For over 20 years, Jennifer Susskind has helped individuals and communities to articulate needs, develop coherent goals, build effective strategies, and achieve positive economic, environmental, and health outcomes. In the early ’90s, Ms. Susskind worked as a case manager with homeless youth and families, and as a tenant and labor organizer with low-income workers, immigrants and communities of color. These experiences taught her that many of the challenges facing individuals were rooted in broader systemic issues, including a lack of affordable housing, healthcare and quality education, discrimination and environmental injustice.
In 2007, Ms. Susskind joined Resource Development Associates (RDA), a consulting firm dedicated to helping local governments and nonprofit organizations improve services for vulnerable populations throughout California. At RDA she worked on many projects funded by the state’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), which provides funding to expand and transform public mental health services. Ms. Susskind used her planning, community organizing, and analytic skills to help local mental health departments and their stakeholders develop and evaluate innovative, wellness-oriented, consumer-driven and culturally competent services and supports. In 2013, Ms. Susskind was fortunate to meet and work with PEERS on a statewide evaluation of MHSA planning processes. Observing the commitment of PEERS to meaningfully engage mental health consumers in participatory planning and evaluation efforts encouraged her to join the organizations’ board.
Ms. Susskind is currently an independent contractor, living in Berkeley California. She credits her professional success and personal wellbeing to the many open-minded, supportive, and non-stigmatizing friends, colleagues and healthcare providers in her life.