Does your organization, church, temple, or community group want to combine forces with our organization? Do you individually want to engage with us to stop the stigma of mental illness? Please consider becoming a member of our Coalition by completing our membership form.

It is going to take a massive community effort to move the needle on stigma, please become a part of the solution. Questions? Please contact Karl Shallowhorn, Chairperson, at


Recovery Options Made Easy

Recovery Options Made Easy (“ROME”), a non-profit organization, began in 1990 as Housing Options Made Easy. ROME serves ten counties in WNY including Erie County. Our focus is on peer-driven services and support, as well as peer advocacy. ROME staff supports individuals in the community from a place of lived experience and mutuality. ROME is committed to decreasing stigma by increasing awareness of mental health and substance use concerns through information, education, and advocacy.

Recovery Options provides resources and tools for individuals to flourish on their mental health recovery journey. Through peer support, Recovery Options strives to empower individuals to advocate for themselves within their community. As an organization, we battle stigma by increasing awareness throughout our communities and providing hope, encouragement, and support to those we serve.
Shannon Higbee | CEO

Bar Association of Erie County

The Bar Association of Erie County (“BAEC”), a not-for-profit professional association, was founded in 1887. The BAEC’s goal is to advance the administration of justice through programs and services for the legal profession and the public. The BAEC is a nonpartisan association made up of over three thousand lawyers and judiciary from varied practices and backgrounds, including lawyers in civil and criminal practice, corporate and trial lawyers, defense counsel, in house counsel, and those working in government, educational, and nonprofit settings.

Mental health issues are experienced by all and lawyers are no exception. For too long, there has been a stigma against talking about mental health in the legal community. Lawyers are historically very resistant to talking about and admitting to mental health issues, to protect their image, their reputation, and even their clients and business. Thankfully, the walls around addressing mental illness are slowly crumbing amongst lawyers and the judiciary, but we have a long way to go. The Bar Association of Erie County would be proud to be a part of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition to assist in ending the stigma and helping those in need.

Anne Noble | Executive Director

WNY Life Coaching Center

We offer professional life and behavioral coaching. We offer mindfulness and stress management training and services.

Buffalo Healthy Living

Buffalo Healthy Living is both a print and digital platform, magazine, and television show devoted to health, fitness, and nutrition for people of all ages.

Mental health is vital to physical health. It is a topic we cover in every issue of Buffalo Healthy Living online and in print and in our social media. There is no room for stigma associated with any aspect of health and we fully support this effort.

Annette Pinder | President and Publisher

Peaceprints of WNY

Peaceprints of WNY offers comprehensive reentry services to men and women involved in the criminal justice system. Our Reentry and Housing Programs are designed to offer provisions and guidance along each step of an individual’s transformation.

Please join Peaceprints in breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness. Through open dialog about our own mental health and symptoms and encouraging others to seek treatment just as you would a broken arm, we can normalize healing and connect people with the services they need to live healthy and productive lives.

Cindi McEachon, MBA | CEO

Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division

Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division provides the community with services of literacy, test prep to acquire high school equivalency, English as a new language and vocational training.

Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division serves ages 17 and older. Many of our students have left traditional high school for various reasons. Many of our students are immigrants and refugees. Many of our students want to improve their lives one step at a time. They all have barriers to achieving that success. We strive to work with our students to help them overcome their obstacles and encourage the pursuit of their goals. Mental illness affects many of our students and those who they care for. Our refugee students have PTSD and undiagnosed mental illnesses.

Amanda Vellake | Director of Adult Education

Erie-2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES

The Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES (E2CCB) is one of 37 BOCES in New York State. E2CCB represents all the school districts in Chautauqua County, southern Erie County, and part of Cattaraugus County, a geographical area of 1,791 square miles. Services are offered in the following areas: Adult & Community Education, Special Education, Alternative Education, Career & Technical Education, Staff & Curriculum Development, School Support Services, Technology Services, Management Services, and others. During the 2012-13 school year, K-12 enrollment in E2CCB Career & Technical Education, Special Education, and Alternative Education programs was 2,091.

Erie-2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES wants to be part of the conversation and lead from the front to raise awarenessand reduce stigma surrounding mental health. We recognize the role we can play in improving knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about mental health. Partnering in this effort will allow us to better support our students and communities in Erie County.

Dr. David O’Rourke | District Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer

Niagara Pride, Inc.

Niagara Pride, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving LGBTQ+ individuals and families in Niagara County and the surrounding WNY area. We offer community-based educational programming and engage in charitable work. Niagara Pride collaborates with other organizations to offer LGBTQ+ programming, social meet ups, Diversity and Inclusion training for organizations and businesses, health-based initiatives, and other events. We host June Pride events. As part of our charitable outreach, we have multiple donation drives throughout the year, which benefit individuals, families, and children in need. Niagara Pride, Inc. also facilitates welcoming social events, creating safe spaces in the community for LGBTQ+ individuals.

As a founding member of Niagara Pride and its current President, I have a deep drive and passion to help make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ people. As a teenager, I grew up in the hearing an incredible amount of negative statements about the LGBTQ+ community and as a result struggled with passive suicidal ideation and constant yearning to be “normal.” Over time, I realized that there was nothing wrong with me or with being gay. Fastforward 30 years later and LGBTQ+ youth still experience immense stigma, bullying, and shaming from family, friends, people in their towns, politicians, and others. Every 45 seconds in the United States, an LGBTQ+ youth attempts suicide. Let that sink in…in the time it took you to read my CEO Statement, an LGBTQ+ youth attempted to take their life. For those reasons, I have made it my mission to help at least one LGBTQ+ person, who might be struggling with finding a safe and accepting space in WNY feel welcome and show them that they matter.

Ronald Piaseczny | President

Independent Health

Independent Health, a not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Buffalo, New York, serves nearly 330,000 members and provides innovative health care products and benefits designed to engage consumers in their health and well-being. Established in 1980, our comprehensive portfolio of progressive products includes HMO, POS, PPO and EPO products, Medicare and Medicaid plans, individual and small group Exchange products, consumer-directed plans, and health savings accounts, plus coverage for self-funded employers. Our subsidiaries and affiliate companies include pharmacy benefit management, specialty pharmacy and the Independent Health Foundation. The company has been recognized nationally for its award-winning customer service, dedication to quality health care and unmatched relationships with physicians and providers.

Independent Health understands mental health, just like physical health, is a critical part of an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. As such, we are deeply committed to treating the whole person. We take pride in helping our associates, members and employers recognize the signs, understand what people are dealing with, and respond appropriately to support their mental health,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health.

Michael W. Cropp, M.D., | President and CEO, Independent Health.

Niagara County Workforce Development Board

The Niagara County Workforce Development Board (WDB) sets policy for the local workforce development system, serving the universal population of both job seekers and businesses. The WDB is directly responsible to determine how best to use local WIOA funds. Funds can be used to provide services to individuals seeking employment through linkages to job openings, services and training programs. The goal of the Workforce Development System is to increase the employment, retention and earnings of participants, and increase occupational skill attainment by participants, and, as a result improve the quality of the workforce, reduce welfare dependency, and enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the nation.

We welcome the opportunity to promote a healthy environment that is free from the stigma often lingering in the shadows when we talk about mental health.

Bonnie Rice | Executive Director

Healthcare Education Project

Healthcare Education Project is a community-based advocacy organization, working in partnership with individuals, healthcare providers, and civic and religious leaders in neighborhoods. Objectives are to protect access to critical healthcare services, better understand the urgent healthcare issues facing our communities, educate our communities about the plight of the uninsured, and advocate for universal coverage for all Americans.

The Healthcare Education Project is a joint effort of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association. Together, the two organizations represent 350,000 healthcare workers and over 250 non-for-profit hospitals, nursing homes, and home care providers.

