Walt Wade has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and 40 years working in the community. He has certifications as a Vermont State Recovery Coach, for people with substance abuse issues, he is also a Vermont State Recovery Coach to work with Family and Friends that are affected by the life of people with substance abuse issues.
Walt loves to help people, he is an avid Basketball fan, He has a great sense of humor that can change the mood of the room.
Walt has spent most of his life making changes in his life and helping others make changes in theirs. Walt has spent his life dealing with addiction and mental health issues. As of March 13, 2023, Walt will have 41 years of sobriety. During this time he has worked a 12-step program while helping a great many others learn how to work their 12-step program to develop a positive road to recovery.
Peer Advocate - North
Stephanie Kacanich is a Peer Advocate for Vermont Psychiatric Survivors. She is a psychiatric survivor as well as a person who is in recovery from alcohol whose passion for peer advocacy started in her early days of figuring out who she was in her recovery journey. Her professional experience started out at Turning Point of Chittenden County where she made her way from a volunteer to a Recovery Coach for the moms in Recovery Group and as an ED Recovery Coach at UVMMC. She also had the chance to go back to UVMMC Psych Units as a Mental Health Tech and not a Patient, which was a great experience because it gave her a way to show her peers that there was a path forward to a healthier life. Her mission in life is to help peers gain their confidence, happiness, and ability to live a happy life through forming a connection and by letting them choose their path to wellness.
Patient Represenative - North
Kat Parker is a Patient Representative for Vermont Psychiatric Survivors. Prior to working with VPS, she worked in the medical field for 12 years, working mostly in Cardiology and Neurology. She always made sure to take extra time for her patients to make sure that they felt comfortable and cared for.
Kat takes a Carrie Fisher approach to her mental health. She is not afraid to be transparent about her own mental health and neurodivergence. She is active in researching new ways to help people with different ways of neurodivergent thinking.
Kat lives at home with her husband and cat. She enjoys kayaking, being outdoors, and gaming. She has hobbies in arts, crafts and embroidery. She also enjoys reading and writing. She has a poem published about mental illness. She is a nerd and can have conversations about many nerdy things like gaming, movies, Broadway and books.
Peer Advocate - Central
Nate Lulek has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science and a minor in Developmental Psychology from the College of St. Joseph. This is round number two for Nate here at VPS. Previously he was the Forensic Peer Support Specialist for the Community Links Program initiated by Karen Lorentzon.
Nate loves the great outdoors. He is an avid gourmand, that enjoys trying new dishes and ingredients. Nate is also a raconteur. He always loves a good story. He has a wicked sense of humor, that he utilizes frequently to bring laughter and levity to situations.
Peer Advocate - South
Laura Shanks joins the team with a background in public relations, communications, activism, and holistic health.
A former publicist from New York, Laura has a strong interest in philosophy, self-inquiry, and self-healing. These interests, which stem from a lifelong search for truth, have become her life’s passion.
After spending several years traveling, teaching, and studying abroad, Laura found herself drawn to the green mountains of Vermont where she now dedicates her time to peer support, yoga, teaching, and nature. She believes in living and working from a place of compassion born of direct experience.
Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from SUNY Purchase College, is a certified yoga and meditation instructor, and an accredited TESOL teacher. She also teaches yoga, mindfulness, Eastern philosophy, Ayurveda, and anatomy on yoga teacher trainings around the world.
Patient Representatie - South
Zachary Stroup, a psychiatric survivor, comes to us as a former EMT. His experience as a frontline worker in the community led him to seek options that would allow him to assist in the community’s mental health as well.
When he isn’t engaging with the community, Zach’s other passion is the stewardship of animals. If not taking care of the family menagerie of cats, dogs, chickens and fish, he can occasionally be found assisting rescue organizations or trying to commune with a random critter.