Paul M. Piwko

Paul is a co-developer of the National Museum of Mental Health Project and teaches in the Grenon School of Business at Assumption University. Paul’s professional background includes new product development experience for companies such as Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. He co-presented the concept for a National Museum of Mental Health at the 2018 annual conferences of the New England Psychological Association and the New England Museum Association. Paul’s editorials on exhibitions about mental health have appeared in the Des Moines Register, Omaha World-Herald, and other outlets in the U.S. and Canada. A past advocate for NAMI’s CEOs Against Stigma, Paul’s lived experience with depression adds dimension and passion to his work. 

Who is someone you have met that inspires you?

There are so many. I think often about Vera Harris of Montgomery, Alabama, a true “everyday hero.” Vera was one of the first responders the night Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home was bombed. Her family sheltered the Freedom Riders after they were attacked by an angry mob. Vera’s husband owned a pharmacy that during the Montgomery Bus Boycott served as a nerve center for vehicle owners to drive those who needed transportation to work or shopping. I recall Vera as humble, full of joy, and a woman of great faith. Her daughter, Valda Harris Montgomery, wrote these words to me which have inspired my work on the National Museum of Mental Health Project – “Always remember, movement creates change.” I believe these words are true when it comes to mental health. I see those who lend their names, faces, and stories to mental health exhibitions are everyday heroes.