Our Honorees

Join us for an inspirational evening as we highlight and honor heroes who are making a positive and measurable impact in our community:

Xavier Becerra

Mental Health Advocate of the Year, Public Policy

Xavier Becerra is the 25th Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the first Latino to hold the office in the history of the United States. As Secretary, he will carry out President Biden’s vision to build a healthy America, and his work will focus on ensuring that all Americans have health security and access to healthcare. Throughout his career, the Secretary has made it his priority to ensure that Americans have access to the affordable healthcare they need to survive and thrive – from his early days as a legal advocate representing individuals with mental illness, to his role as the Attorney General of the state of California.

Secretary Becerra served 12 terms in Congress as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During his tenure, he was the first Latino to serve as a member of the powerful Committee on Ways and Means, he served as Chairman of his party’s caucus, and as the Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health.

Vivek Murthy, MD

Mental Health Advocate of the Year, Public Service

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2021 to serve as the 21st Surgeon General of the United States. He previously served as the 19th Surgeon General under President Obama. As the Nation’s Doctor, the Surgeon General’s mission is to help lay the foundation for a healthier country, relying on the best scientific information available to provide clear, consistent, and equitable guidance and resources for the public. As the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy commands a uniformed service of over 6,000 dedicated public health officers, serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations. He is also the host of House Calls with Dr. Vivek Murthy, a podcast highlighting the healing power of conversations. The first Surgeon General of Indian descent, Dr. Murthy was raised in Miami and is a graduate of Harvard, the Yale School of Medicine, and the Yale School of Management. A renowned physician, research scientist, entrepreneur, and author, he lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Dr. Alice Chen, and their two children.

Kita S. Curry, PhD

Mental Health Advocate of the Year, Lifetime Achievement

Dr. Kita Shantiris Curry joined Didi Hirsch in 1994 and became President/CEO in 1999. Didi Hirsch grew significantly under her leadership, preserving and increasing services in communities where stigma or poverty limits access.  She retired in 2020, after Didi Hirsch’s successful $20 million capital campaign for its Suicide Prevention Center.   

A passionate advocate, Kita testified at all levels of government, receiving appointments to the LA County Mental Health Commission, CA Committees on Stigma and Suicide, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Steering Committee.  Board Chair of the Association of Community Human Services Agencies (ACHSA) and CA Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA), she also served on the Board of the National Council for Behavioral Health. Erasing stigma is a professional and personal cause. Depression has affected Kita and many relatives, including three who died by suicide. In countless presentations and interviews, she shared her professional expertise and personal story with reporters from as far away as Korea and Finland.

Kita’s many honors include a Heroes in the Fight Award from NAMI Urban LA, LA Child Guidance Clinic’s Building Hope for Families Award; LA City Council Pioneer Woman of the Year; and a Words to Deed Paradigm Award from the CA Forensic Mental Health Association. In 2020, Kita received the Rusty Selix Award from CBA shortly after the renowned advocate’s death. An award-winning poet known as Kita Shantiris, her book What Snakes Want was published by Mayapple Press in 2015.

Michelle Esrick

Mental Health Advocate of the Year, Documentary Arts

Michelle Esrick is an award-winning Director, Producer, Activist, and Trauma, Addiction and Recovery Awareness Advocate.  Her critically acclaimed film, Cracked Up, reveals the impact of childhood trauma through the story of SNL Legend Darrell Hammond.  Michelle, along with Hammond, made her way to the nation’s Captial where they screened Cracked Up for members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Michelle is proud to have played a role in the adding of nine provisions for trauma-informed care to the Support for Patients and Communities Act which was signed into law. Michelle created a powerful and inspiring virtual series called Cracked Up, The Evolving Conversation which candidly explores the many different manifestations of childhood trauma and its long-term effects, as well as how we recover ourselves, help others, and change systems to better serve our communities. Michelle has featured leaders in the field of trauma and luminaries such as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Gabor Maté, Dr. Jacob Ham, Jane Stevens, Lyn Morris, Darrell Hammond, Jane Fonda, V (formerly known as Eve Ensler), and others. For more on Michelle and Cracked Up, visit www.crackedupmovie.com/michelle-bio.

Darrell Hammond

Mental Health Advocate of the Year, Documentary Arts

Darrell Hammond is the second longest running cast member and current announcer on Saturday Night Live. Washington Post critic Tom Shales notably commented in regard to his famous impressions including Bill Clinton, Sean Connery, and Donald Trump “Darrell Hammond is one part genius, and one part, well, genius.”

In addition to his SNL appearances, Hammond has been seen in a number of feature films and television shows including the TBS comedy series Are We There Yet?, the acclaimed F/X series Damages, Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Law and Order Criminal Intent, 3rd Rock from the Sun, most recently Criminal Minds on CBS, and countless others. Some of his feature films include Weiners, Warner Bros’ New York Minute, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 5, Agent Cody Banks, Epic Movie, and most recently the films Cora Bora with Megan Stalter and Jerry Seinfeld’s film Unfrosted on Netflix.

Darrell is the author of the critically acclaimed and New York Times Best seller, God If You’re Not Up There, I’m F***ed, which was released to rave reviews. The documentary about this book, Cracked Up: The Darrell Hammond Story, trended on Netflix for 2 years and was translated into 5 languages.

Darrell is classically trained in theater and has performed on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and continues to move audiences with his comedy, performing in comedy clubs and theaters nationwide.

Dave Navarro

Mental Health Advocate of the Year, Music Arts

David (Dave) Michael Navarro is a highly acclaimed guitarist, Los Angeles Times best-selling author, filmmaker, artist and mental health advocate from Santa Monica, CA. Dubbed as one of the “last great guitarists” and “one of alternative rock’s first true guitar heroes,” Navarro has led a prolific musical career with renowned bands such as Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

As a vocal mental health advocate, Navarro destigmatizes mental health by sharing his struggles and encouraging others to reach out for help. Navarro’s 2004 best-selling book Don’t Try this at Home and 2015 documentary Mourning Son details the childhood trauma he endured following the murder of his mother and his subsequent battle with drug addiction, depression and suicidal ideation. Finding help and a support system has been lifechanging and remains a source of strength for Navarro who continues to use music and art as conduits for healing and building community.

In 2018, Navarro co-launched Above Ground, an annual benefit concert for mental health awareness and suicide prevention and in 2021, he co-founded Duel Diagnosis, an art collaboration project that amplifies the conversation about mental health issues. Through his long-standing advocacy and partnership with organizations like Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Navarro uses his voice to connect others to the lifesaving support they may need.

Melissa Rivers


Melissa Rivers is an author, entertainment journalist, award-winning producer and suicide prevention advocate. She joined Didi Hirsch’s Board of Directors in January 2019.

Author of The New York Times bestseller The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation, Melissa starred opposite her mother for four seasons of WE TV’s hit series, Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? As the Executive Producer and Co-Host of E!’s Fashion Police, she entertained viewers with her candor, wit and eye for fashion, which she honed covering the red carpet for TV Guide and E!.

In 2016, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services honored Melissa with the Beatrice Stern Media Award for her openness about the suicide of her father, television producer Edgar Rosenberg, and her passionate efforts to raise suicide prevention awareness among youth and college students. She also emceed our 2017 and 2019 Erasing the Stigma Awards. Melissa currently serves as Executive Vice Chair on Didi Hirsch’s Board of Directors.

Scroll to Top