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A Perspective from the Consumer and Caregiver-Real Life Experiences

Karen Sheffres and Ellen Frudakis

Karen McClurg Sheffres was born in Michigan and spent her childhood in Colorado. She attended Colorado State University where she obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and has enjoyed working as a small animal veterinarian for 24 years. Her oldest son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of seven. Karen has spent the last 10 years helping him learn to live with his illness. This experience has made her determined to do her part in improving the lives of those who suffer from bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Karen is passionate about reducing the stigma associated with mental illness through public education. She served on an advisory board for Special Education where she developed a parent education program and advocated for students with mental illnesses. Karen is one of the founding members of International Bipolar Foundation 

Ellen Frudakis was born in Northern California and raised in the foothills of Nevada County California. In 2004 she co-founded Impact Young Adults (IYA), a nonprofit organization that provides social activities and leadership development for young adults with mental illness. A previous member of the Consumer Advisory Board, Ellen now serves on the Executive Board of the International Bipolar Foundation. Ellen is also the recipient of the International Bipolar Foundation's prestigious Imagine award. Ellen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2005, graduating with honors and earning the Student Humanics award for representing the very principles of this degree program and recently received her Masters of Arts Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management at the University of San Diego.