Board of Directors
Danny Porter, MSW, LICSW, President, has over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and their families in public, residential, hospital, and day treatment programs. He is currently the Lead School Social Worker for Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916 on special assignment to incorporate mental health initiatives district-wide, provide supervision, direction, and support for over 30 social workers and has oversight and supervision of the Internship program that provides up to 12 internships for students. Additionally, Dan provides Clinical Supervision to Social Workers for the Profession Matrix, where he has worked for over four years. He currently provides supervision to 13 social workers working in a variety of settings thru group and individual supervision. He received his B.A. in Social Work and Sociology, his Masters in Clinical Social Work, and has a Director of Special Education License. Porter serves on the Board of Directors for (MSSWA) Minnesota School Social Workers Association. He has presented at numerous conferences throughout Minnesota on topics such as: Supervision and ethics, strategies for supporting youth, promoting self-esteem, and school-based social skills programs. He was an examination item writer for Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and he has been published multiple times doing book reviews in the School Social Work Journal. Porter was named Minnesota School Social Worker of the year in 2012.
John D Pace, CRCM, Treasurer, is the parent of an adopted son with several mental health diagnoses, including (ARND) Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder. John, along with his wife Brenda, has raised their son since taking him home from the hospital the day after he was born. John earned a Bachelor’s of Science in General Business from St. Cloud State University. He is currently an internal auditor with U.S. Bank. John hopes to use the experiences of his wife and himself to provide valuable insight on the Board and to advocate for other parents and caregivers like him.
Ramon Reina, Secretary, is a retired School Social Worker from the Hopkins School District. Ramon retired in 2007 after 28 years of service. His last year at Hopkins High School Ramon had 5 students whose parents had also been Ramon’s students. Ramon received his BA in Social Work from the University of Nebraska in 1973 and his Master in Social Work from the University of Minnesota in 1978. Ramon’s career has included Social Worker for Catholic Charities in Hasting, Nebraska in 1973 and Senior Counselor at Cristo Rey Group Home for Boys in Lincoln. The work at the group home fueled his passion for working with adolescents, a career that he has pursued for over 35 years. In retirement, Ramon continues to work to promote, facilitate and improve the life of children with mental health concerns. Ramon has served as a board member for the Hopkins Minnetonka Family Resource Center, a member of the Center for Excellence in Children Mental Health and has also served on the State Advisory Council on Mental Health Children’s Mental Subcommittee both as a member and as Co-Chair. At the time of his retirement from Hopkins High School Ramon wrote on his district web page: “I will be retiring on a good note, liking what I do…and as always enjoying working the ‘Kids’ … I have been lucky my job has never been work.”
Deborah Saxhaug, Executive Director for MACMH since 1992, has a background in child, adolescent, and family therapy. Before working for MACMH, she was the director of a day treatment program for Human Resource Associates and worked as a psychotherapist in private practice. Today, she provides the MACMH staff and board with the leadership and vision necessary to keep MACMH at the forefront of education and advocacy issues. She also serves on several committees that seek effective and innovative ways to make the current mental health care system responsive to the needs of families.
Michele Fallon, LICSW is a licensed clinical social worker endorsed in Infant Mental Health at Level IV through the Minnesota Association of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (MAIECMH) with 40 years of experience working with young children and their families. Currently, she is serving as the chairperson for MAIECMH which is committed to building capacity for a statewide network of multidisciplinary professionals in Minnesota with the competencies needed to meet the unique developmental and relational needs of young children and their families. In her practice, Michele provides infant and early childhood mental health reflective consultation and training for early care and education providers, home visitors, foster parents, early childhood special education, and others working with young children and their families and is a field associate with the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota. She is also a graduate of the U of M’s certificate program in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.
Tricia Grimes earned her Master’s Degree in Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute. Before she retired she worked as a non-partisan legislative fiscal analyst at the Minnesota House of Representatives and for many years at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. At the Office of Higher Education, she advocated for funding and legislation for the agency at the Minnesota Legislature and with Minnesota’s congressional delegation. In the past she served on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of St. Paul. She is the parent of a child with mental illness and her brother had bipolar affective syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Growing up, Phil was “on the patient end of mental health”. Over his childhood years, he received several different mental health diagnoses which changed as he grew up. At age 12 he began experimenting with drugs, by age 18 he had developed an addiction – often using drugs to self-medicate. In July 2008, Phil went to treatment for his addiction. Now sober and a student at Inver Hills Community College he is excited to share what he has learned about drug abuse, addiction, and mental health to help others. Phil also works part-time as a PCA in a group home for men with mobility issues and cognitive disabilities. Before becoming a MACMH board member Phil donated his time as a volunteer at the MACMH annual child and adolescent mental health conference.
