Pathways to Wellness Conference
The annual conference celebrating mental health recovery
9 am to 2 pm
Friday, May 12, 2023
This year’s conference will be held in-person at the
Richard J. Ernst Cultural Center,
8333 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA, 22003
Join us for speakers, workshops, exhibitors and a lively, welcoming audience of people who value mental health recovery.
Only Paid Tickets Left: Register NOW
If you’ve registered for the conference, here’s some information to keep in mind:
- The conference will be held at Richard J Ernst Community Cultural Center, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA, 22003
- Parking is free in the B parking area. That’s outside parking, and only outside parking is free.
- The Ernst Center is also served by public transportation,
- We will have a list of all people who registered. Only people who are registered may attend. Each attendee will receive a badge that must be worn at all times.
- Come at 9 am to enjoy a light breakfast and to visit our exhibitors.
- Free massages and caricatures will be first-come, first-serve. We will have a sign-up list for both. You need to be at the conference to sign up.
Conference Schedule at a Glance
- 9 to 10 am: Visit exhibitors, have a light breakfast, sign up for free massages, sign up for free caricatures, stop by to pet service dogs in training.
- 10 to 11 am: Welcome by Emcee Srilekha Reddy Palle and keynote address by Michael T. Lane.
- 11 am to noon: Our first set of workshops.
- Noon to 1 pm: Light lunch of sandwiches and salad. Visit exhibitors, get massages, get caricatures and pet service dogs in training.
- 1 to 2 pm: Our second set of workshops.
- 2 pm: The conference ends.
Thank You to our 2023 Conference Sponsors
Our 2023 Keynote Speaker and Emcee
Keynote: Celebrating the Year of the Peer
Presented by Michael T. Lane
Division Director, Recovery Services, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board
Michael’s keynote will celebrate the power and effectiveness of peer supports and peer recovery services, part of the yearlong Year of the Peer observation in Virginia.
Read more about Michael
Michael T. Lane has decades of personal experience dealing with what many call “mental illness,” drawing strength and wisdom from the process of overcoming. Every day he works to maintain his own recovery and wellness.
Michael has worked in the behavioral health field for more than 10 years as an advocate, trainer, manager, designer of programs, and peer specialist. Currently, he is the Division Director of Recovery Services for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board. Michael is a Nationally Certified Peer Specialist, and has a Master’s Degree in Education.
Our 2023 Emcee
Srilekha Reddy Palle
Springfield District Representative, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board
Srilekha will welcome our first in-person conference participants in three years!
Read more about Srilekha
Srilekha Reddy Palle received her doctorate in physical therapy from Boston University and has an MBA degree with a focus in health care administration. Srilekha’s passion is focusing on health care issues through evidence-based clinical practices and policy changes. She was the Vice President of National Capital Healthcare executives focused on advancing healthcare executives who are committed to integrity, lifelong learning, and leadership in the field of healthcare management excellence. Srilekha serves the Virginia community in various capacities from being actively involved in cultural, religious, business, and political arenas. She is currently representing the Springfield District in the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.
Our 2023 Workshop Presenters
Uplifting Dance through Zumba
Presented by Wanda Thorpe
Licensed Zumba instructor and Founder, Sparkling Dance Fitness
Dance your way to better physical and mental health with Zumba. Increase your self confidence through dance and positive, uplifting music. All dance levels are encouraged to try this!
Read more about Wanda
Wanda has lived in Northern Virginia all of her life. She loves her community and loves to help others. With the help of her friends, family and her Zumba community, she holds monthly fundraisers to help the local communities. She has collected donations for cancer and heart research, coats, and food.
In 2021, Wanda made a huge career move is now focused on helping her locals get healthy as a full time fitness instructor. She is also furthering her career as a nutritionist and personal trainer.
In her spare time, Wanda loves to spend time with her husband, dog, her two nieces, and her family and friends. She loves to cook, especially on holidays, keep active, explore her community, and watch her favorite shows or movies.
How to Make Peace With Meditation
Presented by Michele Capots
BeWell Health Coach, PRS Inc.
This beginner workshop will educate attendees on the benefits of meditation, lead them through a short, guided visualization, as well as practice mini mindful exercises to do anywhere, it’s even perfect for the person who believes meditation’s not for you.
Read more about Michele
Michele Capots is a coach, storyteller, and peer specialist, who has worked for more than half a dozen years supporting individuals and groups on their path to mental wellness. Currently, in her role with PRS Inc, she serves as a health coach for the BeWell program, helping individuals integrate their physical and mental health. As a person with lived experience in mental illness, Michele has published essays in The Washington Post Magazine, Marie Claire, and The Tribune-Review newspaper. She is an executive committee member of the Global Mental Health Peer Network, and finds her happy place in nature, where she loves to go on long walks and hikes.
Our Visual Voice – Art in Recovery
Presented by Samantha Simons
NPRS, ToT, Expressive Arts Facilitator
This workshop explores creativity as both a language for individual reparation, recovery, and growth and a vehicle for advocacy in action. Expressive arts honor the creative voice of the individual while providing an opportunity to be in community with others through a visual representation of our journey. We will learn some of the scientific benefits of expressive arts, how visual creation drives motivation, the ways art is used to broadcast messages, and concludes with a “drawing what you hear activity.”
Read more about Samantha
Developing Lasting Relationships In Recovery
Presented by Monika Taylor
Director of Marketing and Communications, RPSV
During this interactive workshop, participants are encouraged to share their concerns about finding and building friendships and long-term relationships while in recovery. We will discuss activities that can help us feel empowered to make new connections and will leave with a greater understanding of how and why self-love is the key to any successful relationship. Join us and make new friends!
