2017 Change Maker Awards

Award Winners

Award Winners!

The Change Maker Awards celebrate people and organizations that are creating real, meaningful change for children struggling with mental health and learning disorders. From the professionals putting in long hours for the children and families they serve to the advocates bringing mental health awareness to the national stage, this year’s honorees inspire us with their passion for changing the way we understand and treat our children.

Congratulations to our 2017 Change Makers — honorees and finalists.

We also invite you to learn more about our 2015 and 2016 Change Makers.


Patrick Kennedy

Champion Award Winner

Patrick J. Kennedy

Former U.S. Representative, Founder of The Kennedy Forum and Co-Founder of One Mind for Research

Lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and author of The New York Times’ bestseller A Common Struggle, Patrick has dedicated his life to improving the lives of people experiencing mental illness and addiction. As the founder of The Kennedy Forum, Patrick is bringing together the best minds in the field to transform the mental health system in America. He recently launched ParityRegistry.org to help consumers get the care they’re entitled to and to help put an end to discrimination against those living with mental health conditions. Learn more at www.thekennedyforum.org or onemind.org.

Dear Evan Hansen

Visionary Award Winner

Broadway Musical Dear Evan Hansen

Represented by Stacey Mindich, Tony Award-winning producer, and Steven Levenson, Obie Award-winning playwright

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. In Dear Evan Hansen, a painfully awkward and lonely 17-year-old gets catapulted, through a series of misunderstandings and the suicide of another student, into a social media star. The show tackles the tough issues of teenage anxiety, depression and suicide with stunning emotional honesty. Widely praised for both its heart and its humor, Dear Evan Hansen was written by Obie Award winner Steven Levenson and produced by Tony Award winner Stacey Mindich. Learn more at dearevanhansen.com.

John Kelly

Outstanding Organization Award Winner

National Association of School Psychologists

Represented by John Kelly, PhD, NCSP, President-Elect and School Psychologist with the Commack (NY) Public Schools

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) represents 25,000 school psychologists throughout the United States and abroad. NASP promotes children’s healthy development and learning through programs and services that prevent academic, social-emotional, and mental and behavioral health problems. School psychologists work with families, educators and community partners to create safe and healthy learning environments, promote wellness and positive skills development, provide direct supports to students and reduce stigma and improve access to mental health services. Learn more at www.nasponline.org.

Lori Rothman

Local Hero Award Winner

Lori Rothman, OTR

Occupational Therapist

Lori Rothman has aided thousands of families with special needs children during a career spanning over 40 years. As her nominator wrote, “She is an indefatigable, optimistic spirit who believes that everyone is capable of going the distance. Each child is a superstar in her eyes.” As Lori herself says, “Every one of them touches my heart and every one of them deserves a better life.” Before going into private practice, Lori worked at Creedmore Queens (NY) Children’s Psychiatric Center with severely developmentally challenged children and at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine (NY) in the neonatal intensive care unit. She has also worked with children who have undergone brain surgery. Learn more at lori-rothman-ot.com/lori-s-experience.


Finalist - Outstanding Organization

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families by providing trustworthy information and educational resources they need to thrive in our world of media and technology. Common Sense exists because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional and physical development. Common Sense Media provides families with resources and tools to enable them to have a choice and a voice about the media they consume. Learn more at commonsensemedia.org

Finalist - Outstanding Organization

The JED Foundation

Over the last 15 years, The Jed Foundation has emerged as the leader in protecting the emotional health of America’s 21 million college students. Their model and award-winning programs are changing the way campuses, communities and families promote mental health and prevent suicide. Learn more at jedfoundation.org

Finalist - Outstanding Organization

The Mighty

Founded by parents of a child with autism, The Mighty is an online platform for publishing real stories by real people facing real challenges. The Mighty’s mission is to combat the isolation that people feel when experiencing a disability or disease. It’s a safe platform for community members to tell their stories, connect with others and raise support for the causes they believe in. The Mighty believes that we are stronger when we face adversity together, and has partnered with over 200 nonprofit allies to deliver their excellent resources to its community. The Mighty currently has 5,000 contributors and 150 million readers. Learn more at the mighty.com

Finalist - Outstanding Organization

Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder since 1969. Active in more than 150 countries, Sesame Workshop serves kids through a wide range of media and philanthropically funded social impact programs, all grounded in rigorous research. Sesame Street’s “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” is an initiative to fight the stigma and isolation so often experienced by children with autism and their families and promote a strength-based perspective on autism, celebrating the uniqueness of all children. Learn more at sesameworkshop.org

Finalist - Local Hero

Michelle Borgese

Family Advocate at the Family Resource Center of Southern Bronx

Michelle Borgese’s work with families over the last 15 years has resulted in many youth with mental health needs being connected to appropriate and accessible services of high quality. Michelle assists families by helping them to navigate the child-serving system and learning about resources that can effectively assist their children. As a parent of children with special needs herself, Michelle has utilized her personal experience to assist families. She says her work, in turn, has helped heal her own family.

