SACRAMENTO – With heavy hearts, California’s Mental Health Commission announces the passing of sitting Commissioner Tina Wooton, who was appointed in 2010 to represent the voice of the mental health consumer.
“Commissioner Wooton was a passionate and dedicated champion in working to improve mental health systems services and resources for consumers across our state,” said Commission Chair Mara Madrigal-Weiss. “She was a kind and grace-filled advocate who worked tirelessly to champion the cause of those with lived experience. I feel honored to have had the privilege of learning alongside her on the suicide prevention subcommittee and as she served as commissioner chair. Tina welcomed me, encouraged me, and always took the time to connect with me. She will be greatly missed.”
Wooton served as Chair of the Commission from 2017 to 2018 and Vice Chair from 2016 to 2017. She also served on the Criminal Justice and Mental Health Subcommittee from 2016 to 2017, chaired the Suicide Prevention Subcommittee from 2018 to 2019, and served on the Client and Family Leadership Committee from 2020 to her passing on December 21, 2021.
“It was an honor to work alongside Tina Wooton and see her passion firsthand,” said Commission Vice Chair Mayra Alvarez. “I will forever be inspired by her commitment to uplifting the voice of consumers and family members in our mental health system. Her leadership and advocacy will be dearly missed, but her legacy will be felt for years to come.”
“She was a kind and gentle soul, a brave and remarkable woman, wife, mother, and friend, and the finest of advocates for those we serve,” said Commissioner and Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown. “She taught us and so many others that hope, recovery, and a meaningful, high-quality life can be achieved through proper treatment, encouragement, and determination.”
“Commissioner Tina Wooton was a pioneer in the consumer peer movement and her passing is a great loss,” said Commissioner Khatera Tamplen. “I cherish the time we had together advocating for peer support. She always faced challenges with grace and kindness and instilled hope in others. Tina was a dear friend and colleague. I will always remember Tina’s support and encouragement for speaking up about improving our mental health system through employment of peers and we all have benefited from her leadership. She is dearly missed, and my heart goes out to her family and all impacted by her passing.”
Former Commissioner and Chair Lynne Ashbeck said that “Tina was the best that the Commission hoped would serve – someone with lived experience who turned that into a career helping others and helped us all know that was the heart of the work.”
“Tina has had a profound impact on our work,” said Commission Executive Director Toby Ewing. “She was a vocal advocate for peers and educated us and others on the importance of recovery and the critical role the support of an effective state mental health system can play in a successful recovery model. More than that, we will miss her presence in the Commission and in our work.”
Outside the Commission, Wooton served as the Consumer Empowerment Manager at the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness until her recent retirement. She was a well-known advocate for peer voices in mental health and the local, state, and federal level. Her work led her to receive the “State Champion” Words to Deeds XI Paradigm Award in 2017. Wooton also worked as the Consumer and Family Member Liaison for California’s Department of Mental Health from 2005 through 2009 and served as the Consumer Liaison for the Mental Health Association/County Mental Health of Sacramento from 1997 to 2005. Wooton was Vice President of AMP (Arts Mentorship Program) for Santa Barbara Dance Arts, served on the board of Standing Together to End Sexual Assault, and was a Santa Barbara Elks member.
Commissioner Wooton is survived by her husband, Frank Raya, and their daughter, FayAnn Wooton-Raya.
About the Commission
In enacting Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, California voters in 2014 created and charged the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission with the responsibility of driving transformational change in public and private mental health systems to achieve the vision that everyone who needs mental health care has access to and receives effective and culturally competent care. The Commission was design to empower stakeholders, with members representing consumers and their families, service providers, law enforcement, educators, and employers. The Commission puts consumers and families at the center of decision-making. The Commission promotes community collaboration, cultural competency, and integrated service delivery. The Commission is committed to wellness and recovery, using its authorities, resources, and passion to reduce the negative outcomes of mental illness and promote the mental health and wellbeing of all Californians.