Officers

Richard I. Ries, Chairperson

Term: 7/01/16 – 6/30/24
Representing: Mental health providers

Richard Ries, Psy.D., M.S.Ed. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Trained in clinical work with emphases in bereavement, trauma, resiliency, personal growth, and hospice & palliative psychotherapy, his goals are to encourage policy with an eye towards compassionate and accessible care. He is well connected with professional service provider organizations and is a member of the City and County of Honolulu’s Public Health and Medical Advisory Board. He hosts a call-in, broadcast radio program that offers psychological and philosophical perspectives to callers who contact the station during the radio hour. His private practice is located in downtown Honolulu.

Katherine Aumer, First Vice Chairperson

Interim Term: 10/1/20 – 6/30/25
Representing: Family members of mental health service recipients

Katherine Aumer, Ph.D. earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Buddhist Philosophy from the University of Iowa. After completing her graduate studies, she earned her doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in social psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. In her role as the Chair of Hawaii Pacific University’s Psychology Department and Associate Professor, her focus continues to be on helping to increase the presence and usefulness of psychology as a science and on providing better educational opportunities and services to help maintain the health and welfare of Hawaii residents. Additionally, she is the Director of Research at Partners for Quality Health where she works with a dynamic team to support physicians and providers to improve the health and well-being of our community.

Kathleen Rhoads Merriam, Second Vice Chairperson

Term: 7/28/21 – 6/30/24
Representing: Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH), Adult Mental Health Division (AMHD)

Kathleen Rhoads Merriam has worked in four states in various roles within mental health in both clinical and administrative positions. Since moving to Hawaii nearly 18 years ago, she has been an outspoken advocate for mental health consumers, their ‘ohana and friends, and the community at large. She takes a “walk the talk” approach to educating peers and modeling for staff what it means to live in Recovery. Her key interests are suicide prevention, trauma informed care, intensive case management, co-occurring disorders and systems improvement.

Eileen Lau-James, Secretary

Term: 6/05/19 – 6/30/23
Representing: Family members of mental health service recipients

Eileen Lau-James, DVM is a veterinarian and the owner of Purradise Cat Care Inc., a feline-exclusive veterinary hospital in Oahu.  She is a loving devoted wife to a husband recovering from serious mental illness (SMI), and the mother of two young rambunctious boys.  The struggles she experienced in trying to obtain treatment for her husband is what ultimately drove her to become a member of the State Council of Mental Health.  Eileen’s husband’s psychotic disorder came about suddenly and without warning – making it impossible for him to lead a functional life.  At once, she found herself as not only the sole provider, the protector of her two young boys but also the caretaker and advocate for a husband with SMI.  Confused and terrified, not knowing the first thing about mental illness, she reached out to the mental health care system for help. She experienced many hardships in trying to get services for her husband, such as an inadequate system, and red tape surrounding patient civil rights laws, which prevented doctors from administering treatment against the will of psychotic patients. As a council member, she wants to be an advocate and a voice for all the family members.


Board Members

Antonino P. Beninato

Interim Term: 10/1/20 – 6/30/24
Representing: Students/Youth

Antonino Beninato is a graduate of Roosevelt High School and is currently a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the undergraduate psychology degree program. As a Habilitation Technician for a local home health care agency, he recognizes the challenges experienced by individuals who live with an intellectual and developmental disability in the community. He has learned to serve these individuals by adapting techniques that help clients to strengthen their independent living skills.

Beatrice “Kau’i” Seguancia

Term: 3/31/17 – 6/30/23
Representing: Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS), Public Health Authority (HPHA)

Kau’i Martinez started her professional career with the Hawaii Housing Authority, Homeless Programs Branch in 1994. In 2006, transitioned to the Hawaii State Department of Health, Adult Mental Health Division working with the Clinical Operations Team as a Case Management & Support Services Specialist. In 2015, Kau’i returned to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (previously called Hawaii Housing Authority) as a Resident Services Program Specialist in the Property Management & Maintenance Services Branch. She comes with many years of experience in serving the people of Hawaii and is a constant advocate for improving service delivery. Her interest in being part of the State Council on Mental Health was borne from being able to provide consumers, who live in low-income public housing a voice, to bridge gaps in mental health services for residents of low-income public housing, and to ensure quality services are in place to provide continuity of care for all consumers and residents.

Charleen “Naomi” Crozier

Term: 5/08/18 – 6/30/23
Representing: Consumers as an advocate and herself as a mental health service recipient

Naomi Crozier was born and raised on Maui. She is very passionate about the community that she lives and works in. Naomi is a supportive housing case manager with Mental Health Kokua that serves the community of Wailuku, where she assists clients with mental health to find housing. She has been active in the mental health community for the past eight years, starting out as a Hawaii Certified Peer Specialist and later promoted to a case manager position. Naomi understands both the consumer and provider perspective on mental health issues. She is open to sharing her first hand experience with receiving mental health services and her skills in communicating with and advocating for consumers.

Christopher Knightsbridge

Term: 11/13/18 – 6/30/25
Representing: Consumers as an advocate and himself, as a mental health service recipient

Christopher Knightsbridge grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona. He is a recipient of mental health services and is a supportive family member of relatives struggling with mental illness and homelessness.  Chris’s passion resides in advocacy for access to quality mental healthcare, filling Hawaii’s severe shortage of mental healthcare professionals, and combating the negative stigma surrounding mental health-related disorders, which often prevent those in need from seeking help. Chris holds a master’s degrees in both International Relations and Clinical Psychology and is currently a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology. He brings with him his experience in launching various advocacy and fundraising campaigns through social media.

