Thank You Founding Members

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Access, Action and Advocacy on behalf of California’s Psychiatric Physicians and the people we serve.

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I joined PPAC because I believe in the importance of representation from the whole state in advocacy for California psychiatrists and patients.  Randall Hagar's involvement as head lobbyist was also a significant factor in my decision.  I'm excited to be part of a new venture and working with familiar people on issues about which I care deeply!

Shannon Suo, MD

Treasurer, PPAC

Introducing the Founding Members of PPAC, each one aware of the vital importance of advocacy to ensure the integrity of mental health policy throughout California. 

Founding members and others in PPAC whom they represent are committed to making sure the voices and concerns of the state's practicing psychiatrists are heard and respected. They urge their colleagues throughout the state to join PPAC and work toward mental health integrity with a unified message - Access, Quality, Equity.

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 As the first popularly elected CPA president 52 years ago, I encourage you to support the new statewide psychiatric advocacy group, the Psychiatric Physicians Alliance of California, PPAC.  We must continue to advise the Legislature how best to improve treatment and rehabilitation of the seriously mentally ill in California.   We need better outreach to the homeless and encouragement to others who may not recognize treatable disabilities or be aware of their eligibility for restorative rehabilitation services. 

Thanks, for joining in this effort.

Cap Thomson, MD

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Broad-based, laser-focused California advocacy for psychiatrists and patients - The Psychiatric Physicians Alliance of California has the same legendary lobbyists and psychiatrist-based government affairs apparatus as the former California Psychiatric Association but without the expansive infrastructure.  One place for all California psychiatrists, no matter mode or place of practice or professional affiliation, to kick in $29 a month for time-tested, successful advocacy.  That’s less than 2 lattes a week to save and support the work of our profession.

Ronald Thurston, MD

President, PPAC

2020…truly transformative! A deadly pandemic exposed ever-present racial disparities in healthcare; rampant financial hardships from public health recommendations; civil protests of police-caused black fatalities; opportunity for US’  reckoning with racism; Congressional dysfunction reflective of the country’s cultural divide and a presidential election vainly contested by the incumbent. 

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The Psychiatric Physicians Alliance of California (PPAC) is the leader in experienced, steadfast and proven advocacy for psychiatrists in California.  The PPAC Government Affairs Committee has formal representation from all regions in the state: Northern, Southern and Central (including San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange Counties).  PPAC is lead by psychiatrists who have volunteered for decades to successfully represent psychiatrists and our field of medicine.  Indeed, PPAC leaders know how to protect our profession and, more importantly, our most vulnerable patients. PPAC welcomes all psychiatrists, with focus on optimizing psychiatric care in California.    

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 The powerhouse team of Lila Schmall, Randall Hagar and Jim Gross is unquestionably the most effective psychiatric advocacy team in California.  Experience and outcomes matter and I encourage all psychiatrists in California to support PPAC so it can support your profession for many years to come.

Robert McCarron, D.O.

Past President, Central California Psychiatric Society and California Psychiatric Association

Organizational psychiatry too has transformed allowing California psychiatrists to get in on the ground floor of a new type of affiliation not contingent on APA membership. I urge you to join PPAC to deal with the aftermath of 2020. 

Yvonne B. Ferguson, MD, MPH,

Past-president of CPA & Founding Member of PPAC

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I am old enough to remember the founding of CPA and to have witnessed the repeated CONFLICTS among our California DBs. Thus, it was not a surprise that CPA finally closed its doors. I strongly support the establishment of PPAC. Psychiatry in our state is facing myriad challenges and the need for strong ADVOCACY is critical. PPAC as it is now structured retains what is the BEST part of the old CPA. PPAC preserves the years of solid work in building a strong legislative presence and critical alliances with CMA, NAMI and other partners for our profession to address the many urgent service needs including access to care and proper reimbursement for our services. I urge all to support PPAC. 

