Oral Histories

Clients, families, social workers, advocates, psychologists, psychiatrists, and DMH staff are all part of the fabric of the story of mental health in California and in LA County and how it has been transformed over the years. Each person brings a unique life story and perspective, but all are committed to making life better for those who suffer from mental illness. Here are some of their personal stories.



Mandel, Susan

Interviewed by: Marcia Meldrum and Howard Padwa

Susan Mandel earned her doctorate in psychology from the University of Cincinnati in 1968. She worked as a staff psychologist at Alameda County Hospital prior to becoming Director of Mental Health for the County in 1975. In 1980, she became CEO of Pasadena Child Guidance Clinics, which became Pacific Clinics in 1987, and oversaw its growth from a small non-profit with a budget under $1 million to a large, multi-cultural network of clinics with a budget of nearly $100 million. In 2007, Pacific Clinics merged with Portals. Mandel has been active on the State Mental Health Planning Council and on the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies


March, Stella

Interviewed by: Marcia Meldrum and Amanda Nelligan

Mrs. Stella March was an early founder and organizer of NAMI in California. She graduated from Hunter College, worked with the Red Cross in the Pacific in World War II, organizing shows for the troops, and as an advertising and radio copywriter in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Her son's illness sparked her involvement in NAMI and she has been an advocate for increased research funding and better housing for the mentally ill since 1979, working on both the national and local level. She is especially noted for her work in StigmaBusters, reducing stigmatizing images of the mentally ill in the popular media, and in NAMI educational programs, such as In Our Own Voice. 


Marshall, Roy

Interviewed by: Kevin Miller

Roy Marshall is President and CEO of the San Fernando Valley Child and Family Guidance Center, a multisite mental health center which provides services to vulnerable and at-risk children and their families in the San Fernando and Antelope Valleys.  Mr. Marshall grew up in Encino; his parents were members of the group that founded the SFV Child Guidance Center in 1962.  He first started working at LAC-DMH in 1972 and received his Master's of Public Administration from USC in 1975.  After several years working for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, he became Executive Director of the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1979.  Mr. Marshall returned to California in 1993 and served as Director of the Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic in Bakersfield and at the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic before accepting his present position in 1990.  He is a past president of both the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies and the Association of Community Human Service Agencies.


Mayberg, Stephen

Interviewed by: Howard Padwa

Stephen Mayberg, PhD, retired as Director of the California Department of Mental Health in December 2010, after serving in this capacity for more than 17 years.  During his tenure, he embarked on an ambitious agenda that included major initiatives to reform the mental health system.  These reforms reflected changes based on programmatic research, and program outcomes and accountability.  Of greatest significance was his work on system change and services integration; Dr. Mayberg has always advocated for better access, the reduction of stigma and discrimination, and for the development of programs that meet the unique needs of disparate populations.  During his public service career, he was a consistent advocate for the importance of interagency programming and planning at the both the state and local levels.  Dr.  Mayberg received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota.  He completed his internship at the University of California Davis and worked in clinical, program coordination, and managerial positions in the California Mental Health System until his retirement, serving, among other positions, as Director of Mental Health for Yolo County.  Dr. Mayberg was appointed to the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in June 2002.  In addition, he has served on many Boards, Commissions and Task Forces related to mental health issues.  Dr. Mayberg has been recognized and honored numerous times at the state and national levels for his work in the mental health field.  Most important to Dr. Mayberg is his work as a clinician, placing primary focus on the needs of the individuals and families being served.  Throughout his entire public service career, he continued to make time to provide direct clinical services and is still active as a clinician in his retirement.


McCraven, Carl and Eva

Interviewed by: Marcia Meldrum

Carl C. McCraven trained as an engineer at Howard University and was working in the aerospace industry in Los Angeles when he became Chairman of the Board of the new Pacoima Memorial Hospital.  The Community Mental Health Center was founded as part of the Hospital in 1966.  He earned a master's degree in Health Sciences Administration and became an Associate Administrator of the Hospital.  In 1973, he became Executive Director of the Mental Health Center.  Eva S. McCraven was trained in Health Science and Psychology and became director of Health Education at the Pacoima Memorial Hospital.  When the hospital was forced to close in 1984, the McCravens salvaged the Community Mental Health Program and have continued to operate the Hillview Mental Health Center in their ethnically diverse low-income community.  Eva became CEO in 2004 and Carl continued to serve as CFO.  They have been particularly active in developing housing sites and programs for mentally ill offenders and for transitional age youth.


Myrick, Keris Jän

Interviewed by: Troy Gabrielson

Keris Jän Myrick earned a Master in Business Administration at Case Western Reserve University, a Master in Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Master of Science in Organizational Psychology.  She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.  After working as a college admissions counselor for many years, she became involved with NAMI, sitting on the board of NAMI San Gabriel Valley and, currently, NAMI National.  She also trains and presents with the NAMI educational program “In Our Own Voice.”  Among her many additional accomplishments, Ms. Myrick worked with Recovery Innovations in California, helping the peer empowerment organization expand in Ventura County, and she has been a consultant to the California Institute of Mental Health.  She has served as Executive Director of Project Return Peer Support Network since 2009.