HEP’s mission is to protect and expand access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans through education, advocacy, and coalition building.

Kirk Adams | Executive Director

Mobile Counseling of New York

Mobile Counseling of New York is a private group practice providing mental health services throughout Western New York and New York State. The mission of Mobile Counseling of New York is to improve quality, accessibility and increase immediacy of mental health care in New York State. We accept a wide variety of insurances and provide services in home, in the community or via Telehealth. We take pride in making our referral process simple and streamlined, quickly connecting clients with clinicians. We do not have wait lists and clients are able to connect and schedule with a counselor within a week of contact. We are dedicated to making the mental health process easier and more accessible for clients, clinicians and community partners.

Mobile Counseling of New York was founded in 2019 with the intention of making counseling available to all. We are passionate about providing quality mental health services to those who otherwise would not be able to access care due to the myriad of barriers many people often encounter. We are very in interested joining the Erie County Anti Stigma Coalition because when its comes to mental health, team work makes the dream work. We have always said we want to be a support to our community, whether that be our clients or community partners. Joining the Erie County Anti Stigma Coalition would be another step in continuing our mission within the Western New York Community.

Alex Elizondo | Owner and Director of Clinical Services

Medaille College

Medaille College provides a personalized learning experience to its diverse student body of both traditional undergraduate and post-traditional graduate students. Medaille students engage in a high-impact, experiential educational process that prepares them for the workplace. With campuses in Buffalo and Rochester, Medaille also offers one of the most robust online programs in Western New York, as well as the most athletic programs of any college in Western New York.

The mission of Medaille College is to educate and develop empowered individuals for academic achievement, career success and civic engagement, thereby contributing to a healthy, diverse democracy. We prepare our students for a lifelong commitment to civic sustainability and professional success by granting them early access to career training and community-based learning. Learning extends well beyond the four walls of a lecture hall. Students go out into the field and solve real problems concerning our local community. We encourage our students to make a difference in the world. This is how Medaille trains students to be ethical, civically responsible individuals.

Medaille is also committed to employing practitioner faculty across every academic department, so our students can become experts by learning from experts. We are driven by student success and offer unparalleled student support.

To learn more about Medaille, visit

Medaille College is honored to assist in advancing this important initiative that impacts so many people. We are focused on providing the necessary social, emotional and mental health supports to ensure that we are developing empowered, civic-minded individuals. Medaille is committed to embracing all types of diversity and creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. Partnering with the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition is another opportunity for us to communicate the importance of promoting healthy perspectives on mental health in our community.

Dr. Kenneth M. Macur (he/him) | President 

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York

Since 1936, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. We offer a full range of insurance coverage for businesses, families, and individuals. In addition to providing behavioral health coverage at all levels of care, we offer robust care management services to assist members. For more information visit We contribute significantly to organizations that enrich the health of the community, with an extra focus on the areas of behavioral health and social determinants of health.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is committed to providing whole-person health care. This can only be achieved when mental health care is as free from stigma as other types of medical care. Mental health is an integral part of overall health and wellness, and we have long supported strong mental health across our employee initiatives, member services, and community partnerships. We envision a community where everyone is encouraged and empowered to achieve their best possible health and where seeking and receiving needed mental health services is seen as strength. We are proud to partner with the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition towards the shared and vital goal of eliminating stigma around mental illness.

Dr. Michael Edbauer | President

Visible Man, LLC

Visible Man is a men’s mental health community that connects men and women in a moderated online space, and facilitates connecting with mental health professionals. Visible Man is based in Rochester, NY, and has a worldwide membership of men and women focused on reducing the stigma around men’s mental health. The moderated discussions take place on a text, voice, and video server 24/7, and include sub-spaces dedicated to subgroups within the Visible Man community. We produce a weekly, televised discussion among Visible Man members to exemplify vulnerable discussions and have interactive sessions with guest speakers that we publish as a podcast. This combination of entry pointssocial media, online discussions, mental health professional guests, and podcastsmakes it possible to engage with the Visible Man community in many ways, to meet a person where they’re at in terms of readiness to discuss difficult topics.

Visible Man is interested in joining the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition because we want to make it easier for men to engage in constructive conversations about mental health, and feel that partnering with established mental health organizations can more effectively help men in need. We are a growing community of men and women focused on preventing male suicide, and cultivate open dialog with professionals to act as a meeting space for peer support and gateway to professional help, and feel that being a part of the coalition can support the goals of our organization and the coalition.

 Jeffrey Hoffman | Founder

Mental Health Association in Niagara County

The Mental Health Association in Niagara County has been proudly serving the community since our founding in 1964. We offer free programs that promote mental wellness, provide needed services for those with a mental health diagnosis, and actively work to alleviate the stigma and public misunderstanding of mental illness.

Mental health issues affect everyone. If you, personally, are not living with a mental health diagnosis, you certainly know someone that is. Some of the smartest, most beautiful, and successful people I know live with mental health issues. However, they overcome these challenges through early intervention, treatment, and continued follow up and self-care. Mental health does not discriminate based on gender, race or socioeconomic status. We are ALL susceptible and, therefore, cannot let stigma prevent us from reaching out for help.

Daniel Colpoys | Executive Director

Daemen University

Daemen University is a private, nonsectarian college in Amherst, N.Y., offering undergraduate and graduate level degrees. We encourage our students to be creative, innovative, ethically-minded leaders for an ever-changing, diverse, and interconnected world.

It starts right here with the intellectual strengths acquired through the liberal arts and the preparation necessary for professional excellence. Here, we create spaces for belonging and support students as they build their legacy.

Daemen encourages its students and alumni to move their dreams, vision, and values forward and to shape their community and make meaningful contributions to society. It all begins with a Daemen education.

Daemen University is honored to participate in this important initiative. We are invested in preparing creative, ethically-minded leaders for a diverse and interconnected world by integrating the intellectual strengths acquired through the liberal arts with the preparation necessary for professional excellence to make meaningful contributions to society. Working with Erie County as a part of this coalition is another step in helping better serve our community.

Gary A. Olson, Ph.D. | President of the College

New Directions Youth & Family Services Inc.

New Directions offers a comprehensive array of services across the eight counties of Western New York. Services include youth residential living; traditional and therapeutic foster care, adoption, supervised independent living; agency operated boarding homes; a home for pregnant and parenting teens; community-based preventive, parenting, and mental health programs; therapeutic educational services (preK-12); and an outpatient children’s mental health clinic.

Stigma attached to seeking mental health services remains a deterrent to those who are suffering from a variety of conditions. New Directions, by joining with the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition, is partnering with many others to work toward treatment being seen as a resilient, strength based, positive step in restoring the mental health of those in need. The achievement of these goals will bring our communities to a place of support and will honor those who seek services rather than stigmatizing. New Directions is fully committed to the effort.

 James W. Coder | CEO

GLYS of WNY. Growing LGBTQ+ Youth Support

GLYS has been a youth focused service agency for 38 years. Conceived to address homelessness and mental health needs of gay and lesbian youth, GLYS has grown with the needs and concerns of youth and families. The name “Growing LGBTQ+ Youth Support” defines the direction of drop-in centers, support groups, family resources, advocacy, trainings, collaborations for service provision, and education of the community. Serving eight counties of Western New York, GLYS is ever seeking to meet youth and families where they are; geographically and process wise. GLYS is funded by donations and grants. It has a diverse board of directors that help to steer the course and keep GLYS funded. GLYS is now mobile, with a virtual office space, serving in communities through satellite locations and pop-up services.

