MEET OUR AMBASSADORS:

Together they are sharing their stories making a difference prioritizing mental health

As a combat veteran who has lived through difficult times without resources to support me, I see the tremendous value in Give an Hour's mission. I want to be part of the solution, and I see the impact Give an Hour has, and will continue to make.

BOB

After my husband first attempted suicide several years ago, I struggled to stay afloat. I was very frustrated that the attention was all on his mental health but not the rest of our family. It was amazing to me to think had he died, I would have received help. My why? I do not want anyone to think that they are not seen nor heard. I want our communities to know how important it is to support the mental health of the entire family unit. If one person in the family is struggling, it affects the entire family unit. It is more than self care - it is YOUR mental wellness.

SHAWN

My WHY is about ensuring equity and access for our most vulnerable and unserved populations. As a veteran, a woman, and a member of the African- American community, I understand the need to dismantle the obstacles and the stigma of seeking wellness services.

CELESTINE

Some opportunities come to you in life and make you say “Hell YES!"
Being an Ambassador for Give an Hour was that for me. I am fascinated by the mind and joining a community to connect with and learn from is a gift!

STEPHANIE

My why for becoming an Ambassador for Give an Hour is that I have a passion to help veterans overcome the obstacles we face with PTSD and suicide. Give an Hour’s goals align with my passion and my purpose.

ALLEN

I have agreed to be an Ambassador for Give an Hour because I believe whole heartedly in everything that Give an Hour is. My mission in life is to be a helper, a provider, a giver, and an encourager. Give an Hour is all of that and more. I also have a strong passion to assist people who have mental and/or emotional struggles, and I believe that being an Ambassador for Give an Hour will help me fulfill my goals to help others.

SHOWTIME SHAWN

Growing up, I needed someone like me to tell me that it is okay to not be okay. My mental health journey has not been easy, but it was made much easier when I was provided with role models to guide me, tools to express my experiences, and a support system to hold my hand through it all. It has become my life's mission to provide those things to others in efforts to prevent others from experiencing the loneliness and fear a mental health disorder diagnosis can cause. That is why I joined Give an Hour as an Ambassador. Their tools are easy to learn and create a common language which allows us to communicate about our feelings and wellbeing!

ELLE

I was really ashamed when I first sought out mental health help 19 years ago but it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made. My hope is that we get to the point where getting needed mental health care is commonplace - both in ease of finding and affording providers, and in being celebrated for making the decision to seek out help. Give an Hour moves us toward that goal by providing educational resources, access to care and initiatives to change the culture around mental health.

ANNA

For years, our pediatrician and geneticist worked diligently to try to figure out what was causing my son's issues. At times I felt as if I would never have an answer, never know if he would get better. I've met so many on this journey who may never have an answer. Some of the psychosocial impacts of dealing with rare disease are a mixture of emotions, so many questions, financial burdens and managing the impact on siblings. Care givers balance all of that while trying to provide a stable and loving home. I want to help provide resources to help care givers with these situations.

MARY-ELLA

It's exciting for me to be a part of something that helps people, because I've been there and still struggle myself. You're not alone!

BRYAN

After years of trying and failing to find an intervention for my husband's alcoholism, and looking for recovery support with very little success, my eyes were opened to just how badly we need better mental health guidance than what's out there. Learning about the three pillars of Give an Hour's mission -- providing access to care, culture change, and mental health literacy -- I knew we found a home with like-minded people who shared my vision of helping others who are struggling and in need of support.

KIMBERLY

Over the last thirty years and four films, I have dedicated myself to spreading the message of Healing and Hope. It’s been my privilege to step into this role and chronicle the inspiring stories of trauma survivors and make a difference. As an Ambassador with Give an Hour, I see a tremendous opportunity to leverage our synergy! This partnership will help me to carry out my calling and in turn, I hope to further Give an Hour’s mission–which aligns so well with my own. If just one life is changed for the better, then we have succeeded!

ERIC

BRYAN ABRAMS

Singer-Songwriter

Bryan Abrams is an internationally-recognized, two-time Grammy-nominated, American Music Award and two-time Soul Train Award-winning, R&B/pop singer-songwriter with over 12 million albums sold worldwide, three Billboard #1 Hot 100 and R&B hits and is an Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inductee.

Bryan is best known around the world as the original lead singer, front man and founding member of the 90’s crossover hit group Color Me Badd. Having faced many public challenges including substance use disorders, a life-long battle with obesity and tensions within the group he founded, Abrams is painfully aware of the toll that being self-sacrificing can take on a person’s mental health.

Abrams found himself at rock bottom due to his addictions, and was inspired to take his power back only by the desperation and disappointment he witnessed in the eyes of his wife and daughters. Having lived with addiction for over 25 years, Abrams has now put his focus on his mental and physical health, and is proudly in his third year of recovery. Abrams’ zest for music has returned and prompted him to dive into the vault of songs written and set aside over the decades.