Finalist - Local Hero

Michael R. Cummings, MD

Associate Medical Director of Erie County Medical Center

Dr. Michael Cummings is a psychiatrist with more than15 years’ experience. In addition to the inpatient unit he oversees, he is the co-founder and Medical Director of the Access to Psychiatry through Intermediate Care program (APIC), a mobile service that allows providers and care coordinators to visit clients in their homes and communities. The primary goal of APIC is to reduce avoidable emergency room visits, hospitalizations, arrests, out-of-home placements and exposure to unnecessary polypharmacy. In its first two years, APIC has served 433 families, made over 450 “house calls” and reduced emergency room visits by over 50%.

Finalist - Local Hero

Barbara Greene

Peer Support Director and project coordinator for the Kentucky Family & Youth Movement, a program of the Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children

Barbara Greene is a nationally certified Peer Support Specialist, trainer and coach. She is a creator of a model program in Kentucky called the COPE House (Creating Opportunities for Parents Everywhere), which she began by organizing a group of experienced parents to create a “parenting curriculum” and training program for parents court-ordered to attend parenting classes. Ms. Greene trained and coached these parents to become The COPE House support staff and, eventually, Family Peer Support Specialists.

Finalist - Local Hero

Randi Silverman

Randi Silverman is co-founder and CEO of the Youth Mental Health Project, which empowers families to support the social, emotional, mental and behavioral health of children. In 2011, Randi co-founded a local parent-to-parent support group for families raising children with mood disorders; over eight hundred families in Westchester, New York, have since been served. Randi used her experiences to co-write and produce the award winning film No Letting Go, about the vitally important issue of youth mental health.

Honorable Mentions - Local Hero

Aaron Lee; Abdi Tujuba; Adrienne Bashista; Alexander Shrewsberry; Amanada Beckerman; Amber Proctor; Andrea Higgins; Andres Martin; Ani Kalayjian; Beech Brook; Bill Herzog; Binyomin Greenspoon; Brenda Whelan; Brian Domec; Brian Magrath; Bryan Hayes; Cam Short-Camilli; Candace Martin; Carmen Lynas; Carter Barnhart; Cassie Wangsness; Celina Rodriguez; Cheryl Alcock; Colin & Buffi Mitchell; Cynthia Wheless; David Brown & Anjali VanDrie; Debora Smith; Kathleen Laundy; Kim Sweet; Kristy Vanacore; Lisa Elliott; Elizabeth O’Heany; Esty Raskin; Felipe Rojas; Florence Pearson; Gary Shulman; Jan Steuart; Jane Kallal; Jasmine Johnson; Jeannette Washington; Jeremy Richman; Jerry Pavlon Blum; Joan Harrington; Joanna Honea; Jodi Wass; Jonathan Kohlmeier; Jose Antonio Martinez; Joseph Galasso; June Rouse; Kasey Edson; Kathryn Chotiner; Keren Faling; Ketler Louissaint; Kevin Hines; Landria Seals Green; Lauren Parker; Leia Schwartz; Lisa Durst; Lisa Fields-Linnen; Lisa Jameyfield; Lisa Reid; Luz Rello; Mandy McDonald; Marilyn Macaulay; Marjorie Madfis; Marshall Smith; Marta Leyva; Mary Dee Sklar; Matix Rupp; Meg O’Connor; Micki Leader; Minaa B; Miriam Ament; Nicole German; Nina Shaw-Woody; Patrick Burns; Patrick Kane; Patty Wipfler; Paul D’Agostino; Penny Williams; Petrea Graham; Rachel Cho; Rebecca Pianta; Rebecca Schrag Hershberg; Rita Cacciatore; Rita Thrasher; Rosemary Cavazos; Samantha Feinman; Sandra Naihe; Scarlett Lewis; Shae Gregston; Shawn Gross; Sushil Bhasin; Suzanne Ford; Suzanne Gray; Tamara Mair; Tasha Abrams; Taylor Valentine; Todd Feltman; Tonia Casarin; Tony Martinez; Trent Harper; Vanita Halliburton; Wendy Dyker Ramos

Our Corporate Partners

Bloomingdale’s is the Child Mind Institute’s founding corporate partner. Bloomingdale’s is America’s only nationwide, full-line, upscale department store and a division of Macy’s, Inc. It was founded in 1872 and currently operates 38 Bloomingdale’s stores and 17 Bloomingdale’s, The Outlet Stores, in California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. In addition, Bloomingdale’s has an international presence with a location in Dubai. Be sure to follow @bloomingdales on social media, become a Loyallist, and for more information, or to shop any time, visit www.bloomingdales.com.

Hunter has been a steadfast partner of the Speak Up for Kids campaign since its inception in 2010. 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.