Active Minds Speakers
More than one million people have heard our speakers’ stories of hope since 2009
Our professional speakers provide engaging, encouraging, and safe mental health education that’s tailored for students, young adults, educators, professional groups, parents, and other audiences.
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Presentations are available online, as well as in-person.I'm Interested!
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Veterans & First Responders
Kevin Briggs shares his experiences while patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge as both an officer and a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol and includes his own personal story of physical and mental health challenges including recovery, military service, surviving the suicide of a loved one, divorce, and depression.
Briggs’ story has been featured in The New Yorker, People, and Men’s Health magazines and on The Steve Harvey Show and NPR’s Bob Edward’s Radio Show. Kevin also received the 2016 Visionary Leadership Award from the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Social Media & Mental Health
Carli tragically lost her younger sister, Madison Holleran, to suicide on January 17, 2014, which was just two weeks after Carli’s first child was born. Beautiful, athletic, kind, and smart, Madison was thought by many to have “had it all.” Her death came as a shock to not only her family, but her friends, community, and people across the country – and became the catalyst for the NYTimes bestselling book “What Made Maddy Run?“ by Kate Fagan and published by Little, Brown and Company.
Pablo Campos grew up angry and frustrated. He discusses how he engaged in increasingly risky behaviors and polysubstance abuse, which led to an attempt to take his own life during his senior year of high school.
Today, with a clear diagnosis and a treatment plan, Pablo has begun his road to recovery. He talks about how stigma, cultural norms, and a lack of education affected him and how through help seeking, education, and a strong support network he has grown from being his own worst enemy to a powerful participant in his recovery.
He shares his story to encourage others to seek help, build peer support and to create a healthier sense of community.
Minority Mental Health
Recovery Through Creativity
Diana Chao is a first-generation Chinese-American from Los Angeles currently studying geosciences, history, and diplomacy at Princeton University. Diana was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 13-years-old and is a suicide attempt survivor and suicide loss survivor. In her darkest moments, she discovered healing through writing. Adopting the motto “writing is humanity distilled into ink,” Diana shares with audiences aspects of minority mental health from what it was like growing up below the poverty line with parents who didn’t speak English to the power that even the smallest acts of kindness have had on her life. She also focuses on in-depth, actionable mental health education that can be used to support oneself and each other.
With a family history of mental health disorders, Colleen Coffey was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, disordered eating and obsessive/compulsive disorder at a young age but did not get correct treatment until much later in life. In spite of a high school and college career that included leadership positions, starring roles, and popularity, Colleen silently suffered panic attacks, extreme stress, and feelings of emptiness.
While in graduate school, she found proper treatment, and with a combination of psychiatric and medical doctors, a therapist and a nutritionist, she broke out of the cycle of being angry, sad, anxious and preoccupied. She learned that diagnoses don’t lead her life, healthy coping skills were accessible, and she was good enough as herself.
Colleen has become a widely-sought speaker and consultant, devoted to showing audiences that mental health disorders are often a product of biology or environment, or both, and that recovery is possible, stigma is useless, and everyone holds the power to transform communities.
Workplace Mental Health
Becky was in her third year of college when she was raped. Struggling with stigma, rape culture, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Becky Fein’s healing journey began when she disclosed her story to a friend, after learning that she, too, had been raped. While on a path towards her own recovery and resilience, Becky discovered the importance of being present for a friend who is struggling, the impact of trauma on individuals and communities, and tangible steps towards making our social circles and college campuses safer, more supportive spaces.
Becky received her Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University with the goal of learning about and changing the culture around rape and sexual assault. Her talks are rooted in evidence-based principles of bystander intervention and empowering people to share their stories in service to their own healing, in whatever way is right for them. Becky’s presentations are interactive and action-oriented. Participants will leave with a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of mental health issues and will feel empowered to respond productively when faced with a related situation in their own lives.
Since grad school her career has been centered around the broader conversation of mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, survivor empowerment, and giving recovery a voice.
Lisa Hamp is a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting that took place on April 16, 2007. Unsure how to deal with the post-traumatic stress, she internalized her feelings and developed into an eating disorder to cope. Eight years after the shooting, she sought counseling and began her recovery.
