CO-FOUNDERS

OUR 
CO-FOUNDERS

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Katie Bourque (she/her)

has been providing peer support since 2010 and has experienced the power of mutuality and collective healing. She is a proponent of harm/risk reduction with all substances, including psychiatric medication. She believes drug exceptionalism hinders the Harm Reduction movement, that people should not be criminalized nor stigmatized for using drugs/substances/medicine, and that everyone has the right to cognitive freedom. These core beliefs inspired the birth of The Cognitive Liberty Project and serve as the foundation of the project. 

 

Katie considers medication one of many tools to navigate life and that holistic, non-medication approaches should be considered first. She also strongly believes that psychedelics can be a profound tool for guiding the human experience. Katie sees the peer movement as integral and critical to the mental health system of care. She is not anti-psychiatry, yet feels strongly that there is opportunity for growth and ethical re-considerations within the medical model - particularly as psychedelics move into the conversation. 

 

She has worked with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals for over a decade in prisons, hospitals, and in the community. Katie has also worked in numerous residential settings, including as the manager of Soteria Vermont, where she focused on supporting people experiencing first episode psychosis/extreme states/non-consensus reality. She has also managed a 24/7 peer support line and provided services using the Housing First model. Katie is currently the Operations and Outreach Director for Fireside Project - home of the Psychedelic Peer Support Line. 

 

Katie aspires to reform systems that perpetuate oppression and to create inclusive and dynamic community spaces.


You can follow Katie on Instagram and LinkedIn

J River Helms (they/them)

currently works as a Training Specialist at Pathways Vermont, an agency that ends homelessness and offers innovative mental health services. They’ve previously worked as a service coordinator on an ACT team in Pathways Vermont’s Housing First program and a peer support advocate at a community mental health agency, as well as a project manager, editor, and educator. 

 

In their role at Pathways, J facilitates various trainings including Intentional Peer Support, Mad Movement Histories, Harm Reduction, Harm Reduction Approach to Psychiatric Drugs, Person-Centered Service Planning, Conversations About Suicide, and Conversations About Oppression and Privilege. J also has an MFA in Creative Writing (The University of Alabama, 2013) and considers their madness integral to their work as a storyteller and storytelling as integral to their work in peer support. 

 

J comes to The Cognitive Liberty Project with their lived experience first: J is a queer nonbinary nuerodivergent person living in a deeply homophobic, transphobic, and sanist society. Their relationship with psychiatric drugs spanned nearly a decade and they were on multiple psych drugs consistently for over five years. As part of their journey to uncover their own insight and make their own meaning, J began their coming off process in fall of 2016 and finished in June of 2017. They believe that psych drugs are just one tool among many and that fully informed consent must be a part of all conversations around psych drug use. 

 

J believes strongly that each person is the expert of their own experience, that folks have a right to their own stories, insight, and meaning-making processes, and that all mental health and substance use services must be provided through a lens of cognitive liberty, epistemic justice, anti-oppression, anti-coercion, and anti-force. As such, J is an advocate for abolishing psychiatry, prisons, and police; and they work to reimagine community care that centers autonomy, choice, accountability, and minimization of harm.

OUR CONTRIBUTORS

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Koblavi Dogah (he/him)

Panelist Drummer

is a percussionist /dancer born in the southern region of Ghana, West Africa. He started learning Ewe dance and drumming when he was 5 years old with the late Mr. Godwin Agbeli, a world-renowned traditional Ewe Drummer. Mr Agbeli established a Ghanaian music and dance school called Dagbe Cultural Center in  Kopeyia, Aflao. By the age of 12, Koblavi was teaching drum and dance workshops/private lessons at the school. With his passion to perform and learn West African music more deeply, he toured in Ghana and the neighboring countries. 

 

Koblavi attended Berklee college of music and received his bachelor of music with Education focus. He was the first full-ride scholarship through the African Scholars Program.  He has taught workshops and performed at various schools such as Berklee College of Music, St .Michaels College in Vermont,  and led workshops for elementary and secondary schools festivals and camps. 

 

Koblavi Dogah is passionate about preserving his traditional music and dance. Creating a positive learning environment for his students is Koblavi’s first priority.

Mettie Ostrowski (she/her)

Contributing Photographer

is a photographer and production designer based in New York City.

She graduated from Northeastern University with a BFA in Graphic Design and Photography.

Her work has been published by VogueEntertainment WeeklyPeople MagazineGarage MagazineFast CompanyDOG, and more. 

She is fond of cinema, vintage clothing, flea markets, and the intertidal zone. 

Learn more about Mettie: 

www.mettieostrowski.com

Get in touch: 

mettie.ostrowski@gmail.com

Special Thanks To

Chyrell D. Bellamy, PhD, MSW

Ayana Jordan, MD, MSW

Maria E. Restrepo-Toro, MS

Dana Asby, MA, MEd

Kelly Staples - Yale Mentorship

Emily Livingston - Creative Partner and Website Developer

Eric Maier - Website Design Contributor