Anyone can recover, everyone has a role.
To build peer and lay-led mental health recovery resources, support programs, and training accessible and affordable to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Mental Health Grace Alliance is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing Christian mental health recovery and support.
Meet the Grace Alliance Team
Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer
Joe Padilla is a Baylor University graduate and a licensed and ordained minister. For 12 years, Joe worked with Antioch Ministries International (AMI) in Asia, Africa, Europe and the U.S. with various projects including non-profit leadership and development, business strategy, training/education, media campaigns and more.
Throughout their ministry career, Joe's wife, Jessica, had long-standing mental health difficulties. In 2007, with the help of Dr. Matthew Stanford, a NAMI-trained family friend, “Buzz” Moody, and his own extensive personal mental health research, Joe discovered a unique clinical, biblical and whole-health approach to guide his wife through the mental health recovery process. After eight years of debilitating life for Jessica, she began to remarkably improve. She remains in good mental health, and Dr. Stanford and other professionals call her amazing progress a "clinical miracle." With this new insight and personal experience, Joe and Dr. Matthew Stanford co-founded The Grace Alliance to help others have unique hope.
As The Grace Alliance CEO, Joe has co-authored all the curriculum and programs, conducts trainings, oversees all the operations and development, and serves as a consultant with other mental health organizations. In addition, Joe has been a keynote presenter across the nation for various mental health conferences, seminars, and churches. Most importantly, Joe has deeply enjoyed coaching hundreds of families and individuals across the U.S. to discover their own mental health recovery.
MATTHEW STANFORD, Ph.D.
Founder / Board of Directors
Matthew Stanford, Ph.D. has worked in the field of physiological research and behavioral neuroscience for over 25 years. Dr. Stanford spent many years as a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical studies at Baylor University. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, authoring over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. His research on the interplay between psychology and issues of faith has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Christianity Today, as well as websites such as Fox, MSNBC, Yahoo, and US News & World Report.
Dr. Stanford is the author of "Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness" and "The Biology of Sin: Hope and Healing for Those Who Feel Trapped." He is a notable presenter speaking at various conferences and seminars across the U.S. and internationally, providing a unique clinical and biblical perspective on mental illness.
As the co-founder of the Grace Alliance, he worked extensively alongside Joe Padilla for the development of the Grace Alliance resources, programs, and research. Dr. Stanford continues to serve as a member of the Grace Alliance Governing Board of Directors and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Hope and Healing Center in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Stanford also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Family and Community Ministries and Behavioral Sciences and the Law and as a member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Mental Health Advisory Group and the American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Institute Advisory Council.
NATALIE FRANKS, M.A. / OTR/L
Executive Director of Programs & Development
Natalie earned her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2013 with an emphasis in mental health and her Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2012.
During her Masters level coursework, Natalie completed a six-month Occupational Therapy fieldwork rotation at the University of California, Irvine Neuropsychiatric facility, performing evaluations and running groups emphasizing recovery, social and communication skills, medication and symptom management and coping skill development and integration.
Natalie began working with Grace Alliance in the spring of 2013. She now serves as the Executive Director of Programs & Development, overseeing research and development for all Grace Alliance programs and materials.
Natalie also serves as a Grace Alliance mental health trainer, conducting educational seminars and participating in speaking engagements in churches and communities.
Executive Director of Programs & Marketing
In 2009, Casey graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and minor in Marketing. After graduation, Casey worked as a full-time staff member with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) at USC.
Casey came on staff with Grace Alliance in the spring of 2013. After serving as the Director of Administration for Grace Alliance for three years, she is now the Executive Director of Programs & Marketing, overseeing organizational and product marketing, helping expand the reach of Grace Alliance resources. She also participates in organizational and program development alongside Joe Padilla and Natalie Franks.
In addition, Casey conducts trainings and speaks at seminars and conferences about mental health recovery. Casey is passionate about spreading the hope of Grace Alliance’s process of recovery to more individuals and families in the U.S. and all around the world.
JoEllen joined The Grace Alliance in July 2014. Previously, JoEllen worked as an office manager at a non-profit organization called Waco Community Development (WCD). Through her experience at WCD, ongoing training through business workshops at Baylor University, education in business accounting and Waco Foundation's Leadership Plenty, she has acquired a growing expertise in non-profit accounting and finance systems, donor management, office and organizational operations, community programs and project administration.
JoEllen is dedicated to creating efficient systems for professional standards and thorough non-profit management systems. Her work is a large contributor to our overall mission to be the leading peer-provider movement delivering mental health recovery and support.
Jen graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy, Analysis, and Planning from the University of California at Davis.
She moved to Southern California in 1996 to work with YUGO Ministries, a Christian non-profit missions organization working in Mexico. Jen worked with YUGO for nine years in a largely administrative role including website administrator, newsletter editor and mobilization coordinator.
In 2009, Jen earned a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Biola University with the goal of working in non-profit mental health. She joined The Grace Alliance team in 2014.
As the Administrative Director for the The Grace Alliance, Jen maintains all communication and scheduling for the organization. She also facilitates the Living Grace Group at her church. Jen has a heart for mental health and has witnessed God’s healing firsthand.