Our Staff

The Right People to Get the Job Done

A diverse team of  both full and part-time staff members bring decades of business experience in mental health and social service. Some staff members are Certified Peer Support Specialists; this means they have lived experience of recovery from mental illness and or substance use.

Kimberly Barta

Director of Programs

Kimberly began her career at MHASM in July of 2010 as a Case Manager under a HUD project called Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing. When that project ended, she worked under a project for people affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to provide Resiliency and Coping Skills. For the past few years, she has worked with clients in their transition from chronic homelessness. She is now the Director of Programs overseeing all services at Mental Health Association of South MS.  Kim is also a certified Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) Facilitator.  She holds Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work with Psychology and Interdisciplinary minors.

Nicole Bedsole

HUD Supportive Housing Case Manager

Nicole began volunteering in our drop in center in July of 2014 as an intern as she was completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.  Nicole is the HUD Supportive Housing Case Manager.  She assists individuals who have a mental illness and are chronically homeless get into housing.  By providing the support they need, she helps them in a journey toward independent living as they become self sufficient.  She is a Certified Peer Support Specialists and a certified Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) Facilitator through The Copeland Center.  She is a certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid Facilitator.  She also participates in homeless outreach in south MS.

Kay Daneault

Executive Director

Since December 2007, MHASM has been led by Kay Daneault, Executive Director, B.B.A. She directs the organization’s growth as it supports the community with compassion and integrity. Kay values input from others to help people exposed to mental health issues find their way to a healthy lifestyle. Prevention is also a key factor in working with the general public to stay well in their home and work lives. Through an array of services, MHASM has helped many people to move forward in a positive manner for a better life.  Kay is an Advanced Level Wellness Recovery Action Planning Facilitator (WRAP) through The Copeland Center.  She is also a certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid Facilitator.

John Higgins

John Higgins

Peer Recovery Coach Forensics

John Higgins began his quest for helping others who are suffering in 2020, when he completed an inpatient program at Defining Wellness Inc. (DWI). John then went on to do a student practicum at DWI, an internship at Urban Rehab Facilities, and became a counselor of a supervised living facility. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Jackson State University, with a major in Therapeutic Recreation. In September of 2022 John began working at MHASM as a Peer Recovery Coach. He still works part time as a Certified Peer Support Specialist at Urban Rehab Facilities. John participates in several community outreach projects in his community. He has been featured/participates in conferences and seminars as the guest speaker telling his personal story of sobriety, resilience, and hope. Additionally, he serves as a board committee member for AMPSS as of June 2022.

Debra Jackson

Debra Jackson

Peer Recovery Coach Wellness

Debra began her journey as a CPSS in July of 2022. She decided that she needed to do more so she also became a Certified Peer Bridger in the following month. For six months she worked hard and was determined to help others in need. After having her own life changing experiences, she now knew found her purpose in life and strives to make a change. In January of 2023, Debra took a leap of faith and started working for MHASM and hit the ground running from day one. She is a true team player and as a Peer Wellness Recovery Coach she takes pride in knowing she is able to be a part of a change with a team that wants exactly what she wants and consider them her newfound family. Her motto to life is “ I have 99 problems but coping isn’t one!” “It’s about letting people know it is ok to have a diagnosis and still live life to its fullest with no limitation or restrictions. I am not what they say or think I am; I am just me with or without a label I am still me!”

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore

Peer Recovery Coach

Natalie began her career with MHASM in March of 2022 as a Peer Recovery Coach. She assists the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Association of Mississippi Peer Support Specialists (AMPSS) with employing, training, and supporting Peer Support Specialists across the state. Natalie is a Certified Peer Support Specialist and a Certified Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Facilitator. She believes her purpose in life is to help others regain control of their lives by highlighting their strengths and focusing on their unique definition of recovery.

Laykin Register

Laykin Register

Peer Recovery Coach Peer Bridger

Laykin is a Certified Peer Support Specialist and Trained Peer Bridger. She began her career in mental health and wellness in January of 2019, moving into different positions over the years that led her to her role as Peer Recovery Coach for MHASM, although her favorite title is “Mama”. Laykin has served as a Young Adult CPSS working in foster care and juvenile justice systems, as well as Youth Engagement and Program Coordinator positions. She served as a CPSS Ambassador that helped develop and train the Young Adult Peer Support modules. Laykin has also participated in many conferences as a panelist, speaker, and facilitator.


Patty Sinopoli

Program Assistant

Since July 2004, Patty has enjoyed different positions at MHASM. Originally Patty worked in the Drop In Center and still assists in that program scheduling weekly speakers. She has been Assistant to the Executive Director, and is now our Receptionist. Patty greets everyone with enthusiasm and a genuine caring attitude. She is very efficient in assisting people to find the resources they need in our community, and she was among the first Certified Peer Support Specialists in the state. Since its inception, Patty has been instrumental on the planning committee for Project Homeless Connect and our annual “Don’t Worry Be Happy” fundraiser.

Shay Smith

Peer Recovery Coach Adult Recovery

Shay  began her recovery journey in 2016. Finding healing and peace in sobriety has ignited a passion in Shay to share the message of hope with others. She started working in the mental health field as a clinical assistant and became a Certified Peer Support Specialist in 2019. Shay has worked as a CPSS in a residential alcohol and drug treatment center, and as a CPSS and case manager in both a misdemeanor and felony drug court program. She has led numerous support groups and events to assist in relapse prevention and recovery planning efforts. Shay was awarded the AMPSS 2020 “Inspiring Hope Award” for her initiative in creating a donation closet for clients in need of clothing and hygiene products while in residential treatment. She is currently at The University of Southern Mississippi with a major in Social Work.

Beth Williamson-

Beth Williamson

Accounting Manager

Beth Williamson comes to MHASM through 30+ years of experience in the Accounting field in multiple states, NY, FL, and MS.  Finances are very important to any organization, but as a non-profit we want to be the best stewards of the money we receive through grants and donations.  Beth is proficient and dedicated to making sure everything is correct and transparent. She raised three children as a single parent.  Her children are grown and now she is helping her parents.  Beth says, “family is very important to me, I am very lucky to still have my parents around, and we all help take care of each other.”


Melody Worsham

Certified Peer Support Specialist & WRAP Facilitator

Melody joined us in November of 2011 to help coordinate the Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) workshops MHASM was hosting in south MS for people affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.  She is a certified WRAP Facilitator.  She was in the first class of Certified Peer Support Specialists trained through MS Department of Mental Health. She also provides Peer Support to clients across our programs. She is a founding member of the Association of MS Peer Support Specialists.  Melody currently goes out into the community to provide two hour or less educational opportunities about mental health and wellness.