42nd Annual
Legislative Breakfast on Mental Health 

Building Access to Care:
Paradigm, Partnership & Possibilities

February 1st, 2020
10:00 – 1:30pm
exhibitor area opens at 8:30

The UNC Friday Center
100 Friday Center Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599


Registration is Sold Out
but please add your name to the waiting list as there may be changes.

Do you need hotel accommodations?

For Questions About The Event, email:  info@legislativebreakfastmh.org
Visit Our Sponsor Pages

Sponsorship is closed. Thank you for your support. We look forward to seeing you on February 1st.

Photo Gallery from Last Year’s Event (2019)

Speakers & Panel

Masters of Ceremony

Senator Mike Woodard

Mike Woodard is the North Carolina State Senator representing District 22: Durham, Granville, and Person counties. Before joining the General Assembly in 2013, Senator Woodard served on the Durham City Council for seven years. In his professional life, Senator Woodard is a long-time administrator with Duke University and the Duke Health System. He also worked as an administrator and instructor at Durham Technical Community College. A native of Wilson, NC, he graduated from Duke with degrees in economics, political science, and non-profit management. Read more…




Representative Sydney Batch

Sydney Batch is a lawyer, social worker, and child welfare advocate who was raised in North Carolina. Sydney received her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she remained for her Juris Doctorate and Masters of Social Work. Following law school, Sydney entered private practice with her husband, J. Patrick Williams. She is the founding partner at the law firm, Batch, Poore & Williams, PC. Her practice primarily focuses on family law, child welfare law and appellate work. Read more… 


State of the State – Mental Health

Dr. Mandy K. Cohen Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Dr. Mandy Cohen was appointed to the role of Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in January 2017 by Governor Roy Cooper. Secretary Cohen and her team work tirelessly to improve the health, safety and well-being of all North Carolinians. DHHS has 17,000 employees and an annual budget of $20 billion serving as the home to NC Medicaid, Public Health, Mental Health/IDD/SUD, State Operated Hospitals and Facilities, Economic Services, Adult and Child Services, Early Childhood Education, Employment Services, and Health Services Regulation. Secretary Cohen and her team are focused on building a strong, efficient Medicaid program, improving early childhood health, safety and education and combatting the opioid crisis. Read more…




Kody H. Kinsley Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health & Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at DHHS

Kody H. Kinsley serves as the Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health & Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at DHHS. He leads state-wide public policy and operations that promote whole-person health by developing prevention methods, interventions, and systems of care for individuals living with mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and substance use disorders. To that end, he oversees the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, which develops policy and funds community-based services and supports. Read more…





Debra C. Farrington, Chief of Staff for the Deputy Secretary of NC Medicaid

Debra C. Farrington, Chief of Staff for the Deputy Secretary of NC Medicaid, is a native North Carolinian reared and educated in rural Columbus County, N.C. She received a BA in Psychology and Master of Social Work degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years of experience in community based services for children and adults with behavioral health needs. Read more…

Building Access to Care:

Megan Wingate, MS, LMFT
Easterseals UCP

Megan Wingate is the Program Director for outpatient and enhanced mental health services at Easterseals UCP. Megan has been with Easterseals UCP for 8 years and has lead the organization in bringing evidenced- based models statewide to their enhanced child services, helping to establish models like Ecosystemic Family Therapy, TFCBT and Triple P. Megan received her master’s degree from East Carolina University in Marriage and Family Therapy and has worked in community mental health for the past 10 years. Her passion for individuals living with mental health challenges motivated her to spearhead the development of an award winning program named Community Assessment and Response to Expedite Services (CARES). CARES provides meaningful and supportive interventions designed to engage and quickly link children and their families to services following a mental health crisis.

Deborah Richardson, LPC,LCAS,ACS

Deborah Richardson has worked in the Behavioral Health Profession since 1987. She started her career in Ohio as Juvenile Court Counselor in 1987 and after relocating to North Carolina in 1988 she started her work with Wake County Children and Family Services. For the past 30 years she has worked to support families and children in Wake County. She has worked in both the public and private sectors with a focus on School Based Mental Health for the past 16 years. As the Clinical Director with SouthLight Judicial Services she co-wrote the MAJORS grant to support children in the Judicial system to access services and was published in Sociological literature for her research with zip codes and access to services for Substance Abuse Services and Education. In her current role as the Supervisor of the Alliance School Based team she continues to support school based mental health and develop with Wake County Schools and Community Partners innovative and evidence based strategies to support the Behavioral Health needs of children and families. She works to support School Based mental Health Initiatives with her work in the Community Resiliency Model as part of training with Wake County Schools and is part of the ACE Steering Committee. Under her leadership, the School Based Team won the Innovations Award for improvement of services in 2017 in partnership with Wake County Schools and again in 2019 won it for partnership with Easter Seals CARES for i2i Innovations Award for Quality Commitment.

