MHA Announces Initial Speakers for 2015 Annual Conference, Media Award Recipients | Mental Health America

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MHA Announces Initial Speakers for 2015 Annual Conference, Media Award Recipients

For Immediate Release: February 4, 2015
Contact: Erin Wallace (571-319-9594,

MHA Announces Initial Speakers for 2015 Annual Conference, Media Award Recipients

Author Glennon Doyle Melton, Former NFL Player Dwight Hollier Among Line-Up; NBC4, ESPN to be Honored

Alexandria, Virginia – On June 3-5, 2015 Mental Health America (MHA) will hold its 2015 Annual Conference with the theme Intervention and Innovation Before Stage 4” at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The conference will highlight the impact the organization and others have had in improving mental health in America, examine innovations and programs that will play a vital role in shaping the future of mental health care, and discuss the critical need to address those initial signs of a mental illness—before Stage 4—so that we can intervene early and make a difference. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter is serving as Chair of the bipartisan 2015 Annual Conference Honorary Committee.

“We will be highlighting the innovative and incredible work of MHA and MHA affiliates throughout the nation at our conference.” MHA President and CEO Paul Gionfriddo announced, “We will be featuring the innovative efforts of others to promote mental health and mitigate the effects of mental illnesses, and honoring some outstanding contributions to improving our nation’s understanding of mental health concerns that have been made during the past year. 

“We already have an outstanding line-up of all-star speakers confirmed,” Gionfriddo added.  “Their focus and ours will be on intervening early – before mental health crises and tragedies occur – to change the trajectories of lives. And we’ll be adding additional speakers and content in the weeks to come.”

Among the high-profile speakers and participants already confirmed: 

  • Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of the inspiring and hilarious New York Times bestselling memoir, Carry On, Warrior. She is the founder of and is the creator and president of the non-profit organization Together Rising.
  • Dwight Hollier is a National Board Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor with extensive experience working with adolescents, families, and adults around a variety of clinical and non-clinical issues. Dwight is a former player for the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts, and is currently the Director of Transition and Clinical Services for the National Football League working in the Player Engagement Department overseeing the Life Platform.
  • Dr. Thomas R. Insel is the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which is charged with generating the knowledge needed to understand, treat, and prevent mental disorders.
  • Major General Mark Graham (Ret.) Senior Director, Call Center Operations and Director, Military/Veteran & Family Support Services at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. MG Graham retired from the US Army on August 1, 2012 after serving over thirty-four years.  MG Graham and his wife, Carol, are tireless champions of military and civilian efforts to promote mental health and suicide-prevention awareness, and to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health care.
  • Brigadier General (Ret.) Stephen Xenakis, MD is a psychiatrist with an active clinical and consulting practice.  He is the Founder of the Center for Translational Medicine that develops treatments and conducts tests on brain related conditions affecting soldiers and veterans. He has been a senior adviser to the Department of Defense on wide range of issues concerning the care and support to service members and their families.  He served 28 years in the United States Army as a medical corps officer.
  • Terrie M. Williams is a mental health advocate and author of Stay Strong: Simple Life Lessons for Teens and Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting. Terrie created a mental health advocacy campaign for the African American community in 2007 under her Stay Strong Foundation entitled, “Healing Starts With Us.”
  • Shana Glickfield is a partner at Beekeeper Group, a communications, advocacy, and stakeholder strategy firm. Shana helps a wide array of clients with their communications and advocacy strategies, focusing on social media and online community building.
  • Angie Goff is reporter and anchor for NBC Washington. The Emmy-Award winning journalist has spent over a decade covering the news out in the field and from behind the desk. At NBC4 Angie anchors the weekend editions of News4 Today and reports for all platforms. Goff also writes the popular blog OhMyGoff known for showcasing viewer generated content.
  • Brandon Staglin is the Director of Marketing Communications for both Staglin Family Vineyard and IMHRO/One Mind Institute. Having overcome many challenges in his life, including the diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1990, Brandon's strength, intelligence and passion add a tremendous value to both organizations.
  • Peter Earley is the author of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness. After a 14-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, Pete became a full-time author. He advocates for strong mental health reform on the public stage.
  • Dennis Embry is a senior scientist at PAXIS Institute in Tucson and a co-investigator at Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention as well as co-investigator with the Promise Neighborhood Research Consortium, the University of Manitoba, University of South Carolina—overseeing 50 major prevention projects in the US and Canada.

MHA is excited to announce that journalist Yochi Dreazen, ESPN’s program Outside the Lines, and NBC4 will be receiving MHA’s 2015 Media Awards. The Media Awards will be presented during the conference at the 2015 Media Awards Luncheon.

Yochi Dreazen is the managing editor for news at Foreign Policy, and author of The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War. The book chronicles the compelling story of Major General mark Graham and his wife Carol as they faced  unimaginable tragedy after losing two sons—one to suicide and one to combat. The book brings to light not only the tragedy of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder throughout the military, but also the evolution of how the institution and its leaders are dealing with this crisis. Prior to joining Foreign Policy, Mr. Dreazen was a contributing editor at the Atlantic and the senior national security correspondent for National Journal. Mr. Dreazen began his career at the Wall Street Journal and spent 11 years at the newspaper, most recently as its military correspondent. *Mr. Dreazen will also be speaking at the conference on a panel with Major General Mark Graham.

ESPN’s Outside the Lines story in 2014 of College Athletes and Mental Health: Sasha’s Story, reported on by Tom Farrey and Nicole Noren, drew attention to the tragic suicide of University of Missouri swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, and her unanswered cries for help to University of Missouri officials. ESPN shared the story of Sasha—a beautiful and talented swimmer who battled mental health issues and ultimately took her own life when she couldn’t find the help she needed. By thoroughly reporting on this important topic with sensitivity and compassion, OTL not only honored Sasha’s memory but also brought attention to the urgent need to change the dialogue of mental health in this country—on college campuses and beyond.

NBC4 Washington
Led by journalist Doreen Gentzler, the Washington, DC NBC affiliate spent 2014 discussing the issues surrounding mental health, through its year-long Changing Mind series. As NBC4 describes it, mental health “…can affect anyone at any time. It doesn’t discriminate by age, race, gender, or income. Yet many of us find that mental health and mental illness are tough topics to talk about.” The campaign has drawn significant attention to the needs of those struggling with mental health issues, and by providing education and information on a variety of mental health topics NBC4 has done the Washington area a great service.

For more information and to register for the Mental Health America 2015 Annual Conference, click here.

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