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 served on the Iowa Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council (2014*2018) and the Iowa Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisory Committee and Workgroups (2015-2018), 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.