Our 2023 Keynote Speaker and Emcee

Photo of Michael Lane

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.

Photo of Srilekha Reddy Palle

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

Wanda Thorpe

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 been a part of the fitness community since 2014. What started off as a personal weight loss journey, turned into a whole new career for her. Wanda received her Zumba certification in 2015 and began teaching in 2016. She has since furthered her fitness career by expanding her knowledge in Zumba and exploring other fitness programs. Wanda currently holds certifications in Zumba, Zumba Gold, Zumba Toning, Aqua Zumba, Strong Nation, Zumba Kids & Kids Jr., Zumbini, and Xtreme Hip Hop.
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.
Michele Capots

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.

Samantha Simons

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
Samantha is a peer professional, mindfulness guide, and creator who draws on experience with the arts to promote healing and empowerment offered through the vehicle of creative expression. Much of her personal recovery journey, work in the recovery realm, and the foundation of the AIRS project, comes from her deep-seated passion for the language of expressive arts. Artistic endeavors provide evidence-based outcomes in support of healing, post-traumatic growth, self-expression, and reparation. Samantha believes in a curious approach to art and how it intersects all the pieces of our identity. This can lead us to finding, clarifying, sharing, and even challenging the stories we tell about ourselves. She co-creates brave, intentional space with peers, setting the stage for individual self-expression and communal art as advocacy. An act of creating in any medium is an act of illustrating history, hope, and healing.
Monika Taylor

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.

Seth Pearson

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
Seth Pearson has been inside of the mental health world since mid-2014 and has worked, and is working, every single day towards wellness and recovery, after experiencing a lot of trauma and loss in his past. Though Seth has no experience working within the behavioral health field, his past experiences have helped to shape his journey, and have been the leading force behind him beginning his own healing business project, entitled, “Heal with Seth Henry”, in which he takes what he has learned and utilizes it in order to help himself and others who are struggling. In addition to being the founder of “Heal with Seth Henry”, Seth is also a client at the Merrifield Peer Resource Center, and also a facilitator of the “Hope and Healing Journey” that is held there on Friday afternoons. He is a long-time resident of Northern Virginia and currently lives in Fairfax.  
Niecia Bullock

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.

Dan Brown of Reflex Improv

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.

Michelle Hurrell

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.