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Meet Our Team

The people who share their time to ensure that the Florida Maternal Mental Health Collaborative continues toward actualizing the vision that "Every woman in Florida and her family will receive the help and support they need for optimal maternal mental health and well-being." 

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Heather Flynn, PhD

Chair and Co-Founder

Heather A. Flynn, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, Professor and Chair at the Florida State University College of Medicine in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine. Dr. Flynn’s research is focused on improved identification and treatment of depression in women, especially around the time of childbearing. Her studies are specifically aimed at developing and testing psychotherapeutic treatments for depression around the time of pregnancy, and on examining the impact of depression remission on obstetrical and infant outcomes. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and has received federal and private funding for her research since 1999. Dr. Flynn is also conducting projects focused on advancing the field both nationally and in the state of Florida through facilitating collaborative research networks to enhance synergy among experts in depression and related chronic illnesses. She is the Chair of the Women & Mood Disorders Task Group within the National Network of Depression Centers. She is also a trainer and supervisor in behavioral interventions such as Motivational Interviewing and Interpersonal Psychotherapy.

Adam (Dr. B) Baptiste, MD,MS

Statewide Coordinator 

Dr. B (Baba Atum | Adam Baptiste, MD), is a family-oriented man, a Physician-Researcher, Educator, Ecologist, amongst many other roles. He aims to assist people in practical and meaningful ways. Rooted in justice and equity, his interest in health is aimed at correcting disparities for the groups that experience them greatest. He works directly with families, communities, and organizations. Through the FL Maternal Mental Health Collaborative and the FL BH IMPACT Program, Dr. B, and the team he collaborates with aim to promote awareness and build the capacity of health care providers to address the critical gaps in the care of our nation's women, children, and their families. As the Statewide coordinator of the Florida Maternal Mental Health Collaborative he allies with stakeholders, patients, providers, and researchers to improve the context of Perinatal Mental Health Care. As an educator his mission is to train and inspire the next generation of health professionals and community workers. He is a graduate and current employee with Florida State University College of Medicine within the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Social Medicine. Much of his current work there is focused through initiatives that prioritize Perinatal Mental Health and Pediatric Behavioral Health. He strives to include and improve paternal involvement and perspective in this space, ultimately working toward wholistic mental/behavioral health practices to be implemented for families. Although focused on Florida, his efforts are for the work he engages to contribute to cultural and sociopolitical change, not only locally, but also at state, national, and international levels.

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Lauren DePaola

Chief Financial Officer and Co-Founder

Co-founder of the FLMMHC and Founder and CEO of Better Beginnings, Lauren DePaola is on a mission to help women and families suffering through perinatal mental health problems. Having suffered from post-partum depression after the birth of her first child, Lauren understands first hand the struggles many women go through. She advocates in the United States for perinatal mental health and is involved in leading organizations.

Better Beginnings is birthed from this goal to be a center that supports parents through the emotional journey. As a team, they bring all the resources together for perinatal care.  They have physical locations in both Alachua and Orange Park, Florida and offer telehealth/online services for both counseling and psychiatry throughout the state. 

Our Workgroup Chairs

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Heather Howard

PhD, Research Workgroup Chair, FAU

Kirsten Ellingsen

PhD, Clinical Practice Workgroup

Amandla Shabaka-Haynes
 MD, Awareness Work Group Chair

Dixie Morgese

Policy Workgroup Chair, Advocate

Our Steering Committee

Alison Parish, MIECHV TA Resource Center Director at EDC
Alison Yager, JD, Florida Health Justice Project
Alma Littles, MD, Chief Academic Officer of Florida State University College of Medicine, Florida Medical Association
Amy J. Young, Managing Partner of Ballard Partners, Advocate, Lobbyist
Amandla Shabaka-Haynes, MD, Awareness Work Group Chair
Andrea Berry, CEO Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition
Austin Simon, Executive Director, March of Dimes Greater Tampa Bay Area
Bill Sappenfield, USF/FPQC/MORE, Professor and Director at University of South Florida
Carol Brady, MCH Advocate
Caroline Valencia, MPH, Director, Director of Maternal and Infant Health Initiatives at March of Dimes 
Cathy Timuta, MBA, CEO of Healthy Start MomCare Network and the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions
Christopher Cogle, MD, CMO for Florida Medicaid and Professor at the University of Florida
Deborah Knudson Gonzalez, MD, USF College of Medicine Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
Dikea 'Kay' Roussos-Ross, MD, University of Florida
Dixie Morgese, Policy Workgroup Chair, Advocate
Gabrielle Bargerstock, Executive Director at Healthy Start Coalition of Flagler & Volusia Counties, Inc
Heather Flynn, PhD, Florida State University College of Medicine and Center for Behavioral Health Integration
Heather Howard, PhD, LICSW, Research Workgroup Chair, FAU
Jan Bogie, LMHC, Clinical Director at Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, Inc
Kara Hamilton-McGraw, Virtual Director of Maternal Infant Health at March of Dimes 
Karen Harris, MD, MPH, Managing Partner of Women's Group of North Florida, LLC,
(Past) ACOG District XII Chair Postpartum Society of Florida

Kirk Hall, Agency for Health Care Administration (Quality Bureau)
Kirsten Ellingsen, PhD, Clinical Practice Workgroup Chair
Lauren DePaola, LCSW, Founder and CEO of Better Beginnings FL, Postpartum Wellness & Family Counseling
Leisa Stanley, PhD, Associate Executive Director of Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County
Maureen Fura, MPA, Advocate, CEO and Founder of Mammha
Maureen Whelihan, MD, (Former) ACOG District XII State Legislative Chair and Section 5 Chair
Megan Deichen-Hansen, PhD, Florida State University, College of Medicine and FLBHIMPACT
Melanie Brown Woofter, President and CEO of Florida Behavioral Health Association
Mimi Graham, EdD, Director of the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy (CPEIP) at Florida State University
Sarah Workman Checcone, JD,  Founder and Executive Director of Postpartum Society of Florida
Sharon Ross-Donaldson, LCSW, CEO/President and Board Member of The Center for Health Equity, Inc.
Stan Whittaker, MSN, (Former) Chairman of Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners
Tommy Schechtman, MD, MSPH, (Former) President Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics,
President at Pediatric Partners

Ute Gazioch, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Policy at Florida Behavioral Health Association


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