Sandra Spencer is the former Executive Director of the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health. She assumed that role in August of 2004, replacing the outgoing Executive Director, Barbara Huff, as the nation's top advocate for the rights of children with mental health needs and their families. The Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health is a family-run organization established in 1989 by A Group of Parents with Children who had Mental Health Needs. The organization is dedicated exclusively to helping children with mental health needs and their families achieve a better quality of life. Currently, the Federation represents the interests of thousands of families across the United States.
Ms. Spencer's experience with her own son has helped her understand first-hand the obstacles that children with serious mental health needs and their families face. This experience -- navigating a fragmented mental health system while helping her son and family cope with his disorder -- has made her a powerful voice for change in North Carolina and elsewhere in the country.
Over the past decade, Ms. Spencer has served in numerous advocacy roles. She led the first grass-roots family-run organization in Eastern North Carolina that advocates for the needs of families and children with mental health challenges. This organization, With Every Child and Adult Reaching Excellence, eventually became the state's first statewide Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health chapter. She has served as the planner for the annual Federation of Families conferences, as well as the bi-annual federal System of Care Community Meetings sponsored by the Center for Mental Health Services within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Other past advocacy work includes being a peer mentor for federally funded system of care communities across the country; developing a parent-involvement curriculum at East Carolina University; and helping establish a system of care for children with serious emotional disturbances in Greenville, N.C.