Margaret “Peggy” Larkin, JD, is a parent of two girls, one who is now an adult with a family of her own and a teenager, each with mental health diagnoses. Peggy is a member of the State Subcommittee on Children’s Mental Health and is a PACER parent leader. She is also an active member of the Parent Catalyst Leadership Group, a division of the Hennepin County Children’s Mental Health Collaborative and is Co-Chair of the Special Education Advisory Council at her teenage daughter’s school. Peggy grew up in South Minneapolis, working with adults with disabilities as a young volunteer at Powderhorn Park and volunteered to work with special education students at Washburn High School while in high school. She earned her B.A., graduating summa cum laude, from Augsburg College in Minneapolis majoring in psychology and continued on to complete her Juris doctorate at Hamline University School of Law. Peggy is a licensed attorney and has experience in criminal law, including problem-solving courts aimed at improving the lives of individuals with a mental health diagnosis, veterans, women involved in prostitution, individuals experiencing homelessness, and people struggling with addiction who come in contact with the criminal justice system. In addition, as a practicing student attorney, Peggy helped start up a small business and non-profit organizations. She has been a volunteer advocate at a shelter for women experiencing domestic violence, has testified for tenant rights before the Minnesota Legislature, and lobbied congress in Washington D.C. for increased education funding for college students who are low-income, first-generation college students, or disabled. Peggy’s compassion for families and children struggling to overcome the challenges encountered when a child in the family is diagnosed with mental illness grew out of her personal experiences, compounded as a single parent, helping her own children manage their symptoms to ultimately lead a fulfilling life.
Keri Pinna, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota and mother of a teenage son with ADHD. As a Minnesota native, Dr. Pinna completed her BA in Psychology at the nearby University of North Dakota before moving on to Kent State University for her doctoral training. As a graduate student, she sought training in the study of developmental psychophysiology while working with domestic violence victims and children exposed to violence. Dr. Pinna has been trained and certified in several treatments for PTSD, as well as multiple behaviorally- and empirically-based parenting interventions. She returned to Minnesota to complete her pre-doctoral internship at Human Services, Inc. (HSI; now Canvas Health) where she was further trained in systems-oriented interventions that draw on the entire family when treating children struggling with emotional and behavioral problems. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Pinna has worked with recently deployed military families and families involved with Child Protective Services due to concerns of child maltreatment. She continues to develop her understanding of psychophysiology and seeks to apply this knowledge to her clinical work through a developing program of research. As the mother of a teenage son with ADHD, Dr. Pinna maintains an acute awareness of the treatment and policy implications of her work for children struggling with emotional and behavioral problems.
Suzanne Renfroe is the parent of a child with a mental health disorder. She has served on the Arc-Hennepin, then Arc-Hennepin Carver Board from 1999-2005. Suzanne has also served as a member of the state Special Education Advisory Panel. She has worked with multiple families to help them advocate for their child (by answering questions, giving resources to and attending IEP meetings).
Michele Vance earned her MSW at the Ohio State University. During her professional career, she served as an elementary school social worker in the Osseo School District for 15 years. She developed a model parent education and support group, Osseo Area Source of Information and Support (OASIS). The format for this ongoing group brings in top mental health professionals and educators from the Twin Cities area to speak to and support parents as they deal with emotional, social, and behavioral differences in their children. Her volunteer services include counselor at the Walk-In Counseling Center (WICC), founding board member of the Community Partners with Youth (CPY), patient representative Adult Advisory Board Fairview University Hospital, co-chair of the National Marrow Donor’s Be The Match Foundation Tribute Dinner, and Board member of the League of Women Voters of New Brighton. She and her husband have two children, three grandchildren, and a Black Labrador.
Elizabeth Franklin, MSW, LICSW. Liz received her BAs from the University of Kansas in Spanish and in American Studies with a concentration in human sexuality in American culture. She received MSW from the University of Minnesota in 2007 and earned her clinical license in January of 2010. Previously, Liz worked as an elementary school Latino Family Liaison in Independent School District 196, and as a Children’s Mental Health Case Manager and later a School-based Therapist at Washburn Center for Children. She is currently in private practice at CARE Counseling in Minneapolis. Liz also teaches the Advanced Clinical Practice with Children and Adolescents course in the School of Social Work’s graduate program at the University of Minnesota. Throughout her career, she has focused on working with kids and families, often in under-served communities, who have experienced complex trauma and/or symptoms of anxiety, depression, Autism, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and other learning or developmental differences. Liz is fluent in Spanish and frequently works with first, second, and subsequent generations of Latinx immigrants. Reducing barriers to inclusive, culturally responsive services through provider development has been a core part of Liz’s work. Her professional experiences have demonstrated to her the importance and difficulty of navigating mental health, educational, and social service systems, and she is passionate about helping families and caregivers understand and work with the multiple systems that impact their children in a more empowered way. While working at Washburn Center for Children, Liz helped create an internal consultation group for the Spanish-speaking providers at Washburn in 2011, helped found the Twin Cities Spanish-speaking Provider Consortium in 2012, and co-developed the three-part Diversity, Inclusion, and Culturally Responsive Practice training currently offered through Washburn’s Training Institute. She has presented at MACMH’s annual conference, served as a panelist for the Minnesota chapter of the NASW, and provided the Early Warning Signs training to educators. Liz continues to facilitate the Twin Cities Spanish-speaking Provider Consortium, an interdisciplinary group of over 200 Spanish-speaking mental health providers, social service providers, medical social workers, and school social workers. She has previously volunteered with NAMI Minnesota to provide Spanish-language workshops for family members of people with mental health difficulties.