Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors oversees day to day operations, and provides direction. They make sure Skulls for Hope is on track with our mission and provide accountability and metric reporting. Everyone on the board has had their own experiences with PTSD and want to create a safe space for those looking for support and understanding. 

Robert Arrieta 

 

Robert Arrieta is Paramedic/Firefighter. During his 18 year career  he has had the opportunity to see and do so many amazing things. With that, he has also unfortunately seen many terrible things and experienced situations that led him to seek therapy after being diagnosed with PTSD and realizing he had an addiction to alcohol which he was using as a form of self medication. He has unfortunately hit rock bottom multiple times and has had many regrets including hurting others during his journey.  

Through the process of dealing with the thoughts, images, going to rehab, he was finally able to confront what had haunted his mind and began his healing through new-found faith and trust in God, foundation of sobriety, and leaning on friends and family. Through this journey he had discovered his own type of therapy. Robert began making mala bead bracelets for as a hobby.

The creative journey helps him deal with his personal experiences and start the healing process by acknowledging that it happened and then letting it go. Every bracelet made has one thing in common… the skull mala bead. The Skull Mala bead is meant to have its wearer reflect on death and the impermanence of life; to recognize that death is a fact and the more we can relate to death and embrace it, the sooner we can start living life to the fullest with love and compassion. It has helped Robert process his own emotions and has greatly influenced the healing process for him. 

"If I can do the same for just one other person I will feel fulfilled in what we at Skulls For Hope are trying to accomplish."

Ferris Simmons 

Born and raised in New Mexico, Ferris has always felt deeply connected to her community.  She volunteered with several organizations from an early age that focused on child welfare and education, community engagement and safety. Ferris joined the Albuquerque Police Department in 2001. She served for 20 years as a field officer, trainer, narcotics detective, undercover vice detective, PIO, sergeant, lieutenant and community outreach director. 
Ferris was involved in numerous critical incidents during her career and in 2014, was seriously injured and required numerous surgeries from a fight with a domestic violence homicide offender.  In 2017, she lost her incredible and precious 17 year old son, Kameron, to suicide, which was a life altering and ground shaking change.  Ferris resolved to evolve and gain skills to survive, and be a role model for her family, her department and community.  
She became a certified peer support member, and worked with many organizations and schools to provide suicide prevention and resilience education.  Ferris also created an extremely diverse faith alliance and community education model for APD.  
Recently retired, she is honored to join the board of Skulls for Hope and explore the many new opportunities in her path that will strengthen and support first responders and their families.

 

Camille Scales 

Camille Scales loves outdoor sports, writing, listening to good music, and is a paramedic with PTSD.

She found Skulls for Hope while struggling to come to terms with her PTSD that  developed surrounding a traumatic call at her job. She spent many years in darkness with poor coping mechanisms before finding the courage to give therapy a (third) try and actually benefitted greatly from CBT.

The fear of judgement, feeling like a burden to others, and the stigma of mental illness in her field were large contributors to why she did not open up to her friends, family, or coworkers.

Camille's pain has given her the gift of understanding the pain of others, and to help them find their light. She believes that anyone can pull themselves from the darkness if given the time, support, and knowledge to do so.

Camille hopes that sharing her story will help others to realize that they are not alone.

 

Howard Gallegos 

Howard “Howie” Gallegos graduated  from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego,  California in July 2004. He has traveled the world protecting our freedoms. His decorated career is incredibly impressive, as he moved up the ranks quickly. In 2018, Howie officially left the Marine Corps after 14 years, and went on to work as a Security Contractor on Kirkland Air Force Base.

Howie has done much in the community as well. Such as, volunteering to work at the Ronald McDonald house, doing jobs such as,  painting, yard work, and cleaning. Howie was a volunteer for the Marine Corps Toy for Tots program.  He has also worked with The Blue Star Mothers of America, sending care packages to service men and women overseas. Howie has recently done Volunteer work with Honor Courage Commitment (HCC), which is a Non Profit charity based out of Dallas, Texas. While with HCC, he went to help in the clean-up and recovery effort in New York and New Jersey, that was devastated by hurricane Sandy.

Howie was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. He graduated from Del Norte High School in 2000. He went on to the University of New Mexico for one year, and then decided on joining the military in 2004. Howie is currently going to school at Strayer University, and is getting his BA in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Howie has a son named Tegan, and he is 13 years old.

Howie is humbled to be apart of Skulls for Hope.  During his time in the Military, he has battled PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, a sense of loneliness, and all of the issues that come with these mental health issues. He has unfortunately seen some of the worst parts of man kind, and what War can do to a person. He has also seen his friends succumb to their battles of Mental Illness.  He currently receives treatment for his battles at the NM VA Medical Center. His message to people who are battling any type of mental illness, is that “You are better than you realize, and this world is better with you in it!” We all battle things that others don’t know on a daily basis. The stressors of life can be overwhelming, and days are never the same. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Please know that you are not alone, and we are a message, phone call, or email away. Stay Strong and Keep moving forward.

 Natalie Harris 

Natalie Harris is the City of Barrie’s Ward Six Councillor, who found her way into the world of politics after having played a role in the royal assent of Ontario’s PTSD Bill (Bill 163), and Canada’s PTSD Bill (Bill C-211). She is retired Advanced Care Paramedic, for which she received the Ontario Paramedic Association’s Exemplary Service Award in 2018, and possess a Bachelor in Health Sciences from Victoria University, for which she received the Outstanding Achievement Award in 2010. Along with being an educator with organizations such as Georgian College and the Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine, she is an avid writer and has written several books including, “Save-My-Life School: A first responder’s mental health journey”, (with the foreword written by six-time Canadian Olympian, Clara Hughes), and she is a blogger for the Huffington Post. In 2017, she founded the peer support group, Wing’s of Change, which offers meetings across Canada, and is the co-founder and President of the not-for-profit, BrainStorm Revolution. She is the creator of Addition Get-Well Cards, and has spoken at countless events nationally about her own battles with addiction and PTSD. She is a proud Bell Let’s Talk Ambassador, recipient of the John Graves Simcoe Medal of Honour, was named one of Barrie’s Leading Women, and has also received the Tema Conter Memorial Resiliency Award in 2017. She was presented with the One Woman - Fearless Woman Award in 2018, but her proudest accomplishment is of being a mom to Caroline and Adam, and a ‘grammy’ to Beckham.