GLYS is committed to promoting positive mental health in LGBTQ+ youth and families. By involvement in the Anti Stigma Coalition; GLYS can connect with providers and agencies to further our ability to provide quality resources to our youth and families. GLYS’s involvement also allows coalition members to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and have a resource for their participants. It is a mutual engagement of sharing and learning which makes us all healthier and more aware. As some look at LGBTQ+ identity with stigma and add to that mental health concerns, this membership allows for both those areas to be addressed.

Dr. Robert Digangi-Roush | Executive Director

CMH Counseling

CMH is a counseling agency founded in 1922. CMH Counseling is a not-for-profit organization providing counseling services to individuals, couples and families. We offer short and long term counseling for a variety of issues. All people experience difficult times in their lives. Counseling can enable an individual to learn new ways of coping, to formulate and pursue achievable goals. Therapy models may include individual,couple,family or group counseling. We offer a welcoming stigma free environment with highly skilled clinicians to help you on your way to better mental health.

Here at CMH we work hard to create a warm welcoming stigma free environment for our consumers. We know that making the decision to improve your mental health can be a difficult decision to make and stigma can be the most complicating factor. It is essential that we, as providers, understand how stigma negatively impacts our consumers and work hard to create a stigma free environment. Healing will not occur when stigma is present! I would love to “Join the conversation” and work to eliminate stigma in our community.

Andrew Mattle | Executive Director

WNY Postpartum Connection, Inc.

Our mission is to improve access to perinatal mental health care for all women and families in our community.

Our mission is to connect pregnant postpartum moms and families with the mental health services they need for a healthy start, to serve as a guide to some of the specialized maternal perinatal health services in our area, to connect professionals who share a commitment to helping moms and families in our community, and to support the larger community through advocacy, education, and increased access to care for all.

Jennifer Urban | Co-Director

Gerard Place

Gerard Place strengthens the community as it empowers individuals and families toward self-sufficiency by providing housing, supportive services, community education and outreach.

If we are not responding to the needs of the community, we have no business being here. This is what we’re here for, is to respond to what they feel their needs are not what we envision their needs to be.

David Zapfel | President & CEO

Family Help Center

Family Help Center is a multi-service agency, providing human services and in home support to families in all of Erie County, as well as a New York State licensed childcare facility, Family Help Center Daycare. The Center also offers a comfortable and nurturing environment for group and family interaction, youth leadership programming, child care programming, parent training sessions and a family support helpline at 716-892-2172. Family Help Center provides services to families of all walks of life especially when families lack basic needs, face parenting challenges and feel isolated with nowhere else to turn. Family Help Center provides supports to families that strengthen and empower families toward stability and livelihood. We are also dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable in our community through offering services that prevent and interrupt child abuse and neglect in all of its forms — physical, emotional and sexual.

Every part of our being is connected to our mental health. All of our psychological and biological systems are inter-related yet for centuries, in spite of so many advances, the need to nurture and support preventive and holistic mental health practices was devalued, underfunded and downplayed – truly relegated to a ‘back seat’ on the list of societal priorities and relegated to stigma status. The work of the Coalition has been transformational in not only giving us a glimpse of a future without stigma (imagine such a world, a state, a community) but also pulling together all sectors in a unified approach that represents a wonderful and potent example of collective impact. The staff at the Family Help Center pledge to share the same commitment and do our part to work with the Coalition to help ensure our community will become stigma-free. It is within our reach.

 Kate Joyce | Executive Director

Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME)

HOME is a civil rights agency founded in 1963 whose mission is to promote the value of diversity and to ensure all people an equal opportunity to live in the housing and communities of their choice – through education, advocacy, enforcement of fair housing laws and the creation of housing opportunities. Everyday we strive to create stronger, diverse communities.

Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. is pleased to partner with the Anti-Stigma Coalition in this important fight. As a civil rights agency tasked to promote the value of diversity and ensure equal opportunities for all, 
we understand the importance of combatting prejudice and discrimination with education and advocacy. We assist our clients in locating safe and affordable housing in WNY, and we witness first-hand the impact stigma and discrimination has on the people we serve. We all have personal struggles, and there are times we need the support and encouragement of a village to help us deal with our challenges. HOME is proud to be a part of this village.

M. DeAnna Eason | Executive Director

Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission

As an advocate for the community, the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission endeavors to integrate the cultural significance and impact made by African Americans on the City of Buffalo through public participation, community education that increases, inspires and enlivens cultural appreciation, preservation, and community development. The Commission serves as the connector of the past, present and future of the historic neighborhoods within the Heritage Corridor and beyond.

I am truly committed to tear down stigmas of all kinds, including and especially stigmas that surround mental illnesses. Enough is enough!

Terry Alford | Executive Director

National Federation for Just Communities of WNY, Inc.

The NFJC of WNY, Inc. is a human relations organization dedicated to overcoming racism, bias, and bigotry by building a just and inclusive community through education, advocacy, and engagement

The NFJC of WNY staff and Board of Directors are committed to helping our WNY community create a safe, inclusive and just community for all. We value, support, and respect our differences and actively work towards engaging the community to do the same. We build bridges to reduce the many divides.

Rene Petties-Jones | President

Headway of WNY

Headway of WNY is a not for profit organization affiliated with People Inc. who administrates two DOH programs for adults/seniors who have TBI or other physical disorders that may result in nursing home placement. In addition Headway provides support groups for individuals and families dealing with TBI, present annual educational forums and provides guidance for families in finding help and services for TBI and related cognitive issues in WNY.

Niagara County Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

The Niagara County Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (NCDMH) is the administrative division for Local Government and the Community Services Board for the execution of the local mental health, developmental disabilities, substance use service plans. The provision of services are furnished to Niagara County residents through a system of providers. NCDMH offers direct services and facilitates access to appropriate services and supports for Niagara County individuals in need who experience mental health, substance abuse, and intellectual developmental disabilities concerns. Other programs are offered by Contract Agencies of the service system.

Mental health and wellness is a basic right that should be enjoyed by all. Only through working together, can we effectively address the stigma – negative perceptions, language, and behavior – that surrounds mental illness. By joining forces, we can create great synergy in our communities to support open and candid conversations about mental illness, to foster an atmosphere encouraging of people seeking help, and to engender hope so that people can achieve optimal health and quality of life.

Laura J. Kelemen, LCSW-R | Director of Community Services

Elderwood Health Plan MLTC

Elderwood Health Plan is a New York State-approved Managed Long-Term Care (MLTC) plan. It provides long-term care services to residents of Erie, Niagara, Monroe, Orleans, Genesee or Wyoming counties who are 21 years of age or older. To qualify for enrollment, the applicant must be in need of community based long term care services for more than 120 days.

Our plan is designed to help members continue to live in their homes and receive the care they need. The member’s regular medical care won’t change. In fact, they’ll keep their primary care physician while receiving more focused long-term care services at home. Elderwood Health Plan care managers can help coordinate all health care services.

Elderwood Health Plan works with some of our community’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents. We understand the importance of fighting against stigma not only for them but for our staff as well. We pride ourselves on being a well-rounded and inclusive employer where we support our employees and their mental health needs. Especially during such difficult times. Negative perceptions have no place in our work family, and we will continue to stand up for what is right.

Alicia Laible | Executive Director

Frontier Central School District

Frontier Central School District prepares today’s students for the careers of tomorrow. Located in the town of Hamburg, Frontier is one of the largest districts in the suburban region of Buffalo, NY, with an enrollment of approximately 4,950 students. Our district is committed to providing a student-centered educational environment with instructional programs directed to the unique needs of all students.

The Frontier Central School district would be honored to become an organizational member of The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. We understand and support the work of this organization and want to help increase awareness and acceptance of individuals with mental health challenges. We are fully committed to spreading the word. Mental Health should not be a stigma for anyone.

