The Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative (S2i)

Advancing transformation of mental health by catalyzing cross-sectoral reforms, strengthening collaborations, and bridging gaps.

What is S2i?

S2i seeks to advance transformation in mental health for all. Committed to collaboration and strategic interventions, S2i uses a “disruptive think-tank” model to:

  1. Integrate mental health policy and program reform with aligned efforts in other sectors.
  2. Help philanthropy identify and support both immediate interventions and the long-term strategic reform arc.
  3. Articulate and help address difficult issues that impede mental health policy and practice transformation.

S2i Projects and Areas of Focus

The Front End Project

S2i has partnered with Fountain House, the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC), the Center for Court Innovation, and The W. Haywood Burns Institute to use a public health lens to identify and advance how communities can effectively respond to mental health emergencies and crises without use of the criminal legal system. Through baseline analyses and cross-sector convenings, S2i intends to contribute to policy and practice reform in both the criminal legal and mental health system.

Promoting Increased Investment

S2i plans to elevate the importance and potential of mental health-related investments in philanthropic circles, including through support of joint-learning and field-bridging. S2i notes, for example, that the growing philanthropic commitment to end mass incarceration can be expedited and strengthened by efforts to reform mental health and substance use policy and practice. For more information how philanthropy can prioritize mental health, please see Ken Zimmernan’s Inside Philanthropy op-ed.

Elevating the Voice of Individuals with Lived Experience to Shape Mental Health Policy and Practice Design

Too often, persons with lived experience are not authentically involved in developing and implementing mental health policy and program reform. S2i is interested in advancing new approaches to promote engagement, leadership, and decision-making from individuals with lived experience, especially those from communities of color and other communities that have faced historic marginalization.

For more information about S2i objectives, approach, and rationale, see our S2i Summary.

How are JED and S2i collaborating?

With a strong common commitment to the importance of transformation in the systems that advance mental health for all, JED is housing S2i, providing active thought partnership as well as administrative and staffing support. While S2i operates independently, JED brings its extensive expertise in teenage and young adult mental health to project development and program planning to the partnership. JED Executive Director and CEO John MacPhee was one of the original members of the S2i advisory committee. JED is excited about using its expertise, organizational reach, and other resources to help S2i with its seed projects, research, convenings, and other activities.

To receive more information about S2i and learn more about our work, please contact Margot Cronin-Furman at

S2i Staff

Ken Zimmerman

Originator and Co-Director of S2i

Ken Zimmerman is the founder and co-director of S2i. A noted policy maker, civil rights leader, and philanthropist, he has increasingly focused on how to transform the nation’s broken mental health system following the mental illness and death of his son Jared in 2016. In doing so, he builds on his lengthy experience building (and dismantling barriers to) equitable and effective policy and program related to criminal justice reform, housing and homelessness, and other social policy areas critical to creating a society in which every individual’s dignity is acknowledged and supported.

From 2012-2018, Ken served as the Director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Foundations, where he directed over $100 million in grants to organizations focused on equality, fairness, and justice. Previously, he served as a member of the Obama Administration’s HUD transition team as Senior Advisor to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. In addition, he was a litigation partner for the pro bono practice group at Lowenstein Sandler, Chief Counsel to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, and founding Executive Director of the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice. A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School, Ken also serves as a Distinguished Fellow at the NYU Furman Center and teaches at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Fred Karnas

Co-Director of S2i

Fred Karnas is co-leading the S2i effort. Fred brings a long history of work in the areas of housing, health, and human services, with a special focus on addressing the needs of homeless persons, older Americans, and persons with disabilities. He has served as executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless and at HUD in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, Director of the Office of AIDS Housing, and Director of the Interagency Council on the Homeless. He also served as a senior advisor to the Secretary of HUD in the Obama administration and in Arizona Governor Napolitano’s cabinet as Director of the Arizona Department of Housing and the Arizona Housing Finance Authority. Currently, Fred is a senior fellow at the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, having joined RMHF after serving several years in a similar position at The Kresge Foundation. He also served as President and CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives in Phoenix. Fred holds degrees from the University of Virginia School of Architecture and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work, as well as a PhD from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech.

