2018 Conference

On April 6, 2018 the Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition will be hosting its 1st annual conference at the Ramada Inn in State College. This will fulfill a longtime goal of the Board of Directors to provide a conference specifically for Pennsylvania’s peer specialists. Please save the date and check this site often for updates.

Hotel Info

Rooms are not included in the conference registration. Please reserve a room if you will need overnight accommodations.

Ramada Inn – State College

1450 South Atherton Street

State College, PA 16801

Phone: 814 – 238 – 3001

You must call the hotel to reserve a room at the group rate! You will not be able to use the group code online!

To reserve a room at the conference rate use group code: CG2PSC

Keynote Speakers

Earl Granville

Earl Granville is a nine-year veteran under the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as an infantryman. During his time in the service, Granville served in support of Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In the summer of 2008 while on a patrol in Zormat, Afghanistan, his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg through the knee. His comrades, Specialist Derek Holland of Wind Gap, Pennsylvania and Major Scott Hagerty of Stillwater, Oklahoma were killed in action. After his injury, Earl found himself competing in many sports as an adaptive athlete such as Mono-ski, Sled Hockey, GoRuck endurance Challenges, and Spartan Races. He is a Team Member for the veteran organized and run non-profit, Operation Enduring Warrior, and is the President of Partnerships of the veteran founded apparel line, Oscar Mike, which keeps disabled veterans continuing to live an active lifestyle. Since his injury, he has competed in the Boston, Detroit, Chicago, New York and Marine Corps Marathons all on a hand bicycle, has run the 2017 Boston Marathon, has run two half marathons alongside OEW, is a finisher of the 2016 & 2017 Bataan Death Memorial March, and has completed the 60 hour endurance event, the Spartan Agoge. Earl speaks publicly about the importance of finding help in battling mental adversity after the passing of his twin brother, Staff Sergeant Joseph Granville, who took his own life December of 2010 while still on Active Duty. Earl is enrolled at the University of Scranton for Counseling & Human Services.

Earl has been featured on the TV series, Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge on NBC.

He was awarded the JCI TOYA Award for Personal Improvement and/or Accomplishment, Class of 2017 and voices Brandon on the animated comedy series, Discharged, which focuses on the struggles our veterans may face when they leave active duty. He medically retired from the army holding the rank of Staff Sergeant earning military awards including the Combat Infantryman Badge and Purple Heart.

Dan O’Brien Mazza

Dan O’Brien-Mazza was selected as the first National Director of Peer Support Services in the Veterans Administration and has held this position since September 2, 2007.   He holds a Master’s Degree from Syracuse University’s Rehabilitation Counseling Education Department. From 1980 – 1988 he provided vocational counseling and substance abuse services to Veterans in Syracuse, before a formal substance abuse program was launched. Before his current position, he was team leader of the Syracuse VA’s Psychosocial Rehabilitation & Recovery Programs. There, he supervised the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Services, Homeless, Mental Health Intensive Care Management and Vocational programs, while also directing Network 2’s national supported employment project. He is a former recipient of the VA Secretary’s Heart and Hands Award. Dan was also one of the first responders on the VA’s Suicide Prevention Hotline (currently called the Veterans’ Crisis Line) when it opened in July 2007. Since coming to Central Office, Dan has overseen the hiring and training of over 1,100 Peer Specialists in VA facilities across the nation. In 2009 he contributed to the VA manual that addressed architectural and programmatic recovery oriented practices for renovating VA psychiatric facilities. In March 2014 he established the first formal provider classification for peer specialists in the nation with the National Uniform Coding Committee. His current focus is on expanding the deployment of Peer Specialists by integrating them into primary care and other VA specialty clinics. He is a US Air Force Veteran, married, has three adult children, 4 grandchildren and lives in DeBary, Florida.


Thursday, April 5

5:30pm – 6:30pm               Check-In

6:30pm – 8:00pm               PaPSC Information Session

Friday, April 6

7:30am – 8:30am         Check-In

8:30am – 8:45am         Opening Remarks – Lynn Kovich

8:45am – 9:45am         Keynote Speaker I – Dan O’Brien Mazza

9:45am – 10:45am        Panel Discussion – Joan Erney, Tracy Carney, Michael Brody, Michael Runnningwolf

