Meet our Board
Joann Stephens - President /
Joann's family moved to Westfield
when she was three years old. She
attended the Westfield School
District and graduated for the
Pioneer Westfield High School in
1991. Joann married Michael
Stephens in 1993 and they have
three children. Joann is an active
member of NAMI - the National
Alliance on Mental Illness. She was
elected to the NAMI Wisconsin
Board of Directors at the 2005
I've learned that having a mental illness is not a personal weakness or something to be
ashamed of. Mental illnesses are real brain disorders, they are treatable, and most
have over an 80% recovery rate. Yet, because of social stigma and lack of education,
shame is a large part of having a mental illness. I see so many people isolate
themselves for fear of what people will think of them. I believe that the days of treating
mental illness like a dark family secret are vanishing, as we're beginning to see so many
public people and celebrities talk of their experiences with mental illnesses.
We are incorporating Equine Therapy into our services in order to help individuals with
mental illnesses gain a heightened self esteem and more confidence. The programs
are designed to enhance social skills by providing the rider with caring volunteer
assistance and a deep bond with the horse, as well as with the other participants in the
equine therapy program.
My goal for Stable Life, Inc. is to provide some of the big city services to our rural
community for people affected by mental illness. Mental illness doesn't just affect the
person diagnosed, it also affects family, friends, co-workers and community as well.
People need to be educated on the illness affecting themselves or their loved ones.
The community needs to be educated as well, in order to stop Stigma and for people to
be able to fully recover from their illness.
Stable Life is my way of sharing resources and connecting people in need."
Click here to read our personal success story.
Click here to e-mail Joann.
Annette LaVia - Vice President / Early Childhood Special Education
Annette is the lead teacher in an early childhood special education program. She
earned her master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Elmhurst
College in May of 2005. She has a bachelor's degree in Human Services from the
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She has been working with children with varying
degrees of mental illness for 10 years.
Annette develops the social skills building activities for Stable Life to enhance the
participant's abilities to relate to their peers.
Click here to e-mail Annette.
Melissa Jones - Secretary / Occupational Therapy Assistant
Melissa was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Houston, TX. She returned to
Wisconsin in 1992 and currently lives in Fond du Lac. Melissa is a Manager in a group
home in Fond du Lac for mentally and developmentally disabled adults. Melissa is a
NAMI Certified Peer to Peer Mentor and is has taught several Peer to Peer courses for
NAMI Fox Valley in Appleton, WI and for NAMI Mid Central WI in Westfield, WI.
"I was first introduced to mental illness when my nephew was born with Autism. He is
now 10 years old and I am blessed to have a special bond with him. Throughout his
life I have helped raise him and have dealt with medical and school issues surrounding
his mental illness. Over the last three years I have attended many classes, seminars,
and training workshops and have learned a great deal about mental and
developmental illnesses. Being a manager in a group home for adults with mental and
developmental disabilities, I work closely with mental health providers and the families
of our clients on a daily basis.
I believe Stable Life will help children and adults with mental illness achieve a higher
therapy will promote self determination and allow people with mental illness the
opportunity to experience a more thorough recovery by educating, advocating, and
helping other people with mental illness issues."
Click here to e-mail Melissa.
Michael Stephens - Treasurer
Mike has an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice and is a Sergeant at Columbia
Correctional Institution in Portage, WI. He is also a volunteer EMT with the Marquette
County Emergency Medical Services.
"Having both a wife and daughter with mental illnesses has prompted me to seek how
to be a bigger support to them. It is hard for me to comprehend what they are going
through at times, but through education and talking to other people affected by mental
illness, I gain a much deeper insight.
My goals for Stable Life are to continue learning about mental illnesses and to be a
stronger advocate for my family. I am also excited about facilitating spouse and
parent support groups in order to promote a better understanding and deeper
compassion for family members of those diagnosed with mental illnesses."
Click here to e-mail Mike.
"I left my career in insurance to recover from my mental illness and to help my
daughter in her recovery. I don't know that I would have ever done any more
than just treat my depression and quietly live my life, but when my daughter's
illness became severe, I wanted to show her that she had no reason to hide.
She could get treatment, recover, and be treated with dignity and respect in
the process. I wanted better for her than what was generally available within
the mental health system and in the way our society view mental illness.
Stable Life, Inc.
citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only
thing that ever has."