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Matthew Shapiro
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I am proud to be a mental health advocate and serve as the Associate Director, Public Affairs of NAMI-NYS, where I work to empower others who have struggled in the same way me and my family have. I suffered in silence and was ashamed of my mental illness for way too long and I don't want other people to feel that way. I am very honored to be recognized for my advocacy success by receiving the 2019 NAMI Advocacy Award and the 2020 STARR Advocate of the Year award, these awards are a testament to how strong the NAMI-NYS advocacy voice has become, our collective strength is the achievement I am most proud of. Finding my voice and helping others find theirs has made all my struggles worth it.

Raising awareness and understanding of mental health issues is my life's work. Finding new and innovative ways to introduce conversations about mental health is of the utmost importance to me and Off the Mask is a shining example of that goal. It was an honor to participate in the initial Off the Mask and see the impact it had on people. I am looking forward to making the event bigger and more impactful in 2020 and beyond.