Heidi Ilyavi

Term: 7/1/20 – 6/30/22
Representing: Family members of mental health service recipients and herself as a parent of a youth receiving Support for Behavioral and Emotional Development (SEBD)

Heidi Ilyavi has first hand knowledge and perspective about the needs, resources and service gaps faced by youth experiencing behavioral health challenges and their families. After working across the U.S. and internationally, she now lives full-time on Hawaii Island. She is a Parent Partner for ‘Ohana Support Services and Child and Family Services, working throughout the Kailua-Kona and Waimea areas in the Family Guidance Center offices. She is an advocate for parents of children and youth receiving services through the Hawaii State Department of Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division and the Hawaii State Department of Education.

Jeffrey Galon, Jr.

Term: 7/17/22 – 6/30/23
Representing: Hawaii State Judiciary

Jeff is a Specialty Courts Administrator covering the Hawaii State Judiciary First Circuit Court’s Drug Court program, Mental Health Court and Mental Health Unit, and the Veteran’s Treatment Court. He grew up on the west side of Oahu and, upon graduation from Waianae High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he worked as a Hospital Corpsman for seven years. Upon discharge, he joined the civilian world where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Chaminade University. After a few years in the private sector, he eventually made his way to the Judiciary; starting off as a judicial clerk, and later working as a Drug Court counselor and a Family Court Kids First program social worker. He was promoted to the Mental Health Court supervisor and then to his current role as the Specialty Courts Administrator.

Jennifer Renfro

Term: 7/1//21 – 6/30/23
Representing: Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE), Office of Student Support Services

Jennifer Renfro is a certified educator and dedicated program administrator with over 30 years of experience in teaching (elementary through high school), mentorship and parent support, and administrative leadership at the campus, state and district education levels. She is outgoing and communicates effectively about school-based learning and behavioral health support services. As the Administrator for the DOE Student Services Branch (SSB), Student Support Section (SSS), her team is responsible for providing equitable access to prevention and intervention services and programs that address the physical health, behavioral, academic and social-emotional needs of all students in preparation for college and career readiness.

Jon Fujii

Term: 7/1/20 – 6/30/23
Representing: Hawaii State Department of Human Services (DHS), MedQUEST Division Medicaid Program and the Hawaii Advisory Commission on Drug Abuse and Controlled Substances (HACDACS)

Jon Fujii earned his bachelor’s of arts degree in finance and his master’s of business administration degree in finance and real estate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has worked for the Hawaii State Department of Human Services, MedQUEST Division for the last 14 years and is currently the Acting Health Care Services Branch Administrator.

Lea Dias

Term: 7/1/22 – 6/30/23
Representing: Hawaii State Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

Lea is the Administrator of Ho’opono Services for the Blind Branch of the DHS DVR. For more than 30 years, she has worked in a variety of DVR positions, but one thing has remained the same: She is passionate about assisting individuals with disabilities, including those with significant mental health challenges, to overcome obstacles, recognize their strengths, and attain their career and life goals.

Margaret “Jackie” Jackson

Term: 7/1/22 – 6/30/24
Representing: Oahu Service Area Board on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Family members of mental health service recipients

Jackie has served as a member of the Oahu Service Area Board on Mental Health and Substance Abuse (OSAB) since 2018. She moved to Hawaii in 1987, but her mother’s family moved her in 1958. She and her husband raised two sons and were blessed with many relatives who call the islands their home. Her family has been through various issues, from mental health diagnoses to drug addictions and special needs. Her family experiences and the privilege of working with other families had led to her interest in the OSAB, and now the State Council on Mental Health. A 2015 graduate of The Parent Leadership Training Institute, her interest was piqued when learning how the government system works. As a nationally-certified Certified Family Peer Specialist for Hawaii Families as Allies, in the past eight years, Jackie has been able to encourage families to know how valuable their voices are across various systems. She wants to get more involved in effecting change in her community.

Mary Pat Waterhouse

Term: 7/17/22 – 6/30/23
Representing: Family members of mental health service recipients

May Pat is an empathetic and accomplished advocate who understands the importance of family members and caregivers engaging with individuals who are live with mental health challenges. With two family members who continue to address their serious mental illnesses, she has experienced firsthand how equitable and participatory involvement can enhance confidence and, in-turn, can improve outcomes for all individuals. Mary Pat has been supporting individuals with mental health issues for over 30 years: responding and counseling callers; as a volunteer at Waipahu Aloha Clubhouse; and as a board member of Mental Health America Hawaii, Hawaii Disability Rights Center, and as a member of the Hawaii Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Council.

Samuel “Ray” Rice

Term: 7/1/22 – 6/30/23
Representing: Hawaii State Department of Human Services (DHS), Child Welfare Services (CWS)

Ray has worked in the social services field with several state departments in Hawaii and Washington State for over 20 years. His experience includes working at DHS in the Divisions of Social and Health Services, and Child and Family Services, as well as at the Department of Aging and Disabilities Services (ADS) in Seattle. Ray has a Bachelor of Arts degree in social sciences and Master of Arts degree in education administration and supervision. He has worked with many adults and children with undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues. Although Ray has not been a direct service provider, he would like to understand and assist this population in any way possible.

Tara Reed

Term: 6/1/20 – 6/30/25
Representing: Consumers as an advocate, Maui Service Area Board on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and herself as a mental health service recipient

Tara Reed earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is working on earning her Master’s degree. She has been involved in providing substance use services for 10 years and has been a consumer of those services as well. Having worked in the field of substance use challenges, she is acutely aware of the critical nature of the issues facing her community. She is committed to contributing innovative solutions to address substance abuse, and hopes to be a voice and liaison for the Maui community.