Karim Chapman comes to VPS with more than ten years of experience at the grass roots and advocacy levels of building and developing programs among our most vulnerable populations. As a lead mentor for Community Connections for Youth (CCFY), Karim was a member of a team that identified young men and women living in and around New York, Harlem, that had direct or indirect issues with violence resulting in court involvement or circumstances with law enforcement.
Previously, he managed and supervised a team of credible messengers that dealt with at-risk youth around gun violence, mediation, life choices, and hospital and shooting responses.
Most recently Karim developed and ran the newly formed Crisis Peer Services program for Community Care Network in Rutland. His skill set and lived experience make him a perfect fit for VPS where he can continue his passion for widening the safety net through viable community-based services and advocacy projects for the peer network.
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.
Peer Support Coordinator - 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 Support Coordinator - 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 Representative - South
Mariah Sullivan joins the team with a background in psychology and counseling. She holds a
bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western New England University and a master’s degree
in counseling psychology from American International College.
Mariah is passionate about the reform of both our mental health and criminal justice systems.
She found that she was not satisfied working as a therapist after college and felt that she wasn’t
able to create the change and have the impact she wanted within the structure of the mental
health system. She shifted her focus and interest to advocacy, peer work, and alternative
models of mental health.
She loves the concept of “eudaimonia” or human flourishing and spends her free time exploring
what it means to have a life well lived. She finds healing and inner-exploration through spending
time outdoors, fitness, cooking, travel, learning and connecting with others and finding
community. She lives for the small moments and finds joy in a bagel and coffee on a pretty
Autumn day or laughing until she cries with a friend.
Peer Support Coordinator - North
Grace Walter joins Vermont Psychiatric Survivors as a Patient Representative. Born and raised in Connecticut, Grace graduated from Newtown High School and then found her way to Vermont for college.
Grace discovered her interest in working with non-profits when she volunteered with Gun Sense Vermont to advocate for common sense gun laws. Grace holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Vermont.
She is passionate about advocacy for a number of social, racial and environmental issues, but is especially passionate about reforming the mental health system. Mental health strikes as a personal issue, and Grace feels fulfilled helping others struggling. In order to prioritize healing Grace takes refuge in the things that make her happy, like being outdoors in beautiful Vermont, practicing painting and drawing, and listening to music.
Grace enjoys traveling, and spent a month in Florence, Italy exploring and learning about the culture.