About Keep The Promise
KTP: ADVOCATING FOR COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH SOLUTIONS SINCE 1999!
Keep the Promise Coalition is dedicated to advocating for a comprehensive, community mental health system for adults, children and families in Connecticut. Won’t you join us?
The KEEP THE PROMISE Coalition was formed in 1999 after the closure of two large adult state psychiatric hospitals when people living with mental illness, family members, providers and advocates met to discuss and address the mental health crisis in Connecticut.
The state’s promise to build a comprehensive, community mental health system in CT has not been kept, forcing many children and adults with mental illness into expensive settings such as emergency rooms, jails/prisons, homelessness and institutional care, some out-of-state. At the same time, individuals families with private insurance often cannot get the mental health care they need for themselves/their children.
In July 2000, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health issued a report documenting both the crisis and recommended solutions.
Spending money smarter on a system of care focused on preventative, early intervention, flexible, individualized, recovery/resiliency-oriented and evidence-based and promising practice services and supports, including housing, is proven to save lives and money!
Chairs of Keep The Promise Coalition
Jan VanTassel, Esq. –
Jan VanTassel is one of the two co-chairs of the overall Keep the Promise Coalition, as well as co-chair of the Adult Committee. She has been CLRP’s Executive Director since 1998, has been a public interest attorney for nearly thirty-five years. A 1977 graduate of Suffolk University Law School in Boston, she spent a year as a VISTA volunteer in Idaho before moving to Connecticut to work with legal services doing policy advocacy work at the State Capitol. She had a three year hiatus in New Mexico, where she worked at the Institute of Public Law, and spent six very long years managing the Alternate Care Unit (community services) of DSS, before she was able to return to legal services as the Executive Director of the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut.
While at LARCC, Jan founded the Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs and was a leading activist on public benefits, elder and disability issues. Jan serves on the Board of the CT Housing Coalition and the Advisory Board of the Office of Victim Services and is a member of the CT Bar Association’s House of Delegates. Jan also has a master’s degree in History from Tufts University and has had several articles published.
NOTE: Watch this space for an announcement for the new KTP Coalition co-chair, coming soon!
Paul Acker –
Paul Acker is the one of the co-chairs for the Adult Committee of the Keep the Promise Coalition. He currently works as a Social Rehabilitation Coordinator at the “Common Ground” Social Rehab Club, at InterCommunity, Inc. in East Hartford, CT. He started his career at Intercommunity as a rehab counselor and was promoted to coordinator within just three months. A long time Coalition Member, Paul is both an advocate and a consumer, and continues to be a strong proponent of community-based mental health services. Of note: He is the first consumer co-chair of KTP, and is also the 2010 winner of the 2010 Keep the Promise Coalitions “Extra Mile*” Award.” He also was recognized as the 2009 Advocate of the Year by the US Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association of CT (USPRA-CT).
Kristie Barber –
Kristie Barber is the vice-chair of the Adult Committee of the Keep the Promise Coalition, and is also the Executive Director of the Region II, Regional Mental Health Board which evaluates and advocates for community-based mental health services in 36 towns in South Central Connecticut. She became interested in KTP because of its grassroots nature and its proven effectiveness at the state capitol. Kristie is a natural advocate for people’s right to be treated fairly regardless of any obvious, hidden or perceived differences or disabilities. While employed at Yale New Haven Hospital, she received the Martin Luther King Human Rights Advocate Award.
Kristie has a special interest in mental health issues and the biases that affect people with mental illness or addiction. She brings her knowledge of the health care system having worked at Yale New Haven Hospital for 13 years as a Corporate Trainer and a Cultural Diversity Specialist. She recognizes the importance of advocating for financial resources to enhance the service system and has testified before the legislature on behalf of the people in the mental health service system.
Kristie’s educational background is also tied to her professional career. She has an Associates degree in Communications from Endicott College and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree from Wesleyan University.
Abby Anderson –
Abby Anderson is one of the co-chairs of the Keep the Promise Children’s Committee.
She is also the executive director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, an advocacy organization that consistently wins major victories for at-risk youth. Anderson took the reins at CTJJA in 2007 as the fiscal crisis hit the state and the country. She protected hard-won reforms, such as the Raise the Age bill, which removed many teens from adult courts and facilities. In naming her to its prestigious “40 Under 40” list, Connecticut Magazine said: “She has reframed juvenile justice as a mainstream issue by stressing the savings achieved by getting timely services to kids before their behavior becomes a public-safety concern.”
She holds various national and state positions that allow her to promote a more enlightened and effective juvenile justice system. Abby has served as co-chair of the Executive Committee of the National Juvenile Justice Network since 2007 and was formerly on the Executive Board of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
She is a member of the Executive Implementation Team overseeing the Connecticut’s Joint Juvenile Justice Plan between the Judicial Branch and Department of Children and Families and is an official appointee to the legislatively mandated Juvenile Jurisdiction Policy and Operations Coordinating Council.
Abby joined CTJJA in 2004 as a senior policy associate. She previously worked in development for a large, multi-service nonprofit. She holds an undergraduate degree from Grove City College and a masters of nonprofit management degree from Regis University.
Ann Smith –
Ann Smith is the other co-chair of the Keep the Promise Children’s Committee. Ann also serves as the Executive Director of the African-Caribbean American Parents of Children with Disabilities (AFCAMP), a parent-driven Hartford nonprofit that has been educating, empowering and engaging parents of children with special needs and other at risk children since 1999. She has a special interest in helping to ensure that parents and caregivers of children who have any of a broad range of mental health, physical, behavioral or emotional needs receive the information, resources and training to be their child’s best advocate. AFCAMP also works to involve parents and community in policy reform and systems change efforts to create equitable access to quality primary and behavioral health services for children from culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Ann has over sixteen years of experience in public behavioral health and was the Director of Legal Affairs at the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Trinity College, Hartford. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut School of Business, with a concentration in Health Care Management. Ann earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law and is a licensed attorney.