Active Minds National Conference 2021

Here to Stay: Mental Health in the Post-2020 Culture

The nation’s premier conference focused on young adults and mental health

February 16 – 18, 2021

Virtual | #ActiveMindsCon21


There’s still time to register to gain access to recordings!


featured speakers


Alyssa Milano has spent almost her entire life in the public eye. Alyssa is an actor (“Who’s the Boss”, “Charmed”, “Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later”), producer, entrepreneur, activist, NY Times Best-Selling author and podcast host (“Alyssa Milano: Sorry Not Sorry”).

As an activist, Milano chooses to shine a spotlight on causes that matter deeply to her, including mental health, sexual harassment, and assault. Her advancement of #MeToo sparked a viral movement of women fighting against sexual harassment and assault and she has been involved in TimesUp since its inception. She recently joined the ERA Coalition’s Advisory Council and is the ACLU’s Ambassador for Reproductive Rights. In early 2020, Milano fell ill to a severe case of COVID-19 that not only affected her physical health but mental health as well. She recently wrote a heartfelt think piece about her experience battling the virus.


Nkechi Okoro Carroll is the Executive Producer of the Greg Berlanti-produced drama series “All American,” the acclaimed Netflix show that highlights the myriad issues that young adults face today.

Prior to “All American,” Okoro Carroll served as Co-Executive Producer on the drama series “The Resident” and “Rosewood.” Her other television producing credits include, “Bones” and “The Finder.” Additionally, Okoro Carroll is in an exclusive, multiyear overall deal with Warner Bros Studios.

Born in New York, raised in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and England, Okoro Carroll earned a B.A. in Economics and French from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in International Economics from New York University. Prior to her television writing career, Okoro Carroll worked for the Federal Reserve where her responsibilities included managing the reserve position for the U.S. Banking system and analyzing the impact of monetary policy decisions on the domestic money markets. All of which she did while still writing and producing plays in New York.

Okoro Carroll currently resides in Los Angeles.


Kendra Scott is a talented designer, loving mom, passionate philanthropist, and driven entrepreneur.

Kendra designed her first collection of jewelry in 2002 with just $500 and has since grown the company to a billion-dollar valuation with over 100 stores nationwide and a thriving e-commerce and wholesale business. According to a 2018 PitchBook study, Kendra is among only 16 women in the United States to carry the title of founder of a company valued at one billion dollars.

Kendra is passionate about creating a brand and a culture that supports women, values family, and encourages an entrepreneurial mindset. She has pioneered a new way of interacting with consumers through brand experiences that genuinely engage her community.

Kendra actively seeks out opportunities to mentor and support other entrepreneurs, especially women leaders. Beginning September 2019, she is proud to give new life to this passion through a new program at the University of Texas at Austin: The Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute. This program will build a pipeline of courageous, creative female leaders who will change the world – in business and beyond.

plus a special message from Justin Bieber

daily conference agenda

schedule set in Eastern Time Zone

Day 1: TUESDAY FEBRUARY 16, 2021
schedule set in Eastern Time Zone

2:00 PM  |  Welcome to Conference   |   Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director, Active Minds

2:20 PM  |  Mental Health and Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Data From the Healthy Minds Study 2019-2020   |   Akilah Patterson, MPH, CHES, Study Coordinator, Healthy Minds Network
Session sponsored by TimelyMD

Data from the Healthy Minds Study addresses trends in mental health and wellbeing over time and the impact COVID-19 has had on student mental health. Explore student’s attitudes, preventive behaviors, mental health and wellbeing, and their perceived supportiveness of colleges and universities prior to and during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2:50 PM  |  Push Pause: The Key to Staying Resilient During the Chaos of COVID-19   |   Kathleen Mackenzie, EdD, MSW, LICSW, CMHIMP, Senior Lecturer, Northeastern University

Feeling overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic? You are not alone. Come learn no-cost, evidence-based strategies that leverage the power of your own biochemistry, to maintain or develop a resilient body and mind and mitigate the impact of COVID-19-related stress.

3:15 PM  |  How to Start and Keep a Gratitude Journal   |   Abraham Sculley, Mental Health Speaker and Coach

Developing an attitude of gratitude takes intentional mental training. This activity is designed to share practical strategies to help with developing a routine of journaling and practicing mindfulness.

