Board of Directors

Keeping Our Organization Running and Well

Our board of directors has members from all walks of life and backgrounds. This team donates their time and energy into keeping the South Mississippi Mental Health Association active and involved in our community.

Dorothy Smith Tinser, long time Board Member and supporter, delivers a message to Mental Health Association’s Board Members, both past and present.  Her mother, Opal Smith helped form this organization.  Both wanted to help people who are struggling to find a place where they feel safe and respected.  We thrive to fulfill their wishes.  History and Value to MHA Board Members 

Kimberly Nastasi, certified Association professional and Institute of Organization Management graduate, presents information on Board Goverance.  She has given permisison for this to be shared with other Boards.  Board Governance



Executive Committee

Eric Oliver

President, Future Design Group

Founded Future Design Group in 2014 after successfully managing and selling his previous agency after 11 years of service. Eric has mastered 9 programming languages including HTML5, CSS3, PHP, MySQL, .NET and jQuery. His skill set includes open source technology such as WordPress, Joomla, and OpenCart, as well as mobile application development. Eric has written custom content management systems, e-commerce platforms, mobile apps, and products used in the military and local casinos.

Liz Hoop

Liz Hoop

Vice President, Hoop Cares, LLC

Liz Hoop, International Best selling author, is a tenured hospice community liaison where she spends her days educating communities , doctors and facilities on the benefits of hospice care.  She calls this job her calling and finds it very fulfilling. She attends The Springs church where she is a member of the choir, co-leads a single women’s  life group and is the  leader of the women’s ministry team.   She serves on the board of directors for the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi, Special Needs Organization of South MS , Anchored Hearts Community Resources, Adopt A Grandparent Day and Teen Challenge for Women in MS. She selflessly gives of her time in volunteer efforts that help others.  She enjoys spending time with her family and friends.  

Ryheen Brown

Ryheen Brown

Treasurer, Internal Revenue Service

Ryheen Brown was born and raised in Ocean Springs, MS. His passion for photography led him to start Infinity Photography. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in Accounting. He is an active member in his church and enjoys serving his community in various capacities. He believes that working to better the lives of others is a life worth living.


Cliff Hermes

Secretary, Oceans Behavioral Hospital

Cliff has over 20 years of experience in the field of Healthcare that has included work in Radiology, Intensive Care, Emergency Care and Behavioral Healthcare. As an RN, Cliff cared for critically ill and emergent patients and became the Director of Emergency Services at Biloxi Regional Medical center in 2008. During his time as the Director, he obtained advanced degrees in Public Health and Business Administration. In 2013, Cliff made the move to Behavioral Healthcare. He became the Administrator of Psychiatric Services in January of 2013 for Gulf Oaks Hospital and remained the Administrator of the facility when it transitioned to Oceans of Biloxi in 2019. Cliff’s has worked with the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi since 2014 to promote their mission of championing positive mental health and wellness.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors provides overall leadership and is responsible for defining MHASM’s mission and strategic direction. They set policy and actively ensure that the organization has adequate resources to carry out its mission. MHASM’s Board of Directors is passionate about helping people with steps of prevention, support and treatment of mental health challenges. They know that people should not feel ashamed or fearful of mental illness as it is a medical illness just like heart disease or cancer.


Laquita Brown

Board Member, Vision Business Solutions, LLC

LaQuita Brown was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Growing up, she was often drawn to helping others and over time she has continued in this calling by offering her help in any way she can. She is the owner of Vision Business Solutions, LLC which specializes in assisting mental health business owners set up his or her private practice and develop foundational principles for that business.

She is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a Bachelor Degree in Child and Family Studies.  She has many years of experience as it relates to Mental Health and Private Mental Health Practices. She is a board member with Mental Heath Association of South Mississippi (MHASM) and an active board member for Mississippi Conference on Social Welfare (MCSW).

She is an active church and community member here on the MS Gulf Coast. Her life is guided by Jeremiah 29:11 and helping bring ones vision to life.

Daniel Caridad

Board Member, Pine Belt Mental Health

Daniel is currently employed by Pine Belt Mental Health as Program Coordinator overseeing the Cedar Point Group Home for men. Daniel has previously served the community as a Senior Psychiatric Technician, Case Manager, Workforce/GED educator, and Emergency Room Technician.

Daniel has a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from The University of Southern Mississippi, specializing in cognitive theory, the psychology of marketing, and behavioral modification. He is a lifetime member of both Psi Chi and Sigma Tau Delta, international honor societies in Psychology and English Literature, respectively. Daniel is also a proud member of N.A.M.I (National Alliance for Mental Illness)

Daniel resides as far south as you can go without getting your shoes wet. The original tiny traveler, Daniel had two passports in his name before his first steps. Daniel plays guitar, drums, a little piano, and is working toward being the Gulf Coast’s preeminent blues ukulele practitioner. One day, Daniel hopes to earn his PsyD/Ph.D. in counseling psychology.

Kearn Cherry

Board Member, PRN Home Care

Kearn Cherry is VP of Operations for PRN Home Care, she oversees sales/marketing, public relations, client screening, assessment and retention. She is responsible for community involvement, business development, contracts, developing referral sources, client satisfaction, social media and coordinate website updates.

