INTAR Coordinator Profiles

INTAR Coordinators plan INTAR’s conferences and oversee the networking and collaborations among INTAR’s networks of survivors, professionals, researchers, family members and advocates.

Peter StastnyPeter Stastny
Peter Stastny received his medical degree from the University of Vienna and completed a psychiatric residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Since then, Peter has conducted research on the effects of long-term institutionalization, family influence, peer support, self-help and advance directives. He has been a consultant and founding member of several user-run organizations, and has provided advocacy and expert testimony in many cases dealing with psychiatric malpractice and forced treatment. Peter is also documentary film-maker and author of many scholarly and literary articles. He served on the Board of Windhorse Associates and the National Associations of Rights, Protection and Advocacy and is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.

Laurie AhernLaurie Ahern
Laurie Ahern is the President of Disability Rights International ( DRI) and is responsible for all of the day-to-day operations of the organization. She also oversees Disability Rights International’s European offices in Kosovo and Serbia. She conducts human rights investigations and is the co- author of Torture not Treatment, United States; Torment not Treatment, Serbia; Behind Closed Doors, Turkey; Hidden Suffering, Romania. DRI was recently awarded the Senator Paul and Mrs. Sheila Wellstone Mental Health Visionary Award (2009) and the Thomas J. Dodd Award in International Justice and Human Rights (2007).

For ten years prior to joining Disability Rights International, Ahern was the co-founder and co-director of the National Empowerment Center, Inc. (NEC), a national, federally funded recovery and technical assistance center for people diagnosed with mental illness and their families.

Ahern was the editor of the award-winning NEC newsletter and co-created the Empowerment Model of Recovery and the PACE model, a non-coercive alternative to traditional mental health services. Her work has been featured in many professional journals, in the media, and the PACE manual has been translated into nine languages. She is the recipient of the National Mental Health Association’s Clifford Beers Award and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s Advocacy Award. In addition, she has conducted workshops, given talks and organized conferences for consumers/survivors/users, families and mental health providers to promote recovery. Ahern is the former vice president of the National Association of Rights, Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) and editor of the NARPA newsletter, The Tenet.

Prior to her position at the NEC, she was the managing editor of several newspapers and freelance writer for The Boston Globe and Associated Press and has won national awards for her investigative and editorial writing and reporting. She is also a member of the National Press Club.

Ron BassmanRon Bassman
At 25, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the second time in three years. Diagnosis: chronic
schizophrenia; treatments: electro-shock, insulin comas and massive doses of Thorazine. After I recovered from my “treatments” and addressed the identity issues that triggered my excursion into madness, I earned my doctorate and became a licensed psychologist. My current work includes psychotherapy, consultation and University teaching. Advocacy and activism fills the remainder of my non-family time. In June 2007 I published the book, A Fight to Be: A Psychologist’s Experience from Both Sides of the Locked Door.

 Brian McKinnon is a community development worker with Alternatives and the Leadership Project in Toronto, Canada.  He works with users/survivors, families and professionals to initiate and coordinate educational events that address the recovery model, produce educational videos and promote systemic reforms which increase rights, opportunities and quality of life for psychiatric users/survivors.  He is a family member, and a long-time ally of the psychiatric survivor movement.