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Diana Chao

diana [at] letterstostrangers.org

Diana Chao

Founder & Executive Director

I'm a 24-year-old first-generation Buyi Chinese-American immigrant from Southern California, a huge matcha fan, and an absolute chaotic good on the alignment chart. I grew up with bipolar disorder and c-PTSD and didn't believe I deserved the air I breathed. After surviving a series of suicide attempts, I found healing from an unexpected source: writing. In writing letters to strangers, I realized that I wasn't alone - I never was alone. And you aren't, either. So as a sophomore in high school, I founded Letters to Strangers, which has since grown into a global youth-run organization that seeks to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment. Among many other generous opportunities, I've been honored by two U.S. presidents at the White House, Princess Diana Awards as a 2021 Legacy Award  Winner, L'Oréal Paris as a 2020 Women of Worth, Oprah Magazine as its 2019 Health Hero, the We Are Family Foundation as a Global Teen Leader in 2017, the youngest-ever winner of the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award, and I gave a TEDxTeen speech at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square to a standing ovation. I also used to volunteer for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Lifeline Crisis Chat.

 

All of this has taught me that if we all had second chances, perhaps our lives would be so different. But not all of us are lucky enough to get a second chance. 

This is why I fight. I know personally that when all you understand is emptiness, one letter--one human connection--can save a life. Mental health matters; mental health is personal. I fight because I can't bear it otherwise.

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hchen [at] letterstostrangers.org

Helen Chen

Chief Content Officer

Hello! My name is Helen and I’m from New York City! I love and miss my home so much, it has been such a big factor on my self growth and sense of individuality. I'm Princeton University Class of 2022. I was initially intrigued by the letter writing process provided by Letters to Strangers, but upon joining, I’ve come to learn that L2S is a lot more than the regular letters that I’ve previously written. I’ve honestly learned so much from being a part of this organization and it has supported me in ways that were very much necessary during my rough first year at college. I currently manage Letters to Strangers’s social media pages and I hope that through the process, I’ll be able to help us develop a more unique and individual style on our pages. I also hope to become more active on the mental health scene and in particular, I am looking to spread what L2S really means!

Clayton Becker

Chief Learning Officer

Younger generations always seem to get a bad rep. It often feels like the elder adults in our life don't really understand what we're going through, as though they've forgotten what it was like to be young and to deal with the 'less valid, less real' struggles that come at you as a young adult. At Letters to Strangers, it is my mission to make sure that people of all ages have someone, some resources, something to turn to that they feel actually gets it. Currently a PhD student in the Political Science department at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), I am committed to getting people the best information that addresses the multifaceted world we live in. There is no one size fits all when it comes to mental health, and I want nothing more than to help Letters to Strangers stay in the vanguard of the movement to make that clear to everyone and anyone.

clayton [at] letterstostrangers.org

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Pearl Lee

Chief Programs Officer

Hi! My name is Pearl and I am very excited to be a part of Letters to Strangers as the volunteer coordinator. I once read an article titled “The Best Way To Save People From Suicide” in which some patients stated that during times of despair, their greatest solace came from letters through either family or even strangers. The study truly intrigued me as I didn’t know how much letters could help a person. Seeing how letters could communicate a sense of kinship, I decided to look more into it, and there I discovered L2S! Again, I am excited to be involved with the organization and its mission!

pearl [at] letterstostrangers.org

Pearl Lee
Timothy Liyada

timothy [at] letterstostrangers.org

Timothy Liyada

Communications Manager

I'm Timothy Liyada, a passionate mental health advocate from Malawi. My journey is grounded in the belief that to change the world, we must first embody that change. Witnessing how mental health impacts youth in my homeland has ignited my commitment to empowering them. With a background in arts and technology, I bridge creativity and innovation to foster open dialogues on mental health.

 

As the Co-Communications Manager at Letters to Strangers, I collaborate with content creators, ensuring their voices reach the world through the "Lessons from Strangers" magazine. My role extends to devising impactful communication strategies for mental health education, spanning social media, websites, and print media. Let's join forces and create a world where mental well-being thrives. Together, we can be catalysts for lasting change.

Charlin Hiram Nhemachena

hiram [at] letterstostrangers.org

Charlin Hiram Nhemachena

Regional Ambassador

I was born and raised in the high density areas of Harare, (they call it the ghetto), in Zimbabwe. "Ghetto" life isn't really an easy stroll, but I managed to chase the things I love and I still am. I graduated at the University of Zimbabwe in 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. I'm an avid mental health activist and currently the regional ambassador to Southern Africa for Letters to Strangers, a position that I feel so much honour to take part in as a youth coming from the "ghetto". Being part of such a big movement like L2S fulfills my dreams of being part of a global youth-led initiative that advocates for mental health awareness.

I'm also a youth community engagement advocate who believes in development that is centered around marginalized peoples hence leaving no one behind. I like enjoying myself in this life and making the most out of it. So yes call me when you have a party :)

Libby Loftin

Education Intern

Hello! My name is Libby and I'm originally from Nashville, Tennessee. Currently, I attend Chapman University in California, where I am studying psychology and integrated educational studies. For my future career, I plan to work with youth as a clinical psychologist specializing in trauma. Because everyone has their own unique story, identity, and lived experiences, I believe it is important for people to feel heard, represented, understood, supported, and validated. As I overcame obstacles in my own life, I became incredibly passionate about increasing awareness and understanding when it comes to mental health. That is why I am thrilled to be the education intern for Letters to Strangers! I have really enjoyed working on various education initiatives, ensuring that youth all over the world have access to mental health resources and other valuable information. 

libby [at] letterstostrangers.org

Libby Loftin

Thuyanh Vo

Development Intern

Hi all! My name is Thuyanh (or Tweety) and I’m from Florida. Being raised here as opened my eyes to a lot of the mental health struggles in my community. From being a patient care ambassador in my hospital to volunteering to help provide clothes for low-income teens to being a Samaritan helpline volunteer, they are all experiences that have positively shaped me. I am a passionate mental health advocate and in the future, I hope to pursue a career of a psychiatric nurse. In my free time, I love to travel and be active (running and basketball). Currently I have been to California, New York, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and the Bahamas. 

 

As a part of L2S, I promote the organization’s wonderful work and execute marketing strategies to increase outreach. I am so proud of what we have done in youth mental health advocacy and cheers to more to come! 

thuyanh [at] letterstostrangers.org

Thuyanh Vo
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josie [at] letterstostrangers.org

Josie Lau

Research Assistant

This is Josie from Hong Kong! Growing up, mental health was a distant and often overlooked concept in my childhood. It wasn’t until I immersed myself in international studies and work experiences that I grasped the significance of a strong social network and coping strategies in navigating emotions and stress. With a background in psychology, I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. focused on advancing researchers’ analytical approaches to evaluating the effectiveness of anxiety prevention interventions. I look forward to sharing that L2S has proven effectiveness in fostering mental wellbeing for all! 

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