2018 Conference

2018 #WTFix Speaker: Karen Ranus

Karen never imagined her three daughters would someday call her the “Queen of Mental Health.” Girl Scout leader, Sunday School teacher, PTA mom, community volunteer, nonprofit professional were all titles that suited her best until she almost lost her oldest daughter to suicide seven years ago.

Karen was struggling with her own feelings of blame and guilt when she took a class with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that helped the entire family see mental illness in a whole new light. As she started sharing their experience with others, she discovered how many families were also living with mental illness –isolated, shamed and often without support.In 2013, Karen took a leap of faith and now spends her days as a mental health advocate serving as NAMI Austin’s first Executive Director. She has made it a priority to educate and partner with schools, workplaces, faith communities, neighborhoods and justice systems to change the way Austin, Texas addresses mental health.