Past Foundation Keynote Speakers

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy


Patrick J. Kennedy is a champion of mental health in Congress who believes that stigma, public policies, and third party payer systems have impeded the delivery of effective mental health services.  As the landscape of health care as we know it changes, and related issues continue to dominate the landscape of both the domestic and international public policy, the questions of what the impact will be on the mental health system remain. Furthermore, with awareness efforts increasing to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, just how will – and should – success be measured?

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy joined us to discuss these very relevant issues and what the future holds for our healthcare system.

Check out this video!


Nelba Marquez-Greene, LMFT


Nelba Marquez Greene, LMFT has been driven by her family motto “love wins” and a desire to ensure her daughter’s life is remembered twice as loudly as her death. Her journey has led her to every level of government, media, and the public to increase understanding and awareness to prevent violence and promote healing. Past President Michael Chafin spoke with Nelba about her journey and ways she believes all mental health professionals can work to help prevent future tragedies.


Judy Shepard


Judy Shepard and her husband Dennis' lives were changed forever in 1998 when their son, Matthew, died from a brutal attack because he was gay. The tragedy quickly spurred an unprecedented public outcry, tens of thousands of letters and emails of support for the family, and a new focus on the growing epidemic of hate crimes. The Shepard’s started the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on Matthew’s legacy and work towards gay and lesbian equality. Judy is actively involved in organizations that support the family and friends of gay individuals and continues to use her grief over her son’s death to make a difference.

Matthew Shepard’s death, and the subsequent work of his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, to end hate-motivated crimes against members of the LGBTQ community, has created an entire generation of advocates to carry forward Matthew’s desire for an inclusive and welcoming society. In an age of increasing legal equality for LGBTQ people and increasing hate and violence toward members of the LGBTQ community, it is more important than ever for students to hear Matthew’s story and learn how they can help end the epidemic of hate and violence.


Kim Phuc Phan Thi


The Vietnam War knows many tragedies, some more familiar than others. A photograph of a young girl running naked down a road, her skin on fire with napalm, changed the way the world looked at the Vietnam War, and at all wars. The photograph was transmitted around the world and later won a Pulitzer Prize. The girl in the picture is Kim Phuc.

Kim Phuc was born and raised in a village near Saigon. In 1972, Americans and the South Vietnamese Airforce dropped napalm bombs on her village. Nine-year-old Phuc fled from a Buddhist pagoda, where she and her family were hiding. Two of her infant cousins did not survive the attack, and Phuc was badly burned. Phuc was photographed running down the road, screaming from the burns to her skin. Ut’s photograph of Phuc remains one of the most unforgettable images of the Vietnam War.

Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch


Born and raised along the border in a small barrio in Laredo, Texas, Consuelo Kickbusch  overcame poverty, discrimination, and illiteracy to become the successful community leader she is today. Although she grew up without material wealth, Kickbusch was taught by her immigrant parents that she was rich in culture, tradition, values, and faith. The values Kickbusch learned during childhood were reinforced throughout her career in the United States military. After graduating from Hardin Simmons University, she entered the US Army as an officer and served for two decades. While in the military, she broke barriers and set records to become the highest ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the US Army.

In 1996, she was selected out of 26,000 candidates to assume a command post, which would put her on track for the rank of general officer. She respectfully declined the honor and retired as a 22-year veteran of the US Army to fulfill her mother's dying wish – for her to return to her roots and become a community leader. In realizing her dream, she founded Educational Achievement Services, Inc. with a mission to prepare tomorrow's leaders.