Mental Health Ambassador Announcement

KIMBERLY ABRAMS

Empath and Skincare Aficionado

Kimberly Abrams is an alumna of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a Honors graduate with a degree in Diversified Studies from Oklahoma City Community College. Kimberly spent her early career working as a national educator for a Fortune 500 company and, eventually, as business manager to her husband, R&B/ pop singer-songwriter Bryan Abrams.

As a young girl, Kimberly was already familiar with what mental illness can look like. She witnessed the many struggles certain family members suffered as a result of being unfortunate recipients of antiquated mental health treatments, while others simply fell through the cracks of a broken, mental healthcare system. Later, as a married woman, Kimberly saw yet another ugly manifestation of untreated mental illness as she watched her husband battle substance use and eating disorders. She realized she would have to do something different than she ever had, that is, if she expected her husband to survive. She would need to become an active participant in his recovery, rather than wait for a sick person to get well alone . . . . and, it worked.

Mentally stronger than ever, Kimberly and her now-recovered husband Bryan reside in Oklahoma with their two daughters. Kimberly is a proud tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a documented descendent of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Eric Christiansen

ERIC CHRISTIANSEN

Filmmaker- Messenger of Hope

Eric Christiansen is an acclaimed documentarian who has built his life’s work around socially responsible filmmaking that educates, inspires and most importantly heals. Christiansen, a seven-time Southwestern Region Emmy Award recipient, explores the impact of trauma; how we adapt to grief; the resilience of the human spirit; and how a powerful platform for hope can help trauma survivors begin the vigilant journey of healing. A trauma survivor himself, Christiansen worked through the loss of his home and possessions in the Painted Cave Fire by creating his first film Faces in the Fire 25 years ago.
All of his films (Faces in the Fire, Homecoming: A Vietnam Vets Journey, Searching for Home: Coming Back from War) have been transformative in the recovery process for thousands of people whose lives have been compromised mentally, spiritually and physically by trauma. Leveraged as educational tools by top mental health institutions, Christiansen’s films migrate from the entertainment arena into environments that help additional audiences navigate the profound collateral damage trauma creates not only on the individual, but the family and community as well.  
Christiansen’s current feature documentary “unMASKing HOPE” premieres on public television October 2022
Throughout his career, Christiansen has worked on both commercial and cause-driven projects, and produced for major networks including Discovery, TLC, PBS, MTV and an Imax film. He’s appeared on 50 podcasts in 10 countries discussing his work.
unMASKing Your HOPETrauma Resources

Dr. CELESTINE LAVAN

Veteran, Champion and Servant Leader

Dr. Celestine LaVan is a member of the International Board of Directors of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated, where she serves as the Regional Director of the Southeastern Region. Dr. LaVan oversees the operations and membership activities of over 170 chapters in the United States, the Bahamas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Celestine holds a Psychology degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Liberty University.

As part of her executive leadership training, Celestine had the privilege of attending the BB&T Leading Change Executive Institute and Closing the Achievement Gap Institute at Harvard University. As a public educator, Dr. LaVan considers herself a servant leader passionate about advocating for marginalized and underserved populations.

Uniquely situated as a Navy veteran and daughter, wife, and sister of combat service members, Celestine understands the importance of attending to the socio-emotional well-being of military families. Through leadership role within Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Dr. LaVan engages with over 400 active duty, retired, and prior servicewomen.

Multiple Hats, Influencing ManyHow Culture Impacts our Emotional Wellbeing

MARY-ELLA MAJETICH

Mom, Wife and Advocate

Mary-Ella is a mom of three boys, two with medical issues growing up, but one who had much more serious medical needs when he was younger. Caring for her son and working with in-home nurses, she often found she didn’t know what questions to ask and had so much to learn. With the encouragement of a doctor and some nurses, Mary-Ella decided to earn her nursing degree and quickly fell in love with pediatric nursing.

After meeting her husband, who was severely injured in combat, Mary-Ella decided to leave pediatric nursing and applied to work at Veterans Affairs (VA). She couldn’t understand how the VA system worked and did not want to criticize what she didn’t know. Mary-Ella now serve as the Quality Manager for North Florida/South Georgia Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Service.

She is finishing up Nurse Practitioner school, and proudly serves as an Elizabeth Dole Alumni. As an Elizabeth Dole Fellow Mary-Ella had the opportunity to participate in many projects, the Campaign for Inclusive Care (CIC) was one of them.

ELLE MARK

Dog Mom and Difference Maker

Gabrielle “Elle” Mark is an honors graduate from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse with her bachelor’s degree in Public Health & Community Health Education. During her undergraduate career, Elle spent a significant amount of time researching and performing health education programming surrounding the topics of mental health and wellness as well as the prevention of mental health crises.

Elle’s passion for promoting mental wellness stems from her personal experience with mental health disorders. In efforts to help others through the struggles she encountered with mental illness, Elle utilized her role as a local titleholder within the Miss America Organization to share her mental health journey and help to guide others through theirs.

