In 2002, Laura Lawless won the title of Miss Arizona 2002 and became a top 15 semi-finalist at the 2003 Miss America competition. But Lawless considers her greatest achievement adapting to and accepting her own experiences as an individual living with a mental illness. Since June 2002, she has traveled over 200,000 miles coast-to-coast in a nationwide speaking campaign educating audiences about mental health awareness, working tirelessly to put a face on the struggles faced by millions of Americans living with a mental disorder and the people who love and support them.
A Celebrity Spokesperson for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, Lawless also serves on the Boards of Directors for numerous state and national behavioral health advocacy organizations, including the Institute for Mental Health Research; notMYKid, Inc.; and Meta Services, Inc. She also contributed to President George W. Bush's New Freedom Commission for Mental Health.
In recognition of her work, Lawless was the recipient of the 2004 Institute for Mental Health Research "Hero in Women's Mental Health" Award; the 2003 National Alliance for the Mentally Ill's Purdy Award to End Discrimination Against the Mentally Ill; the 2003 Arizona Center for Disability Law's Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award; the 2003 Arizona Alliance for the Mentally Ill Advocate of the Year Award; and the 2003 Toastmasters International Communications and Leadership Award. Her advocacy has been featured in People magazine, Woman's World magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, CNN, in nationwide Public Service Announcement campaigns, and scholarly articles and book chapters published on the subject of psychiatric recovery education. She continues to lobby for mental health reform before state and national legislative bodies while serving as a motivational speaker for the psychiatric recovery movement. She was also recently named to the 2006 Business Journal of Phoenix "Forty under 40" list.
Currently Lawless is an attorney practicing labor and employment law at Squire Patton Boggs in Pheonix, AZ.
In May 2005, she graduated magna cum laude from the Arizona State University College of Law; joined the national legal honor society, The Order of the Coif; and received distinction as a Pedrick Scholar in mental health law and public policy. This followed her June 2000 graduation, cum laude, in psychopathology from Harvard University. She has recently published several articles related to sexual harassment avoidance and wage-and-hour law compliance and enjoys assisting management in statutory and regulatory compliance.
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