In her raw and powerful presentation, Lisa shares her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, an eating disorder, and infertility to help others who may be struggling with mental health issues. She is an advocate for trauma survivors and provides concrete advice on finding your new normal after trauma. She discusses the importance of self-care, the benefits of counseling, and shares what you can do to help someone struggling with a mental health disorder.
Recovery Through Creativity
Meg Hutchinson is a Boston-based singer-songwriter, poet, interfaith hospital chaplain, and recording artist on Red House Records. At 19, she began struggling with the deep depressions that accompanied the onset of Bipolar I Disorder but waited nearly a decade to seek treatment. After becoming suicidal and being hospitalized several times in 2006, Meg took control of her treatment and now tells her story of recovery through art, spiritual practice, and education. She has been recognized for her dedication to mental health advocacy with awards from Johns Hopkins and NAMI.
Workplace Mental Health
Dr. Kristen Lee
Meet Dr. Kris
Dr. Kristen Lee, Ed.D., LICSW, known as “Dr. Kris”, is an internationally recognized, award-winning behavioral science professor, clinician, author, and activist from Boston, Massachusetts. As the Lead Faculty for Behavioral Science and Faculty-in-Residence at Northeastern University, Dr. Kris’s research and teaching interests include individual and organizational well-being and resilience, particularly for marginalized and underserved populations.
She operates a consulting practice devoted to preventing and treating burnout and is the author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress, Winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Motivational Book of 2015, and best-selling Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to Be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today’s World. She is a regular contributor for Thrive Global and Psychology Today. She is the host of Crackin’ Up: Where Therapy Meets Comedy. Dr. Kris’s work has been featured on NPR, Ted, and CBS radio. Her TEDx talk, The Risk You Must Take, has over 310k views. To learn more, visit www.kristenlee.com or connect on social media via @TheRealDrKris.
Workplace Mental Health
Alison Malmon defines herself as a sister first. When her big brother Brian died by suicide during her freshman year of college, Alison was devastated – and was left with more questions than answers. Why him? Why hadn’t she known how much he was struggling?
Turning tragedy into action, she started a group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania to give students like herself the platform and tools to change the conversation about mental health. Now, more than 15 years later, Alison has cultivated that small student group into the internationally recognized nonprofit organization, Active Minds.
Alison shares her story to inspire others to speak out and be heard, to not suffer in silence, and to help fight the stigma surrounding mental illness, and continues to inspire audiences with her story and calls to action.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Born in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, at a time and place when mental health treatment was rarely spoken about, and even more rarely available, Stacy’s early symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder went largely unnoticed for years. Fortunately, both Stacy and Arkansas have learned a lot since then.
As a suicide attempt survivor, Stacy found dialectical behavior therapy after moving to New York City and proved to herself and others that it is possible to recover from BPD. Her presentation focuses on bullying (including cyber-bullying), eating disorders, distinguishing Borderline Personality Disorder from Bipolar Disorder, the power of mental health activism, and body modification as a healing agent.
Javi grew up in a Latin American family for whom bottling up your struggles was the generational norm. Looking back, he knows now that from a young age, he identified as queer, but the messages he received from his community and religion were that those feelings were not accepted. He suppressed his identity to meet the expectations he felt from those around him. Javi was tormented and harassed in elementary school which further reinforced the need to suppress who he really was.
Javi turned to substances to cope and began to experience layers of deep depression. In his late teens, Javi met someone with whom he felt safe to come out to. Much to Javi’s surprise, her reaction was accepting. She introduced him to a young man, and they fell in love. A turbulent and challenging romance, the experience left Javi heartbroken and lost in his early 20s. He turned again to substances and fell into a depression. In Javi’s family, depression was common but regarded as “a part of life.” Javi was in his mid-20s before he learned that “sadness” and “depression” are different and that when sadness is chronic and persistent, coupled with loss of interest, as his was, it qualifies as depression.