Taking Care of Emotional HealthChildren Have Mental Health Too

SHAWN MOORE

Passionate Advocate for Military and Veteran Family Caregivers

Shawn Moore serves as the Program Manager, Financial Wellness for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation where she supports financial and employment related initiatives, to include the Employer Task Force and emergency financial relief offerings. Shawn is an Alumna 2017 Dole Caregiver Fellow for Missouri, and has also assisted with the Foundation’s Respite Relief program.

Prior to becoming a caregiver to her husband who served for 23 years in the U.S. Army, Shawn served as a police officer for nearly 15 years with Kansas City, Missouri. She then obtained a Master of Social Work degree from Park University and is a Licensed Master Social Worker in both Missouri and Kansas. Prior to joining the Foundation, Shawn founded Caregivers on the Homefront where she stood up for mental health programming for veteran and military caregivers and their children.

Shawn is passionate about advocating for military and veteran caregivers and utilizes both her lived experience and education by presenting to national audiences on how communities can best support the family members of our veterans.

A Caregiver's Journey

SHOWTIME SHAWN PORTER

Former Two-time World Champion Boxer

Shawn Christian Porter is an American professional boxer. As a stand out amateur boxer, he represented the US on multiple world teams. He was a 2007 Pan-American Team Member, as well a 2008 Olympic Team Member. He is a former two-time welterweight world champion, having held the IBF title and the WBC title. He is particularly known for his aggressive pressure fighting style, physical strength and high work rate.

Outside of the boxing ring, Shawn has a young flourishing career as a boxing analyst and ringside commentator, working on multiple networks (FOX and NBC) and other platforms. He created The PorterWay Podcast in 2020 with two of his best friends and it is rapidly growing to become one of the best boxing podcast around. Shawn Porter is heavily involved with the Las Vegas community and has stated “God gave me a heart to help and after boxing that’s what I intend to do… HELP”.

Beating the Odds

ANNA SHINODA

Author

Anna Shinoda was raised in a mountain town so small it lacked a stoplight. She used to escape into the high branches of trees to read and dream of stories, out of reach from her own family skeleton. Eventually she climbed down with her debut novel, Learning Not to Drown, a story about a young girl who struggles to preserve her own identity amidst a chaotic, dysfunctional family unit.

Anna married musician Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park in 2003 and has led efforts with the band’s non-profit, Music For Relief, in the U.S. and abroad.

As a mental health advocate, before becoming an Ambassador she served as a senior advisor to Give an Hour for the Books Change Direction initiative, a campaign that strives to inspire responsible representation of mental health and illness in stories.

Books Change Direction

ALLEN SIMMONS

Author and Motivational Speaker

Allen Levi Simmons is a U.S. Marine Corps Combat Veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a survivor of a rocket propelled grenade blast. Allen is using his battle with PTS and suicidal thoughts to inspire and encourage survivors of trauma to live a purposeful life.

Allen’s published collection of poems titled Can I Speak? tells of stories from the lives of characters who face different adversities. He has evoked empathy and has inspired his readers to reflect on their own unique story. His motto has moved the hearts of those who desire motivation as they journey through life; it is a lifestyle and a mindset. “Never Stop, Never Quit, Repeat!”

Allen is the Founder of Live N Love Incorporate, Persist Motivational Clothing Co., Brunch and Ties, Brunch and Heels and AllenLeviSpeaks and creator of The Purpose Pod podcast. He continues to use his podcast to inspire and educate his listeners into their purposeful life.

A Veteran's ExperienceBeating the Odds

BOB STEAD

Husband, Father and Friend

Bob Stead earned his Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Prior to earning his Master’s Bob served proudly in the United States Army as a Combat Medic.  A combination of life experience and academic endeavors have allowed Bob the ability to interact with people from all walks of life.

Bob has a unique perspective in today’s divided world in that he sees all people equally and works hard to maintain openness and honesty in all his relationships.   His passion is working with children that come from difficult places, and those struggling with trauma.  However, Bob has experience working with children, adolescents, teenagers, and adults.

Bob enjoys helping individuals overcome the myriad of conflicts they deal with in today’s ever evolving society.  Bob also has extensive training and experience in Crisis and Trauma with training in Disaster Response, Psychological First Aid, and Individual and Group Crisis Intervention.

Watch a Trauma DiscussionVolunteer Pulls Double Duty as Provider and Ambassador

Stephanie Szostak is a French-American actress you may know from the ABC hit series A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, The Devil Wears Prada or Iron Man 3 (amongst other projects). Stephanie got a late start on the acting scene and had the willingness to disrupt her life, leaving her career in the corporate world behind to seek an authentic life.

Stephanie took her first acting class when she was 29 years old. It was a theatre class in NYC. It was there that she realized acting was her passion and knew she had to do it because for the first time in her life, while pretending to be someone else, she felt more like herself than she ever had, she felt ALIVE, connected to all of herself, including pieces she’d buried a long time ago.

From being told “your career should have never happened” as her roles got bigger so did the pressure, causing her performance to be negatively affected by feelings of unworthiness and fear. This pushed her to address mindset and discover its interconnection with performance. Stephanie acts, writes, speaks and tells stories of challenges and transformation.

The 180 PlaybookA Morning Boost for Your Mind

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