MHA Board Of Directors

“I have seen firsthand the challenges, and continuing stigma, faced by those struggling to maintain good mental health. A strong, publicly accessible support structure including awareness, advocacy, and compassion for those affected is not only a requirement but also a responsibility of any community that strives to ensure the well being of its people.”

Thomas E. Baker Jr.
Board Chair
Sandhill Investment Management
VP Business Development

Suzanne C. Furlani
Vice Chair
Shatter I.T. LLC
Chief Operations Officer

"As a new board member, I am thrilled to be involved with such a worthwhile organization. Although we live in a society where stress takes its toll on many individuals from all walks of life, a social stigma still exists. I look forward to assisting in any way with the continued success of the MHA in all aspects of mental health advocacy."
"The MHA provides a voice for those who have lost theirs. All it takes is one person on the other end of a phone line to make a difference in someone’s life. The MHA proves this day in and day out. I am passionate about the destigmatizing of mental illness and am proud to help the MHA in raising awareness on this issue and the many others that affect the people impacted by mental illness in our community."

Karen Costa
Dopkins and Company, LLP
CPA and Director of General Services

"The MHA is an organization with an excellent reputation for supporting and educating individuals and their families struggling with mental illness.  I became involved with MHA because I, like many, have personally seen the devastation that untreated mental illness can cause for an otherwise loving, healthy family.  Too often, such illness goes undiagnosed and untreated either because symptoms are not recognized as treatable symptoms, or because of the negative stigma surrounding mental health illness.  Proper treatment and support make a world of difference for both the affected individual and their families and I want to be a part of this wonderful organization that is getting this message out there."

Jamie A. Shaner
Home Solutions of WNY, Inc.

"I decided to get involved with the Mental Health Association because I want to play a role in the mission to inform and educate the public about the many fantastic services offered by the MHA, and to be part of the movement to help permanently erase the stigma that is, unfortunately, still associated with mental illness."


Helene Abate
Alliance Homes
New Home Consultant

“I am involved with the Mental Health Association because I feel that there is a great need to help children and families with early detection.”

Jeffrey L. Anker, M.D.
Dept. of Psychiatry
SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

“I want to contribute to the improvement of mental health care in Erie County. As a faculty member of UB Medical School Department of Psychiatry and the ECMC Medical Staff I am contributing to mental health care through teaching and the development of a continuum of services including inpatient, partial hospital and outpatient treatment programs. However, there continue to be many serious gaps in delivery of mental health treatment. The MHA aims to address these gaps and I would like to help in this way too. I have worked as a psychiatrist for over forty years and have had the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in many areas of mental health care. I believe I can apply my experience in a variety of ways to help us creatively bridge the gaps that continue to limit our serving of our residents effectively.”

Lauren Baynes
Director of Incubation

"I was first introduced to the Mental Health Association two years ago, and had the privilege of working closely with the organization to restore funding for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in the state budget. Through that lobbying effort, I saw firsthand the immediate and direct impact MHA has on at-risk youth in Erie County. As a new board member, I look forward to promoting an open, de-stigmatized discussion about mental health and mental illness in our community. "
"I joined the MHA board because I truly believe that mental health is one of THE most important factors in a healthy society, and yet one not adequately funded, understood or even acknowledged. It effects all corners of our community. It does not discriminate. I hope through my involvement to help bring attention – and dollars – to issues that must be recognized and dealt with."

Jenna Bichler
Presbyterian Senior Care of WNY, Inc.
Vice President of Marketing and Business Development

"It’s incredible to be a part of an organization that does great work and positively affects the lives of so many members of our WNY community.”
"I would like to learn more about mental health issues and bring the capability of our IBM Buffalo Innovation Center to solve complicated root cause problems of mental health.”
"I am looking for an opportunity to give back, and make a positive impact in the mental health community."  

Eric Clauss
E.T. Clauss Insurance Agency

"To advocate for an underappreciated health concern that affects a significant number of people."
"I just want to give back to the community in any way that I can."
“There is no health without mental health. As a medical professional, I am committed to the mission of the MHA; improving wellness in our community and supporting individuals and families who deal with the challenges of mental illness. "

Karen A. Fenzl
Insurance Advisor

“Family involvement and understand need for community involvement and awareness of programs, care, etc. that may be available to families, clients, etc."

Donna Gatti, RN
ECMC - Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program

"My spirit and passion for individuals and families who are challenged with mental illness can be further enhanced as part of The Mental Health Association. Promoting health and wellness, breaking the barriers of stigma, and offering hope drives this amazing organization. I am honored to be part of this greatness. "

Donna Genesky
Delaware North Companies
Vice President

"For me, supporting those facing mental health needs, hits close to home. I have experienced first-hand the diagnosis, treatment and journey of someone facing mental health concerns. From that perspective, I am involved in this organization as a true advocate. I am a proponent for more funding and resources that can help support those living with or caring for someone with a mental illness."

