Every quarter, we will be highlighting the work of a mental health advocate in the state of the Vermont. We thought we would start by introducing ourselves first.

The Vermont Association for Mental Health (VAMH) is one of the state’s oldest citizen-based organizations, founded in 1938. Based in Montpelier, Vermont, the Mental Health Association has operated with a staff of one or two dedicated individuals, guided by a Board of Directors reflecting the diversity of Vermont’s concerned citizens.

Ken and Penny at the VAMH Annual Meeting, November 2001, celebrating Ken's 20 years with the Vermont Association for Mental Health!

Ken Libertoff has been the Association's Executive Director since 1981 and during this period, the Association has been a stable and energized citizens' organization. During his tenure and because of his leadership, Vermont passed the nation’s most progressive and extensive parity bill for mental health and substance abuse in 1997. Besides his work in Vermont, Ken has been a frequent guest speaker, consultant and advisor to programs throughout the country.

Penny Dowen joined the Association in 1996. During this time, she has served in a number of key administrative roles including office manager and fiscal officer. Penny is not an unsung hero; she is a hero. She has proven, under fire, to be a loyal, dedicated and competent key staff person.

In Jaunary of 2003, Pattty McCarthy joined the Association staff as director of a unique and special project called Friends of Recovery - VT (FOR - VT). Patty has become the face and voice of this important project which is creating a statewide network of Vermonters who are in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse addictions.

Elena Esteban Hollister is the web site expert for both organizations, besides assuming a host of other activities and assignments. Elena is the architect and designer of the Association’s web site, which already has been ranked #2 in the nation for small non-profit organizations.

©2002 Vermont Association for Mental Health