Ann Lippincott

Board member, 2007-present
Board Chair, 2011-2013
Education Committee Leader
Teaches NAMI Family-to-Family courses and Mental Health First Aid/Youth First Aid

Twenty years ago, Ann Lippincott had the rug pulled out from under her. At the age of 24, her daughter had presented with a psychiatric illness, and at a shocking loss of what to do, Ann turned to the Mental Wellness Center.

As an academic with 30-plus years of education experience, Ann sought knowledge. She enrolled in the Family-to-Family classes offered via the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an affiliate of the Mental Wellness Center. The 12-week course offers an evidence-based educational program for family, significant others, and friends of people with mental illness.

Given her professional expertise, it was not surprising that Ann was later asked to teach those same classes. For more than three decades, Ann served as the associate director of the Teacher Education Program at UCSB, where she instructed teachers on how to teach. Before that, and for ten years, she was a classroom teacher, receiving her Master’s degree with a bilingual specialist credential in 1984 and her PhD from UCSB 15 years later. Ann was also a Fulbright Scholar taking her talents across the globe, with stints in Micronesia, Argentina, Chile, México, Perú, and Uruguay.

Ann was a perfect fit for the Mental Wellness Center’s education committee, which she joined in 2007, and where she has remained ever since. She strengthened the education committee, revamping an elementary-school-based mental health curriculum that had been created several years prior, yet remained stagnant.

“The last thing that teachers need is one more thing to do,” Ann explained. In addition to not having the time, the teachers did not have the training to teach the curriculum.  So, she did what she does best – teach and train others how to teach the curriculum.

Ann said the “AHA” moment came while working at a school health fair. A former student-turned-6th-grade-teacher asked Ann to teach the wellness class to her students. In May 2008, Ann and fellow board trustee, Nancy Chase, taught the newly rebranded “Mental Health Matters” in Erin Morales’ sixth grade classroom and the rest is history.

“I knew that if we taught the class then the program could grow wings and fly,” she said. And that’s exactly what happened. With a team of trained volunteers, the program was transformed, making it more interactive, focusing on behaviors, attitudes and knowledge, with a strong emphasis on destigmatizing mental illness. Most important, Ann designed the curriculum to align with common core English Language Arts requirements, making it required teaching. It was a crowning achievement that has allowed Mental Health Matters to reach one hundred classrooms and over 3000 students throughout Santa Barbara’s North and South Counties. An adapted curriculum is also taught to 9th graders and an early childhood version is in development.

“I’ve had an absolutely amazing professional career, but this is my best work,” Ann said. “I have been fortunate to lead a passionate team of volunteers, and together build an effective professional development opportunity and create a curriculum that embraces multiple perspectives, all while helping the children in our community.”

“We live for the sea stars,” she said, explaining that while sea stars proliferate the beach in countless numbers, throwing just one back into the ocean saves a life. “We will likely never know twenty years from now what one young adult may conjure from their 11-year-old brain that they may use to ask for help, or save a life.”