'Think Outside the Crayon Box' is the theme that sculpts Amanda’s talks and workshops. While in the psychiatric hospital, a thoughtful nurse handed Amanda a box of crayons. This small gesture was a pivotal moment in Amanda’s healing, and kickstarted her journey becoming a young leader in mental health care and documentary filmmaker. Since age 18, Amanda has been giving talks to universities, high schools, non-profits, and health care systems around the U.S.  The goal is simple: for audiences to think more deeply about mental health for themselves, and the communities they live and work in. Amanda weaves in her own personal story, tools around wellness and identity, creative exercises using crayons, and shares films she's produced featuring people's mental health stories. "I believe mental health is an 'everyone' and 'every industry' topic. - AL

Meet Amanda (3 min.)

Speaking Format:

Amanda offers virtual, in-person, or pre-recorded (example here). Topics below can be either keynote or workshop.

Talking Points & Workshops

Topic: Inside-Out: Symptoms to Superpowers

Amanda spent three months in a psychiatric hospital during college, hearing patients’ stories of struggle and triumph - including her own. She learned from the inside-out how the system works, and the role of empathy and peers in healing. She shares how hitting rock bottom showed her a way out, and motivated her to finally face her issues. While in the hospital, a thoughtful nurse handed Amanda a box of crayons. This simple gesture became a pivotal moment in Amanda’s healing and identity, and was ultimately the first step in her becoming a young leader and filmmaker in mental health care.  Amanda shares how 'the little things' can make all the difference, and the power of storytelling in self-empowerment and systems-change. In this presentation, Amanda weaves in her own personal story, creative exercises using crayons, wellness tips, and short films she's produced featuring people's mental health stories.

"I believe we're always healing from something, and fostering our wellness is a constant practice" - AL

Learning points:

  • Crafting our mental health narratives
  • Translating shame and self-stigma into growth and opportunity
  • Challenging traditional systems of care
  • Paying-it-forward

Topic: Filmmaking for Mental Health & Social Change

Amanda’s journey to becoming a filmmaker began with storyboarding patient’s stories in the psychiatric hospital. Upon discharge, Amanda began producing short films about mental health with clients around the U.S. Having now interviewed over 300 people across 80 short films, Amanda has witnessed a range of powerfully vulnerable and diverse stories. In this presentation, Amanda shares short films and behind-the-scenes of her filmmaking practices. Plus, the bigger picture of how films can be applied to digital advertising, research studies, and treatment programs. And perhaps, most importantly, how filmmaking practice can translate to everyday values in life: people want to be heard, seen, and represented.

Learning points:

  • Describe the power of narrative filmmaking in personal empowerment and systems-change
  • Identify how films can be used in research studies to evaluate stigma
  • Describe how short documentary films can be applied in digital campaigns to reach people seeking help.
  • Describe film production practices that are recovery-oriented, trauma-informed, and person-centered.

Topic: Pulling up a Seat at the Table

Amanda is aware that she stands on the shoulders of giants, and is a big believer in the power of mentorship and investing in the next generation of leaders. At the age of 19, Amanda was appointed to the board of the largest grassroots mental health nonprofit in the U.S., the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), catapulting her into navigating the politics and pressures of organizational leadership and responsibility. She shares her full circle journey from being a patient to becoming an active participant in the effort to improve systems and perceptions around mental health. Amanda challenges people to lean into their passion, and get involved in local to national leadership opportunities around topics they care about.

Learning points: 

  • Leading with passion, confidence, and humility
  • Knowing when to step up, and step down
  • Being aware of our bias and agenda

Topic: A New World: Remote Work & Finding Balance

Now more than ever, traditional workplaces and lifestyles are being disrupted and challenged. The line between 'personal and business' is more blurred, and the playbook is being written in real-time. Amanda reflects on working remotely since 2014 (after graduating from college) and the challenges and opportunities that this work/lifestyle present. From navigating loneliness, to figuring out home office setups - everyone's setup and feelings will be different. In this presentation, Amanda shares lessons-learned working remotely for over seven years, the role of mental health, and the latest surveys on the remote economy.  Amanda also challenges people to think about life outside of work. What activities relieve stress and foster wellness? As alternative work/lifestyles emerge and shape, Amanda believes that peer-to-peer sharing and feedback is more critical than ever.

Learning points: 

  • Navigating loneliness and isolation
  • Finding balance and community
  • Investing in "off the grid" activities

Amanda has spoken at

Amanda in action at...


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