Featured Speakers

Content details subject to change.

DJ Jaffe
Author, Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill
TED Talk at NatCon18
John Snook John Snook

DJ Jaffe is Executive Director of the non-partisan Mental Illness Policy Org., and author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill. For over 30 years, he has been advocating to reduce homelessness, arrest, incarceration and needless hospitalization of the most severely mentally ill, a group he believes has been abandoned by the mental health system and offloaded to criminal justice. He served on the national NAMI board and works extensively with criminal justice. DJ regularly appears on TV and is a go-to source for reporters covering serious mental illness and criminalization. His thoughtful and controversial op-eds have appeared the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall St. Journal and other publications. He is credited as being the driving force behind Kendra's Law and Congress incorporated ideas proposed by DJ in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. DJ develops policies focused on returning responsibility for the seriously back to mental health departments by increasing the number of hospital beds, making civil commitment easier, expanding use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment, and focusing mental health dollars on those who need help the most, rather than the least. He lives in Harlem, NY.

John Snook
Treatment Advocacy Center
John Snook

John Snook is executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, widely recognized as one of the most influential mental health advocacy organizations in existence today. More than half of the states have reformed their mental health laws as a result of the Treatment Advocacy Center's advocacy, and their original research on issues such as the criminalization of mental illness has reshaped the national narrative on the treatment of severe mental illness.

Mr. Snook brings the organization more than 15 years of policy and advocacy experience at both the federal and state levels. Prior to joining the Treatment Advocacy Center, John served as Director of Loan Administration Policy for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), serving as the association's policy expert for issues impacting the mortgage servicing industry.

Preceding his time at MBA, John was with Habitat for Humanity International, where he grew Habitat's nascent state and local advocacy network into a driving nationwide force for affordable housing policy. John also co-led Habitat's neighborhood stabilization efforts, Habitat's response to the foreclosure crisis. These efforts ultimately resulted in thousands of new Habitat homes and more than $350 million in new funding to address foreclosed properties.

But John's true passion has always been mental health reform. His focus on the issue began in law school, as he saw a loved one struggle with untreated mental illness. John championed mental illness reform, working first with the West Virginia Supreme Court on mental health issues and then at the Treatment Advocacy Center as a lobbyist and advocate for state mental health reform. John's return to the Treatment Advocacy Center as Executive Director represents a homecoming in his work on these important issues.

John received his J.D. from the George Mason School of Law in Virginia and his B.A. from Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania.

Derrik Tollefson, PhD, LCSW

Derrik Tollefson is Professor of Social Work and head of the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology at Utah State University. He previously was the founding coordinator of the Master of Social Work program at USU and served as interim dean and associate dean of the USU-Uintah Basin campus. He has conducted a number of evaluations of human services programs including those providing domestic violence, child welfare, and mental health interventions. He has served as PI on a number of state and federal-funded grants and contracts, is the author of a number of journal articles and book chapters and has presented at numerous national and international conferences on his research and pedagogy. He serves as past president of the Utah Association for Domestic Violence Treatment, an organization which he co-founded, co-chair of the Utah Domestic Violence Offender Management Task Force's Treatment Standards Committee, and co-chair of USU's Presidential Mental Health Task Force. He's also served on a number of other human services organization governing and advisory boards. He teaches graduate and undergraduate social work courses. He received a bachelor's degree in social work and sociology from Utah State University, a master's degree in social work from the University of Denver, and a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Utah. He holds a clinical social work license from the State of Utah. He has previously held academic appointments at Brigham Young University-Hawaii and the University of Utah.