by Camille Tibaldeo, Fountain Gallery Communications Manager
Acclaimed actress Glenn Close was the recipient of the Fountain House Humanitarian Award, for her passionate advocacy on behalf of people with mental illness, at the seventh annual Fountain House Symposium and Luncheon. The event, entitled “Voices & Visions: Understanding and Treating Psychosis – New Research, New Hope” took place on Monday, May 3, 2010, at The Pierre, Fifth Avenue at 61st Street in New York City. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and US Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, both longtime champions of mental health issues, were among the nearly 600 guests.
The Symposium featured a panel discussion geared to a lay audience by distinguished experts in the fields of mental health research, treatment, and public policy: Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Lawrence E. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry, Lieber Professor of Schizophrenia Research at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute; Donald C. Goff, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; and Beth Baxter, MD, a private practice psychiatrist from Tennessee who lives with schizoaffective disorder. Consuelo Mack, managing editor and anchor of Consuelo Mack WealthTrack, served as Master of Ceremonies. This annual event was founded to advance community knowledge about mental illness and to reduce the associated stigma.
The Honorable Robert A. Antonioni, US Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, and US Congressman John A. Sullivan were Honorary Chairs. Event Chairs: Patricia Begley, Kitty de Chazal, Lorna Hyde Graev, Alexandra A. Herzan, Anne Mai. Program Chair: Lynn Nicholas, PsyD. Corporate Chair: Kim S. Fennebresque, Dahlman Rose & Co., LLC.
The elegant Grand Ballroom of The Pierre, also the scene of this event in past years, was suffused with a golden glow. There was excitement in the room from the start, and it intensified up until the final moments of the Symposium and Luncheon, when Glenn Close took the stage and spoke movingly about Fountain House and mental illness as she accepted her Award.
Glenn, an Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award winner, headlines the critically acclaimed original legal thriller, Damages, on FX, which recently completed its third season. For her portrayal of high-stakes litigator “Patty Hewes,” Glenn won her second consecutive Emmy Award last year, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award. She has become a dear friend of Fountain House, and in the fall of 2009, Glenn Close and Fountain House initiated a new anti-stigma campaign, BringChange2Mind (www.bringchange2mind.org). The idea for this campaign evolved from Glenn’s firsthand observation of battles with mental illness within her family and subsequent volunteer work at Fountain House.
Glenn’s sister Jessie and nephew Calen, who both live with mental illness, were on hand at The Pierre to witness her being recognized for her dedication. (Calen’s artwork has been shown at Fountain Gallery.) In addition to receiving the Fountain House Humanitarian Award, Glenn was delighted by the gift of a striking watercolor by Fountain Gallery artist Deborah Standard.
The Symposium panelists shed light on psychosis, which has been defined as a loss of contact with reality; as an altered or distorted perception of and relation to reality; and as an extreme state of consciousness that involves radical changes in personality, behavior, thinking, feeling and relating to others. Today, neuroscience and psychiatry offer new knowledge and understanding of the complex causes and the brain mechanisms involved in psychosis, and the latest research and clinical information offer reasons to be less fearful and more hopeful about treatment and recovery. While cures for the most severe psychotic disorders have not yet been found, recovery – the ability to live productively with these illnesses – can be achieved.
The Symposium and Luncheon is always a special event, but this year it was truly extraordinary, thanks in large part to the commitment of the Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Benefit Committee, and months of painstaking effort by the Development team: Jeffrey Aron, Robyn Marks, Kathleen Fiess, Guinevere Johnson, and Nicholas Becerra. A number of Fountain House members and staff also generously contributed their time and talents to ensure that the event ran like clockwork. Andrea Roy coordinated the Program portion of the event. The fundraising goal was exceeded, thanks to our many loyal supporters, and the attendees departed The Pierre with greater knowledge about mental illness, and about the groundbreaking work of Fountain House.
Photos by: Leslie Barbaro