Foundation Keynote Speakers

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy

2014

Patrick J. Kennedy is a champion of mental health in Congress who believes that stigma, public policies, and third party payer systems have impeded the delivery of effective mental health services.  As the landscape of health care as we know it changes, and related issues continue to dominate the landscape of both the domestic and international public policy, the questions of what the impact will be on the mental health system remain. Furthermore, with awareness efforts increasing to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, just how will – and should – success be measured?

Representative Patrick J.  Kennedy joined us to discuss these very relevant issues and what the future holds for our healthcare system.

Check out this video!

 

Nelba Marquez-Greene, LMFT

2015 

Nelba Marquez Greene, LMFT has been driven by her family motto “love wins” and a desire to ensure her daughter’s life is remembered twice as loudly as her death. Her journey has led her to every level of government, media, and the public to increase understanding and awareness to prevent violence and promote healing. Past President Michael Chafin spoke with Nelba about her journey and ways she believes all mental health professionals can work to help prevent future tragedies.

 

Judy Shepard

2016

Judy Shepard and her husband Dennis' lives were changed forever in 1998 when their son, Matthew, died from a brutal attack because he was gay. The tragedy quickly spurred an unprecedented public outcry, tens of thousands of letters and emails of support for the family, and a new focus on the growing epidemic of hate crimes. The Shepard’s started the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on Matthew’s legacy and work towards gay and lesbian equality. Judy is actively involved in organizations that support the family and friends of gay individuals and continues to use her grief over her son’s death to make a difference.

Matthew Shepard’s death, and the subsequent work of his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, to end hate-motivated crimes against members of the LGBTQ community, has created an entire generation of advocates to carry forward Matthew’s desire for an inclusive and welcoming society. In an age of increasing legal equality for LGBTQ people and increasing hate and violence toward members of the LGBTQ community, it is more important than ever for students to hear Matthew’s story and learn how they can help end the epidemic of hate and violence.

 

Kim Phuc Phan Thi

2017

The Vietnam War knows many tragedies, some more familiar than others. A photograph
of a young girl running naked down a road, her skin on fire with napalm, changed the way the
world looked at the Vietnam War, and at all wars. The photograph was transmitted around the
world and later won a Pulitzer Prize. The girl in the picture is Kim Phuc.

Kim Phuc was born and raised in a village near Saigon. In 1972, Americans and
the South Vietnamese Airforce dropped napalm bombs on her village. Nine-year-old Phuc fled
from a Buddhist pagoda, where she and her family were hiding. Two of her infant cousins did
not survive the attack, and Phuc was badly burned. Phuc was photographed running down the
road, screaming from the burns to her skin. Ut’s photograph of Phuc remains one of the most
unforgettable images of the Vietnam War.

Phuc was not expected to live. After two years, however, with the help of doctors who were committed to her care, she was able to return to her village and her family began to
rebuild their lives. During the following years, the government subjected her to endless interviews
and officials summoned her to Ho Chi Minh City to be used in propaganda films. Phuc had
been forced to quit school and move back to her province, where she was supervised daily as a
“national symbol of war.”

In 1986, Phuc was sent to study in Cuba and eventually settled in Canada. When
Vietnam veterans invited her to participate at a service in Washington, as part of a Veteran’s
Day observance, Phuc shared her experience to help others heal from the pain of war. While
there, she spoke face to face with a veteran involved in dropping the bombs on that day in
1972, and forgave him.

Phuc’s incredible story was turned into a book called The Girl in the Picture and a
documentary called Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam.

In light of Phuc’s struggle, she established a foundation to further heal the wounds of war.
The Kim Foundation International is a nonprofit organization committed to funding programs to
heal children in war torn areas of the world. It is named for Phuc, who wants to give back what
so many gave to her to contribute to her healing. In 1997 UNESCO named her a Goodwill
Ambassador.


 

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