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Benefit for the Brain

The 7th Annual Benefit for the Brain
November 7, 2018 | 6:00pm
Philadelphia Marriott West
Co-Chairs: Neen Davis | Abby Grasso


Benefit for the Brain highlights the need for both medical and non-medical research and services for mental illness.  The evening will begin at 6pm with a cocktail hour and silent auction, followed by a sit down dinner in which two awards will be presented: The Scientific Research Award recognizing research focused on substance use disorder and the Impact Award recognizing research outside medicine to promote recovery of persons with mental illness. The evening will conclude with silent auction winners announced and closing remarks by a guest speaker.

During the cocktail hour, we will be offering live entertainment by Jazz It Upright, Jazz trio  and caricature drawings by

Courtney is a professional caricaturist located in the Philadelphia area. 
She has been drawing caricatures professionally for over 12 years 
at events and parks. She specializes in cute, lovable caricatures that 
can make anyone smile. Have Courtney capture your face and take 
home something to treasure for many years! Click on the icon to the left for more information.



Have an item to donate for the silent auction or any questions? Please contact Ellen Roberts, Development Coordinator,


All proceeds from Benefit for the Brain will allow us to continue the important work we do for all those and their families living with mental illness.  Your support will help to fund the following programs which we offer at no cost to those in need:

Family to Family
A 12 week educational course for family members and caregivers of adults living with mental illness.

NAMI Connections
Peer run support groups for individuals living with mental illness facilitated by individuals living with mental illness

Family Support Groups
Peer run support groups for family members and caretakers of adults and children living with mental illness

In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness
A one hour presentation on the lived experience of mental illness presented to high schools and colleges, communities of faith, and trainings for police, probation and correctional officers.

Ending the Silence
An in-school presentation about mental health designed for middle and high school students to help identify the warning signs for themselves and their friends and to help raise awareness and change perceptions around mental health conditions.

Proceeds from this event will also support NAMI’s presence in the mental health community through Monthly Meetings, Awarness Events, Legislative Adocacy, and Community Partnerships.

Thank you for your support!!

Questions, contact: Ellen Roberts, Development Coordinator,


Benefit for the Brain 2017

On November 8th 2017, NAMI of PA Montgomery County hosted our 6th annual Benefit for the Brain event at the Philadelphia Marriott West.

THANK YOU to all our sponsors and to those who supported the event as an attendee, by placing an ad, donating an item, or by lending a hand!

It was a wonderful night that highlighted the need for both medical and non-medical research and services for mental illness in which we recognized the groundbreaking work done by our following awardees:

Irene Hurford, MD | PEACE Program the 2017 Impact Award Recipient

Christian Kohler, MD the 2017 Scientific Research Award Recipient

Master of Ceremonies: Lawrence A. Real, MD





Dr. Irene Hurford, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania and Project Director at PEACE (Psychosis Education, Assessment, Care and Empowerment), envisioned this innovative program to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis in Philadelphia in 2012-2013.  She began working with Philadelphia’s Community Behavioral Health to bring that vision to fruition.  Through that process a relationship was forged with Horizon House. In January 2015, PEACE, a program of Horizon House opened its doors to begin serving the Philadelphia community. PEACE serves individuals 15 years and older who have been experiencing psychosis symptoms for less than 1 year. Services include site based and mobile therapy, psychiatry, medication management, peer support, family support and education, peer groups, and supportive education and employment services. The participants we partner with are early adolescents and young adults and their families. All of our services are flexible and can be provided in the office and in the community. The program is aimed at helping people in the early stages of psychosis learn how to manage their symptoms and meet their life’s goals by offering easily accessible, effective treatment and support with a focus of resiliency and recovery.

Kneeling: Left R. Marie Wenzel, PEACE Program Director, Dr Irene Hurford, MD with PEACE Team and recent graduates


Christian Kohler, MD is the clinical director of the Schizophrenia Research Center and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kohler has been part of Penn Psychiatry for over 20 years and much of his work has focused on treatments of young persons with early psychosis. Since 2015 this effort has provided comprehensive care to young persons ages 14-30 years from the Greater Philadelphia area who have experienced symptoms for up to 2 years. The PERC program (Psychosis Evaluation and Recovery Center) is located at the at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and provides diagnostic evaluation and flexible individualized treatment for a 2-year period to pursue early recovery and progression in individual functioning. Our treatment model combines cognitive behavioral therapy with medication management, employment support, family education and intervention, and cognitive remediation. As part of the Schizophrenia Research Center, we participate in treatment studies that examine novel medications for more effective treatment of clinical symptoms and we pursue studies that examine brain functioning in psychosis.

Team photo: Dr. Kohler and part of the PERC team including Dr. Calkins, therapists Lyndsay Schmidt and LaTonya McCurry, and Bridgette Patton, clinical coordinator.


About Our Master of Ceremonies:

Dr. Larry Real has been the Chief Medical Officer of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services (DBHIDS) since July 2015.  Prior to joining DBHIDS, Dr. Real was the Medical Director of Horizon House, Inc., for five years,  after spending most of his career at the Belmont Center, formerly known as the Philadelphia Psychiatric Center,  where he served in a variety of leadership positions, including Medical Director from 1997 to 2010.  He is a past president of both the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Psychiatric Societies, and a Lifetime Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Real has been honored by his peers, by family advocates,  and by consumer groups for his career-long dedication to public service psychiatry, family advocacy and the recovery movement,  including receiving the Righteousness Award from TIKVAH/Advocates for the Jewish Mentally Ill in 2011, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Mental Health Association’s  2012 Bell of Hope Award, several Exemplary Psychiatrist Awards from local,  state and national NAMI, and later this week,  the Paul J. Fink Leadership Award from the Philadelphia Psychiatric Society.


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