National Alliance on Mental Illness
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2014 Convention Program & Speakers
Speakers and Presenters
This is only a small portion of our convention speakers and presenters. For a full list of the outstanding presenters that will be speaking this year, please view the convention program above.
Patrick Kennedy is a former United States Representative from Rhode Island, the Co-Founder of One Mind for Research and the Founder of the Kennedy Forum. Patrick Kennedy served for 16 years in the U.S House of Representatives and is predominately known as the author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Now, Rep. Kennedy is the co-founder of One Mind for Research, a national coalition seeking new treatments and cures for neurologic and psychiatric diseases of the brain. Rep. Kennedy is also the founder of the Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health which advocates for mental health parity and served as a vehicle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the Community Mental Health Act, a landmark bill that laid the foundation of contemporary mental health policy. Rep. Kennedy has authored and co-sponsored dozens of bills to increase the understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Rep. Kennedy has been given many awards, including the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Distinguished Service Award, the Society for Neuroscience Public Service Award and the Depression and Bipolar Support Paul Wellstone Mental Health Award and has been recognized by many organizations for his mental health advocacy.
Thomas Insel, M.D.
Thomas Insel, M.D., is the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the component of the National Institutes of Health charged with generating the knowledge needed to understand, treat, and prevent mental disorders. His tenure at NIMH has been distinguished by groundbreaking findings in the areas of practical clinical trials, autism research, and the role of genetics in mental illnesses. Prior to his appointment as NIMH Director in the Fall 2002, Dr. Insel was Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University, where he was Founding Director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, one of the largest science and technology centers funded by the National Science Foundation and, concurrently, director of an NIH-funded Center for Autism Research. From 1994 to 1999, he was Director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta. While at Emory, Dr. Insel studied the neurobiology of complex social behaviors. He has published over 250 scientific articles and four books. Dr. Insel has served on numerous academic, scientific, and professional committees and boards. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and is a recipient of several awards including the Outstanding Service Award from the U.S. Public Health Service.
Melody Moezzi is an Iranian-American writer, activist, attorney and award-winning author. Her latest book, Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life, is a memoir that interweaves her experiences with both clinical and cultural bipolarity. Moezzi is a United Nations Global Expert with the UN Alliance of Civilizations and a member of the British Council's Our Shared Future Opinion Leaders Network. Her first book earned her a Georgia Author of the Year Award and a Gustavus Myers Center for Bigotry and Human Rights Honorable Mention. Moezzi is a blogger for The Huffington Post and bpHope. She is also a columnist for bp Magazine's print edition. Her writings have appeared in multiple news outlets as well as radio and television programs. She has worked as a corporate and non-profit consultant and attorney and has worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reporting to the U.S. Congressional Commission on International Religious Freedom. She has also served as a federal congressional and an intern covering health and human rights for The Carter Center. Moezzi regularly gives lectures and seminars on issues related to mental health and disability rights, Islam, Iran, and women's rights.
Judge Robert Russell
Judge Robert Russell is an Associate Judge for Buffalo City Court and serves as an Acting Erie County Court Judge. In 2008, he created the nation’s first “Veterans’ Treatment Court”, which diverts eligible veteran-defendants with substance dependency and/or mental illness to a specialized criminal court docket where they voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan. Judge Russell also created and serves as Presiding Judge of Buffalo’s Drug Treatment Court and Buffalo’s Mental Health Treatment Court, which oversees treatment cases involving individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness. Judge Russell is the Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Inc. and Past President of the New York State Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals, Inc. He also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Judges’ Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative (JLI). Judge Russell has received numerous awards which include the National Vietnam Veterans of America Achievement Award, the Citizenship Award by the National Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and the Professional Service Award from the Mental Health Association of Erie County.
Creigh Deeds, J.D.
Creigh Deeds, J.D., is a Senator representing the 25th district of Virginia since 2001 and currently serves of five Senate standing committees. He previously served in the Virginia House of Delegates for 10 years. He wrote Megan’s Law, which allows public access to the state sex offender registry, sponsored the Amber Alert Program to help make children safe, and was named Delegate of the Year by the Preservation Alliance of Virginia. Senator Deeds has been a strong advocate for people living with mental illness and their families. His personal family experience with untreated serious mental illness drew national attention in 2013 when his late son Gus, who was living with bipolar disorder, attacked the Senator and later died by suicide. Deeds turned this tragic event into legislative action by sponsoring legislation in Virginia to create a statewide registry of available inpatient psychiatry beds and expand requirements for emergency treatment and stabilization. The work Senator Deeds is doing has served as an inspiration to families across the nation and has drawn national attention to the challenges faced by NAMI families each day with their loved ones living with untreated mental illness. Senator Deeds is hopeful that his son’s life is not defined by his illness and that by working to advocate for mental health education, he can help other families.
Jason DeShaw is a country singer born and raised in Montana. He has performed in 35 states, Canada and Europe, has opened for numerous big names in country music and had headlined two tours. He has released five albums of original music that shares his story of living with Bipolar Disorder. His diagnosis stemmed from his experiences of alcoholism and enrolling in an alcohol addiction recovery program where psychiatric tests showed he was manic. His story of recovery, entitled Serenity in the Storm, is interwoven with original music that soundtracks his life’s struggles and triumphs. He works closely with NAMI Montana to share his message of recovery aimed at providing hope to others through his song lyrics interlaced with anecdotes about his journey with mental illness. Jason performs at college campuses and all over the country to share his message.