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Community Profiles

Brenda Vezina

Director of Organizational Development and Central Mass Programs

Brenda.vezina@centralmassrlc.org
508-864-0958
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Brenda Vezina has served as Director of the Central MA Recovery Learning Community for the past seven years, following her 10 years as Director of the Tradewinds Clubhouse in Southbridge, MA.  Her work in creating a system for the Peer movement has seen the RLC grow and thrive under her guidance.  Her strengths include focus on relationships that help heal the effects of trauma and extreme experiences, changing the course of a person’s well-being.  Under her leadership, the CMRLC offers a variety of professional trainings that are well respected and sought after in Central MA and beyond, including Trauma Informed Services, Health and Social Equity, and Professionalism in the Peer Workforce.  A licensed social worker with 25 plus years in the field and a trauma survivor, she is Executive Producer of the “Voice Award” honorable mention documentary “What Happened to You?” which speaks to the causes and effects of childhood trauma and their relationship to public health issues.

Donna Macomber-Cassidy

Director of Operations

Donna.macombercassidy@centralmassrlc.org
508-751-9600
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

A Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP), Certified Peer Specialist (CPS), and person with lived experience with mental health and trauma issues, Donna has worked in the mental health recovery field for 27 years.  Donna was a 2008 Eli Lilly Reintegration Award recipient for Mentor-ship.  She is currently the Director of Operations at the Central Mass RLC and Kiva Center, and is a trained WRAP facilitator, Hearing Voices Network facilitator, and Human Rights Advocate.  Donna is a firm believer in “nothing about us without us.”

Donna’s favorite author is Jane Austen, and she likes to spend time with her 4 grandchildren, read, cook, figure out crossword puzzles, and watch really bad monster movies (such as Tremors, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, and Sharknado).

Joyce

Joyce Lafortune

Office Manager, Peer Facilitator & Certified Alternative Health Practitioner/Teacher

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Joyce has been working at Central Mass Recovery Learning for close to almost 10 years.  Besides making sure that all runs smoothly within the office, she facilitates a number of groups promoting healthy options.  Prior to working here, she was employed at an Herbal Apothecary/Holistic Center where numerous alternative health certifications were obtained and used toward her own recovery.  She loves people and especially seeing people working toward a better life and happiness.  She looks forward to nice weather as free time often means being outside with her hands in the dirt or playing golf.

Jasmine Quinones

Marketing & Multicultural Director

Jasmine.Quinones@centralmassrlc.org
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Jasmine has been a part of the Central Mass Recovery Learning Community since 2016.

Mike MacInnis, Certified Peer Specialist

Program Coordinator

Mike.MacInnis@centralmassrlc.org
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Mike “Mac” is responsible for the continuity and diversity of our meetings in the 96 communities that the Central Mass RLC serves. He also manages the peer facilitators who run those meetings and coordinates and facilitates the many different trainings we are proud to offer. Mike has completed virtually every peer certification and group there is, and has been a strong voice for those of us with lived experience via public speaking in front of the state senate and legislature, multiple radio and television appearances and workshops. Mike is the weekly host of “Talking Wellness” on Worcester’s Unity Radio WUTY 97.9FM. Mike’s story has been featured in a segment of the “Voice Award” nominated documentary ‘What Happened To You”.

Mike holds a national certification in the field of fitness and personal training and performs stand-up comedy throughout New England. A dad, a loyal friend, sports fanatic and dog lover, Mike lives his life by the creed “Never give up. Never, ever give up.”

Vesper Moore

Zia Access Center: Director

Vesper.Moore@centralmassrlc.org
774-242-6364
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Vesper Moore, the Director of the Zia Young Adult Access Center, has been integral in creating a community grounded in the idea that young adults are a social class of people. Vesper is an activist, trainer, and writer. They have been a part of the Kiva Center of the Central Mass Recovery Learning Community for several years. Vesper has been the recipient of many awards in relation to social justice and diversity and has been the keynote speaker at several international conferences. Vesper as an instructor has taught at various universities, organizations and community spaces in Massachusetts. They have been at the forefront of legislative reform in regard to shifting the societal paradigm from “mental health” to natural human experience. Vesper as a survivor concentrates on building social movements and public knowledge to create system and policy change. Vesper enjoys late 80s and early 90s goth fashion, music, and film.

