Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board Member Biographies
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
Vania moved to Philadelphia from Brazil in 2008, the year President Obama was elected, a great year for humanity. Philadelphia has become home, and she feels that she has been privileged to work and volunteer in several organizations throughout this city. Her goal is to use her ability to create communities of learning and acting to make Philadelphia communities more equitable, with more access of opportunities to thrive.
Currently, The Health Federation program is a partnership with several other organizations building and testing organizational capacity and infrastructure for effective, efficient, holistic approaches to an integrated community health/peer support workforce across community-based organizations in the North Philadelphia Health Empowerment Zone. The PCTAB is pleased to welcome Vania.