Mark your calendar for next year’s event:
May 7, 2024
2024 Champion Nominations
Missouri Mental Health Champions are individuals who make positive contributions to their community, exemplify commitment and vision, and whose actions have increased the potential for independence in others with similar mental health conditions.
Each year an award recipient is selected from each of the three nomination categories: mental illness, developmental or intellectual disabilities, and substance use disorders. They are celebrated at the annual Mental Health Champions’ Awards Banquet held in their honor on May 7, 2024 at Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City, MO.
Nominations are now closed.
2024 Lasting Legacy Nominations
The Lasting Legacy Award is to honor and recognize an individual or cutting-edge mental health program that serves the Missouri mental health community impacting individuals and families living with mental illness, developmental or intellectual disabilities, and/or substance use disorders over a period of years. For complete details of eligibility requirements for Lasting Legacy nominations, please review the Criteria and Eligibility Requirements document.
Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-635-9201.
Meet Our 2024 Mental Health Champions
Audrey Whittenberg’s transformative journey in the realm of mental health is a testament to her resilience and unwavering dedication. Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, and borderline personality disorder at 15, Audrey faced profound challenges, including multiple suicide attempts and extensive psychiatric treatments. Despite being told she wouldn’t recover, within five years, Audrey earned a Bachelor of Social Work, came off disability, and worked as a Certified Peer Specialist at Fulton State Hospital. Over the next decade, she achieved a Master of Social Work and became a Licensed Master Social Worker. Audrey’s influence extends beyond her professional accomplishments; as a peer specialist, she shares her story through the RESPECT Institute and HOPE Project, emphasizing the possibility of recovery. Engaging in advocacy, Audrey co-leads a dual diagnosis 12-step group, conducts NAMI trainings, volunteers for the Special Olympics, and champions mental health legislation. Serving on councils like the Physical Environment Enhancement Team and the Zero Suicide Team, Audrey actively contributes to mental health initiatives, utilizing her lived experience to educate clients on mental illness and recovery strategies. Known for her perseverance, resiliency, and compassion, Audrey inspires others by exemplifying the journey to recovery. Her impact as a Mental Health Champion goes beyond professional success, breaking down barriers and transforming lives within the mental health community. Colleagues commend Audrey for her ability to unite groups toward the true focus of mental health professionals, making her a truly deserving recipient of this recognition.
Clifford Atterberry’s life embodies resilience, transformation, and an unwavering dedication to positive change. In 2005, he took a courageous step towards recovery, signaling the start of his commitment to personal development and a substance-free life. Between 2010 and 2014, Clifford’s determination led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human services, emphasizing academic excellence and leveraging experiences for others’ betterment. Despite legal challenges in 2002 resulting in a felony conviction, Clifford turned adversity into a testament of resilience, evolving from a convicted felon to an advocate for positive community engagement. His willingness to share his recovery story inspires others, fostering awareness and encouragement for those facing substance use disorders. Engaging with his community, Clifford secured employment through the Department of Mental Health in 2019, creating a supportive environment for trauma survivors. Active on boards and committees, he contributed to organizations like the Callaway County LGBTQ Alliance Group. In 2020, Clifford embraced foster parenting, displaying immense courage and compassion, ultimately adopting a son. His transformative journey, overcoming addiction, legal challenges, and personal adversities, positions Clifford as an advocate for positive change. His diverse contributions in planning, organizing, collaborating, and advocating for health and wellness highlight his exceptional impact on the community, making him a remarkable individual deserving recognition and celebration for his profound influence.
Lilly Eikermann, a vibrant and positive individual diagnosed with Down Syndrome, faced challenges during virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her social nature suffered, and upon returning to in-person school, she was placed in a special education class, segregated from her peers. Unhappy with menial tasks assigned to her, Lilly expressed her desire to learn to drive and sell snow cones from a golf cart. With determination, her father helped her acquire a golf cart, and with the support of the community, Lilly established “Lilly’s Snow Cones.” The business not only became a success but also promotes inclusion and advocates for accepting individuals of all abilities. Lilly actively hires people with disabilities, providing job coaching for their success. Her initiative has transformed her self-esteem and confidence. Despite being underestimated by school personnel, Lilly’s hard work challenges stereotypes about individuals
with disabilities. Lilly’s Snow Cones is not just a business but a symbol of awareness, hope, and a testament to breaking down barriers for people with disabilities. Lilly’s journey illustrates that having a disability does not limit one’s capacity to learn, grow, and achieve success. Through her efforts, Lilly serves as a role model for individuals with disabilities and ignites positive change in her community, underscoring her genuine merit for this acknowledgment.
2024 Event Sponsorship Opportunities
Sponsoring the 2024 Mental Health Champions’ Banquet allows you to celebrate success, battle stigma, support a critical issue, connect with the mental health provider community, business community, community resource organizations, and the general public representing communities from across Missouri.
Meet Our 2023 Lasting Legacy Honoree
John N. Constantino M.D.
John N. Constantino M.D. is the inaugural system Chief for Behavioral and Mental Health at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine. Prior to moving to Atlanta in 2022, Dr. Constantino served as Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis, where he directed a research program in childhood social development that was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for 25 years. He led the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital from 2009-2022 and served on the Missouri Mental Health Commission from 2003 to 2007. In recent years he chaired a task force for defining best practice for individuals with combined developmental disability and behavioral impairment, under the auspices of the Missouri Alliance for Dual Diagnosis of the Missouri Department of Mental Health. He is the founding director of one of the State’s Autism Centers of Excellence, founded the nationally-renown SYNCHRONY Project for young children in foster care in St. Louis County, and has received lifetime achievement awards from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for both prevention and developmental disabilities research, based on his work in Missouri. In his new role, Dr. Constantino has set his sights on a discovery agenda to model the impact of systematic implementation of decades of advances in clinical psychiatry, psychology, and the social sciences, to inform transformation of child mental health practice in the U.S.
View a complete photo gallery from our 2023 event on our Facebook page.