Palmer Award: Finalist Spotlight, Part 2

Each year, through the Palmer Award application process, we learn about amazing LeaderShapers who are out doing good work. Earlier this month we announced the 2015 recipient, Carolina Ruggero. Now we’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the work of this year’s group of finalists. Here are two more of the six Palmer Award finalists:

Alyse Ruriani, a student from the Maryland Institute College of Art who attended Alysethe Baltimore Collegetown Network’s session of the Institute, wants “people to see the relationship between art and healing and how that can increase awareness, decrease stigma, and provide effective therapy for those who suffer from these disorders.”

In an effort to bring about this awareness and creative expression, Alyse presented an art exhibition in Baltimore. “The Unquiet Mind: A Visual Exploration of Mental Illness” featured artists’ work as well as their thoughts on mental illness and art. Also included were local and national mental health resources and reflection pages for anyone who needed to process feelings triggered by the exhibition. Additionally, the exhibit “challenged viewers to confront something so stigmatized.”

Following the show, Alyse started a chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to continue this work around art and healing.


From Carnegie Mellon University, Lily Daigle‘s experience of losing her father to a long-term illness at age 9 is what inspired her vision. She credits her ability to move through her journey of grief to a strong support system of friends and family and an experience attending a bereavement camp.

Lily wants to create a future where no child has to go through the grief process alone. She believes that all children in such circumstances deserve the chance to connect with others who are going through the same thing, helping them to realize that they are not alone. She also understands how important it is that these children deserve a chance to “just be a kid again.”

Enter Camp Kesem Carnegie Mellon. In August, Lily served as Director of the camp and worked with a team of 30 counselors and staff to host 20 campers. This opportunity was supported by the $30,000 that was raised from individual donors, fundraisers on campus, a crowd-funding campaign, and a matching grant from Highmark. The goal for next year is 40 campers and $40,000.

For a look into the experience of Camp Kesem Carnegie Mellon, check out their video:

In case you missed it, you can learn more about finalists Anastasia Ostrwoski and David Chen in this post.

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