Lived Experience Panel:

Representative Graig Meyer

Representative Graig Meyer has been a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives since 2013. He represents House District 50, currently serving constituents in portions of Orange and Caswell Counties. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the House Democrats Campaign Committee. As a trained social worker, Rep. Meyer approaches legislation with an eye towards protecting those who are marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed. Beyond his professional interests, Rep. Meyer also has lived experience with mental health challenges as the parent of an adopted child who has been a mental health consumer from childhood through adulthood.


Representative Carla Cunningham

Representative Carla Cunningham ​represents the 106​th ​District in the North Carolina  State House of Representatives. Before being elected to the North Carolina General  Assembly in 2012, Carla was working as a Hospice Nurse and fulfilling her appointment  to the North Carolina Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and  Substance Abuse Services. An active civic and community leader, she is a recognized  national advocate for women and children, Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities,  and Substance Abuse, and Healthcare. Read more



Honorable Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes has been involved in public service, Democratic politics, and progressive causes for over a decade. Matt was raised in Hillsborough, attended Orange County Public Schools, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Carolina Covenant Scholar. He currently works with the Forward Cities, a non-profit focused on developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, and recently graduated with a Master of Public Administration from UNC’s School of Government. Read more…


Legislative Q & A Panel

moderated by Rose Hoban

Rose Hoban (Founder, Editor, Reporter) spent more than six years as the health reporter for North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC, where she covered health care, state health policy, science and research with a focus on public health issues. She left to start North Carolina Health News after watching many of her professional peers leave or be laid off of their jobs, leaving NC with few people to cover this complicated and important topic.

Hoban took a circuitous route into journalism—after a decade of practicing nursing, she enrolled at UC Berkeley’s journalism school. While at Berkeley, she also earned a master’s in public health policy.
Hoban’s work has been recognized both regionally and nationally with numerous awards, including broadcast’s highest award – the Columbia-DuPont – a Gracie Award, an Edward R. Morrow award, and a Society for Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade award. In 2010, she was awarded a fellowship by the Association of Health Care Journalists to do in-depth reporting on North Carolina’s mental health system. She has also been a Knight Digital Media Fellow.


Senator Jim Burgin

Senator Jim Burgin was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he graduated with honors and earned a B.A. in Business Administration.

Senator Burgin is a longtime resident of Harnett County and current president & owner of C&D Insurance with two offices located in Harnett County. He also serves as Chairman of the Board for New Horizon Insurance Group, Vice-Chair of Central Carolina Community College, and President of B.C. Property Inc., a real estate development company. Senator Burgin is also a partner in John Hiester Automotive which owns Chevrolet and Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealerships.

Previously, Senator Burgin served two terms as Harnett County Commissioner and was the chairman for three years.

He is humbled to represent the people of Senate District 12, which encompasses Harnett, Lee and Johnston Counties. Senator Burgin and his wife, Ann, have been married 39 years, and have three children and three grandchildren.


Building Access to Care

Each year the Legislative Breakfast on Mental Health provides an opportunity for leading voices from across North Carolina to engage in a meaningful and well-informed dialogue with consumers and providers around topics of critical importance to mental health care in the state. The focus of this year’s Legislative Breakfast is Access to Care: Paradigm, Partnership & Possibilities.

With the current move to address whole person care, this year’s event brings focus to some of the disparities between physical and mental health services and features some exciting partnerships from across the state preparing to meet these needs.

Celebrating 42 years, this banner event draws key state and local officials and legislators from across the state as well as mental health advocates, consumers, providers and friends. All attendees have the opportunity to participate in the Q&A panel and ask legislators your most pressing questions pertaining to access to care. This year the Breakfast will feature an exciting lived experience panel with elected officials who will share their personal experiences and challenges in accessing services. With remarks from top officials, a keynote presentation featuring Easterseals innovative C.A.R.E.S pilot program, door prizes and much more, this year’s event promises to enrich and enliven public discourse surrounding mental health care and our most critical gaps and needs.


Executive Committee:

Jenny Gadd, Lead Co-Chair (Alberta Professional Services)
Karen Kincaid Dunn, Co-Chair (Club Nova)
Linda Foxworth, Co-Chair (KidSCope, retired)
Max Shafir, Co-Chair (Easterseals UCP)

Planning Committee:

Linda Atack (Community Advocate)
Elizabeth Barber (Threshold Clubhouse)
Stanley Cotton (Club Nova)
Hank Elkins (Caramore Community)
Charlene Lee (Club Nova)
Blake Rothwell (Caramore Community)
Josselyne Schwartz (Community Advocate)
Linwood Webster (Community Advocate)
Tim Woody (Josh’s Hope)

Advisory Committee:

Julie Bailey (Josh’s Hope Foundation)
Kay Castillo (NASW-NC)
Josh Donnelly (Community Advocate)
Corye Dunn (Disability Rights NC)
Barbara Foushee (Town of Carrboro)
Megan Gifford (Community Advocate)
Lisa Kaylie (Community Advocate)
Kathy Rogers (MHA of Central Carolinas)