Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board Member Biographies
Co-Chairperson of the Board John K. Carlson
John K. Carlson is the executive director of Transformation to Recovery, a faith-based recovery community center and ministry of Christ Church Philadelphia. John has an MBA and a marketing degree. He is a certified recovery specialist with Biblical addiction-counseling certification and lived experience. John attended a bible addictions-rehab ministry at Americas Keswick for four months.
John served as the volunteer coordinator, Certified Recovery Specialist, and Philadelphia Peer Leadership Trainer at the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania PRO-ACT in Philadelphia. John’s new focus includes passionate service in the behavioral health industry. Along with this focus, John is called to lead the nonprofit organization Transformation to Recovery Addictions Ministry. He continues to facilitate PRO-ACT’s educational trainings, which include the Philadelphia Peer leadership Academy, Volunteer Orientation, Recovery Planning, Self-Disclosure, and Self-Care. John is a faith-based recovery champion and the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board welcomes him.
Co-Chairperson of the Board Fred D. Martin
Fred D. Martin has been involved and has held several positions in the human services sector during the last 40 years. He recently retired as the Philadelphia manager for Pennsylvania Recovery Organization-Achieving Community Together (PRO-ACT), where he began as a volunteer in 1999. He had been a vital contributor to the transformation of the behavioral health system and the recovery movement in Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery counties.
Fred’s formal education began in 1988 at Bucks County Community College. He has also attended drug and alcohol classes at Villanova University. In 2004, he received his master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University.
He has assisted others as mentor of a multi-cultural community working with young men of color. He was a member of several Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services initiatives. He’s also the Judge of Elections in his ward and a respected leader in the recovery community at large. Today Mr. Martin is proud to tell others that he is a “person of color in long-term recovery living the dream.” His experience is invaluable, and he will be an asset to the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board.
Secretary of the Board Melissa Groden
Melissa Groden, MS, HS-BCP, CFRS Director of Prevention, Training & Education, has 25 years’ experience in the behavioral health field and has worked at The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania for 12 years overseeing the prevention, school services, and training programs. She has also been an adjunct professor at Chestnut Hill College for 12 years, instructing and writing curricula in classroom and hybrid format for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Melissa is a board certified human services professional and a certified trainer in Pennsylvania Student Assistance Program and Youth Mental Health First Aid. She holds a master’s degree in Administration of Human Services from Chestnut Hill College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in criminal justice from Temple University. The Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board welcomes her organizational skills and overall expertise.
Board Membership Chairperson Jose Ferran Jr.
Jose Ferran Jr. is a Philadelphia native who loves people and loves to serve people. He has learned from both the negative and positive social environment experiences of growing up in Philadelphia. Since 2012, Jose embraced recovery and healing by stewarding relationships, learning, healing, and working on physical/green environmental spaces. Jose has assisted youth impacted by community violence in hospital and community settings and equipped young men living in recovery to be difference makers. Now he serves as a Life Set Specialist with Turning Points for Children supporting young adults who age out of state care to transition into adulthood. Jose encompasses the youth perspective on the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board, and he leads the Membership group.
Robert Ashford is the executive director of Unity Recovery. He is a recovery scientist focused on substance use, recovery communities, recovery support services and institutions, integrated behavioral health systems, linguistic patterns, and technological interventions for behavioral health disorders. Mr. Ashford has a bachelor’s degree in social work with a minor in addiction studies and psychology from the University of North Texas, and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. Robert earned his Ph.D. in health policy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Robert has also completed fellowships with the Treatment Research Institute and is a graduate research assistant at the Center on the Continuum of Care in Addictions at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Substance Use Disorders Institute at the University of the Sciences.
Robert has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, most notably NADAAC’s Young Emerging Leader Award (2014) and the University of Pennsylvania Provost’s Citation for Excellence in Service (2017). Robert’s presence on the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board is welcomed as we look forward to his professional acumen.
Maria Grazia Cervone, a Peruvian native, is the director of the Institute at Mental Health Partnerships where she is responsible for overseeing the training and education efforts of the organization and leading the Institute’s team in the development, implementation, and evaluation of behavioral health education programs with a focus on peer support. A leader in behavioral health education, Maria has over nine years of experience in the behavioral health field and has spent the past several years developing and leading successful teams at a local and national level.
Prior to joining MHP, Grazia served as director of Instructor Engagement and Support, Mental Health First Aid USA, at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, D.C. Grazia is an MHFA instructor and national trainer. Before venturing to the national stage, Maria served as program director for the Mental Health First Aid training program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she managed the effort to train 250,000 New Yorkers in MHFA through the Thrive NYC initiative. Maria worked as an adjunct professor of Public Health at the Metropolitan College of New York. She became a proud and essential member of the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board in December 2019.
