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Child Mind Institute Honors NY Jet Brandon Marshall and ALEX AND ANI® at Change Maker Awards for Advancing Children’s Mental Health

May 11, 2016

Hosted by NBC’s Cynthia McFadden, the event spotlights those who are helping the 17 million children who struggle with mental health and learning disorders.

NEW YORK, NY, May 11, 2016 – As a part of its annual Speak Up for Kids campaign, the Child Mind Institute’s 2nd annual Change Maker Awards honored several individuals and organizations that are making positive change in children’s mental health and raising awareness of the need for early intervention to help kids lead healthy lives. More than 17.1 million children in the U.S. struggle with mental health and learning disorders. Fewer than half get the help they need, but these honorees are working to change that.

Cynthia McFadden, Senior Legal and Investigative Correspondent for NBC News, hosted the event, and was joined on stage by Ann Sullivan, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Mental Health and Wendy Svarre, President and CEO of Hunter, The Americas, which sponsored the awards and has supported the organization for six years. Awards were presented to the following individuals and organizations:

CHAMPION AWARD: New York Jet Brandon Marshall

Throughout his stellar NFL career, Brandon Marshall has been a game changer — on and off the field. But his courage to speak openly about his mental health is even more striking. After being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011, Brandon and his wife Michi co-founded PROJECT 375 to combat stigma and improve access to care and information.


Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health

Through its 2,700 member organizations, the National Council for Behavioral Health serves 10 million families living with mental illness and addiction, and works to ensure access to high-quality care. Linda Rosenberg has led the National Council
in helping secure passage of the federal parity law, expanding integrated services, and introducing Mental Health First Aid in the U.S., among many other initiatives.


Represented by Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder, CEO & Chief Creative Officer

Carrying on a family tradition of jewelry making, Carolyn Rafaelian founded ALEX AND ANI® in 2004. Named for her first two daughters, the eco-conscious jewelry and accessories brand reflects Rafaelian’s values and charitable focus. To date, ALEX AND ANI | CHARITY BY DESIGN® has raised more than $30 million for charities around the world, including the Child Mind Institute.

Utilizing the reach of social media, the following Outstanding Organization and Local Hero Awards were crowd sourced, with nearly 4,000 people from across the nation participating in nominating and voting. The winners are:


International Bipolar Foundation, Represented by Board Chair Muffy Walker

The International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) is dedicated to improving understanding and treatment of bipolar disorder. Founded in 2007, the organization supports research, promotes care and resources, and raises awareness through educational programs and World Bipolar Day each March 30th.

Finalists for the Outstanding Organization Award included:

  • The JED Foundation
  • The Montefiore School Health Program
  • Understood


Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD, Program Co-Director, Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment Disabilities, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Dr. Avila is dedicated to serving children and youth at the margins — refugees and immigrants, teens struggling with mental health problems, and young adults affected by substance abuse. She has secured funding for programs that address these critical issues, and works to eliminate inequality in access to resources and programming.

Finalists for the Local Hero Award included:

  • Susan Auman, LCSW, Clinical Social Worker and Therapist at the Family 
Resilience Group
  • Carrie Banks, Supervising Librarian, The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Alan Shapiro, MD, Medical Director and Co-Founder of Terra Firma

“These individuals and organizations are making incredible strides toward changing the way we look at and treat children’s mental health,” said Child Mind Institute President Dr. Harold Koplewicz. “I’m delighted to honor the good work that they do and to raise awareness about this important issue.”

The Change Maker Awards are part of the Child Mind Institute’s annual signature public education campaign, Speak Up for Kids, held each May to promote children’s mental health. In its sixth year, the campaign celebrates people making change in children’s mental health and provides accurate information to the media, families, educators and leaders that empowers them to speak up for kids.

About Our National Partner


For six years, Hunter has been a strong and steadfast partner for the Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids campaign.

Founded in 1856, Hunter is a progressive British heritage brand renowned for its iconic Original boot and holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The brand has a rich history of innovation and continues to be worn on the festival fields, the city streets, as well as challenging outdoor landscapes.

Speak Up for Kids partners include:

Parents Magazine