Photo by Jerm Cohen

diana [at] letterstostrangers.org

Diana Chao

Founder & Executive Director

When I was younger, I was depressed, bipolar, turning sugar to salt or maybe poison. I wanted so desperately for someone to understand me, but especially as a teenager, how do you talk to people about pain without fear? So 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 honors, the We Are Family Foundation named me a Global Teen Leader for this effort in 2017, I am the youngest winner of the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award, the only American winner of the 2019 Global Changemakers, the 2019 NAMI Young Leader Award winner, and I gave a TEDxTeen speech at the Playstation Theater in Times Square to a standing ovation.

 

And that sounds nice. Feels nice. But I am thoroughly unsatisfied. I nearly lost myself. And more people, all over the world, face this crisis alone. 

This is why I fight. Writing is humanity distilled into ink, and 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 volunteer for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Lifeline Crisis Chat.

I fight because I can't bear it otherwise.

Garrett Gomez

Director of Communications & Public Affairs

The name is Garrett Gomez, eclectic is my middle name, although erudite is a close second - but Thomas is the reality. I’m a writer from California who is engaged in music, story telling, and creative content while operations and building relationships are my strong suits. You can find me advocating for enhanced mental health programs with Letters to Strangers and can even watch a TEDx talk I gave on mental health awareness here

Helen Chen

Director of Social Media

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. Currently, I’m at 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!

hchen [at] letterstostrangers.org

Clayton Becker

Learning & Education 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 splitting my time between New York and California as part of the Columbia University class of 2020, 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

Aayush Gandhi

Contributor

Hi, my name is Aayush Gandhi! I’m a student and a prolific writer. Writing has always been my passion since I was a child. I’ve written several articles for L2S, along with an online book. In my free time, I write poems and fantasy stories. My current project is to create a poem done completely in ASL. Mental health has also been one of my biggest interests, with it being the focus of several poems. I truly believe that the world needs to be more aware of the stigma surrounding mental health issues and take steps to treat mental health disorders the same way they would treat a physical injury.

Technology gives long-lasting gratification. My name’s Roark Chao, and I’m a sucker for anything spanning from computer hardware to crustaceans. Using the internet, I’ve been able to socialize with people from around the globe, and in doing so, I’ve been exposed to various perspectives. Yet, one common theme exists: there is a lack of mental health awareness. I joined Letters to Strangers to try to change this, but my role has evolved far past that. As the glorified tech support, I’m resolving technical issues ranging from uninstalled drivers to physical computer hardware. Regardless, my overarching goal is to help destigmatize mental health through a combination of physical letters and technology. 

 

roark [at] letterstostrangers.org

Roark Chao

Chief Technology Officer

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