Victor Ojakian, a retired project manager, works tirelessly on mental health and suicide prevention efforts. He is the NAMI Santa Clara County Board President and participates in several local, regional, California, and national organizations, including the SCC Behavioral Health Board and Suicide Prevention Oversight Committee, and SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center Advisory Committee. Victor is a former City of Palo Alto City Council Member and Mayor. He became active in NAMI SCC shortly after his son took his own life in 2004. He is especially interested in promoting help-seeking behavior and reducing mental health stigma and discrimination.
Beverly Hersh Lozoff is a freelance editor and writer, having spent many years in curriculum development and more recently as an editor of nonfiction trade books. Beverly became involved in NAMI Santa Clara County about eight years ago, wanting to learn more about mental health issues, given a family history of depression and anxiety. It didn’t take long for her to see the level of commitment on the part of NAMI’s volunteers and decided to become more involved herself. While she continues to edit the monthly newsletter as well as many of the office documents, she added board member to her involvement and more recently as First Vice President. Beverly is also an active member of a local charitable foundation.
Juan Perez holds a B.A. in Human Resource Administration from UNAM. He was a Professor of Social Studies and Art Education for ten years in Mexico City and a chemical coordinator for fifteen years at IBM. He is Maestro de Familia a Familia at NAMI SCC, a Member of the Office of Family Affairs of SCC Mental Health Department and chairman of the Mexican Cultural Diffusion Group. Juan has been active in NAMI for over thirteen years and is passionate about the work and help that NAMI provides for the Spanish Community. He firmly believes that education is a key role in the recovery process of individuals and their family members struggling with mental illness. Without the education that NAMI provides to the community, recovery would not be possible.
Gerry Larvey is a retired educator originally from Boston, MA. He was a teacher and administrator for 38 years, mostly in the Palo Alto Unified School District. Like many families, he and his wife came to NAMI in crisis in 2008 when his daughter Kate was ill with schizo-affective disorder. Kate took her life in November 2008. Since then his family has been involved in the NAMIWalk for seven years now and his team is "In Memory Of Kate". Gerry continues to work with students and teachers in his capacity as VP of School Outreach. He also is on the board of his local California Retired Teachers’ Association, serving as a Member-At-Large and webmaster.
Harold is a retired information technology manager with a career starting in the USAF, including Department Head at El Camino Hospital, Senior Project Manager with IBM and ending as President & CEO of DRC, a successful health information services company. Harold has a long family history of severe depression and suicide. While helping his daughter recover from a major depressive episode, he and his wife benefitted greatly from the NAMI Family-to-Family class. Upon retirement, Harold became captain of El Camino Hospital’s NAMIWalk Team and a Santa Clara representative for the SF Bay Area NAMIWalk. Harold’s passion is to help our organization continue to be financially stable and to find reliable sources of revenue to support the continued growth of exiting and new programs.
Steven Wade, CPA, CA (Canada) MBA, joined NAMI in November 2013 as the treasurer. Impressed by the tireless work they do he was eager to help them manage their financial resources and reporting. Steve has been active for many years in helping underserved communities in the Bay Area. He is currently Dean’s Executive Professor of Finance and Accounting at Santa Clara University. He also serves on the board of a San Francisco-based non-profit housing organization and as Treasurer of Lawyers Without Borders.
Peter Newman, PhD, is an engineer in the high-tech industry designing the data plumbing devices that live inside data centers. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17. He joined NAMI SCC in 2003 because of his own experience of the importance of education in overcoming mental illness and because of the limited availability of education in the healthcare system. He writes about his experience at lucidinterval.org.
Lowanda Pierson is a retired Registered Nurse from Santa Clara Valley Medical Center working for her last eleven years in Chemical Dependency and recently certified in Gerontology. She is a member of the San Jose Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. Lowanda is concerned about mental health and illness in all communities, especially in the African American Community. She is an advocate for reaching the Christian Community through organized trainings and events. She is also a member of Just Older Youth at Maranatha Christian Center working to bring education and resources to the over 55's. Lowanda also serves on the board of Santa Clara Black Infant Health.
Abigayil Tamara, has a B.A. in Art from George Washington University, an M.A. in Art from Wayne State University, and an M.S.W. from the University of South Carolina. She had careers as an art educator grades K-college, a psychiatric social worker in community mental health centers and psychiatric units, as well as a computer graphic designer. She is currently a practicing artist who focuses on printmaking, and also enjoys drawing and painting. She has a delighful black labrador service dog, Inglis. She was first psychiatrically hospitalized at Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, MD at age 20. She has a bipolar disorder and has been involved in numerous therapeutic modalities over the years to live a productive life. After taking the Provider Education class and the Peer to Peer class at NAMI, she became active as a Peer Pal, a facilitator for the NAMI Connections Recovery Support Group, and the Consumer Advisory Council. Abigayil is passionate about educating others about mental illness, and as an advocate for individuals with disabilities.
Leah Dansby Ezeoha has worked as a Program Manager for the County of Santa Clara’s Probation Department for the last 10 years. She manages Resource Services within the department, to ensure Probation Officers are kept abreast of all community based resources within the county. In 2008 Leah’s son was diagnosed with a serious mental illness, this prompted her to take the NAMI Family to Family class. Leah continues to use the information she learned to advocate for her son and to teach others about the importance of advocacy. Leah is especially concerned about mental illness and the criminal justice system, she is focused on working to create legislation that will stop the criminalization of the mentally ill.
Jen Hong, PhD, worked in the semiconductor Industry for 25 years before retiring in 2002. Jen and his wife joined NAMI Santa Clara in 2003 because of their son’s mental illness. Feeling the need within the Chinese community for Mental Health, Jen started the Chinese Family Support Group at Mountain View Chinese Christian Church in 2005 and has taught NAMI family to family education class in Mandarin since then. Jen also led a group to translate the NAMI Family to Family Education Class into Chinese in June 2011. Dr. Hong was a coordinator of Santa Clara County ECCAC in 2009, a board member of the Santa Clara County Mental Health Board 2011-2014, and the President of NAMI Santa Clara County 2012-2014.