Mental Health America of Southwestern PA (MHA-SWPA) is dedicated to breaking down barriers and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health and substance use disorders. It has been our honor to be able to provide services to individuals in our community, while educating thousands about taking charge of their mental health. At this year’s annual meeting, Paul Gionfriddo, president of Mental Health America (national), spoke about the current state of mental health. Here is a replay of his speech:

2020 Innovations Award Winners

Since 2002, MHA-SWPA has recognized individuals, organizations, and businesses from Southwestern Pennsylvania who are making a difference in the lives of those who experience mental health and substance use disorders.

We are pleased to announce the following winners of the 2020 Innovations Awards:

Lifetime Achievement (00:00)

Stephen Christian-Michaels; Chief Strategy Officer at Wesley Family Services

Stephen has been a fixture in Western Pennsylvania mental health services for more than 22 years when he came to Family Services from Chicago. In those years, he has been a leader in behavioral health, working on developing systems and programs that break the mold of recovery and behavioral health care, and is passionate about creating the public policy and funding models to create independence for the individuals served. He was critical in navigating the merger between Family Services and Wesley Spectrum which took place in 2017. He is truly a strategic leader.

Community Advocacy (08:18)

Sally Anne Novak, Community Volunteer

For nearly three decades, Sally Anne has worked to improve the lives of others through her service to the community. She is an active volunteer at many local organizations, including establishing a patient advocacy program at Magee Women’s Hospital for women undergoing invasive testing for breast cancer, and dedicating her time at Excela Health.

Education (14:42)

Fred Rogers Center 

The mission of the Fred Rogers Center is to stay true to the vision of Fred Rogers, who was a pioneer of talking to children about mental health. The Center is home to the Fred Rogers Archive which contains more than 18,000 items used to create programming that in turn perpetuate Fred’s legacy.

Prevention (20:55)

Barbara Ferrier, Community Volunteer

Barbara’s focus has always been one of promoting positive opportunities for members of the community. She has served, and continues to serve, the community through her work as a board member for the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, Westmoreland Cultural Trust, and on the Board of Trustees for Westmoreland County Community College. Additionally, she is active in numerous other Greensburg-area nonprofits such as Boy Scouts of America, CASA, and Parentwise.

Recovery (26:16)

Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS)

Since the October 27, 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting, Jewish Family and Community Services has been leading the community recovery response by providing comprehensive care and counseling to bereaved and injured families, witnesses, and the broader community.

Media (33:36)

Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller, Freelance Writer

Maryann began her journalism career as a fulltime reporter for the Irwin Standard/Times Observer, and the Latrobe Bulletin in the 1960s. Since then she has turned to freelance writing, has been a contributing author for several local publications and has written about Mental Health America of Southwestern PA as well as Ray of Hope events over the years, as well as other articles about important behavioral health issues.



Innovations raises funds to support Mental Health America of Southwestern PA’s (MHA-SWPA) mission and vision, while ensuring the availability of its critical programming to those who need it most. These funds help us continue our mission of making sure that everyone has access to preventative services and treatment programs.

Your support is essential in helping Mental Health America of Southwestern PA to raise funds to support our life-changing programs. Please help us by supporting Innovations. You can download an information packet which contains sponsorship opportunities as well as opportunities for advertising and in-kind donations. If you would prefer to simply make a donation, this can be done through our website.