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About Us

Founded in 2007, FamiliesACT! is a 501(c)3 organization advocating for compassionate treatment of the mentally ill and addicted. 


We are a growing group of families who have been heavily impacted by psychological disorders and co-occurring drug dependence in our loved ones.

Respecting and utilizing the experience of affected families, our intention is to support and empower each other while advocating for compassionate and effective treatment for those with mood/thought disorders and substance abuse issues.

We are focused on fundamental change in both our mental health and criminal justice systems for a shift from a punitive to a rehabilitative approach. 

Thousands of American families are experiencing the tragic consequences of current policies which result in neglect.


We know that people with a mood or thought disorder who self-medicate must be offered compassionate and effective treatment as an alternative and/or an adjunct to incarceration.

We offer a variety of support services for individuals and families including:

  • Help with navigating the mental health and criminal justice systems

  • Referrals to local resources

  • Bi-monthly support and advocacy group meetings

  • An opportunity to advocate with your story in our videos, at town hall meetings, press conferences and pubic policy hearings.

We believe that by standing together, we will be able to assist each other and change the way our society treats those with mental illness and addiction.

Our Executive Director

Suzanne Riordan photo_edited.jpg

Suzanne Riordan, Executive Director is one of the founding mothers of FamiliesAct! and has spent tireless hours advocating for the mentally ill and dual-diagnosis individuals.


Suzanne is a healer, an author, a dancer, a networker, a social reformer and an activist. She grew up in Europe, Egypt and Washington D.C. and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco in the 70′s. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BA in International Relations and from the University of California in Santa Barbara with a Master’s in Education.

Suzanne helped to found the Fellowship for Intentional Communities, the Santa Barbara Homeless Coalition and in the early 1980's, the Santa Barbara Single Parent Alliance which she ran for seven years. In the late 1990′s, she was inspired to create Dancing From the Heart, a powerful community dance event.


She helped to create Families ACT! after her son Ian died in 2005 at the age of twenty-three. Santa Barbara saw a cluster of deaths that winter among young dually-diagnosed men and women. Out of a gathering of friends and families that took place soon after Ian's death, came the determination to change the policies and practices related to how our community was treating people with co-occurring disorders. "So many of us had tried in vain to get help for our children and we did not want other families to have to go through what we had been through". That became the seed for a new grassroots organization.

Our Community Partners


National Association of Mental Illness

Santa Barbara 


SB County

Dept of Behavioral Wellness


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