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The Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative (S2i)

Advancing transformation of mental health by catalyzing cross-sectoral reforms, strengthening collaborations, and bridging gaps.

What is S2i?

S2i seeks to advance transformation in mental health for all. Committed to collaboration and strategic interventions, S2i uses a “disruptive think-tank” model to:

  1. Integrate mental health policy and program reform with aligned efforts in other sectors
  2. Help philanthropy identify and support both immediate interventions and the long-term strategic reform arc
  3. Articulate and help address difficult issues that impede mental health policy and practice transformation.  

S2i Projects and Areas of Focus

The Front End Project
S2i has partnered with Fountain House, the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC), the Center for Court Innovation, and The W. Haywood Burns Institute to use a public health lens to identify and advance how communities can effectively respond to mental health emergencies and crises without use of the criminal legal system. Through baseline analyses and cross-sector convenings, S2i intends to contribute to policy and practice reform in both the criminal legal and mental health system.

Promoting Increased Investment
S2i plans to elevate the importance and potential of mental health-related investments in philanthropic circles, including through support of  joint-learning and field-bridging. S2i notes, for example, that the growing philanthropic commitment to end mass incarceration can be expedited and strengthened by efforts to reform mental health and substance use policy and practice. For more information how philanthropy can prioritize mental health, please see Ken Zimmernan’s Inside Philanthropy op-ed.

Elevating the Voice of Individuals with Lived Experience to Shape Mental Health Policy and Practice Design
Too often, persons with lived experience are not  authentically involved in developing and implementing mental health policy and program reform. S2i is interested in advancing new approaches to promote engagement, leadership, and decision-making from  individuals with lived experience, especially those from communities of color and other communities that have faced historic marginalization.

For more information about S2i objectives, approach, and rationale, see our S2i Summary.

How are JED and S2i collaborating?

With a strong common commitment to the importance of transformation in the systems that advance mental health for all, JED is housing S2i, providing active thought partnership as well as administrative and staffing support. While S2i operates independently, JED brings its extensive expertise in teenage and young adult mental health to project development and program planning to the partnership. JED Executive Director and CEO John MacPhee was one of the original members of the S2i advisory committee. JED is excited about using its expertise, organizational reach, and other resources to help S2i with its seed projects, research, convenings, and other activities.

To receive more information about S2i and learn more about our work, please contact Henry Zhu at

S2i Staff

Ken Zimmerman

Originator and Co-Director of S2i

Fred Karnas

Co-Director of S2i

Keris Jän Myrick

Co-Director of S2i

Marie Monrad

S2i Strategic Consultant

Margot Cronin-Furman

Chief of Staff, S2i

Advisory Committee

– Julian Adler, Director of Policy and Research Center for Court Innovation, New York City
– Xav Briggs, Professor, NYU
– Kenna Chic, Former President of Project Lighthouse, Washington, DC
– Rebecca Cokley, Program Officer and Director, Disability Justice Initiative, Ford Foundation, Washington, DC
– Richard Frank, Professor of Health Policy, Director, Cambridge, MA
– Sherry Glied, NYU Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Dean, New York City
– Andy Keller, President and CEO, Meadows Mental Health Public Policy Institute, Dallas, TX
– Kimberlyn Leary, Senior Vice President, Urban Institute, Washington, DC
– Stephanie LeMelle, Director of Public Psychiatry Education, Columbia University, New York City
– John MacPhee, Executive Director, Jed Foundation, New York City
– Kevin Martone, Executive Director, Technical Assistance Collaborative, Boston
– Marie Monrad, Consultant formerly with Kaiser Permanente and AFSCME, CA
– Keris Myrick, Co-director at S2i, formerly with Los Angeles County Dept. of Mental Health, Los Angeles
– Bill Smith, Founder, Inseparable, Washington, DC
– Ashwin Vasan, President and CEO, Fountain House, New York City
– Vikki Wachino, Principal, Viaduct Consulting, LLC, Washington, DC
– Sheryl Whitney, Partner and management consultant, Whitney Jennings Partner, Seattle

Council of Experts

Philanthropic Supporters

– Ballmer Group
– Ford Foundation (project funder)
– Open Society Foundation
– Pew Charitable Trust
– Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (in-kind)
– The Jed Foundation (in-kind)

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The World Health Organization defines “mental health” “as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” In using this definition, S2i recognizes that some mental health challenges reflect brain diseases that, like physical diseases, require appropriate stigma-free and patient-centered care and include both mental health and substance use disorders. Other mental health challenges stem from social conditions and marginalization and require different forms of interventions.