Black Mental Health Alliance

Meet our staff

A team, a family, here to service the community.

Always here to help our staff is diverse in their knowledge of mental health. Come and meet us or give us a call.


In April 2013, Jan A. Desper joined (for the second time as Executive Director) the Black Mental Health Alliance. Jan is not new to the non-profit arena as she has served as Executive Director at a number of non-profit organizations including the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (2004-2007). For the last six years Jan has served as President and Owner of her own companies, Water 2 Wine Consulting Group LLC and Higher Ground Transportation Services, Inc.  As the Principal Consultant at Water 2 Wine, Jan has traveled the country providing training and technical assistance to build the capacity and strength of community based organizations, community planning groups for HIV prevention and health departments.
Jan is an administrator with over 25 years of work experience raising and managing funds and people for elected officials, non-profit, for profit, government, and academia. As an entrepreneur, she develops priorities for her companies, creates and implements plans, and coordinates programmatic initiatives. The lessons learned as an entrepreneur have instilled determination and boldness that set her on a never ending pursuit of new opportunities, excellence in customer service and the desire to provide employment opportunities for others.
Jan is a native of Prince George’s county Maryland, however has worked in the Baltimore area since 1990.   She matriculated at the University of Maryland College Park and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism in 1986.  Jan also has a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration from George Washington University.  Her experiences, however, run the gamut and she is especially interested in all aspects of personal and professional activity that empowers others and builds leaders.
Jan A. Desper is an ordained deacon at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to serving in the diaconate ministry, she has served as the President of the Women’s Ministry, a church-wide ministry of the over 2,800 women members
In April 2010, Jan Desper celebrated her 25th anniversary in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is a proud Silver Star!  As an active member for almost 30 years, she has served in a number of leadership positions and on chapter level and regional committees, including as Graduate Advisor to the undergraduate chapter at the University of Maryland, College Park, chapter chaplain and as a member of the North Atlantic Region Prayer Team.
Jan is the proud mother of two scholarly gentlemen, Omar (a student at Hampton University) and Owen (a middle school student). Most, importantly, Jan A. Desper has a servant’s heart, believing that "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28




Cheryl Maxwell is Program Manager at the Black Mental Health Alliance and a certified addictions counselor, therapeutic group facilitator and family, adolescent and adult counselor. As Program Manager, Cheryl works closely with the Executive Director to facilitate trainings, design educational materials, organize events, plan fundraisers and facilitate the requirements for grant proposals and grants received. She is a graduate of Lincoln University with a master’s degree in Human Services and more recently has earned a master’s degree from Capella University in nonprofit organizational management where she completed course work toward a doctorate degree. Cheryl has spent more than forty years developing nonprofit organizations, organizing events and implementing press strategies for political and non-profit entities. In addition, Ms. Maxwell presently serves as president of the board for Serenity in Recovery Ministries, Inc. She has staffed executive boards, committees, and coalition advisory councils as well as serving as a youth mentor.
Cheryl Maxwell is the President of The Carolyn Anne Foundation, Inc. Carolyn Anne, an artist, was Cheryl’s sister who struggled with mental illness. The Carolyn Anne Foundation Inc. was founded to promote the artistic works of Carolyn Anne Watts through exhibitions and sales. The foundation also is committed to educating the public regarding art and mental health issues through workshops, trainings and conferences.



Lynne Johnson is a graduate of Hampton University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. Lynne’s professional career has been devoted to non-profit organizations that seek to inform and empower others. Lynne has spent most of her career working with youth, at Camp Fire Boys and Girls, the Children’s Home,  the Dynamic Educations Systems Inc, (Job Corp Placement Office), Between Friends Foster Care Program and Women Accepting Responsibility. Lynne was the Program Director for the HIV AIDS Prevention Center for the Black Mental Health Alliance for Education and Consultation, Inc. Lynne has over 17 years of experience in leading groups and working with high risk women and youth, affected by and/or living with HIV/AIDS.
Lynne’s experience spans international borders, having had the opportunity to work on the island of Jamaica through an opportunity provided by the Coore Foundation.  This effort, in collaboration with the Jamaican Red Cross, allowed her to train youth about HIV Prevention and Peer Education, and the experience provided her a wealth of appreciation.
Lynne worked for the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) as a Technical Assistance Coordinator in 2006, and began managing cases throughout the United States.
Lynne has come full circle, returning to the Black Mental Health Alliance/New Vision House of Hope and currently serves as a Case Manager Supervisor for the Supportive Services for Veterans Families. Lynne is responsible for assisting veterans to assess their needs and coordinating supportive services that will be most effective and acceptable in improving housing stability.