National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Darby Penney, M.L.S.


Darby Penney, senior research associate at Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP), is a qualitative researcher and program evaluator whose subject matter expertise includes trauma-informed approaches and peer support. She has experience developing and delivering training curricula on trauma-informed approaches and intimate partner violence (IPV).is also a writer and editor who identifies as a person with a psychiatric history. She has extensive experience in mental health policy and program development, training and technical assistance (TA), program management, and materials development. For a decade, she was director of recipient affairs at the New York State Office of Mental Health, where she brought the perspectives of people with psychiatric histories into all aspects of policymaking, program development, and evaluation.

Ms. Penney is the co-author of the 2012 technical assistance document,
 Engaging Women in Trauma-Informed Peer Support: A Guidebook. She is also the co-author, with Peter Stastny, of The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic (Bellevue Literary Press, 2008)
and a companion website ( The book and a traveling exhibit of the same name, which has toured the country since 2006, are based on the discovery of 400 suitcases, boxes, and trunks of personal items taken from patients when they were committed at Willard State Hospital in upstate New York. 


In 2005, Ms. Penney was honored for her social justice work by being named a Fellow of the Petra Foundation.