10:45am – 11:00am       Break

11:00am – 12:00pm      Workshop Session I

12:00pm – 1:15pm         Lunch

1:15pm – 2:15pm            Keynote Speaker II – Earl Grandville

2:15pm – 2:30pm         Break

2:30pm – 3:30pm       Workshop Session II

3:30pm – 4:00pm       Closing Remarks

Conference Workshop Presentations

Peer Generation Youth Empowerment

  • Presented By: Amey Dettmer
  • Description: Peer Generation was developed for youth and emerging adults to create and design their own self-empowered system to support their journey toward a self-identified life of wellness and resiliency.  Participants will explore and overview the Peer Generation Training and have an opportunity to interactively participate in a fun, engaging & experiential section of the Peer Generation Youth Empowerment Curriculum

Military Culture

  • Presented By: Buzz Hickox
  • Description: This presentation was created to bridge the gulf between how civilian mental health providers (CPSs) and VA providers can work together to have a better understanding of the treatment/recovery of the veteran patient. Not all veteran patients are eligible or willing to come to the VA for treatment so it is important for providers to understand what the veteran is about, his/her mindset, both before and after deployment, and gives a keen understanding of the uniqueness of veteran problems. I have given this presentation at the Lebanon VA, iNAPS in San Antonio, and Alternatives in San Diego. There will be ample time for Q&A.

Breaking the Cycle of Me, Myself, and I

  • Presented By: Chou Hallegra
  • Description: People with disabilities, especially those with mental illness, are among the loneliest people in our society. Mental health challenges in themselves make it hard for individuals to integrate and participate in community activities. As Peer Specialists, we often struggle to support people in finding ways to create meaningful connections that will provide a sense of belonging. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn how to use Person-Centered Thinking Tools to break the cycle of loneliness and enhance inclusion.

Supporting Individuals with Co-Occuring Disorders

  • Presented By: Christine Butterbaugh
  • Description: This workshop will discuss how to support someone with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. The presentation will examine barriers to recovery including trauma, stigma, criminal justice system and suicidality. This workshop will also explore ways to support individuals with co-occurring disorders in early recovery and assisting in development of a relapse prevention plan.

My Recovery Story

  • Presented By: Ed Martin
  • Description: After a childhood of being raised in the Philadelphia “projects” by abusive parents Ed Martin became addicted to various substances. As a teenager Ed was using drugs, getting into fights, and committing petty crimes. While still a teenager Ed’s life was changed in an instant when he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Ed will share his experiences of being trained as a CPS in prison, what he and fellow inmates experienced, how different life is on the “inside”, and the many challenges he and other inmates face when trying to reintegrate into the community.

Navigating Through Difficult Conversations

  • Presented By: Monica Thomas and Rachel Nolt
  • Description: Attendees will leave with knowledge and ideas of how to effectively communicate with peers when the issues at hand require frank and honest feedback in order for growth to continue. There will modeling by role play, power point, facts, and impact discussion.

Peer Support Toolkit

  • Presented By: Sean Brinda
  • Description: Peer-Support Toolkit Presentation will consist of PowerPoint presentation, video, and activities. A detailed walk-through of the four modules of the Peer-Support Toolkit interactive PDF will be provided. Participants will engage in sample activities pulled directly from the toolkit. The goal is to inform participants throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania about the contents and availability of the Peer-Support Toolkit as well as how to access the information they want, when they want it.

Engaging and Empowering Teens through Peer Support Services

  • Presented By: Tara Arnold and Dustin Crispell
  • Description: The Main Link peer support team will present three components of our teen services: Drop-in, Peer Support and Self-esteem/Empowerment Groups. The team will introduce each of these programs and demonstrate examples of the skill building activities used to engage teens. Drop-in provides a safe, non-judgmental environment for teens to socialize. The drop-in is open after school Tuesday though Thursday from 3:30 to 7. The teens that attend are encouraged to take a lead role in the planning and preparation of the evening meal, and to guide the daily activities at the center. The Main Link‘s peer support services have been offered to adults since 2001 through contracts with the Bradford/Sullivan Office of Mental Health. We also provide peer support services to adults enrolled in Health Choices. Out of the 20 Certified Peer Specialists on our team, 11 chose to work with teens. In this presentation the team will identify some strategies used in engaging teens in peer support services. Teens in our local hospital’s Behavioral Health Center have an opportunity to attend a Self-Esteem/Empowerment group twice per week led by a team of Certified Peer Specialists. The sessions are an hour and a half and focus on giving the teens a chance to express themselves, get to know each other and take a respite from the clinical nature of the inpatient setting. The presenters will invite the audience to participate in activities designed to build self-esteem and promote empowerment.