2011 Conference Keynote Speakers


We're thrilled to have the following keynote presenters at this year's conference. Patty Duke, Susan Blauner, Laura Burke, and Clarence Jordan. Learn more about our keynote speakers below.

Patty Duke

Patty Duke, Academy Award winning actress, past President of the Screen Actors Guild, and best selling author, has been delighting and challenging audiences for more than 40 years with her work in movies, television and on Broadway. She has established herself as one of televisions most versatile and beloved actresses. Patty has received much recognition from her peers - An Oscar, two Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards and six Emmy Nominations and a People's Choice Award. Community service awards have honored her commitment to many social issues. Since the publication of her autobiography, "Call Me Anna" and her second book "A Brilliant Madness", Patty spends a great deal of time and travel speaking on the topic of mental illness.

Susan Blauner

Susan Rose Blauner is a powerful voice in the fields of mental health recovery and personal change. A survivor of multiple suicide attempts, she has the unique distinction of transforming her experience with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder into the critically-acclaimed book How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me. Susan delivers dynamic keynotes and workshops that discuss the intricacies of healing from mental illness, and offers strategies for staying positive despite uncertain times. Susan is a recipient of the Survivor Achievement Award for Distinguished Creativity and Personal Effort in Suicide Prevention, presented by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Her work continues to empower and save lives throughout the world.

Susan will also be leading a Pre-Conference Institute, Staying Alive from the Inside Out: Effectively Managing Suicidal Ideation, on Friday, May 20 at 1:30pm. During this session she will discuss life after suicidal ideation and give strategies to deepen commitment to overall health, rethink self-imposed limitations, and plan for the future while staying focused on the present.

Laura Burke

Laura Burke suffered from depression for most of her life, until she found the theatre.  Laura was diagnosed with schizophrenia disorder in 2005, which robbed her of the ability to feel any emotion except anxiety and fear, and her acting career was halted in its tracks. After spending a year debating whether or not she would be able to continue with theatre, she finally began to create again.  She saw a drama therapist, painted, began writing poetry and joined a theatre troupe. Finally, years later, after surrounding herself with a supportive network and following a creative path once again, her brain and her heart have begun to heal.  
In 2007, Laura joined the Peer Support Staff at Laing House, where she ran drama and writing groups. In 2009, she was a Peer Support Facilitator at the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia. She has volunteered at the NS Early Psychosis Program, and actively speaks about mental health advocacy and recovery.  She has performed her spoken word poetry widely, including competitively at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2009.  In 2010, Laura started her MA in Drama Therapy at Concordia University in Montreal.

Most recently, Laura shared her spoken word poetry and her journey through mental illness in “Superman A Visual Poem,” a video produced in association with the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. Click here to view this touching and inspirational video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23a18HKYLW4&feature=recentlik

Clarence Jordan

Clarence Jordan is the Director of Recovery and Resiliency Services of Tennessee at ValueOptions Behavioral Health Services, where he is involved in planning on matters of current trends as well as treatment practices for both mental illness and substance abuse.  He previously was manager of recovery and resiliency for Magellan Health Services of Tennessee and served as a member of the Tennessee Mental Health Planning Council.  Jordan currently serves on the NAMI National Board of Directors.  He previously served as operations officer and director of the multicultural outreach initiative at NAMI Tennessee, which saw the largest increase in African American membership in the organization’s history in 2006.

Clarence Jordan has deep roots in the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Tennessee (NAMI Tennessee).  As Director of the Multicultural Outreach Initiative he developed and wrote “The Guide to Mental Illness, What Every Family Needs to Know,” for his efforts led the State Office to receive the coveted National Multicultural Outreach Award. 



page created: December 15, 2010
page updated: March 2, 2011


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