Read more about Monika
Monika Taylor is Director of Marketing and Communications for Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia (RPSV). In her role, she manages a team of staff and volunteers to increase awareness and resources for those RPSV serves with mental health, substance use, and homelessness issues across Northern Virginia.
Before RPSV, Monika managed Strategic Support for Nonprofits, a consulting firm she founded to support small to medium-size nonprofits and for-profit businesses from Chicago eastward. Over the last nine years, she has managed a vast variety of projects and initiatives in the areas of communications, marketing, media relations, branding, web design and content management, virtual and in-person events, fundraising development, grant writing, video production, blogging, public appearances, development trainings, and nonprofit management consulting. She is a long-time resident of the City of Falls Church where she lives with Bob, and their cat, Lucy.
Finding Balance Through Pain
Presented by Seth Pearson
Founder and CEO of “Heal with Seth Henry”
Pain is inevitable in your journey through life. However, it does not have to define you or be your “source of suffering”.
In this workshop, learn about ways to ease your suffering, and discover how to find balance within yourself, even while going through difficult times.
Read more about Seth
May the Breath Be with You
Presented by Niecia Bullock,
Managing Partner-Rooted Yoga, Reiki & Sound Immersion Practitioner, RYT-200
Breath Meditation is a simple and accessible way to incorporate self-care into your daily routine because your breath is always with you!
Practicing intentional breathing or controlled breath has several benefits, such as reducing your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing your energy, and calming your mind.
During this session, we’ll explore how to recognize stress and overwhelm and learn specific breathing techniques to move through moments of panic, boost your energy, or induce relaxation.
Read more about Niecia
Niecia is the owner of Rooted Yoga and a RYT 200 yoga & mindfulness educator. Rooted is a vibrant yoga studio that celebrates diversity, community, and practical self-care. It is located in the picturesque Belmont Bay neighborhood of Woodbridge, VA. After experiencing a series of seizure activity, Niecia was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Through her healing process she discovered the benefits of yoga and mindfulness. She couldn’t believe how transformative a few moments of simple movements, focused breath, and practical self-care could be. Like Oprah, she wanted everybody to have her favorite things! She’s been passionately guiding new yogis to the mat, providing mindfulness education, and encouraging the practice of unapologetic self-care ever since. Her intention is to create diverse, relational, and supportive spaces for connection. Food and ridiculousness are her love language and finding the funny in less than stellar situations is her superpower. She also enjoys biking, paddle boarding, traveling, reading, and binging podcasts.
Rewiring Anxiety Through Yes-And Thinking
Presented by Dan Brown, Reflex Improv
Over time, improv training and play can have a profound impact on the effects of anxiety. In this workshop we’ll cover these:
• Yes-And: improv’s foundations build in active listening and communication.
• Got Your Back: teamwork honors selflessness and empathy, creating a safe and supportive environment to play.
• Embracing Mistakes: what goes wrong in a scene isn’t a mistake – instead it opens up unexpected opportunities.
• And we’ll laugh hard.
Read more about Reflex Improv
After performing improv while in college and teaching several years for Washington Improv Theater in DC, Dan started Reflex Improv in the spring of 2016 to bring improv classes out to the suburbs of the DC Area. Reflex currently has classes running in Annapolis, Fairfax, Falls Church, Mosaic District and Reston, and runs corporate workshops teaching Yes-And creative improv skills to organizations such as Captial One, Deloitte, Amazon, Anne Arundel Medical Center, Leadership Fairfax, the USDA, Boston Properties, and Microsoft.
Our philosophy is that Improv training can change the world in very positive ways, even beyond stage performances, so we’re trying to get it out to as many people as possible.
Grow Your Own Recovery Garden With Art!
Presented by Michelle Hurrell, Senior Management Member at Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia
Use your creativity to create your recovery garden using art for wellness. Through symbolism and imagination, you will “plant” a garden using elements of your life that represent life’s beauty and boundaries, and balance.
Read more about Michelle Hurrell
Michelle Hurrell, BA English Education, CPRS, and WRAP Facilitator and Senior Management Member at Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia ( RPSV ). RPSV offers 5 Wellness Centers plus Virtual programming where staff use their wisdom of their own recovery journeys to assist their peers with mental illness, substance use or homelessness challenges. Michelle began her Peer Specialist journey at NVMHI as a volunteer, facilitated live creative and educational and support groups at PRS for 3 years and has worked at RPSV for 7 years-over two of those years she has been in management. Her education training and lived experience has helped her become a creative and supportive group facilitator.
About The Wellness and Recovery Committee
The Pathways to Wellness Conference is organized and presented by the Wellness and Recovery Committee. The committee is made up of representatives from the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and other organizations focused on the needs of people in mental health recovery. The Conference is designed for persons with mental health issues, persons with co-occurring disorders, families, professionals, and others with an interest in the topics of wellness and recovery.
More To See, Read and Watch
Our 2022 Conference Roundup
Our conference in May 2022 featured a broad variety of speakers and workshops.
See who was there and learn more about it.
Our 2021 Conference Roundup
Our conference in October 2021 was an online feast of information. Great speakers and workshops, powerful stories.
Learn more about it.
Videos from Past Conferences
We have videos of presentations from the last two years. Some are short and some are full-length keynote addresses.
Watch for free.