Men and Mental Health
Recovery Through Creativity
In his high energy “Active Mic: Mental Health Through Music” presentation, Kai tells the story of his battle with panic attacks and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through interactive dialogue and hip-hop music. From the beginning, the audience is engrossed in the origins of his anxiety, gradually taking the journey into his emotions, through his disorder, and into his recovery. Be prepared for good music, meaningful messages, and an overall good time.
Men and Mental Health
When David Romano began to feel the early symptoms of depression in middle school, he thought everyone felt that way, and that it was part of growing up. When he reached tenth grade and depression turned into a sense of darkness enveloping him, David assumed that he was failing everyone, including himself, and that he wasn’t the man he was supposed to be.
The popular student and multi-sport athlete tried to maintain his outward image as the fun, goofy kid, and used sports and other activities to cover his inner struggle. A mental health checklist he read in health class shone a light on his symptoms, and he began a treatment plan under the care of a professional.
After some ups and downs, he found the right combination of medication and therapy, and has focused his energies on self-healing and spreading awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.
Abraham Sculley understands the importance of using his story and experiences to educate and inspire others, whether for one-on-one conversations or while speaking to an audience.
During the second semester of his freshman year at the University of West Florida, Abraham fell into a deep depression. At the time he did not know it was depression because growing up in a Jamaican American household, mental health was never talked about nor was how to seek help. He thought to himself, “I can’t be depressed, I am an optimistic guy and I love people.” At the time, he did not understand that what he was experiencing was a mental illness.
In his raw and transformational speeches, Greg unfolds his journey from living a typical childhood to battling depression, suicide attempts, and spending a year in a mental health treatment center. A story of personal recovery and healing, Greg faces unexpected external obstacles when he experiences the tragic loss of his favorite high school teacher by suicide, and then of one of his best college friends in a car accident.
The road to recovery began during his time at a mental health center as a teenager, where he had been sent when his mental health became life-threatening. There, Greg discovered the power of vulnerability, the importance of real relationships, and the act of admitting faults. While in the treatment center, he realized the opportunity he had to pursue a path of mental wellness.
Community Response to Tragedy
Frank Warren, “The Most Trusted Stranger in America” and founder of PostSecret.com, travels around the country, sharing a collection of highly personal secrets on artfully decorated postcards mailed anonymously from around the world.
From deep family secrets to funny reflections, Warren has seen it all. He discusses how he started the project, his own secrets, why the blog has changed lives and brought people together, and why he has made suicide awareness part of his life’s work.
Audiences will also get to see postcards that were banned from the books and have the opportunity to share their own secrets live during the interactive program.
Men and Mental Health
Over the last four years, Michael has spoken about suicide awareness to thousands of university students throughout the United States. His message is simple – In the fight against suicide, all of us must consider ourselves as first responders, in our own lives and in the lives of those we know and love.
Michael is a commercial real estate executive who resides with his wife, Gayle, in Atlanta, Georgia. Tragically, on April 21, 2012, they lost their only child, Michael “Keller” Zibilich – a second semester Sigma Chi freshman at LSU – to suicide
Devastated by this inexplicable loss, they have dedicated their time and resources to promoting suicide education and awareness to college students throughout America. With the help of family and friends, they partnered with the Sigma Chi Foundation to create the “Keller Zibilich Fund” and “The Keller Zibilich Sigma Chi Lifeline Program” – both a suicide prevention hotline and an in-depth suicide education and prevention curriculum (Strong Arms) for all 17,000 active Sigma Chi’s across the nation.
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SPECIAL NOTE: Especially during this period of COVID-19-related remote work and learning, we are offering virtual presentations and workshops through Zoom. The need for community online gatherings during this unprecedented time is now stronger than ever, as is a conversation about mental health. Learn more about hosting a virtual presentation with your community.
Research shows that peer-to-peer outreach is the best way to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health and encourage people, especially young adults, to seek help if they need it. That’s why Active Minds’ speakers are so effective. Their personal stories show that mental health struggles are common and there is both help and hope. Their relatable presentations interweave key mental health messages, creating an inspiring and educational experience for your audience.
Contact us to find out how to host one of our acclaimed speakers for a memorable lecture, keynote, workshop, panel, webinar, or other type of speaking engagement.
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