Who We Are

Ronald Bassman, Founder

Ron Bassman, Ph.D., diagnosed with schizophrenia in his 20s and hospitalized twice for more than a year, Dr. Bassman recovered and transformed those experiences and became a licensed psychologist. Along with his psychotherapy practice, he devotes himself to writing and speaking his truth to power with the aim of exposing and challenging the misconceptions of mental health professionals and the general public – and most importantly inspire fellow travelers. His written works include the book, A Fight to Be: Experiences From Both Sides of the Locked Door. His current work is centered on community inclusion and social justice.
www.RonaldBassman.com

Steering Committee

Kristina “KK” Kapp

KK has painted a beautiful masterpiece picture of life despite the adversity life has presented. Overcoming and passing on the strength and wisdom gained through her very real, impactful life experiences. Choosing to view her disability and “trauma” as an opportunity to learn, grow and raise the bar, to a standard above and beyond the box of conventional, societal limitations.  Superseding over chromosomal birth defects, neurodiversity’s, childhood mental health prognoses and expectations set to live life within the walls of an institution with the dream of one day graduating to a group home setting.

However, KK tapped the well of human potential and her compassionate Humanitarian heart brought forth a flow of hope and belief in herself and that of others opening endless doors of limitless possibilities. Contrary to the standard way of limited thinking that any Disability defines who we are, implying a ceiling on human potential.

Alternatively, this created the foundation on which she stands and has built her future. Blazing the trail and igniting a revolution in alternative workarounds, innovations, and creative development through cultivating hope, sewing seeds of empowerment and watering with belief in hers and every human’s potential.  She has worked in the behavioral health, Disability Justice, and Advocacy field for 22 years as Rights Activist/Ambassador.  Kristina Kapp KK serves as chair of Ohio’s Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) and sits on the Disability Rights Ohio’s Board of Directors (P&A). KK also is honored to serve as Vice President ’on NARPA (NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR RIGHTS PROTECTION & ADVOCACY) Board of Directors, NILC – National Council on Independent Living Mental Health and Subcommittee and without hesitation, she very proudly lives her life out loud.

Peter Stastny

Peter Stastny was born in Vienna, Austria, where he graduated from medical school in 1976. Since 1978 he has been working and residing in New York City. For nearly 30 years he was on the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and has conducted several publicly funded research projects in the area of vocational rehabilitation, social support and self-help. Currently, Peter is working on the development of alternative services that supplement or replace traditional psychiatric intervention and offer autonomous paths towards recovery and full integration. Recently, he has spearheaded Parachute New York, a federally-funded project to provide crisis alternatives in New York City. These activities have engendered a close collaboration with the user-survivor movement, as manifested by joint research projects, publications, service demonstrations, and community work. Peter has also worked as an expert witness on numerous legal actions against psychiatric hospitals and practitioners for issues relating to involuntary commitment and alleged harm sustained by the defendants. He is a founding member of the International Network Toward Alternatives and Rights-based Supports (INTAR), the Institute for the Development of the Human Arts (IDHA) and Reimagining Psychiatry Network. Peter has also directed a number of documentary films related to mental health and the Shoah. In the clinical realm, Peter worked as a psychiatrist for state-operated inpatient and outpatient services, as well as for the NYU and Pratt Institute student counseling centers. He is in private practice in Chelsea, New York

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, as an American foreigner, the son of American missionaries who worked and taught at The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.  Arriving in Lebanon at the age of three, Lebanon became his home. 

For preschool and kindergarten, Steve attended the Beirut Baptist School, which was in Arabic, and where he first learned the Arabic alphabet and numerals. First through twelfth grades were (mostly) at the American Community School (ACS) in Beirut, an American school affiliated with the New York school system. His high-school years took place during the Lebanese Civil War and required traveling back and forth across the “green line” to ACS in West Beirut from the Seminary in East Beirut. Many people used to cross back and forth daily, depending on where there was not fighting.  The people of Lebanon always treated Steve as a special guest, even giving him preferential treatment as an American, which allowed him to travel to more areas of Lebanon than most Lebanese during the civil war. In this unlikely setting, Steve was surrounded by a supportive and loving community and adoptive extended family. 

Steve returned to the U.S. for university at 17, and got a degree in Philosophy before pursuing further study in software development. In college he met his wife, Andrea, who really grew up in a different world. She grew up in a severely abusive and incestuous family, which used the psychiatric system to silence and discredit her. As traumatic as the abuse by her family was, the more traumatic experience was at the hands of the psychiatric system, who served her father, rather than her. 

After getting married, and over 12 years, they achieved a stable and loving family, with children 3 and 5 years old.  Then one “bad day,” with a series of unfortunate incidents, the local mental health system pulled Andrea back in.  The ensuing years caused severe damage to their family.  It was only after her psychiatrist lost her license, that Andrea became free again, and has been able to start healing from her ‘treatment.’  Their children who are now adults were deeply affected as well, and their family is still trying to heal.

There are many things Steve wishes he and Andrea knew when they were going through those dark times that would have helped them find their way and heal.  He is very enthusiastic about the S.A.F.E project, and has high hopes that it may reach and help other individuals and families enduring their own dark times.

Steve finds this quote to be true in his experience of the process of healing. 

    “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”  – Rumi

Cathy Wield

Dr. Cathy Wield (BSc MBBS MRCEM) is an Emergency Physician working in England. She wrote two books prior to her disillusionment with bio-medical psychiatry, having survived an erroneous diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression and extreme treatments, including ECT and neurosurgery. From 2016-2019, she lived in Colorado, where she finally found freedom from the control and coercion that ensnared her earlier life. Cathy writes and speaks from the heart, having reframed her lived experience, with the same dedication and resolve, to improve services for every person who suffers from ‘mental health problems’ and/or those who receive psychiatric diagnoses. She advocates for holistic and compassionate care, within the context of their family, community and circumstances and tailored to individual needs.  

Check out her latest blog entry, The Curse and the Quick Fix.

Lisa Lindeman

For the past 12 years, Lisa Lindeman has worked for non-profit organizations around the country to promote the emotional well-being of children and adults through research, writing, and the development of supportive interventions. She earned her doctorate in psychology in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she set up an independent research lab to study the role of conceptual metaphor and embodied cognition in the generation of emotional experience. She earned her BA in psychology in 1999 from the University of California, Berkeley.