Linda Diaz, Youth Mental Health Advocate, Lauryn's Law Inc.
Linda Diaz is a proud, devoted single mother of two daughters and a grandmother to one granddaughter. On February 16, 2013, Linda’s family forever changed, as Linda's 15-year-old daughter, Lauryn, died by suicide after a final cruel act of bullying. Though living with grief, Linda clearly saw the effect Lauryn's suicide had all around her. It became overwhelming, as within 5 weeks, one of Lauryn's best friends survived a suicide attempt and a second survived 2 suicide attempts, in less than a year. One of those friends was only 13 years old. The heart-wrenching question became clear: “What are we missing?”
Linda is a technical analyst in her full-time but has dedicated 100% of her advocacy to help educate families on mental illness. In May 2013, Linda started on the road that would ultimately place her on an unforeseen journey. Linda began studying mental health risk factors and trained in suicide awareness in order to personally assist families in crisis. Linda’s experience led to hosting as well as speaking publicly in order to educate communities on bullying and suicide prevention.
This journey led to a greater audience as Linda began to work with Maryland legislation in support of required Youth Mental Health Training. The result: Two Laws were passed, in support of Youth Behavioral Wellness Training in Maryland Schools. HB0947 was signed into law in 2015, as well as HB0920, signed into law in 2017. Visit laurynslaw.org to find courses supporting the Lauryn’s Law legislation in Maryland.
Kerriann Peart, MPH, Health Education Manager, Division of Health and Wellness, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Born and raised in Jamaica, Kerriann has followed her passion for service and community health, in her educational and professional pursuits. Throughout her career, Kerriann has led teams of health educators, youth advocates, and young people in affecting and strengthening mechanisms of culturally directed change impact. Kerriann’s work has addressed an array of interconnected social issues including HIV, sexual and reproductive rights and safety, psychosocial wellness, and cultural dynamics in health. Kerriann has a B.S. in Biology from Emory University, an MPH from the Milken Institute School of Public Health, and a Certificate in Child and Adolescent Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). She is currently in her third and final year of a PhD program in International Psychology at TCSPP.