MS, ALWF, Coordinator, Academy of Peer Services Virtual Community, 2018 Pioneer of Peer Support Award at the International Association of Peer Supporters Conference
"Rita Cronise holds a master’s degree in Instructional Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology and became involved in self-help peer support in the late 90’s, eventually facilitating and then directing a local chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Rochester.
In 2005, she became a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator and in 2007, was one of the first 100 peer specialists hired by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA). In 2008, after becoming a facilitator for Shery Mead’s Intentional Peer Support (IPS) training, she and the IPS class she had led founded a support group for peer supporters and the first local chapter of the National Association of Peer Specialists (NAPS).
Through ongoing involvement with NAPS she was able to combine her instructional design skill with her passion for peer support. In 2010, NAPS was awarded a contract to develop the SAMHSA-funded Recovery to Practice curriculum for peer supporters.
In 2012, she coordinated the NAPS task force to establish National Practice Guidelines for Peer Supporters, which involved focus groups, a meeting at SAMHSA headquarters, surveys, analysis and distribution to the peer support community. In 2014, she disseminated a national survey of the education, compensation, and satisfaction in the peer workforce, which was published in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. After eight years of involvement as the NAPS education and communication coordinator, Rita stepped up as interim director in 2015. In recognition of contributions made, Rita received a “Sustaining Leadership” award at the iNAPS National Conference in 2017 and a “Pioneer of Peer Support” award at the National Conference in 2018.
Rita holds a full-time faculty position at Rutgers University on the instructional design team for the Academy of Peer Services (APS), the online, on-demand training and testing platform for Peer Specialist Certification in New York State. She joined the APS team in 2013 and has worked with 70 subject matter experts in the development of the online courses through the years.
She continues to develop courses but spends about half of her time establishing a Virtual Community, which is intended to bridge the gap from online learning to hands on practice. She thrives on collaboration, and strives for a global community of practice for peer supporters."