianne has been an advocate for consumers to have an individual and corporate voice for their own recovery and the recovery of others. Marianne has been on several boards and committees. And in 1994 she won the City of Raleigh’s Human Resources Award for her work. Her desire by being on the NC-CANSO board is to unify the consumer voice and consumer power in North Carolina so that our Legislature and others will hear us and act per our Voice.
Marc Jacques Raleigh, NC
Bonnie Jo Schell, MA, Chair of the Board Asheville, NC
A survivor of Bipolar I, Social Anxiety and Dissociative disorders, Bonnie spent 30 years in CA where she first ran Happy Hookers Yarn Shop for 10 years, discovered the Consumer Movement and founded the Mental Health Client Action Network in 1993, a drop-in wellness center, which is still going strong. She was consumer representative to the CA Mental Health Planning Council and Chair of the Consumer Advisory Panel for the multi-site research initiative, COSP, conducted by SAMHSA. Bonnie was recipient of the Howie T. Harp Award for service and leadership by the California Network of MH Clients and named Woman of the Year for “improving the status of women with psychiatric disabilities.”
Moving to NC to be near her youngest daughter in 2004 as the first Director of Consumer Affairs at PBH, she retired in 2012. Bonnie was the recipient of the NAMI NC President’s Award in 2008. She served two terms on GACPD, then PAIMI, as well as being vice chair of the State Recovery Task Force 2005-06. Serving as Secretary, then Vice-Chair, Bonnie is now Chair of the Board of NC CANSO which she believes has the potential to connect consumers across the state with education, personal agency and support.
Bonnie was co-editor of On Our Own Together: Peer Programs for People with Mental Illness (Vanderbilt University Press, 2005). She has published poetry and essays in many small journals including Quarry West: Poets and Writers of the Monterey Bay, The Humanist, and No Restraints: An Anthology of Disability Culture, Coast Lines, and, most recently, in The Perch, journal of the Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine. For 12 years she was poetry editor of Mind Freedom Journal and edited the monthly newsletters of United Methodist and United Church of Christ for 10 years.
Bonnie has an undergraduate degree from Agnes Scott College, a graduate degree from ASU and post graduate work in linguistics at UCSC. She is a Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner by IAPSRA and received Peer Support Specialist, WRAP and enhanced PSS training from NAPS and DBSA, as well as co-editing the Cardinal Innovations PSS training curriculum.
Bonnie looks forward to the day when the viewpoints of individuals with psychiatric differences will be valued and labels will only be on jars.
Mike Weaver, Secretary of the Board Concord, NC
Mike Weaver has been an advocate for those with mental illness for almost two decades and has served on the NC CANSO Board of Directors since 2010 as a Director and Secretary of the Board. After a successful career as a teacher and administrator, Mike found his true passion in promoting recovery. His experience includes: Mobile Crisis, Day Treatment Director, Operations Manager for an ACT/ CST teams, Liaison for state facilities, Transitional Housing, and I/DD group home manager. His recovery oriented employment has included starting numerous support groups and peer related programs for DBSA, MHA in Greensboro and NAMI. He developed Peer Programs in Charlotte and in the Rocky Mount area as Executive Director of Mental Health America of the Tar River Region where the WRAP Program was recognized by the North Carolina Council and Eastpointe as an outstanding Evidenced Based Practice. He now serves as an In-Reach Specialist at Cardinal Innovations Health Care Solutions in the Office of Consumer Affairs in Kannapolis, NC.
Mike trained to be a peer support specialist and WRAP facilitator in 2005 and has provided WRAP and peer support training since 2007. His volunteer service has included serving on numerous committees including: the Greensboro United Way Health Committee, Vice-Chair of the Eastpointe CFAC, Eastpointe Clients Rights Committee, Beacon Center Quality Management committee, Bryan Foundation Grant Committee, Chair of Recovery Innovations of North Carolina, Vice-chair of the Guilford County Coalition to Prevent Homelessness, Chair of the Edgecombe Nash Coalition on Alcohol and Drugs, member of the Strategic Twin-Counties Educational Partnership, member of the Consumer and Family Waiver Expansion Review Team for DHHS, Tar River Transit Authority Advisory Committee, as President of the NAMI Guilford and NAMI Charlotte affiliates, the NAMI NC Board of Directors and currently as a Director on the NAMI National Board of Directors where he has promoted the ideas of resiliency and recovery in matters of policy, governance, education and marketing. He believes these ideas can be employed by both family members and consumers/peers.
Mike has been acknowledged for excellence with the 2006 Community Supporter of the Year by CPDMI, the 2010 NAMI NC President’s Award, the 2011 NAMI National Consumer Council Ken Steele Award and the 2012 NAMI NC Advocate of the Year Award. He was also recognized as the 1993 Social Studies Teacher of the Year in San Diego County.
Mike has been in recovery from bipolar disorder for 26 years. Many of his 13 siblings have been diagnosed with serious mental illness as was his father and many extended family members. Mike has two grown sons, Seth who is a computer programmer in Germany, Jared who is a teacher in California, and one grandson.
Mike believes that all individuals have the opportunity of becoming all that they were meant to be and uses his experience to encourage peers to empower themselves to have a satisfying life of their choosing. Recovery is a possible and every day journey for those living with mental illnesses.