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Noted authors, journalists, mental health advocates among members of Depression Center advisory board

Twenty prominent individuals with an interest in depression and bipolar disorder, and a dedication to addressing the societal consequences of these conditions, will serve on the newly formed national advisory board of the U-M Depression Center.

The board will advise the nation's first comprehensive center devoted to depressive illness research, treatment, education and public policy. The board consists of nationally recognized leaders with demonstrated expertise in public education, public policy, health care delivery, public advocacy and business.

From noted newsman Mike Wallace to National Book Award winner Andrew Solomon, and Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy to former Surgeon General Antonia Novello, the board's members bring a wealth of insight into how depressive illnesses affect those who have them, their loved ones and society.

The board draws from Michigan and the entire nation, including major corporations such as Ford, GM and Blue Cross Blue Shield, as well as three national mental health advocacy groups.
“We’re grateful to have the participation of so many remarkable people, from such diverse backgrounds, who have come together to address such an important cause.”
–Dr. John Greden

The group will be chaired by Dr. John Greden, the Depression Center's executive director, who also is chair and Rachel Upjohn Professor in the Medical School's Department of Psychiatry.

"We're grateful to have the participation of so many remarkable people, from such diverse backgrounds, who have come together to address such an important cause," Greden says.

The board met for the first time March 6 and 7.

The national advisory board is complemented by the Depression Center's Scientific Advisory Board, which includes noted researchers in psychiatry and neuroscience from around the United States, and a University Advisory Committee, composed of leaders from throughout U-M representing the units involved in the center. Board membership lists are at

The National Advisory Board's members are:

Richard Birkel, the executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses.

Kathy Cronkite is a mental health advocate, journalist, public speaker and author of "On the Edge of Darkness: Conversations About Conquering Depression."

Deborah Dingell is president of the General Motors Foundation and executive director of National Corporate Activity for General Motors. She is the wife of U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.).

Jay Gardner, director of Ford Land Europe (headquartered in Germany), is responsible for managing Ford's European real estate portfolio, strategic and business development, transactions, construction and facility management, including energy planning.

Roderick Gillum, vice president, corporate relations and diversity at General Motors and chairman of the General Motors Foundation, is responsible for the company's global social responsibility programs, including community relations, philanthropy and diversity management.

Martha Hellander, executive director of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, heads a group that seeks to connect families of children with bipolar disorder nationwide through innovative use of technology.

Kay Redfield Jamison is a professor of psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University and the author of scientific texts on mental health topics such as depression. She wrote the best-seller "An Unquiet Mind," which recounts her own experience with bipolar disorder.

Phil Jenkins, founder and CEO of Sweepster Inc., is a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor who oversees a company with $50 million in annual sales. In 1999, Jenkins lost his wife of 47 years, who suffered from depression.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) recently was elected to his fifth term representing the First District of Rhode Island. Kennedy continues his family's tradition of public service. In 2000, he publicly disclosed he has battled depression since adolescence.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.) is in his sixth term in Congress. Knollenberg represents Michigan's newly created Ninth District, in Oakland County north of Detroit. He played a key role in establishing Michigan's Mental Illness Research Association.

Lydia Lewis is president of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), the nation's largest patient-directed, illness-specific organization.

Karen Marshall is president and CEO of the LifeHouse Foundation. The journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee helped found the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, which runs the 1-800-SUICIDE National Hopeline Network.

Dr. Antonia Novello has been a leading public health official since the 1980s, including three years as Surgeon General under President George Bush and the last four years as New York State's top health officer with the state's Department of Health. She was a medical resident and fellow at the Medical School in the early 1970s.

Janet Olszewski, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, is the state's top health official. She is responsible for public health, mental health and services to the aging, among other areas.

Waltraud Prechter is chairman of the Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression, named in her husband's memory. She is a member of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

Former U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.) is a mental health advocate who, during her eight years in Congress, was known as a champion of mental health insurance parity. She continues to lecture nationally on the topic, providing perspective about her own experience with depression.

Dr. John Schwarz, former Michigan state senator and an otolaryngologist, completed his fourth term in office in early 2003, representing the state's 24th senatorial district. He served as the Senate's president pro tempore and chaired the Subcommittee on General Government.

Andrew Solomon, an author and mental health advocate, has become widely known and praised for tackling the diagnostic, treatment, social and ethical issues surrounding depression, and for publicly discussing his own experience with the condition. He has won 11 awards, including the National Book Award for his 2001 book "The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression."

Marianne Udow, senior vice president of health care products and provider services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, oversees some of Michigan's largest private insurance programs, including the Blues' traditional and preferred-provider plans. She is chair-elect of the Greater Detroit Area Health Council.

Michael Wallace is senior correspondent and co-editor of the CBS News program "60 Minutes." In his 35 years on the show, U-M alumnus Wallace has become one of the most prominent Americans to discuss his experience with depression publicly. He and his wife recently were named the first winners of the Luminary Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

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