About Us

Board of Directors

Interested in becoming a board member?  Click here to read more.  Click here to apply.

OFFICERS

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 a District School Social Worker for Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916 on special assignment to incorporate mental health initiatives district-wide, along with community partnership and grant initiatives. Additionally, Dan provides Group and Individual Clinical Supervision to Social Workers for the Profession Matrix. 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 in the School Social Work Journal. Porter was named Minnesota School Social Worker of the year in 2012. Dan and his husband Tony are adoptive parents of two amazing boys with special needs.

John D Pace, CRCM, Vice President and 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 Audit Manager with USAA. 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, MSW, Secretary, received his BA in Social Work from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and his MSW from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He also did post-graduate work at the U of M. At the time of his retirement as a School Social Worker, he had practiced social work for over 35 years. His passion for working with adolescents began when he worked as a counselor in a boy’s group home in Lincoln, Nebraska.  After his retirement, Ramon enjoyed a couple of leisure years before he missed working with “kids.” Since then he has worked as a substitute School Social Worker in several schools. His time is divided between substitute work, caring for his grandchildren, serving on the MACMH board and traveling.

Deborah Saxhaug, MA, Executive Director for MACMH since 1992, has a background in child, adolescent, and family therapy. Before working for MACMH, she was an adolescent and family therapist on a hospital psychiatric unit and was the director of an adolescent day treatment program as well 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 numerous committees that seek effective and innovative ways to make the current mental health care system responsive to the needs of families.

DIRECTORS

Michele Fallon, LICSW, IMH-V®, is a licensed clinical social worker endorsed in Infant Mental Health at Level IV through the Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health Infant and Early Childhood Division (MACMH-IEC) with 40 years of experience working with young children and their families. Currently, she is serving as the co-chairperson for MACMH-IEC which is committed to championing the social-emotional development/mental health of children prenatal to five and 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.   Michele provides IECMH reflective consultation and training for multidisciplinary professionals working with young children and their caregivers and is an instructor for the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. 

Elizabeth (Liz), Franklin MSW, LICSW, 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 her 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 the Senior Manager of Community-based Mental Health Services at Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES). 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. 

Tricia Grimes, MA, 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.

Amy Hedman-Robertson, PhD, is a Professor in Public Health for the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of St. Thomas. Her professional passions include health education and community-based suicide prevention endeavors. Amy has worked in academia for the past ten years, teaching, advising, and mentoring college students. Specific to mental health, Amy is a trainer and a researcher. She provides suicide prevention training in schools, workplaces and faith-based settings. Prior to joining MACMH Board, she served on the Blue Earth County (MN) Mental Health Task Force and Madelia-Based Community Collaborative Mental Health Task Force.  Her research endeavors align with her passion for mental health. She has studied college students’ experience with grief as well as clergy’s attitudes and experiences with mental illness and suicidality in their congregations. She has presented her research at several American Association of Suicidology conferences as well as the World Congress of the International Association of Suicide Prevention. Prior to her work in academia, she coordinated two adolescent health promotion grant-funded initiatives. In both roles, she was responsible for planning programming, developing health communication campaigns, building community partnerships and collaboration, and conducting program evaluation activities. In addition to serving on the board for the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health, she volunteers for the Education Committee for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-MN Chapter and serves as a director for the Division Board of Certification

Philip Kampa
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, Minnesota Coalition to Lower MA TEFRA Parental Fees 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. 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 Mitchell | Hamline School of Law. Peggy is a licensed attorney and has experience in family law, municipal law and 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.

Noah McCourt has worked as an advocate for Minnesotans with lived experience of mental illness. He is a frequent presence at the Minnesota State Capitol where he works as a Contract lobbyist and advocated for funding and policy changes to improve human service delivery, advance health equity initiatives and bring reform to the criminal justice system. McCourt has also worked with Minnesota Congressional delegation on increasing opportunities for employment for Minnesotans with Disabilities. He is diagnosed with Autism and Chronic Depression. He serves on the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and served as a co-chair of the State Subcommittee on Children’s mental health from 2017-2019. Noah made national headlines when he ran for office in the small town of Waconia Minnesota after his mental health records were distributed to the media.

Suzanne Renfroe’s introduction into disabilities began in 1990, when she gave birth to a daughter who was considered medically fragile. After researching how to give her daughter as typical a life as she could have, they moved to Minnesota in 1992. For the first time, Gabby was able to attend school part time and receive other services. Suzanne was able to join a support group and become a member of the state’s task force dealing with PCA services for children under 17. That experience taught her a lot about physical and developmental disabilities, as well as finding resources for taking care of her daughter. She became involved in many state, county and local councils. In 2001, her son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.  Once again, she needed to become knowledgeable and advocate for him, and sought out similar supports from the mental health community. She was saddened to learn that having a mental health diagnosis is not met with the same sensitivity. She continues to mentor parents and work with organizations to help reduce stigma and make sure the parent’s voice is included in decision-making and system change.

Interested in becoming a board member?  Click here to read more.  Click here to apply.