Maria Lymberis, MD

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As many of us have learned over the years, studying medicine, going through psychiatry residency, and being proficient in providing good direct care to our patients is not enough to help them. It is very important to navigate administrative, legal, and political issues to make sure those we serve fully benefit from the treatment we provide. This can only be done by advocacy. PPAC is very important in this regard and I am proud to be a member of this body.

Nakul Varshney, MD

I joined PPAC to represent the indigent patient population with chronic psychiatric conditions. The people I serve are often unable to advocate for themselves. I am passionate about advocacy for these patients in Solano County and the prison patient population with comorbid substance-related conditions whom I also serve. I seek out legislators and policymakers as needed, to represent my patient population in mental health, address parity issues and the practice of psychiatry. I voice my opinion. I believe in the able leadership of PPAC with Randall Hagar’s years of personal experience and dedication.

Firdouse Huq, MD

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California is, perhaps, the only state where having a presence in the State Capitol is essential.  A statewide advocacy organization is critical in ensuring that public health issues and the welfare of our patients are protected.  PPAC was developed in order to have ALL California psychiatrists support this effort.  Along with our coalition partners, such as the CMA, we seek to have both our and our patients’ voices heard by those who would set policy in Sacramento.

George Fouras, MD

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As a psychiatrist, I’ve long believed that psychiatrists needed to have a seat at the policy table and a robust presence in our state’s capital to fight for things like LPS reform, and parity. When I was President of the California Psychiatric Association, one of my tasks was to preside over the hiring of a new lobbyist who would take us to the next level. We did that and now, that same lobbyist works for PPAC, carrying on the relationships and credibility we built over the years. I’m gratified and pleased that PPAC has stepped up to meet the challenge.

Liz Galton, MD

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I support the goal of Advocacy in California. I am proud to have in my photo Michael Dukakis. We were at the SCPS dinner honoring his wife for her work as an Advocate for ECT. We need to have more friends in government and be represented at the

 highest level of government. The most important work to be done with the Pandemic will come to Psychiatry. I hope all will join me with the voice we need to represent Mental Health and the vital work that can only be done by Psychiatrists. Please join me with your support for PPAC.

Steve Soldinger MD

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I believe that PPAC carries on the strong tradition of representing psychiatrists. When Captane Thomson M.D. was installed as the first president of a statewide organization representing psychiatrists I was there because I believed we needed a strong advocacy organization in the State Capitol. I still do. I was there for the introduction of Laura’s Law by Assemblymember Helen Thomson a psychiatric nurse, who just happened to be Caps wife. 

I’m very proud to have worked with Randall Hagar on establishing a Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier campaign, and I believe we can almost say mission accomplished. Again, psychiatry must be at the table, which is why I became President of the Northern California Psychiatric Society (1991-1993), and schisms that have divided psychiatry must be bridged and united to speak with one voice. 

Mel Blaustein, MD

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I’ve advocated for mental health issues for 25 years, both as a family advocate and also on behalf of psychiatrists. I helped to found and am helping to sustain PPAC because there is no better use of my professional skills than

 to continue my work on behalf of psychiatrists and the patients they serve. Sound mental health policy impacts all the people of California and it's my privilege to play a role in its development and implementation. 

Randall Hagar, PPAC Policy Advocate and Principal of Empirical Policy

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Continuing the important work of supporting the psychiatrists who advocate for the most vulnerable population among us was an easy and natural choice for me. I did the work for 27 years with the CPA and am honored to continue with the Psychiatric Physicians Alliance.

I am proud of the work the PPAC has accomplished and anticipate continued, strong advocacy and legislative successes in years to come. United, as a statewide organization, we can truly represent the best outcomes for California's psychiatric physicians and the people who depend on them for quality mental health care. 

Lila Schmall,

Executive Director

As an attorney and legislative advocate for the psychiatric profession for the last 20 years, I am committed to the ongoing efforts to improve our mental health system. In my years representing CPA and working with Randall

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Hagar I learned that PPAC leadership put the patient first. For me, continuing to work with those that chose to form PPAC was a logical and wise choice.

Jim Gross, PPAC Legislative Advocate and Legal Counsel