Colleen Duggan | Acting Superintendent FCSD

Catholic Charities of Buffalo

Catholic Charities of Buffalo has been protecting, strengthening and empowering the people of Western New York since 1923. We offer the most comprehensive services of any human service organization covering all eight counties. We help people from all walks of life, including those in need and or most vulnerable – children, adults, older adults and families – without regard to religion, race, gender or age. Our goal is optimum emotional, mental and physical health for all.

Catholic Charities offers programs that strive to empower individuals, children and families. Among them are basic emergency assistance and referrals, counseling services for all ages, child and adult mental health and chemical dependency treatment, educational and job readiness programs, older adult services, parish outreach and advocacy, marriage counseling, immigration and refugee assistance and a variety of programs that address prevention and treatment of a number of family issues.

Catholic Charities of Buffalo strongly affirms that the mental well-being of all individuals, of any age, is critical of attention, care, support and advocacy. We welcome this opportunity to join in community conversations and engage with the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition to extinguish the stigma of mental health symptoms, diagnoses and treatment. For our own part, we continue our legacy of being a welcoming, open resource for anyone who wants to address their mental health. We are encouraged by this collaboration as we all work to increase public awareness for and understanding of mental illness, and strive for a world where mental health services are at least as available, accessible and acceptable as medical health services are today.

Deacon Steve Schumer | President and Chief Executive Officer

Explore & More-The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum

Explore & More-The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum is a world-class children’s museum that celebrates the power of child-led play has arrived at Buffalo’s doorstep. With four floors of fun to explore, the 43,000 sq. ft. museum sits at the crossroads between replica canals and bridges that have become year-round community destinations. The museum reflects that sense of place with thoughtfully crafted exhibits that help children develop a deeper sense of our world, our community and their place in it in a fun and engaging way for children and adults alike.

Our children deserve a strong foundation-mental health is that foundation. At Explore & More-The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum, we are committed to providing our children a safe place where they can be part of the fabric that allows them to be free to express themselves in a welcoming environment. We are proud to be a part of the conversation to talk about mental health, ending the stigmatism and along with all the remarkable community members impact meaningful change.

Michelle Urbanczyk | CEO

Aspire of Western New York, Inc.

Aspire’s mission is to support children and adults with developmental and similar disabilities, helping them to live their lives to the fullest by providing individualized assistance based on personal choices.

It is critically and morally important that all people be recognized as individuals who are able to contribute to our community without the threat of being assigned a label. Aspire is committed to the practice of fair treatment for all of our employees and the individuals we support. We also are proud to champion any cause that educates and advocates on behalf of those persons who face the challenges associated with stigmatization in any form.

Renee A. Filip | President & CEO

Christian Counseling Ministries of WNY

Christian Counseling Ministries of WNY is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 ministry dedicated to integrating Christian beliefs and values with traditional therapeutic techniques. As a New York State licensed mental health agency, CCM is committed to providing professional counseling services within a Biblical framework to the individual, couple, family, church body, and community. Our vision is to offer professional counsel and compassionate care to a broken world.

Christian Counseling Ministries of WNY (CCM) has worked toward restoring mental health and reducing stigma since our agency was founded in 1983. CCM of WNY is committed to being a beacon of hope for those struggling with mental health and relationship challenges. We are on mission to equip individuals, couples, and families to establish firm foundations upon which to preserve, achieve, and sustain mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. We are proud to stand with the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition as we all do our part to end stigma about mental illness and fill our community with resilience, support, and compassion.

Sharon A. Deacon, Ph.D, LMFT

Native American Community Services

Native American Community Services (NACS) is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 to provide quality health and social services to the off-reservation Native American population in Erie and Niagara Counties. In keeping with our “Tradition of Caring,” we have since grown into a full-scale human services agency committed to helping the entire community, regardless of race or background. NACS has developed innovative and evidence-based approaches that are intended to significantly improve the lives of those who engage in our programs and services. NACS has offices in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lockport, New York. 

NACS recognizes that mental illness is often hidden because of the negative stigma that exists, which prevents people from getting the help they deserve and can hinder them from living a good full life. If the stigma can be removed, real conversations can be held, a real understanding of the situation and resources can be had, and real progress can be made.

Michael Martin | NACS Executive Director

Amherst Chamber of Commerce

The Amherst Chamber of Commerce has a 60-year tradition of responding to the diverse needs of the business community.

Mental health is truly the most important attribute of any person. It contributes to all aspects of an individual’s life. Our complex lives require nurturing, physically and emotionally. Let’s tackle this stigma and grow the conversation.

Christine Langenfeld | Director

Open Buffalo

Our mission is to advance racial, economic, and ecological justice. We do so through skill-building, network-connecting, and activating leadership opportunities. Our goal is that all communities in Western New York are thriving free from discrimination and poverty.

Open Buffalo is proud and humbled to work in solidarity with such an incredible team of passionate leaders and organizations. We believe by joining forces with the Anti-Stigma Coalition, we can strengthen our work to bring mental wellness and self care to progressive and movement spaces. We hope to serve as a bridge to marginalized and oppressed communities who are in dire need of mental wellness resources and to work collaboratively to break down stigmas in our communities.

Franchelle Parker

Town of Hamburg

Sharing our concerns for the cares of others uplifts those who are all beneficiaries of our efforts, as well as all of us who extend a hand to lighten the load.

James M. Shaw | Supervisor

 UPward Design for Life, Corporation

Our Purpose: We develop and grow community partnerships that help us to restore dignity, hope and independence, to those in need, by fully furnishing residences with all donated items.

Our Vision: To see every person in need, in our community, resting safely and peacefully, in a fully furnished home.

As a non-profit organization that also serves individuals who are challenged by mental illness, it is important for us to support other organizations that are taking initiatives towards eliminating the stigma associated with this disorder. This is the only way for communities to effectively work together to serve those who need assistance and bring greater awareness to mental illness, in order to help prevent discrimination and the negative judgement toward those who are living with it.

Dionne Williamson | President & Founder

Pressure Point Consulting, LLC

Pressure Point Consulting, LLC is a leading boutique consulting firm that offers grant writing, workshops i.e. teamwork, seminars, public speaking, and organizational/individual/business development. We work with churches, nonprofits, for-profits, educational institutions, and government agencies to improve processes, implement products, and involve people.

We wish to join the coalition to add value to the conversation around stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace and best practices and ways to support all employees.

Dr. Gary Damon, Jr. | President/Owner

Harmonia Collaborative Care

Harmonia Collaborative Care is a not-for-profit organization offering behavioral health and senior care services to those in need of support. Our professional staff prides itself in providing empathic care to help bring balance into the lives of our clients. The Mission of Harmonia Collaborative Care is to deliver best-practice health home, senior and behavioral health services to foster individuals’ independence and improve their quality of life.

Stigma is the birth-child of judgement and fear. It divides and segregates. It prevents many from seeking help; it prevents others from accepting their own flaws and struggles. Stigma is the enemy of mental-wellness.

Valerie Nowak, LMHC, MPA | CEO

Families Together NYS

Families Together and the Youth Power! division within is the Family and Peer run organization that provides an advocacy platform to families and youth. We provide technical assistance to agencies that are trying to implement youth and family voice into their practices, and provide trainings to agencies working in the field on a variety of topics. We are also the credentialing agency for the Family Peer and Youth Peer Advocate medicaid-recognized credentials.

Families Together in New York State is a non-profit, family-run organization that strives to establish a unified voice for children and youth with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges through collaborations with local, regional, state and national partners. Families Together in New York State is a non-profit, family-run organization that strives to establish a unified voice for children and youth with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges through collaborations with local, regional, state and national partners. Our mission is to ensure that every family and youth have access to needed information, support and services. We believe services for youth and families must be strength-based and sensitive to each family’s culture, involve families and youth in all decision-making processes, and be individualized and community-based whenever possible.Families Together has a long history of stigma busting including Timothy’s Law for mental health services parity, Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids, Multiple Pathways to Diploma, Solutions Not Suspensions, Free2Be for LGBTQ+, Children Need Amazing Parents (CHAMPS) and our latest multi-year effort, Raise the Age.