Howard K. Hitzel, Psy.D., MPA
Best Self Behavioral Health

Ken Houseknecht
Mental Health Advocates of WNY
Executive Director

I spent 30 years doing public and investor relations work with some really great people and some truly incredible companies/organizations. Most days, I told folks, "This much fun...and we get paid too! Doesn't seem right." I was blessed!

In 2011, I was honored to join the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Erie County as the Executive Director, an organization where I had been a volunteer for nearly three decades. The MHA does some amazing work, promoting mental health and wellness and helping folks who have suffered a temporary or more permanent loss of mental health or wellness.

Again, I work with incredibly talented and passionate people doing work that really makes a difference in people's lives. How cool is that! I'm still blessed!!!

Christopher Kerr, MD
The Center for Hospice & Palliative Care
Chief Executive Officer

“I have witnessed, both personally and professionally, the clear need for mental health education, advocacy, and comprehensive support. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, stigma persists even within the culture of medicine. Meaningful progress towards acceptance and societal integration requires a broad based community effort.”

Kyle Mack, Pharm. D/JD
Phillips Lytle
Associate-Litigation Department

“As a mental health clinician and a private practice owner, I work hard every day to raise awareness for mental health issues and the importance of breaking the stigma. Everyone needs help at some point in life and this is nothing to be ashamed of. When it comes to issues pertaining to physical illness, most have no problem seeking medical care. The same significance should be placed on mental health needs. I am proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the MHA. This organization continues to help so many people in our community. Together we can change the way people view metal health. Let’s go!”

Erin M. Moss, BA, MA, LMHC
Erin M. Moss Mental Health Counseling Private Practice

“As a mental health clinician and a private practice owner, I work hard every day to raise awareness for mental health issues and the importance of breaking the stigma. Everyone needs help at some point in life and this is nothing to be ashamed of. When it comes to issues pertaining to physical illness, most have no problem seeking medical care. The same significance should be placed on mental health needs. I am proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the MHA. This organization continues to help so many people in our community. Together we can change the way people view metal health. Let’s go!”

Ronald Z. Piaseczny, JD
Department of Veteran Affairs
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

“Coming from immigrant parents and being a minority, two of the biggest challenges I have personally faced and continue to face are, “What is my identity” and “How do I fit in?” Often times, people face many struggles in trying to answer those questions for themselves as they grow and develop from children, through the teenage years, and throughout adulthood. Compound that journey with being a minority, or having a physical illness, or mental health diagnosis, and the path ahead can often seem confusing, frustrating or overwhelming. Agencies like the Mental Health Association work to reduce stigma and improve connections between those with a diagnosis and community at large. They work to reduce barriers, educate, and improve the lives of the people they service. I am proud to be part of an organization that helps those in need, empowers individuals and strives to make the community better for everyone.”

Karl Shallowhorn
Community Health Center of Buffalo
Education Program Coordinator

"I am a passionate advocate for mental health and wellness. I believe in the mission of the MHA and want to be able to support those in our community who have no voice. As a person living with a mental health disorder, I know the value of having support. The MHA exemplifies the importance of providing information, education and resources on mental health for the community."

Eric M Soehnlein JD
Attorney Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedmann LLP
Associate Attorney

Marie Story
Walsh Duffield Companies Inc.
Wellness Team Leader

Why I'm involved
"I work in the field of corporate wellness and know how important mental health is to overall wellbeing. However, it’s often our most neglected area of health. As a member of the board, my goal is to help WNY employers find ways to open up the dialogue around mental health in the workplace."

Angelica Thomas
Student (ECC City Campus)

"After seeing depression affect my family, I realized just how much learning we all had to do in the process. As was with my personal experience, many people affected by mental illness can be unaware, don’t know where to turn, or don’t speak about it because of the stigma. I am lucky to be involved with the Mental Health Association to ensure that members of our community have the tools and education to address mental health issues, and know that it’s more than okay to do so."

Roger Woodworth
GEM Manufacturing, Inc.

“A veteran is measured in equal parts by what they do during their period of military service, and by what they make of that experience upon return to the civilian sector.  We must all ensure that our Veterans are afforded the opportunities and resources to make the most of their experience of service, because not everyone who serves returns, even those that come home.  This is my opportunity to honor the service and sacrifices of all of our veterans, by helping to promote mental health and wellness throughout the community that our Veterans served to protect; and to help all of those suffering from a loss of good mental health to seek assistance free of prejudice or social label through advocacy, education, and training.”

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