Sep 19, 2020
Ronda "Ro" Speight is a mental health peer specialist and recovery advocate at the Mental Health Association of Westchester in Westchester County, New York. She is a person with lived experience with the psychiatric system and a trained co-facilitator in an innovative approach that combines peer support and principles of the Open Dialogue approach called Peer Supported (Partnered) Open Dialogue (POD). POD is currently being tested in a large randomized clinical trial in the UK.
Ro was a service recipient in the Parachute Program NYC, which provided mobile crisis services and implemented respite centers in New York City—combining Intentional Peer Support and Open Dialogue informed practices. The Parachute program was discontinued, but the peer respite model it introduced in New York continues to exist. Her engagement with peers in Parachute shaped her views on mental health care and inspired her to pursue a career as a peer specialist.
Identifying as a person of color, Ro was profoundly affected by her mother's professional success as a clinical social worker who holds a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is highly aware of the obstacles women of color face in society and brings a racial justice perspective to the highly innovative practice of Peer Supported (Partnered) Open Dialogue.