Keris Jän Myrick

Co-Director of S2i

Keris Jän Myrick is a co-director of S2i. Ms. Myrick was formerly the Chief of Peer and Allied Health Professions for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and has served as the Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs for the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) of the United States Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and was the Board President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Ms. Myrick is a leading mental health advocate and executive, known for her innovative and inclusive approach to mental health reform and the public disclosure of her personal story (as featured in the New York Times series: Lives Restored). Ms. Myrick has over 15 years of experience in mental health services innovations, transformation, and peer workforce development. She is known for her collaborative style and innovative “whole person” approach to mental health. Myrick serves on the board of the National Association of Peer Supporters and is a Co-Editor of the Journal of Psychiatric Services “Lived Experience and Leadership” column. Ms. Myrick has a MS in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology of Alliant International University and an MBA from Case Western University’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Marie Monrad

S2i Strategic Consultant

Marie Monrad is currently the Principal at Monrad Strategies, providing strategic consulting for S2i and non-profit organizations, governments, cultural and tribal organizations. She previously served as Vice President for Strategy and Operations at Kaiser Permanente’s national headquarters in Oakland, CA for the health system’s Office of Labor Management Partnership, working on internal performance improvement and external relations with major public sector and union health purchasers.  Prior to that she served as the Public Policy Director for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at the union’s national headquarters in Washington DC, where she researched, developed  and represented the union’s positions on economic, fiscal, health and social welfare issues at the White House and federal agencies as well as with governors, mayors and legislatures.  She also held the Assistant West Region Director position for AFSCME, responsible for political, legislative, organizing and public opinion campaigns in 13 states.  She worked as a counselor in a residential treatment center for court-appointed youth and as a Civil Rights Investigator at the Human Relations Commission in Sioux Falls, SD, and as a lobbyist in the SD legislature. She has a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a B.S. degree from Moorhead State University in Moorhead, MN and completed the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard’s Business School.

Margot Cronin-Furman

Chief of Staff, S2i

Margot Cronin-Furman is a graduate intern at S2i. Ms. Cronin-Furman is currently a Master’s in Public Administration student at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service specializing in Health Policy and Management. Prior to her MPA, she completed her Masters in Social Work at Boston University and then spent nearly a decade as a medical social worker in pediatric and adult hospitals in Boston and NYC. She has worked clinically with patients and their families in multiple settings including emergency departments, intensive care units, solid organ and bone marrow transplant units, and pediatric long term care. During her MSW, Ms. Cronin-Furman completed a specialized Trauma Certificate Program and has provided trainings to interdisciplinary audiences on the effect of trauma on individuals, families, and systems. Ms. Cronin-Furman brings her clinical and educational background as well as her own mental health experiences to the S2i effort.

Advisory Committee

  • Julian Adler, Director of Policy and Research Center for Court Innovation, New York City
  • Xav Briggs, Professor, NYU
  • Kenna Chic, Former President of Project Lighthouse, Washington, DC
  • Rebecca Cokley, Program Officer and Director, Disability Justice Initiative, Ford Foundation, Washington, DC
  • Richard Frank, Professor of Health Policy, Director, Cambridge, MA
  • Sherry Glied, NYU Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Dean, New York City
  • Andy Keller, President and CEO, Meadows Mental Health Public Policy Institute, Dallas, TX
  • Kimberlyn Leary, Senior Vice President, Urban Institute, Washington, DC
  • Stephanie LeMelle, Director of Public Psychiatry Education, Columbia University, New York City
  • John MacPhee, Executive Director, Jed Foundation, New York City
  • Kevin Martone, Executive Director, Technical Assistance Collaborative, Boston
  • Marie Monrad, Consultant formerly with Kaiser Permanente and AFSCME, CA
  • Keris Myrick, Co-director at S2i, formerly with Los Angeles County Dept. of Mental Health, Los Angeles
  • Bill Smith, Founder, Inseparable, Washington, DC
  • Ashwin Vasan, President and CEO, Fountain House, New York City
  • Vikki Wachino, Principal, Viaduct Consulting, LLC, Washington, DC
  • Sheryl Whitney, Partner and management consultant, Whitney Jennings Partner, Seattle

Council of Experts

Philanthropic Supporters

  • Ballmer Group
  • Ford Foundation (project funder)
  • Open Society Foundation
  • Pew Charitable Trust
  • Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (in-kind)
  • The Jed Foundation (in-kind)