3:25 PM  |  BREAK  |  Stories from Around the Country: COVID-19 and Mental Health

3:35 PM  |  Panel: Voices of Young Adults

Panelists: Stephen Chen, Student, Savannah College of Art and Design; Macy Faust, Student, University of North Texas; Tré Moss, Student, University of Dubuque; Sarah Pennington, Student, Savannah College of Art and Design
Moderator: Sarah Brown, Senior Reporter, The Chronicle of Higher Education

For most students, 2020 was a profound year full of challenges, social impact, and isolation. Student leaders across the country had to adapt and innovate to continue their mental health advocacy work online, all while balancing multiple responsibilities, online learning, and facing financial insecurity. Join us for a conversation with Active Minds Student Leaders as they look back and share their mental health and leadership experiences during 2020.

4:40 PM  |  Active Minds Awards

Pandemic Response Award
Health Equity Award
Peg’s Foundation Transformational Change Award

4:50 PM  |  BREAK  |  Stories from Around the Country: COVID-19 and Mental Health

5:00 PM  |  Featured Conversation with Alyssa Milano, Actor and Activist, Active Minds Hero Award Recipient



schedule set in Eastern Time Zone

12:00 PM 
|   Behind the Backpacks: Going Live with the Story-Sharers

Panelists: Sam Brinton, Chief Advocacy Officer, Trevor Project; Jim Johnson, Founder, KyleCares; Kelsey Pacetti, Student, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
Moderator: Robyn Suchy, Chapter Manager, Active Minds

Active Minds is proud to launch Behind the Backpacks, a virtual experience that explores the impact of suicide through story-sharing, and promotes tangible action to create positive culture change in your everyday. Join us for a panel conversation with people who contributed stories of their lived experiences to this cutting-edge, new interactive resource that humanizes suicide’s impact and inspires action.

1:00 PM 
|  Panel: For High Schoolers By High Schoolers – Struggling to Improve High School Student Mental Health

Panelists:Benjamin Heim, Student, Lenox Memorial Middle and High School; Anushka Gupta, Student, John L. Miller Great North Neck High School; Rushika Prasad, Student, The John Cooper School; Beto Valenzuela, Student, The John Cooper School
Moderator: Stephen Popp, Assistant Head of Schools, The John Cooper School

The mental health needs and priorities are similar for high school and college students, yet the structures and policies differ dramatically. Hear directly from high school student leaders on ways they have improved awareness of mental health concerns, connected with their peers, and cultivated a welcoming community at their respective schools. Learn ways they have adapted Active Minds resources for their schools and about upcoming high school programming from the Active Minds National Staff.

2:00 PM  |  Welcome Back to Conference, featuring a special message from Justin Bieber!   |   Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director, Active Minds

2:10 PM  |  Racial Trauma in an Uncertain World: Building Strengths and Taking Care   | Marcia Liu, PhD, Counseling Psychologist, The Steve Fund; David Rivera, PhD, Associate Professor of Counselor Education, Queens College, City University of New York; National Advisor, The Steve Fund

Navigating life in the pandemic has been difficult for everyone. However, communities of color have borne the brunt of the health, economic, and educational consequences of the pandemic. The racial uprising and harmful laws and policies enacted by the previous presidential administration added additional contexts that exacerbated racial trauma for many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. During the pandemic, BIPOC students reported an increase in incidents of bias and a lack of support and understanding from their institutions. These race-related stressors, which can impact a student’s ability to succeed, can include experiencing microaggressions, imposter phenomenon, an invalidating campus climate, and mental health stigma. Being aware and becoming equipped to handle these concerns can help students not only survive, but thrive. This session will provide you with information on the types of issues BIPOC students might face, coping strategies for maintaining physical and emotional wellbeing, and best practices for offering help and available resources.

2:50 PM  |  Introducing Send Silence Packing: Behind the Backpacks   | Hayley Harnicher, Send Silence Packing Program Manager, Active Minds; Erin Simon, Former Send Silence Packing Tour Coordinator

Join Send Silence Packing Program Manager, Hayley Harnicher, and former Send Silence Packing Tour Coordinator, Erin Simon, for a conversation about the newly launched Active Minds virtual suicide prevention experience, Send Silence Packing: Behind the Backpacks. 

