Catherine Bustin


Successful community organizer and advocate with 15+ years’ experience in building groups, organizations, and networks focused on the inclusion of people with disabilities in having an organized, systemic voice on a wide range of issues. Professional and personal knowledge of Maine’s public mental health system, including the requirements of the Consent Decree and the Rights of Recipients of Mental Health Services. Ability to work well with diverse consumer and peer groups, as well as providers, state agencies, family organizations and professional advocacy agencies. Skilled facilitator, trainer and public speaker. Knowledge and participation in state and national Consumer/Survivor movement.


  • Public Speaking and Education
  • Planning, Organizing and Implementing Community Meetings and Events
  • Developing and Supporting Peer Leadership
  • Gathering and Disseminating Information
  • Designing and Delivering Presentations and Trainings
  • Facilitating Meetings and Peer Support Groups
  • Listening to and Identifying Systemic Issues through Individual Experiences
  • Mediating and Conflict Resolution
  • Supporting and Expanding Peer Expertise, Involvement and Outreach
  • Team-based Planning and Communication
  • Strong Advocacy and Leadership Skills
  • Skills in American Sign Language

EXPERIENCE Independent Contractor, 2011-present

Disability Rights Center of Maine-Augusta, Maine

Part-time, project-based work at the discretion of the Executive Director.

  • Moved the systemic issue of lack of meaningful consumer/service recipient involvement in policy and program design and delivery through the federal SIMS grant structure and MaineCare initiative creating Behavioral Health Homes.

  • Wrote and presented a document and power-point presentation describing Meaningful Consumer Involvement and ways to achieve it for SIMS grant partners and Behavioral Health Homes, as well as Maine Quality Counts.

  • Organized two events with 70 consumer/survivors attending and participating to increase collaborative systemic advocacy.

  • Organized service recipient testimony to the Legislature on seven proposed bills, including Employment First legislation, and delivered testimony/educational information to legislators.

  • Established peer support group at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, co-facilitate group, present and train staff on Peer Support.

  • Initiated discussions/planning for adding service recipients to DHHS and Division of Licensing contract quality monitoring teams.

  • Delivered educational training with DRC PAIMI staff.

  • Organized systemic meeting with Riverview superintendent and 18 consumer/survivor activists to bring peer support and staff training to Riverview.

  • Participate as member of the Advisory Council on Disability to Senator Angus King.

Director, Office of Consumer Affairs, September, 1996-September 2001 Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, Augusta, Maine

  • Directed recruitment/training/staff development initiatives to establish a cross-disability team of systemic advocates at the management level of the DMHMRSAS.

  • Supervised 7 staff, administered daily operations, engaged staff in short and long-term project planning and implementation, directed staff participation in central and regional office policy/ program development.

  • Established and staffed Consumer Advisory Council to the OCA.

  • Organized and facilitated state-wide organization of peer recovery centers/social clubs/drop-in centers.

  • Oversaw funding, growth, and development of regional Peer Centers.

  • Cultivated strong working relationships with consumer-run/directed programs and organizations and their allies.

  • Collaborated with other organizations to fund, recruit, and provide training for Peer Leadership Development Program.

  • Successfully provided outreach, technical assistance and training with the Disability Rights Center to assist in the creation and development of the Maine Advocacy Initiatives Network.

  • Provided technical assistance, information and training to Speaking Up For Us self-advocacy network.

  • Worked with Consumer organizations, the Disability Rights Center and Departmental staff in funding, planning and implementing statewide Consumer/Survivor Conferences, Self-Advocacy Conferences and Trauma Sensitive Services Conferences.

  • Established and maintained working relationships with Department Trauma Services Director and other program staff, providing information and ensuring inclusion of service recipients and survivors in policy and program development, including abuse survivors from state institutions.

  • Provided legislative advocacy and testimony.

  • Gathered and disseminated information about the state and national consumer/survivor movement and the state and national self-advocacy movement. Provided funding for consumers and self-advocates attend/conduct workshops at national conferences. Provided consumer/survivor/peer consultants to the state consumer movement.

  • Assist in the development of Quality Improvement Councils.

  • Provided ongoing education, awareness, and information to the public, providers, department personnel, legislators and consumer organizations.

  • Successfully advocated for the inclusion of the OCA Director in Executive Management Team meetings as well as Senior Management Team meetings.

  • Served on numerous internal and external work groups, committees, task forces, and advisory councils.

  • Designed and delivered presentations and trainings at state and national conferences.