 Paige Pierce | CEO

Billoni Associates

Billoni Associates provides communications, publishing, events and rainmaker services.

Our goal is to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and have mental illnesses accepted much like cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.

Michael J. Billoni | Managing Partner

Buffalo Toronto Public Media

The Western New York Public Broadcasting Association is a community-based public broadcasting service serving Western New York and Southern Ontario with a combination of television, radio, education, and online services. Buffalo Toronto Public Media collaborates with community partners on community engagement and content initiatives.

Buffalo Toronto Public Media recognizes the importance of mental health awareness and has been actively working to inform our community about the challenges and issues of mental health. We have been involved in an ongoing Mental Health Initiative, a two-year project that includes in-depth reporting on WBFO along with a number of digital and online components. We believe that by joining The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition, we can build a stronger, more powerful partnership that can reach even more people of Western New York and have a broader and more profound impact on the mental health of our community.

 Donald K. Boswell | President & CEO

Brain-Body Health Technology, LLC

The Brain-Body Health Technology (BBHT) Institute provides people suffering with a wide range of symptoms related to brain-body dysregulation an opportunity to experience cutting-edge, simple and safe technologies that improve brain performance. BBHT will offer a full menu of programs designed to improve clients’ health literacy and cultivate active participation in the therapeutic process. We provide non-pharmaceutical support for the reduction of chronic pain, and recovery from addiction.

Breathtaking advances in technology are changing the way healthcare providers and consumers are partnering in the process of supporting the brain-body’s ability to find its way back to optimal health and wellbeing. Brain-body Health Technology will introduce the WNY community to a wide range of safe, gentle, non-pharmaceutical approaches to the resolution of symptoms.

Kathleen Calabrese PhD LMFT BCN | CEO

Seneca-Babcock Community Association

The Seneca-Babcock Community Association, Inc. in Buffalo, NY is one of the premier human and social services agencies in the Western New York area, provide a healthy sense of community for all that we serve. Our programs and activities provide skills and training to families that support healthy homes and healthy futures.
Alongside community residents, elected and appointed officials, advisory groups and program partners provide a holistic approach to human services. Whether the need is child care, youth programs or senior citizen activities, the organization’s programs and activities focus in six areas of development: (1) sports and recreation, (2) education development, (3) arts and media, (4) health and wellness, (5) workforce development and (6) character and leadership development.
The Seneca-Babcock Community Association, Inc. is committed to developing and enhancing the quality of life for residents of the Lovejoy district, including at-risk youth, adults, families and seniors. Our goal is to deliver a strong sense of empowerment through participation in education, economic, social and health related programs.

Focus: working with historically underserved, promising youth, adults and senior citizens. Integrity: keeping our promise to youth, young adults, senior citizens and the community. Collaboration: working together to solve problems in our community. Accountability: being responsive to youth, young adults, senior citizens, their families and the community. Leadership Development: being community driven and developing future leaders. Relevance: being culturally relevant and using best practices to serve the community. Sustainability: strong leadership, capable staff, quality programs and abundant resources

We envision Seneca-Babcock and the surrounding neighborhoods to continue as a thriving community with a proud history, where people are informed, connected, engaged, and empowered to shape their future. To realize this vision, the Seneca-Babcock Community Association serves as the growing comprehensive transitional aged youth center in Buffalo, where youth and young adults learn together and become change agents for the community.

 Brian Pilarski | Executive Director

Buffalo Blues for Veterans

Buffalo Blues for Veterans engages musicians and artists to donate their time and talent to build a better community, including our music campaign that has raised and donated over $60,000 to WNY
non-profits serving veterans & military families.

We are advocates for asset-building & collaboration and serve as Chair of the Community
Awareness Team at the fast-growing community veterans engagement board of WNY.

Buffalo Blues for Veterans currently manages a non-profit POWER OF SONG, INC. that engages musicians and artists to donate their time and talent to build a better community, including our music campaign that has raised and donated over $60,000 to WNY non-profits serving Veterans & Military families.

Bob James | Director

EPIC Every Person Influences Children

In 1980, Robert Wilson established EPIC in Buffalo, NY with the mission to involve the entire community to help children make responsible decisions, understand and respect authority, develop positive self-esteem, plan for the future and succeed in life. Our Mission Statement: Helping families, schools and communities raise children to become responsible & successful adults.

EPIC has been part of the conversation for a long time, supporting families with mental health and other challenges for 40 years. Families are more likely to overcome mental illness when supported by the community. Support from the community includes providing resources, education and services, in addition to helping families remove barriers to success. One of those barriers is the shame of mental illness and the embarrassment of asking for help. We are pleased to be part of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition because we want to be a part of the solution for families who need help and deserve success.

 Tara N. Burgess | Executive Director

Community Mental Health Committee of St Joseph University Parish

The mission of the Community Mental Health Committee of St. Joseph University Parish is to create an environment of hope, understanding, and compassion so as to increase the acceptance of all individuals and families affected by mental health concerns.

Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY

The Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY provides supportive services to veterans and their families in a convenient single location. We empower veterans to achieve economic success, housing stability, and emotional health and wellbeing by offering a wide range of social and health services needed to complete the transition from military to civilian life. The group provides barrier-free access in the comfort of a “home base” environment that is always welcoming, affirming and responsive to the needs of veterans and their families. Any veteran regardless of status is eligible for services.

The stigma surrounding mental health, especially in the military community, needs to come to an end. As the premier veterans service non-profit in Western New York, we witness firsthand veterans struggle with mental illness and the severe obstacles they overcome in order to ask for help. It is so important for organizations to join forces to break the silence and stop the stigma. The Veterans One-stop Center of WNY is proud to be part of this coalition and move the conversation forward.

Chuck Marra | President and CEO

Inclusive Theater of WNY

Inclusive Theater of WNY (ITOWNY) is a performing and visual arts company, that is dedicated to advancing artists of all forms and levels of ability – including artists with disabilities – to encourage the change of socially constructed images and misconceptions that exist of people from diverse backgrounds and groups.

Inclusive Theater of WNY (ITOWNY) is dedicated to shattering stigma of all kinds. We recently staged a Festival on Shorts that addressed the topic of Stigma and covered the topics of suicide, PTSD, drug addiction, gun violence, eating disorders, mental illness, & physical disabilities. We had an empathetic, talented cast of actors and directors working together to bring these important stories to the stage. Addressing stigma saves lives and we will continue to do our part to help do just that!

Aimee Levesque | Founder, Executive and Artistic Director

Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

MHANYS is a not-for-profit organization that works to end the stigma against mental illness and promotes mental health wellness in New York State. MHANYS achieves this through training, education, advocacy and policy, community-based partnership programming, and by connecting individuals and families to help.

MHANYS is proud to support the work being done by the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. In many ways, stigma remains the number one issue we face in mental health. The goals of the coalition in taking a strategic approach to ending stigma is something we strongly support and endorse. We look forward to being actively involved with the coalition.

Glenn Liebman | CEO

Leadership Buffalo

Through collaborations, community awareness, and civic engagement, Leadership Buffalo is uniting leaders to take action. Our six programs are educating individuals and providing resources to make a difference. Participants explore the challenges, concepts, complexity and practice of leadership around important issues through a series of day sessions. We unite leaders from diverse backgrounds and increase their knowledge of community issues, broaden their vision and enhance their ability to lead. Through these programs, Leadership Buffalo has expanded Western New York’s social capital by graduating more than 3,000 individuals.

