about us:

Dionne Bensonsmith (she, her, hers) is a  co-founder and co-director of Mothers on the Frontline. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.  A former basketball player, she earned her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame where she played for the legendary Muffet McGraw.   Dionne has four children, one girl and three boys, one of whom has autism and a mood disorder. Her experiences navigating the mental health system and advocating on behalf of her son has led her to become involved with children’s mental health advocacy. Her research specialties include public policy, race and gender politics, health and social policy, and reproductive health. A recipient of fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Pew Foundation, Cornell University, and Syracuse University, Dionne’s work in the areas of diversity and public policy has been recognized by the University of Michigan and the Ford Foundation. She is currently living in Southern California where she teaches classes on politics, gender, race, transnational feminism, and public policy at the Claremont Colleges.  She is one of the principle investigators of the Women of Color Reproductive Health Study.  When she is not working, blogging or involved in the myriad activities associated with parenting four active children, she enjoys reading, taking long walks, and is a novice practitioner of meditation and yoga.

Tammy Nyden (she, her, hers) is a  co-founder and co-director of Mothers on the Frontline. She is a mother and an advocate for children’s mental health. She has two sons, one of whom has Tourette’s syndrome, autism, and a mood disorder. She is a founding member of the NAMI Iowa Children’s Mental Health Committee and Parents Creating Change in Iowa. In 2015 she organized a coalition of 45 member organizations and 90 mental health professionals, advocates, and stakeholders who wrote a Statewide Call for Action: A Strategic Plan for a Children’s Mental Health Redesign in Iowa. She now serves on the Iowa Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council and the Iowa Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisory Committee, a state effort to build an effective children’s mental health system. An Associate Professor of Philosophy at Grinnell College, she is particularly interested in how her study of Spinoza’s philosophy and the history and philosophy of science can be applied to children’s mental health policy.  She currently is enjoying learning how to play the alto sax (something that has always been on her bucket list) and practices meditation and mindfulness.

Angela Riccio (she, her, hers).  Angela has been a long time advocate for the health and well-being of children and families.  She has been a Parent-Facilitator for teenage parents with Greater DuPage MYM (now Teen Parent Connection.)  She and her husband founded Accelerate Progress, a charitable organization dedicated to helping terminally and seriously ill patients access compassionate use drugs and speed the process of drug approval at the FDA.  She has sat on the Boards of Willow Oak Montessori Preschool and Willow Oak Montessori School Foundation, as well as being a Founding Board Member for Willow Oak Montessori Public Charter School in Chapel Hill, NC.  Through her own life and family journey, Angela has experience in dealing with a range of mental health related issues, including but not limited to postpartum depression, anxiety and depression (distinctly and as comorbidity to physical illness), PTSD, and addiction.  She approaches each situation from a place of compassion, and believes every individual should have access to the professional care and support they need.  In her free time Angela is an avid cook and baker with certifications in the Pastry Arts.  Cooking for and feeding people is, for her, a meditative and healing practice.  She also enjoys reading, walks in the forests and beaches near her Seattle home and time spent with her husband and two children.