On July 27th, 2021, Connecticut Speaker of the House Matthew Ritter appointed Advocacy Unlimited’s Executive Director Michaela Fissel to the Task Force To Study Peer Support Services.

Michaela I. Fissel is the Executive Director of Advocacy Unlimited, Inc. – a statewide, peer-led, nonprofit organization (www.advocacyunlimited.org) based in Connecticut. Advocacy Unlimited is the largest peer-delivered educational provider in the state and is designated by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to provide a Recovery Support Specialist Training for peer certification.

Michaela has worked in the behavioral health field of Connecticut for 15 years. She began participating in peer support groups, and community based mental health services, at the age of 21. Her initial experience with psychiatric services involved repeat hospitalizations after complex trauma. She brings this direct lived experience to the work and it enhances her approach to promoting recovery supports that best fit the needs of the community served.

Michaela has worked as a behavioral health consultant and community based researcher since 2007. She gained incredible experience working with a number of organizations to evaluate young adult services and define the unique needs as a service population. Michaela applied her experience here in Connecticut as the Founder of Join Rise Be: An emerging adult recovery initiative (www.joinrisebe.org) and in the development of the national organization Young People in Recovery (www.youngpeopleinrecovery.org).

Michaela maintained a concentration on policy, programming, and research through her academic studies and pursued a graduate degree in community psychology. Michaela is currently studying the potential for mindfulness-based practices to support recovery and the transition to adulthood for young adults.

In addition to her work in the mental health space, Michaela is actively engaged in local government and public education. She served three terms as an elected official on the Windsor Board of Education. She prioritized social emotional learning and the multi-tiered systems of support data framework to work with the district and successfully implemented a comprehensive district-wide SEL program for all students.

Michaela couples the content gained through her professional experience with the contemporary academic framework to ground her personal perspective in ways that have been invaluable to the behavioral health field of Connecticut. She has become fluent in the language of mental health care policy, program design and research at the local, regional, and state levels. While, she now offers comprehensive analysis and insight into programming tailored to the unique developmental and generational trends of emerging adults as a behavioral health service population.

Michaela enjoys spending time with her three sons, gardening, practicing yoga, solo backpacking in the Adirondacks, and all the things related to joy.