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 Max Donatelli, Chairperson, at


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

Peers in Cayuga County

The corporation is formed for the charitable purpose of aiding persons over the age of 18, living in Cayuga County, who have been diagnosed with mental illness and who request recovery based activities that will enhnce their social and practical life skills toward their becoming better community members.

Our organization, Peers in Cayuga County, helps people over the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with some kind of mental illness. Our staff, all volunteers, live with mental health issues as well and understand what it can feel like when people know you have such issues and treat you differently than the people they thing don’t have mental illness. I, personally, have been working on getting people to recognize the fact that just because someone has been diagnosed with mental health issues, doesn’t make them dumb, violent, or dependent on others. Even though I am the President of this organization, I have had board members from different groups treat me as if I didn’t know what I was talking about when I speak. On one occasion, I did a presentation about our organization to let everyone on that board know exactly what I am capable of and what other people with mental health issues are capable of. After that, I have been treated as a respected member of that board. I want to help fight stigma in as many ways as possible. I believe the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition is on the right track to fight stigma and I want our organization to be part of that fight.

Margaret Phinney | President

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