Mental illness advocate, speaker to visit Springfield on March 20

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., March 13, 2017 — Drury University and NAMI Southwest Missouri are partnering to bring speaker Joan Becker to Springfield next week. Becker will share her family’s gut-wrenching story about finding help for their son, Mark, whose struggle with paranoid schizophrenia led to a loss of life that made national headlines.

Becker will speak at 7 p.m., Monday, March 20 at the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library, 2214 Brentwood Boulevard.


Becker speaks regularly to colleges, churches, NAMI groups, and mental health providers. In 2015, she published a book about her family’s experience with mental illness titled “Sentenced to Life: Mental Illness, Tragedy and Transformation.” The mother of five was thrust into the national spotlight when Mark took the life of a beloved local football coach. The coach, Ed Thomas, was known across the country. The story was covered by ESPN and other national media. A 10-minute documentary about incident aired as part of the 2010 ESPY Awards.

Though she will cover a range of topics related to mental illness awareness, Becker will emphasize how challenging the process of attempting to secure care can be for both the individual and their family.

Becker will be available for one-on-one media interviews Monday just prior to the speaking event. Contact Ed Derr, Director of Counseling, Disability Services and Testing, to make interview arrangements: (417) 873-7457 or


Health & social entrepreneur Mark Arnoldy speaks at Drury on March 6

Drury University’s 2013-2014 Theme Year series, The Morality of Wellness: Why Good Health is Everyone’s Responsibility, will resume this week with guest speaker Mark Arnoldy, executive director of Nyaya Health. Nyaya Health works to deliver transparent, data-driven health care for Nepal’s rural poor.

Arnoldy will speak at 11 a.m., Thursday, Mar. 6 in Clara Thompson Hall. His presentation is entitled, “Creating Health for the World’s Poorest.”

Arnoldy became passionate about building health systems for the world’s poorest after his first trip to Nepal, where he suffered from a severe allergic reaction and did not have access to adequate care. A lack of health care is a reality for millions of Nepalis. Nyaya Health is committed to providing health care systems for Nepalis where they can receive high-quality and responsive care. Today, the organization has treated more than 101,000 patients, employs over 155 Nepali employees, and has received more than $1 million dollars of investment. Arnoldy also advised the creation of two blended value businesses in the United States that fund programs in Nepal — Nut-rients Foundation and Springfield-based 5 Pound Apparel.

Arnoldy graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder, completed Harvard’s Global Health Effectiveness Program, and was a Fulbright Scholar to Nepal. He is also a 2014 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur.

Drury’s Theme Year series of speakers and events explores the moral obligation to be a well citizen and the economic impact of lifestyle choices. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more details about speakers visit