Diane Van Maren, Former Mental Health Consultant for Darrell Steinberg, Appointed to NAMI California Board of Directors

Posted by Kassy Perry

SACRAMENTO—On Sunday, August 3rd, 2014, Diane Van Maren, former health and mental health consultant for Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, was appointed to the Board of Directors of NAMI California.

Van Maren’s appointment follows her recent retirement from state service, where she served as a consultant to Senator Darrell Steinberg on policy relating to health and mental health. Van Maren worked for Senator Steinberg for two years, and was a key consultant to numerous major pieces of mental health legislation passed during the Senator’s term, as well as legislation to expand the Medi-Cal Program and to implement the federal Affordable Care Act in California.

“Over an illustrious career, Diane Van Maren has developed an unrivaled knowledge and capacity to get things done. She was crucial force behind the scenes in securing mental healthcare as Medi-Cal benefit, and ensuring hundreds of millions in new funding for crisis mental health care. Diane will be a great asset to NAMI California and for those living with mental illness,” said California Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg.

Before working for Senator Steinberg, Van Maren served for 18 years as a senior consultant for to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee formulating key policy initiatives and fiscal details in the areas of heath, mental health, public health and developmental services.

“Mental health wellness is a key attribute for all of us to be successful as individuals, as families and as a broader community. Due to stigma and discrimination, mental health assistance and services have been under-funded from the start and the need for assistance and services is often misunderstood and not fully valued.

“I sought a position on the NAMI California Board because I believe NAMI California is poised with its Strategic Plan and leadership to effectuate considerable change in this paradigm. The expertise and strong voice of consumers and family members offers the opportunity to influence State policies regarding implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance changes, school and educational policies, and prevention and early intervention strategies. With my background in both health and mental health policy I believe I can offer NAMI guidance and policy assistance to broaden NAMI’s influence, seek additional funding opportunities and achieve policy changes. I think it is a very exciting time and I’m thrilled to join NAMI California’s Board as it leads into the future,” said Van Maren of her appointment.

Jessica Cruz, Executive Director of NAMI California, sees Van Maren’s addition to the board as a major step forward for NAMI California’s advocacy program. “Diane brings unrivaled expertise and institutional knowledge to our board at time when we are rapidly growing as an organization and expanding our advocacy efforts. She will be able to provide needed expertise and guidance as we broaden our efforts to impact mental health legislation at the State and Federal Level,” she said. “With the departure of Senator Steinberg due to term limits, we are extremely pleased that the person he trusted most on mental health policy is now a part of our brain-trust here at NAMI California.”

NAMI California is the state’s organization of the country’s largest mental health advocacy organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Our 19,000 members and 67 affiliates include many people living with serious mental illnesses, their families and supporters. NAMI California advocates on their behalf, providing education and support to its members and the broader community.