3:00 PM  |  BREAK  |  Stories from Around the Country: COVID-19 and Mental Health

3:10 PM  Panel: The Future of Workplace Wellness

Panelists: Rahab Hammad, Senior Benefits Manager, Snap; Sarah McMullen, Inclusion Strategist and Consultant, Getting Hired; David Wohlreich, Director, Total Rewards and HR Operations, Niantic Technologies
Moderator: Andrea Petersen, Health and Travel Reporter, Wall Street Journal

Even before the pandemic changed the way we work, meet, connect, and collaborate, mental health in the workplace was a rapidly emerging conversation. Now, more than ever, in a post-pandemic world and as Millennials and Gen Z shift the demographic makeup of the workforce, mental wellness among teams and employees is a critical component to enhancing productivity, employee loyalty, and ultimately, profit. Join us for a conversation with human resources professionals to explore the future of workplace wellness, now and beyond COVID.

4:10 PM  |  Digital Mental Health: Here to Stay

Panelists: Chris Clark, MBA, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, TimelyMD; Matthew McEvoy, Senior Vice President and General Manager, North America, Togetherall; Dr. Monika Roots, Chief Medical Officer, Sanvello
Moderator: Laura Horne, Chief Program Officer, Active Minds

As interest in and use of technology to address mental health continues to grow during COVID-19, the potential of digital health to increase access and quality of mental health support is becoming more clear. Exploring the successes and lessons learned of technology during the pandemic and how digital tools can soon play a larger role, we discuss the need for nuanced, data-driven, and equitable approaches, among other factors, for turning the tide in young adult mental health.

4:45 PM  |  BREAK  |  Stories from Around the Country: COVID-19 and Mental Health

4:55 PM  |  Active Minds Awards

Student Philanthropist Award
Sue Cimbricz Spirit Award
Luke Beischel Chapter Jumpstart Scholarship
KyleCares Award for Excellence in High Schools

5:05 PM  |  Featured Conversation with Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Executive Producer of “All American,” Active Minds Hero Award Recipient

6:00 PM 
|  Student Roundtables
   |  Active Minds Staff and Student Advisory Committee

Calling all students! Join Active Minds staff and Student Advisory Committee members for a deep dive discussion about all things chapters. You will have an opportunity to connect with fellow chapter members and leaders to explore ideas for programming, recruitment, and leadership transition in a virtual world.



schedule set in Eastern Time Zone

12:00 PM 
|  Your Voice is Your Power: Empowering the Next Generation of Youth Mental Health Advocates in Local, State, and Federal Policy

Presenters: Lisa Herron, Senior Fellow, Well Being Trust; Christina Desnoyers, Policy Coordinator, Well Being Trust; Cameron Vigil, MNM, Rocky Mountain Engagement Manager, Young Invincibles; Laura Horne, MPH, Chief Program Officer, Active Minds

Gen Z recognizes mental health as a social justice issue. They know that we need a better way to address it – one that both mobilizes from the grassroots, and impacts policies from the top-down, all with a health equity lens. Join Active Minds, Well Being Trust, and Young Invincibles for an interactive discussion about empowering young adults in policy advocacy and be one of the first to learn about an exciting new project!

12:00 PM 
|  MAKING IT: Highlighting Innovation on a Healthy Campus Award Winning Campus

Panelists: Joe Behen, PhD, Executive Director of Counseling, Health & Disability Services at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC); Amy Gatto, Senior Campus Program Manager, Active Minds

The Healthy Campus Award celebrates excellence in student health and wellness and highlights innovative practices winners have implemented on their campuses. Join School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a 2016 Healthy Campus Award winning campus, as they discuss how their students have adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic and share their MAKING IT exhibit. MAKING IT looks to artists to make sense and meaning out of the isolating state of the global pandemic.

1:00 PM 
|  Connect with
Active Minds Speakers

Kevin Briggs, Carli Bushoven, Pablo Campos, Meg Hutchinson, Dr. Kristen Lee, Stacy Pershall, David Romano, Abraham Sculley, Greg Vogt, Frank Warren, and Michael Zibilich
Hosted by Maribeth Savoie, Senior Health Promotion Manager, Active Minds

Join the Active Minds Speakers for an “Ask Me Anything” style interactive event to learn more about their stories, careers, presentations, and more! Participants will be invited to join breakout rooms where the Speakers will answer questions live.