  • Participated as a member of the National Association of Consumer/Survivor Mental Health Administrators, working with the National Association of State Mental Health Directors to prevent, reduce, and eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint.

  • Advocated at the state and national level for recovery based, trauma sensitive, and alternative treatment services.

  • Participated in the National Cemetery and Suitcase project.

  • Provided weekly reports to the Commissioner.

Senior Advocate/Advocate, 1989-September, 1996 Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Program Disability Rights Center, Augusta, Maine

  • Provided individual advocacy services to people with psychiatric diagnoses in institutions, psychiatric units, residential group and boarding homes, nursing facilities, PNMI’s, community mental health services, a and housing, employment and educational settings.

  • Interviewed clients, investigated rights violations, applied the Rights of Recipients of Mental Health Services, the AMHI Consent Decree, The Americans with Disabilities, and other applicable state and federal laws and regulations, represented clients at treatment planning meetings, Individual Education Planning and Pupil Evaluation Team meetings, administrative hearings, and at the Maine Human Rights Commission, wrote and filed grievances.

  • Assigned and reviewed cases with other advocates, generated weekly reports, participated in PAMII staff development and supervision meetings, identified systemic issues and strategic remedies, participated in agency staff meetings and trainings.

  • Represented the agency on task forces, committees, work groups, meetings, and advisory councils pertaining to the delivery of public mental health services.

  • Provided outreach and organizing services statewide to existing and developing mental health consumer groups and organizations.

  • Planned and conducted rights trainings and workshops.

  • Organized and participated in a Speaker’s Bureau comprised of consumers of mental health services.

  • Worked with members of agency-run social clubs statewide to become self-governing and peer directed.

  • Assisted in developing and disseminating a Peer and Self-Advocacy manual.

  • Facilitated consumer conference planning committees and other consumer community events.

  • Provided testimony to the legislative Human Services and Appropriations committees.

  • Facilitated DMHMR grievance committee comprised of professional advocates, recipients of mental health services and family members.

*Participated in staff development and training at state and national conferences, including the National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) and Alternatives, learning about the national Consumer/Survivor movement.

*Relayed my personal story of psychiatric diagnosis, treatment and recovery in public speaking engagements, news programs, newspaper articles, and provider, family and consumer trainings in order to contribute to systemic and societal change in the treatment of people with psychiatric labels.

Volunteer Coordinator, 1987-1989

Compeer, Inc., Augusta, Maine

*Recruited community volunteers, consumers of mental health services, and referring providers in order to promote one-to-one supportive friendships and community inclusion.

*Established Compeer Peer Support Group.

*Acted as a liaison between the advocacy sub-committee of the Maine Commission on Mental Health and the Compeer Program.

*Promoted and advertised the Compeer program in the greater Augusta area in order to grow the organization.

*Public speaking engagements regarding stigma/discrimination against people with psychiatric diagnoses.

*Conducted legislative lobbying and testimony.

Community Organizer, 1984-1987

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Lansing, Michigan, Denver, CO.

*Organized neighborhood groups through door-to-door canvassing, issue identification, neighborhood meetings, and leadership development in eight low and moderate income neighborhoods.

*Successfully organized neighborhoods to advocate for increased police patrols, improved roads and lighting, and fixing abandoned properties.

*Organized fundraising activities. Developed and maintained contact lists and telephone trees.

*Lobbied Michigan and Colorado State Legislatures for Homesteading (making abandoned homes available to low and moderate income people for rehabilitation and renovation.)

*Organized neighborhood groups to advocate for increased employment opportunities.

Contract Compliance/Field Supervisor, 1982-1984

Maine Department of Transportation, Office of Equal Opportunity, Augusta, Maine

*Supervised implementation of the On-the Job Training Program for women and minorities entering the construction industry.

*Acted as liaison/advocate for thirty-five trainees on construction sites throughout Maine.

*Diffused and solved on-site disputes and problems between trainees and private and/or public construction employees and managers.

*Assisted trainees in securing necessary funding, equipment and support to complete training programs.

*Conducted on-site contract compliance review with minority and/or women-owned construction companies, sub-contractors and general contractors. Interpreted and enforces laws pertaining to affirmative action requirements for companies receiving State and Federal funds. Documented trainee and program progress and reported findings to the O.E.O supervisor.


Skidmore College-Saratoga Springs, New York, 1980-1982

University of Maine, Orono, and University of Southern Maine, 1982-1984, various classes