Leadership Buffalo is dedicated to creating an inclusive and open-minded community. By joining the conversation with the Anti-Stigma Coalition, we can support the platform for voices to be heard, information to be shared, and hope to be spread.

Althea Luehrsen | CEO

Self-Advocacy Association of NYS

Our goal is to help self-advocates build the skill and courage needed to speak up for themselves and others. We believe that empowered self-advocates can help create inclusive communities and a person-centered and person-directed system of supports. To further this goal, the SANYS board and delegated staff members support self-advocates and self-advocacy groups regionally and statewide. SANYS encourages self-advocates to speak for themselves individually and collectively.

At SANYS, we have long stood against the stigmatizing of people with developmental disabilities. No person should have to bear the burden of stigma because of their differences. We at SANYS know how hurtful stigma can be and we commend the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition for it’s work to end the stigmatizing of people due to their mental health status. It is time that we all learn to honor our human differences rather than use them as reasons to stigmatize or discriminate against one another.

Arnold Ackerley | Administrative Director

Just Buffalo Literary Center

Just Buffalo Literary Center believes in the love of reading, the art of writing and the power of the literary arts to transform individual lives and communities.

This work is very close to our heart. As a literary center, we know the power of words to both hurt and to heal. Writing often becomes a way to process experiences and challenges related to mental illness; and a way to share the stories of resilience, strength, courage and hope.

Laurie Dean Torrell | Executive Director

Envision Wellness WNY Behavioral Health

Envision Wellness WNY Behavioral Health has been providing treatment services in WNY for over four decades. We have made it our highest priority to support and empower all persons who have requested guidance, turning no one away. We have also chosen to maintain a similar footprint to when the agency was founded so that we could maintain the values that allowed us to create a community within WNY. Services include; Behavioral/Mental Health treatment in an Out Patient Clinic, Day Treatment programs and Community Supports

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’”
C.S. Lewis

Those of us who are called to heal know first hand how difficult it is to ask for help when one is in pain. Stigma makes asking for help that much more difficult often creating more barriers to healing for the individual, families and the community as a whole. We envision a world where stigma for being hurt and heartbroken no longer exists allowing for generational healing. Where asking for help is the first response because there is no longer shame but compassion.

Tara Pace | Executive Director

DENT Neurologic Institute

The goal at the DENT Neurologic Institute is to expand behavioral health and to improve psychiatric care in Western New York. We treat patients for a wide range of mental illnesses and addiction disorders, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and more. Over the years, our psychiatric team has continued to grow, which has allowed for increased access to care as well as expansion of treatment modalities such as ECT, TMS, Ketamine Infusion and psychotherapy.

At DENT Neurologic Institute, we are committed to the expansion of our behavioral health programs and optimizing the mental health in children, adolescences and adults. Our goal is to provide quality care in a professional, personal and caring environment.

Joseph V. Fritz | Chief Executive Officer, PhD

Niagara Falls Public Library

Our mission is to provide the citizens of Niagara Falls with quality service, access to excellent collections, assistance in using emerging technologies, and a pleasing, safe environment.

Libraries provide a free space where individuals of all ages can learn and explore without the fear of judgment. As a vital part of the Niagara Falls community, we want to empower our patrons to educate themselves about mental health and know that we are committed to ending the stigma.

Sarah PotwinDirector

Via Evaluation, Inc.

Via Evaluation, Inc. (VIA) provides tailored evaluation and data consultation services to mental health, social service, education and other providers. Our team of highly qualified and passionate staff helps organizations make data informed decisions to fulfill their mission. We have provided expert, timely, and responsive services to clients since 1998.

Almost everyone has experienced their own or loved ones’ mental health challenges, yet people struggling to maintain positive mental health often feel they are alone in this struggle. Acknowledging that we aren’t alone in these challenges encourages and allows for more open dialogue, confronting negative stereotypes, and enhancing services and support structures so people receive the help they need, when they need it.

Komani Lundquist Cedano | CEO & Co-owner

Person Centered Services

Person Centered Services is a Care Coordination Organization serving over 17,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 18 counties. Care coordinators work on a “Life Plan” tailored to every one of an individual’s needs. We work with dozens of organizations and hundreds of providers, so people can meet all of their goals.

Mental illness has no boundaries. The team at Person Centered Services is committed to uniting with our community to help each and every person break the silence and get the care and supports necessary to a fulfilling life.

Bridget Bartolone | CEO


DePaul is a progressive, private not-for-profit organization founded in 1958 that provides services in the areas of addiction prevention and support services, affordable housing, mental health residential, senior living communities, support programs, and vocational programs.

Living Opportunities of DePaul provides housing, support, advocacy, and recovery-oriented supports to adult individuals in 7 Western New York Counties. In Erie County alone, DePaul serves about 600 adults at any given time. Through the years, we have helped thousands of individuals lead normal and productive lives while fighting stigma at the same time. Many years ago, it was nearly impossible to locate a mental health residential program in Erie County. Although it is still not an easy feat, communities have become much more receptive to our presence. This is good news, but we still have a long way to go. Through the years, DePaul has lost some of its consumers as a result of suicide. In addition, we lost two very dear employees to this same fate. We believe that our ongoing battle to fight stigma will be the key to helping people obtain the help they need. This will not only save lives, but it will improve the quality of lives for those who get help.

Christopher Syracuse | Executive Director/Vice President

Erie County Medical Center Corporation

The ECMC Corporation was established as a New York State Public Benefit Corporation and since 2004 has included an advanced academic medical center with 573 inpatient beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 30 outpatient specialty care services and Terrace View, a 390-bed long-term care facility. ECMC is Western New York’s only Level 1 Adult Trauma Center, as well as a regional center for burn care, behavioral health services, transplantation, medical oncology and head & neck cancer care, rehabilitation and a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo. Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university and/or members of a private practice plan. 

ECMC is committed to ending the stigma of mental illness and we join the dedicated partners of the Anti-Stigma Coalition to advocate for our friends, neighbors and relatives who face this challenge in their lives. At the Regional Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health, ECMC’s empathetic caregivers work to assist patients with mental illness and various psychiatric issues. From emergency and inpatient care to ambulatory services, including our new Help Center that provides urgent care service for walk-in mental health treatment of adults in crisis who do not require psychiatric emergency treatment or inpatient care, ECMC joins the continuum of care providers in our community to provide access to quality, compassionate care.

Thomas J. Quatroche, Jr., Ph.D | President & Chief Executive Officer

Mental Health Peer Connection

Mental Health Peer Connection, one of the family of agencies of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. is a peer-driven advocacy organization, dedicated to facilitating self-directed growth, wellness, and choice, through genuine peer mentoring. We serve those with Behavioral Health issues stay out of institutions, successfully live in the community, and obtain real employment.

Since 1994, Mental Health Peer Connection, has been fighting for the rights and community inclusion for those suffering from emotional distress and mental illness. Too often we see the discrimination and mortality of those prevented by stigma from equal community access. MHPC is a change agent for the people we serve. MHPC would like to join forces with the Erie County Anti-stigma coalition to increase the rights and community inclusion of our fellow brothers and sisters.

Maura Kelley | Director


We are an organization that promotes healthy communities. We believe working together and building social capital is a strategic way to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Phil Haberstro

Community Veterans Engagement Board

CVEB of WNY is an advocacy organization (with over 25 member organizations) working in collaboration with academia, business, trades, not-for-profits and the Veterans Administration to insure a continuum of care for our military veterans and families. We seek to provide a quality education, gainful employment and excellent health care for them in WNY.

PTSD is a major problem in the military and veteran community. The stigma associated with seeking help can be detrimental to one’s military career and has further negative implications when moving to veteran’s status. One of the critical missions of the CVEB is to proactively work on breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness that our society does not understand.

