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.
Victor Ojakian, a retired project manager, works tirelessly on mental health and suicide prevention efforts. He is the NAMI Santa Clara County Board Co-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jeffrey Benford holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Southern California, serves as an assistant coach for a high school cross country team, and is a real estate broker and property manager in San Jose and Santa Clara County at large. He has volunteered as a crisis hotline counselor and beginning in 2014, as a teacher of NAMI’s Family to Family class. He joined the NAMI Board as Member At Large in January, 2017. He was born and raised in San Jose, where he watched his older brother struggle with mental illness as an adolescent. When another relative took his own life in 2008, Jeff sought out ways to learn more about mental health and help those who struggle with mental illnesses.
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. in Social Work from the University of South Carolina. She is an artist, and has had careers as an art educator grades K-College, a psychiatric social worker in Community Mental Health Centers in rural areas, and on psychiatric units, as well as a computer graphic designer. She has a bipolar disorder, has been involved in treatment modalities including psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, a parenting contract, Redecision Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, intensive Psychotherapy, and Integrative Psychiatry, and has always been interested in learning ways to live a more 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. She is mobility impaired and has a delightful successor service dog, Nathan from Canine Partners For Life. She is a strong advocate and has fought for the rights of 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.
Uday Kapoor, M.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle 1972, is an engineering executive with Oracle Corporation, with 45 years of experience in several Silicon Valley companies. His 40 year old son has developmental disabilities as well as schizoaffective disorder. Uday’s association with NAMI started with the Family to Family class and intensified when his son faced a housing crisis due to the sudden closure of the board and care facility where he lived. Uday believes that solutions to the challenges in the housing situation can be effectively addressed by collaborating with the County and other stakeholders. He joined the NAMI Board and was elected as the VP Housing in 2017.