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Tonya Conway

Board Member, Scarlet Pearl Casino

Tonya was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  She graduated from St. Martin High School and achieved her Associates Degree from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  She has worked in the casino industry since 2003.  Most of her career was working in Information Technology, but Tonya recently transitioned to Purchasing where she is currently employed as a Buyer with Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville, MS.  

Tonya has two children that are her pride and joy and constantly strives to make our community a better place for them, and everyone else’s children, to live.  She possesses a genuine passion for contributing back to our community.

Quote from Tonya: “Mental Health issues have touched my life and people I love.  I would like to help ensure people are aware of the local assistance available to them if needed.  I am truly honored to serve on the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi.”


Shereen Kostmayer

Board Member, Southern Bound Books

Shereen Markowitz Kostmayer is a native Biloxian and owns an independent bookstore in her hometown. She holds a B.S. degree in dental hygiene from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and worked in the profession for seventeen years before retiring to pursue her dream of owning an indie bookstore. Southern Bound Book Shop opened in 2013 and serves as one of the only independent bookstores in Coastal Mississippi. Shereen currently holds positions on Biloxi Main Street, Howard Avenue’s West End Merchants, Moxey MS Gulf Coast, and is the Mississippi Ambassador for CDH International. She is also a member of many other organizations on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and in the bookselling community. In her spare time, Shereen enjoys spending time with her daughters, Micaela and Marissa, and visiting Walt Disney World as often as possible.


Megan Lockley

Board Member, Gulf Coast Family Counseling

Megan Lockley, LCSW has been providing mental health therapy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for individuals, couples and families for the last ten years.  She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with her Masters in Social Work in 2010 following her Bachelors in Psychology in 2008. She worked as a therapist on the inpatient adolescent unit at Merit Health Gulf Oaks (now Oceans Behavioral Health) from 2014-2016 with previous experience in individual and family outpatient therapy at the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center. She began practicing at Gulf Coast Family Counseling, a United Way Agency in Ocean Springs in 2016 and is now the Executive Director of the agency.

She is passionate about mental health and wellness and advocating for social justice and equality in both professional and personal respects as a member of the Human Rights Campaign and volunteering with community organizations like the South Mississippi AIDS Task Force, Special Olympics, and, since 2015, as a board member for the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi.


Greg McCarthy

Board Member, Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort

Greg has lived on the Mississippi Gulf coast the majority of his life. He attended both Biloxi High School and University of Southern Mississippi. Greg had various jobs growing up, like most people, but landed his first computer related job with the City of Biloxi back in 1990. When casino’s came to the coast in 1992 he made the move to the President Casino and helped to open that property. Several casinos and jobs later, he is now the Vice President of Information Technology at the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville, MS.

Greg was married for quite some time, but has been divorced since 2006. He has two children, both grown, and two grandchildren. He enjoys boating, either fishing or just sitting at the islands enjoying the beautiful scenery. Also camping, golf and spending time with all of the people I care the most about.

Greg says, “I have been offered several financially beneficial chances to move away from the coast, but have never truly considered doing so. The Gulf Coast is my home and I am not truly happy, for very long, anywhere else.”

Loyal Ownes

Loyal Ownes

Board Member, Gulfport Behavioral Health System

Loyal Ownes, MA LPC, joined Gulfport Behavioral Health System in January 2019 as CEO and leads the system’s overall operations, strategic planning, physician/provider recruiting and service development. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1988 from Seton Hall University, in South Orange, NJ, and holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from Eastern University, in St. David’s, PA. Beginning his career in behavioral health over 20 years as a mental health tech in a large urban psychiatric unit in Trenton, NJ, Loyal progressed in facilities and leadership roles through a correctional facility, Crisis Screening Center, psychiatric emergency department, outpatient center, then into the behavioral health division for an acute care health system. Before joining Gulfport Behavioral as CEO he served as COO for Psychiatric Hospitals in Panama City, FL and Titusville, FL. Loyal has also participated in several major crisis event counseling’s that include 9/11 New York City debriefing and the New Jersey Post Office anthrax release.

While originally hailing from New Jersey. Loyal has relocated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and has immersed himself in its rich culture and warmer climates. Loyal is married with two adult children.

CeCe Shabazz

Cecelia Shabazz

Board Member, Memorial Hospital at Gulfport

Cece Shabazz is an award-winning Creative Director with over 20 years in the advertising industry. Passionate about the Advertising community and an Industry advocate, she’s the recipient of the American Advertising Federation’s Silver Medalist Award for her contributions to the industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

While some creatives use “cool” marketing tactics for the sake of being cool, Cece knows that the right marketing strategy for her clients can be an economic game changer. Her superpower lies in her ability to effectively identify a client’s pain points and provide custom creative solutions that will actually drive their results. Recognizing that businesses thrive through the power of impactful branding, she works to enhance their marketing, equity, loyalty, customer satisfaction, and potential.

Cece has helped lead talented creative teams to numerous ADDY awards with consecutive “Art Director of the Year” and “Creative Director of the Year” recognitions. Cece is also a public speaker well known for her energetic presentations and industry insights.