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Our Team

Our Team: Text
Mountains in Clouds

Gabriela Chavez

Hello, my name is Gabriela “Gaby” Chavez and I am part of The LEAD Project. I been a member for about 3 years now. I first became interested in the work LEAD was doing because I have my own lived experience. I wanted to use my experience to help others and make a difference in our mental health system. I know if we stand together and create a voice for our community, we can make a greater difference.


Vanessa Gray

Vanessa Gray has been with LEAD for a little under a year. Her inspiration to be a part of LEAD is from her own personal experience as an adolescent and adult living with mental illness and co-occurring disorders. Vanessa has surpassed the stigma and is a Mother, employee and college graduate and is motivated to instill hope and advocate for others.


Robert Gutierrez

I have been with LEAD project since the beginning.  I joined LEAD so I can tell and live my story of recovery to inspire others to advocate for those who are under served in the mental health community. I have been called a role model for speaking up for those who don't have a voice when the truth is, I am just like everybody else. I have days where some are easier than others, and other days where I feel like it's me against the world. Bringing change to our community and reducing the stigma that surrounds mental illness, is a fight worth fighting for.


Denise Manriquez

Denise Manriquez has worked for Transitions-Mental Health Association for 15 years as a Peer Provider. She is the Program Coordinator of The LEAD Project (Lived, Experience, Advocacy & Development) which trains mental health advocates to work for changes in public policies and represent the concerns of persons with mental illness living in Northern Santa Barbara County.  She is a founding member of the AFMW and hopes to use this platform to raise community awareness and reduce the stigma for those whose lives are touch by mental illness.  


Jennifer McMurrian

I joined the LEAD Project as an opportunity to give back to my community and to help give a voice to those with mental health needs. As a member of LEAD, I have had the opportunity to improve access to mental health services as well as increase housing opportunities for those with mental health needs in Santa Maria. I have found that being a member of LEAD has not only helped me to better myself through educational training but to better the community around me as well. It is only through working together that we can meet the mental health needs of everyone in the community.


Silvia Ortega

Hello, my name is Silvia Ortega. I am the Assistant Supervisor at the Lompoc Recovery Learning Center. I decided to join LEAD after the invitation because it is a great opportunity to learn professionally serving and supporting the Latino community and underserved population.


Cathie Ortiz

I have been a member of The LEAD Project for 5 years.  I am passionate about advocating, educating and busting the stigma that surrounds mental health in Northern Santa Barbara County.  I share my journey of recovery so others in my community will know, mine is the face of mental health & we do recover!

Our Team: Team Members
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