Carli Bushoven

Active Minds Speaker

Carli Bushoven is a professional mental health speaker from Active Minds. Her story gives hope a voice.

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About Carli

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

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Shortly after Maddy’s death, Carli helped form the Madison Holleran Foundation in an effort to keep Madison’s memory alive and to support others who are struggling with mental illness. The goal of the foundation is to focus on high school seniors who are making the difficult transition to college, and let them know that they are not alone and help is available. Madison’s story has been shared on national television with Dr. Oz, and in numerous news outlets including People Magazine. 

Passionate for suicide awareness and prevention, Carli shares Madison’s story in an effort to inspire others to speak out about their mental health struggles and end the stigma that prevented her sister from getting the help that she needed when she needed it.

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Booking information

Key topics

  • Athletes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Faculty/staff trainings
  • Life Transitions
  • Social Media & Mental Health
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Religion/spirituality

Presentation options

Carli Options

Sometimes people who seem to have their lives together are actually falling apart under the surface. Living in an age of social media and intense comparison, many young adults today are focused on keeping up or achieving unrealistic goals of perfection.

At just 19, Madison Holleran, known to have both beauty and brains, had also earned a coveted spot on UPenn’s Ivy League track team and won multiple academic and athletic awards. It seemed like she “had it all.” Madison’s pursuit of unattainable levels of “perfection” exacerbated her mental health struggles with anxiety and depression. She struggled immensely with her sense of failure and ultimately ended her life in January 2014. Carli challenges others to ask themselves: Is this life my pursuit of happiness or my pursuit of perfection? 

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Travel information

Carli travels from New Jersey.

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Speaker Testimonials

“Thank you, Carli Bushoven and the Madison Holleran Foundation, for sharing your sister Madison’s story with our Manhasset High School community. We are grateful to have learned how to talk about suicide so we might provide the help someone needs. Carli described Madison and her family in a way that our audience would relate to them. Many parents and coaches attended the presentation with their children and student-athletes and will be better equipped to recognize symptoms and speak about depression. Unfortunately, today’s digital world causes more people to feel alone and unable to express their feelings.  Education about depression and suicide prevention is necessary so we know how to ask and find help. Our school guidance counselors and social workers attended so they could answer questions or concerns during the following days. The presentation will help our community be more prepared and compassionate. Thank you doing this important work in Madison’s name.”

– Jennifer DeSena, Executive Director, Manhasset Coalition Against Substance Abuse

“I would highly recommend Carli and the Madison Holleran Foundation for your next event.  Carli spoke at our annual Women’s Day event at Wayne State University. Her talk and sharing of Madison’s story profoundly impacted the audience, which included our student-athlete body.  Carli’s strength and grace in sharing such a personal story made her message extremely impactful. We found that with Carli’s willingness to share her and Madison’s story, it was able to open up a more honest dialogue about mental health and illnesses, and most importantly creating paths for people to ask for help.”

– Kelsey Voss, Associate Athletics Director, Wayne State University

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There is no single issue more important to me as a Superintendent and father than that of mental illness. Carli Bushoven’s presentation to our school community was compelling, powerful and thought-provoking.  She provided new insights and messages for us to think about. Madison’s life and death are making a difference. 

Dr. Matthew Murphy, Superintendent, Ramsey Public Schools

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