Cristaliz Arroyo

Young Adult Peer Mentor

Cristaliz.Arroyo@centralmassrlc.org
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Cristaliz

Khalil Power

Administrative Specialist

Khalil.Power@centralmassrlc.org
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Khalil has worked as an advocate with sexual assault survivors and uses this past work to understand the intersections of trauma(s) and mental health. Khalil hopes to increase understandings of how gender, economic status, race, culture, and language impact lived experiences with mental health. More specifically, Khalil aims to incorporate these perspectives into research through their role with as an Administrative Specialist for the Central Mass RLC and The Transformation Center. Always aiming to learn, Khalil works to bring together history, lived experience, and community narratives to dispel socially pervasive myths and stereotypes regrading mental health, substance use, and trauma. Khalil believes that each person is the driver of their own healing journey and deserves support and compassion while navigating their experiences. Ultimately, Khalil strives to increase lived experience representation through peer-lead research.

Shayn Mcdonald

Young Adult Peer Mentor

Shayn.Mcdonald@centralmassrlc.org
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Shayn is a Certified Peer Specialist who has been a part of the Zia Young Adult Access Center team since August of 2018. Their passion lies in expanding awareness around the diversity of human experiences, and believes that every person is deserving of community and self-determined support. Their lived experience within the mental health system motivates them to continue supporting people actively going through it. They are an advocate for young adult and queer communities, and actively seek to highlight and address
the impact of trauma and systemic oppression with the intention of creating greater change.

photo of Shulamith Jacobi

Shulamith Jacobi

Peer Bridger

Shulamith.Jacobi@centralmassrlc.org 508-751-9600 Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Shulamith first joined the Central Mass RLC as a community member and is now the Peer Bridger.  As an advocate, Shulamith’s previous work focused on decarceration (the elimination of mass incarceration), and fostering community-based support. Shulamith firmly believes in a harm-reduction approach to ending cycles of violence (both interpersonal and systemic). They spearheaded the Life After Violence peer-support group dedicated to creating intentional de-stigmatized and non-judgmental space for dialogue about having perpetrated trauma to occur, after recognizing that it is only through openness and accountability that growth and change can be made. Shulamith blends a sociological and personal approach to systems change and is driven towards ensuring equity, justice, and self-determination for all. 

Lindsey Vezina

Wellness Coordinator

Lindsey.Vezina@centralmassrlc.org 508-626-2206 Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Lindsey has worked at the Central Mass RLC for over eight years. Currently, she is working as the Wellness Director for The Transformation Center. Lindsey is a trauma-informed yoga instructor and enjoys making yoga accessible to all people, kids included! She is an engaging and thought-provoking trainer of Trauma-Informed Peer Support (TIPS) and the 12-week Parenting Journey class. Lindsey recently became a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) train-the-trainer in “Preventing Workplace Discrimination & Harassment” and aims to prevent and decrease workplace discrimination across the Commonwealth.

Andrei Silva

Wellness Coordinator

Andrei.Silva@centralmassrlc.org 508-626-2206 Pronouns: He/Him/His

Andrei specializes in reaching the strong Brazilian population. He was formally a community Bridger and has been a Peer Support Worker at the Recovery Learning Community for several years, helping with daily maintenance as well as with Peer Support in different settings throughout the community including long and short term hospitals, group homes and libraries. Andrei is from Brazil and has been in different schools improving his English and has used this process to engage with other Peers, who like him, are comfortable with Peer Support in their native language, Portuguese. Andrei likes to spend time with his dog Luxy and teaching Zumba. Catch a class at the RLC!