Jennifer King, MA, CFRE, is the executive director of The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania. Jennifer has a master’s degree in professional communication from LaSalle University and has held her Certified Fund-Raising Executive credential since 2015. Previously, she was the director of advancement for Penn Foundation. Before that, Jennifer worked in fundraising in Bucks County and in San Diego. She serves on the board of the Bucks Mont Collaborative, chairing the Membership Committee, and serves on the advisory board for Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency. She brings years of seasoned experience and professionalism to the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board.
James Klasen is a learning and development specialist with Mental Health Partnerships. Jim is an advanced-level WRAP Facilitator and certified Older Adult CPS trainer. He brings over 35 years of experience from the workforce development field. Jim has worked with youth, welfare recipients, persons returning from prison, and persons impacted by trauma, mental health, and substance-related challenges. Jim is a CPS and brings lived experience, sharing his recovery journey openly as evidence that recovery and wellness are both possible and probable. His journey has led naturally to his “encore career” as the Institute’s representative to Delaware County. The Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board is happy to welcome a champion of recovery.
Bill Krebs grew up in Philadelphia and was labeled with a developmental disability at an early age. In first grade, it was hard for him to keep up with the regular kids, so he was left back the next few years until he was finally tested. It was revealed that Bill had a developmental disability. He was placed in special education classes where he was self-contained, meaning everything took place in the class and you didn’t get to see the other kids. After he graduated, Bill felt fortunate to find a group called “Speaking for Ourselves.” He now utilizes his lived experiences to teach individuals how to speak up for themselves and know their rights.
Bill now works for Liberty Resources supporting others with developmental disabilities and autism. He facilitates a monthly group in which he provides support and resources. Bill is also an advocate coordinator for individuals with developmental disabilities at Keystone Services, an organization that has offices all over the world. Bill Krebs is a leader of a self-advocate movement and sits on several committees throughout the state. He is a proud recipient of the Brighter Futures Award, Justin Dart Award, and the Mental Health Association Award, among others. He brings an IDS perspective to the PCTAB, and we are excited to have him on board.
Roland Lamb is the Deputy Commissioner for Planning Innovation at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). In this role, he oversees efforts to develop and implement strategies to advance the transformation of Philadelphia’s behavioral health system to a recovery-oriented system of care using Public Health strategies.
Roland has been working in the field of alcohol and substance abuse dependence treatment for over 45 years as counselor, therapist, supervisor, coordinator of addictive services, program director, trainer, lecturer, consultant, and administrator. For the last 15 years, Roland has been very involved in the development and implementation of integrated behavioral health models. For over 20 years, he has played a significant role, formerly under the leadership of Dr. Arthur C. Evans and David T. Jones and currently under Commissioner Jill Bowen, Ph.D.,, in Philadelphia’s transformation to a recovery-oriented system of care.
Roland has many honors and is an adjunct professor at the University of the Sciences and Villanova University He also served as a field reviewer for the current edition of the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Treatment Criteria for Addictive, Substance-Related, and Co-Occurring Conditions. His vast experience and unique acumen are a welcomed addition to the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board.
Leslie Lieberman, MSW Senior Director, Training and Organizational Development Department Health Federation of Philadelphia, has dedicated more than 25 years to developing and leading award-winning programs for children, families, and communities at the intersection of public health and human services. Currently at The Health Federation of Philadelphia, Leslie leads the training and organizational development department that provides professional development and capacity building on public health issues including HIV/AIDS and other communicable disease, trauma-informed care, tobacco cessation, and language access.
Leslie also oversees several special projects focused on fostering healthy and resilient communities and including Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC), the Philadelphia ACE Task Force, and the Integrated Peer Models for Health in North Philadelphia. Prior to her work in Philadelphia, Leslie spent more than 15 years in California designing and directing integrated models of care for pregnant women with substance-use disorders. A social worker at heart, her passion is helping others to transform visions into reality. Leslie holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College. Her experience and professional acumen are a welcomed addition to the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board.
Onzie Travis is a graduate of Community College of Philadelphia and Saint Joseph’s University. Onzie has lived with co-occurring challenges for 55 years, with 29 years of successful long-term recovery. He is supervisor of Peer Services at Omni Health Care Services. Onzie is an Independent consultant, curriculum designer and former trainer for MHASP, now known as MHP, as well as a former addictions counselor and a former litigation paralegal. His credentials include: CPS, CADC, CPRP, and MHFA Instructor. Onzie has trained more than 600 Certified Peer Specialists, several classes of supervisors, and over 200 Mental Health First Aiders. He joined Philadelphia’s DBHIDS Faith and Spiritual Affairs Advisory Board in 2012, Pro-Act’s Vision Team in 2010, Pa. Peer Support Coalition Advisory Board in 2016, and PCTAB in 2019. Onzie is honored to serve on the Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board.