Patrick W. Welch, PhD | Board Chair

City Swin Project

The mission of City Swim Project is developing character with a commitment
to excellence, families and neighborhoods while creating lifelong swimmers.

City Swim Project is pleased to partner with the Erie County Anti-Stigma
Coalition. The importance of bringing the discussion of mental illness into the light affects everyone. We look forward to being a part of this tremendous effort.

Michael F. Switalski | Executive Director

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Western NY Chapter

AFSP raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide.

AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health by engaging in the following core strategies: funding scientific research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide in our mission. At AFSP, we believe in the importance of having a #RealConvo about mental health and are thrilled to join the coalition’s efforts in doing just that!

Missy Stolfi | Area Director

Population Health Collaborative

We are a regional population health collaborative, we connect diverse groups of people to align resources and expertise. Together, we actively work towards improving population health in Western New York.

Sunshine is often the best medicine.” Being more open, candid and honest about mental health is an important beginning. As we accept the fact that “illness is illness” we can make it easier for people to get the help they need, no different from any other healthcare, and improve people’s lives and the community as a whole. We are proud to be a “Lets Talk” and stop the stigma movement member.

John Craik | Executive Director


CCNY supports organizations seamlessly integrate measurement and management, program and practice evaluation, and quality improvement strategies into their organization to support programs and services that result in positive outcomes for their clients and the community.

People dealing with mental health challenges should know they are not alone, help is available and recovery is possible. Our organization does not provide direct service, but is intimately linked with the mental health community. We commit to helping to spread the word beyond the traditional “choir” by sharing the website and asking other employers and affiliations of ours who may not be directly involved in behavioral health care to take the pledge and consider becoming a member as well.

Heidi Milch | Executive Director

Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC)

Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC) is located on Buffalo’s West Side. It is a multi-generational, multicultural, multilingual, welcoming and inclusive to all congregation. Grounded in the Congregational tradition, Pilgrim-St. Luke’s is the home for many community-based organizations and serves as a driver for social change through its ministry.

Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC) is fully committed to being an inclusive community where all are welcome. We have received the designation from the UCC Mental Health Network as being a WISE (Welcoming Inclusive Supportive and Engaged) congregation where individuals living with mental health challenges are fully accepted into every aspect of our ministry, from church leadership to offering our weekly support group as well as acknowledging those in need of assistance in our “prayers of the people.”

Rev. Nancy Rosas


The mission of WNYHeroes is to provide veterans, members of the armed services, and the widows and children of deceased veterans with access to essential services, financial assistance and resources that support their lives and sustain their dignity.

As a Veterans group and running a service dog program called Pawsitive for Heroes, we are constantly out speaking about the effects and changes our program has and continues to make for those dealing with PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and more. We are asked to speak in schools of all levels, county and state conferences etc.

Christopher M. Kreiger | President / CEO


Empowering the people we serve to live the lives they choose through the following supports: Children’s Academy preschool education, housing, health clinics and job training and day programs.

Our goal is to ensure better health, personal growth, more independence, and community involvement. Together we EMPOWER individuals to lead their best possible lives.

Mental illness is not a choice. It’s a fact of life. We need to stop treating people with a mental health diagnosis as if they’re less worthy of love and support. Every person has dignity and value. We believe in talking about mental illness with dignity and respect.

Jeff Paterson | Chief Executive Officer

People Inc.

People Inc. is Western New York’s leading non-profit human services agency. Through a variety of services, including residential, employment, community outreach, health care and recreation programs, we help families and people with disabilities, as well as seniors, live more healthy, independent and productive lives.

All stigma divides. Let’s create a better world right now, together.

Rhonda Frederick | CEO

Community Services for Every1

Community Services for Every1 partners with individuals of all abilities to reach their fullest potential, protecting their rights and promoting their independence and inclusion in our community.

We need to join together as a community to end the stigma on mental illness. Far too often people do not speak about the struggles they are facing because society has embraced silence over treatment. Through partnerships and education, we can end this behavior.

Mental illness does not discriminate. Individuals of all abilities can be diagnosed with a mental illness. Many of the individuals we work with at Community Services for Every1 have a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and either an intellectual or developmental disability. Receiving proper treatment with a dual diagnosis is especially difficult because of a lack of understanding, an inability to treat the dual complexities present, and sometimes an added obstacle of an inability to communicate clearly. Our organization was built on the foundation of understanding and embracing individuals who struggle with a dual diagnosis. As we continue to grow, I am proud to say we strive to help as many people living with these struggles as possible.

I am proud to partner to end the stigma. I believe by working together we can get that much closer to helping people break the silence and receive proper treatment.

Mindy Cervoni | President & CEO

OLV Human Services

OLV Human Services is made up of nearly 1,000 professionals in WNY working side-by-side to carry on a legacy of caring that stretches back 160 years.OLV Human Services’ mission is to prepare, support and empower clients, students, children, youth and families to achieve their life goals.

Bringing awareness to the realities of mental illness is the priority of OLV Human Services  Providing support, advocacy and assistance is one of our most important endeavors.

Cindy Lee | Chief Executive Officer

Endeavor Health Services

Endeavor Health Services is a public service, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the development and maintenance of a comprehensive system of accessible and effective services dedicated towards improving the emotional wellness and behavioral health of residents of Western New York.

Endeavor is committed to the education of our community about mental illness. Our mission is to promote wellness and recovery. Reducing stigma, misinformation and fear about mental illness is a priority for Endeavor.

Elizabeth L. Mauro LCSW-R | Chief Executive Officer

Richardson Olmsted Campus

One of Buffalo’s most iconic buildings and a National Historic Landmark, the 145-year-old Richardson Olmsted Campus is being renewed after years of neglect. Designed by great American architect H.H. Richardson and the famed landscape team of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the building incorporated a system of enlightened treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. Today, the Richardson Olmsted Campus is home to one of the largest historic preservation projects in the nation. Since 2006, the nonprofit Richardson has been hard at work bringing the site back to life after decades of neglect.

Mental health awareness is a important part of the past, present, and future of the Richardson Olmsted Campus. Our campus began in the 1870s as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, built according to a system of progressive treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. We are proud to join the Anti-Stigma Coalition as we preserve the unique history of our National Historic Landmark and spark important conversations with our community about bias, stigma, and hope.

Mark Mortenson | Executive Director


SUNY Erie is a three-campus institution serving over 20,000 students yearly. SUNY Erie is the second largest college in Western New York and the number one choice for area high school graduates.  SUNY Erie offers 100 degree and certificate programs in the areas of Health Sciences, Business & Public Service, Liberal Arts, and Engineering & Technologies while achieving an overall job placement and transfer rate of over 90%.

We are excited about the infinite potential that joining this campaign will afford our students, faculty, staff, and community constituents.  The Anti-Stigma campaign is changing the conversation surrounding mental illness by replacing silence and stigma with acceptance and support.

Nuriyah Clark, Ed.D. | Vice President for Student Affairs

Hamburg Central School District

The Hamburg Central School District is dedicated to educating modern thinkers who create, care, solve and discover. Its schools are places of innovative teaching and active learning.
The district has an enrollment of about 3,480 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, housed in four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. It has approximately 650 employees, the majority of whom are teachers. The district is suburban and semi-rural in nature, covering about 31 square miles in the Towns of Hamburg, Boston, Eden and Orchard Park, including the Village of Hamburg.

Membership in the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition demonstrates that we are committed to “walking our talk” of supporting the mental and emotional health of our students, their families, and our staff.

