I am pleased to announce in this special alert that NAMI will be awarding Stella March our Distinguished Service Award, our highest honor, at our national convention in San Francisco, July 6-9.
Most of you know Stella as coordinator of our StigmaBusters program, but she is much, much more. This year marks NAMI’s 30th anniversary as a national organization. She is one of our founders. From her home in Los Angeles, she works tirelessly at local, state and national levels.
Stella served in the 1980s and 1990s as a NAMI national vice-president and chair of the national board’s legislative committee. She has walked the halls of Congress, and California’s state capitol, as an advocate for individuals and families affected by serious mental illness.
She has served on California’s Mental Health Planning Council. She continues to be a trusted advisor to Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health and in recent years was a recipient of the county’s “Volunteer of the Year” award. She has received state and national honors from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for her work in fighting stigma.
In 2005, Schizophrenia Digest profiled Stella in a major feature story that I hope you will read. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, author of The Soloist, now the motion picture, has called Stella “the one person in Los Angeles who can best answer the absurd comments about mental illness made by Tom Cruise.”
If you are attending NAMI’s convention, look forward to applauding Stella at the awards dinner. StigmaBusters also can send congratulations to email@example.com, the same e-mail address where Stella receives reports everyday from the "front lines" in the fight against stigma.
You are the front lines. Our grassroots. As Stella says at the end of each StigmaBusters alert: “You are our eyes and ears.” Along with honoring Stella, wee thank you too for your service.
Michael J. Fitzpatrick
National Alliance on Mental Illness