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Michaela Whitley began working with Mental Health Colorado in 2022 as an intern while pursuing her graduate degree. She graduated with a Masters of Public Health in Health Equity from Simmons University, where she was the recipient of the Future Leaders in Health Equity Scholarship. Her studies focused on the intersections of mental illness with mass incarceration and policy. She has since transitioned into the role of Program Manager for Care Not Cuffs. She has previously worked in holistic dementia care and in service assessment for a community mental health center.

Michaela is driven by the need for accessible, safe and affirming mental health care for those living with severe and stigmatized conditions and for the justice-involved. She believes in developing the future of mental health care through policy work, advocacy, and prioritizing peer-led and community-based supports. She draws on her own experiences of bipolar disorder and anxiety alongside the struggles of navigating a broken mental health care system.

Michaela received a bachelor’s degree in public history from Bennington College, and aims to integrate her understanding of social histories with health equity frameworks into her work. She enjoys painting, being outdoors, writing and spending time with friends, family and her rescue dog Huck.