2:00 PM  |  Welcome Back to Conference

2:10 PM  |  Creating Spaces in a Virtual World   |  Ivy Watts, Mental Health Empowerment Speaker

Practicing self-care has become increasingly more important as our lives have been turned upside down with the changes and loss caused by COVID. However, as our lives have become virtual, it has always become more difficult to find time and space for self-care. This session will provide you with tools to practice self-care anywhere, encourage you to take breaks, and give ways to implement self-care into the virtual spaces you are in every day.

2:35 PM  |  Overcoming the Shutdown: Mental Health in the Hospitality Industry

Panelists: Andre G. Howell, Vice President of Operations, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance; Patrick Mulvaney, Chef; Founder, I Got Your Back; Elaina Suarez, Student, University of Texas at San Antonio; Kimberlee Vandervoorn, Vice President, Consumer Solutions, Optum at UnitedHealth Group
Moderator: Becky Fein, Director of Training and Engagement, Active Minds

Mental health struggles are on the rise throughout the United States, particularly among young adults. Within the hospitality industry, these struggles are exacerbated by the unique challenges in these jobs. On top of that, the hospitality industry is undoubtedly one of the hardest hit through the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us for a conversation about the evolving needs of people who work in the hospitality industry, including innovative tools for managers and teams, and best practices for maintaining a culture that is supportive of mental health.

3:25 PM  |  BREAK  |  Stories from Around the Country: COVID-19 and Mental Health

3:40 PM  |  Self-Care and Recovery Amidst a Global Pandemic   |   Meg Hutchinson, Recording Artist & Hospital Chaplain

Singer-songwriter, poet, and hospital chaplain Meg Hutchinson discusses resilience in the midst of the pandemic. Meg shares what she has learned about self-care from managing her own mental health for decades, and what working as a palliative care chaplain in a large Boston hospital taught her in 2020. Discussion includes issues of moral distress, trauma, PTSD, creativity, healing, and restoring inner balance through physical, mental, and spiritual rest.

4:00 PM  |   Leading the Way: Students at the Forefront of Campus Momentum

Panelists: Jen Castillo, Senior Manager, Scholarships, National Society of Collegiate Scholars; Abby Kinch, Vice President of Programs and Services, Student Veterans of America; Danny Miller, Senior Director of Prevention and Accountability, Alpha Sigma Phi; Xavier Romano, Executive Director, Sigma Lambda Beta
Moderator: Laura Horne, Chief Program Officer, Active Minds
Session sponsored by Togetherall

When it comes to changing the culture on campus, students lead the way. Strategic programming, partnerships, and messaging are key to reaching the intended audiences. Join staff members from major student organizations to discuss how their students have responded to the most pressing issues of our time: the pandemic, mental health, social injustices, and more.

4:55 PM  |  Active Minds Awards

Adam Carlson Student Leader of the Year Award
Advisor of the Year Award
Chapter of the Year Award

5:00 PM  |  Featured Conversation with Kendra Scott, Founder, Designer, & Executive Chairwoman

5:50 PM  |  Moving Forward Into the Post-2020 Culture   |    Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director, Active Minds

2021 Event FAQs


2021 Event Program


2020 Conference

Check Out the Photos!

A special thank you to our 2021 sponsors:












digital sponsor




about the conference

The Active Minds National Conference is the nation’s premier conference focused on young adults and mental health. This three-day conference will look closely at how the mental health conversation has changed through the events of 2020, how the issue has come to the forefront of the national dialogue, and how the post-2020 era can bring a better mental health culture, for good.

Annual showcase

Presented since 2004, this highly anticipated annual event brings together hundreds of young adults and mental health leaders; campus and school professionals; government, foundation, and corporate representatives from across the country to share ideas and advance knowledge about mental health education, advocacy, and awareness.

The conference annually showcases the most innovative and effective approaches to supporting young adult well-being and changing the conversation about mental health on campuses, in workplaces, and within our communities.

Exceptional speakers

Highlights of the Active Minds National Conference includes inspiring keynote presentations and breakout sessions led by esteemed mental health, higher education, and other experts.

Who attends

  • Campus professionals including deans, vice presidents, faculty, and staff in Student Affairs, Student Life, Student Health, Counseling, Psychology, Public Health, and more
  • School administrators including principals, superintendents, guidance counselors, and social work
  • Government, foundation, and corporate representatives invested in the health and well-being of students and communities
  • Young adults and Active Minds chapter members and alumni, student body presidents, fraternity and sorority leaders, and all others who are committed to mental health awareness and suicide prevention
  • Mental health leaders including representatives of mental health organizations as well as practitioners