Michael Cornell | Superintendent

KKPR Public Relations & Marketing

KKPR is a Western New York public relations company providing crisis communications, writing, editing and media services to non-profit and corporate clients. KKPR delivers solid results for clients by providing high-quality customer service and creative communications solutions

Mental health is a critical component of a person’s overall health. People should not hesitate to speak up or because the stigma of mental illness causes shame or embarrassment. Join the Conversation is making a real difference – educating people, encouraging everyone to use the right words and sharing stories of hope. We are proud to support the Coalition in this important work.

Karen Karaszewski, APR | President

Spectrum Health & Human Services

Spectrum Health and Human Services provides easy-to-access services including drug addiction counseling, home health care coordination, housing assistance and more. Many of our services are available at our centralized community-based locations across Western New York. Spectrum also offers integrated treatments at satellite locations within medical campuses across Erie and Wyoming Counties. With a large qualified team, Spectrum is available to meet clients’ needs immediately with our same-day and walk-in clinics.

Spectrum is very proud to join our colleagues in our fight to eliminate stigma!

Bruce Nisbet | CEO

BestSelf Behavioral Health

BestSelf Behavioral Health is the largest community-based behavioral health organization serving children, adolescents and adults with mental health and substance use disorders in WNY. BestSelf offers treatment and rehabilitation services that promote self-sufficiency, wellness and recovery. 

BestSelf believes that every individual is unique and recovery from mental illness is possible. Often the stigma related to mental illness is a significant barrier to people seeking help.  BestSelf supports the efforts of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition to provide education and advocacy to combat stigma in our community. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the one in five people who have a mental illness.

Howard K. Hitzel, Psy.D | President/CEO 

Help Me Grow WNY

Help Me Grow WNY enables young children to thrive by linking families and caregivers to information and community resources on child development and parenting, providing personalized connections to local services that meet individual needs and creating partnerships with human service agencies, educators, and health care professionals that strengthen families.

Partners of Help Me Grow WNY work to improve the health, well-being, and learning of young children. We recognize that children’s positive development depends upon strong relationships with the adults in their lives. Ending the stigma around mental illness enables families and caregivers to access mental health supports they may need to provide the best possible environments for children. Our community must value and support its children’s mental health—and also the mental health of those who care for them!

Lynn Pullano | Director

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. is a one stop, federally qualified health center whose mission is to provide comprehensive preventative care to underserved communities regardless of their ability to pay. Established in 1999, we expanded to four sites: Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Niagara Falls and Lockport. We have a patient base of about 19,000 throughout Erie and Niagara County and offer a variety of services including adult and pediatric medical, dental, 340b pharmacy, and behavior health. Most recently, we have added physical therapy to the list of services available at our Buffalo location.

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. (CHCB) is a safety net for a diverse population in need of access to comprehensive primary care health care. A significant number live at or below the poverty line who are Medicaid and Medicare eligible. Many have been negatively impacted by stereotypes and stigmas and are eligible for protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on age, race, national origin, religious beliefs, gender and sexual orientation, disability (mental or physical), pregnancy and veteran status. It is imperative for us to be at any table where discussions around stigma are being had because our mission is to serve those who typically must endure it.

LaVonne Ansari | CEO at Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.

Restoration Society, Inc.

Restoration Society, Inc. is a non-profit, peer-operated agency. We provide a variety of same-day, community based, recovery oriented services for individuals with behavioral health conditions and/or housing needs. Our rehabilitative services include: Employment, housing, young adult clubhouse, Recovery Center, Homeless Drop-In, outreach, parenting support, resource linkage, HCBS, and benefits advisement. We provide services 365 days per year and all can be accessed through one of our program locations or in the community. All services are tailored to meet the specific needs of each customer.

I am joining the Anti-Stigma Coalition to partner as united force against stigma. Being part of a passionate group, sharing ideas and resources to discover innovative ways to combat public and self-stigma will impact the isolation, despair, and service delivery system ultimately improving quality lives for those affected by mental health conditions through gaining accesses to needed services and resources.

Nancy Singh, M.A., C.R.C. | Chief Executive Officer

Senior Services of Erie County

The mission of the Department of Senior Services of Erie County is to promote the well-being of all older adults through coordinated and cost-effective services which enhance their independence, dignity, and quality of life.

The CDC estimates that 20% of older adults will experience a mental health concern. However, the stigma associated with a diagnosis can prevent an older person from participating in activities, programs and services that help to maintain independence and well being in the community. As the Department of Senior Services strives to promote healthy lifestyles and enhance the quality of life with older adults, we must address barriers in partnership with the community. By joining the Anti-Stigma campaign, we can help older adults to have the conversation that has been off limits, and engage them through the many beneficial programs the Department has to offer.

Timothy Hogues | Commissioner of Senior Services, Erie County

Horizon Health

We envision a future where all individuals who need and want help can easily access Horizon’s effective health and recovery services. Using emerging technologies and best practices, we will provide innovative services beyond the boundaries of WNY. In this future, Horizon is widely recognized as a great employer, having the highest quality staff and providing state of the art effective services.

I think it is important for Horizon to be a member of the Anti-Stigma Coalition because so many people are affected by behavioral health disorders but they are ashamed to seek help. I know people can feel better and can improve their life with treatment.

Anne Constantino | President and CEO

Say Yes To Education Buffalo

Our vision is that every student can graduate high school and college when given the proper supports, resources, and opportunities.

Say Yes Buffalo has joined the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition because its mission falls in line with the work of our organization. At Say Yes Buffalo, we work to remove barriers that prevent children from being their best and support their academic and personal growth by organizing wrap-around supports, such as mental health counseling, access to healthcare and free legal services and more. We are proud to partner with Erie County on this initiative.

David Rust

Child and Family Services

For more than 140 years, Child and Family Services has dedicated its resources to meet the needs of children and families. One of Western New York’s oldest human service agencies, Child and Family Services fosters safe and healthy environments for children and families in local homes, schools, workplaces and communities.

I work in a business serving people who by many accounts are unjustly viewed as “broken,” as lacking somehow, as “problems” – as burdens of society. Some present with mental health issues and carry the weight, the stigma that relegates them to objects of pity, of fear, and of contempt.

Yet, each person we serve has a unique story to tell – many of these stories are not pretty, nevertheless most are hopeful chronicles of redemption, of recovered lives because somebody cared. I am mindful that anyone of us is one traumatic, life-changing event from needing the types of supports we often consign to “others.”

I am committed to world in which mental healthcare services are deemed a basic human right and it begins with supporting the work of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. Join the Conversation!

Francisco M. Vasquez, Ph.D. | President and CEO

Deaf Access Services

According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), “people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing1 are an underserved cultural and linguistic population within the nation’s mental health system”. However , studies show that due to higher rates of oppression, isolation and even abuse, Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals may experience mental health concerns at higher rates than their hearing counterparts. Deaf Access Services supports the efforts of the Anti-Stigma Campaign to address systemic barriers to care, through increased culturally and linguistically affirmative services, and to educate the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community about the symptoms of mental health and ways to access supports in the community.

Pamela Kefi | Executive Director | Deaf Access Services

Parent Network of Western New York

Parent Network of WNY is a not-for-profit agency that provides education and resources for families of individuals with special needs (birth through adulthood) and for professionals.

Parent Network of WNY provides 1-on-1 Support and education through resources, workshops and support groups to assist families of individuals with disabilities to understand their disability and navigate the support service system.

Parents can lead the way in opening communication with their children’s mental illness.

Susan Barlow | Executive Director | Parent Network of WNY


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Buffalo & Erie County is pleased to become an organizational member of the Anti-Stigma Coalition and to represent the voices of so many families who continue to combat stigma. Eliminating stigma is one of NAMI Buffalo’s key goals and our participation with the Coalition is a natural fit. We look forward to making progress together.

Michele Brooks | Executive Director | National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Buffalo & Erie County