Need to change the corporate culture.
Jennifer Pepin was born to an attorney and ballerina and discovered a passion for both art and business. After graduating from University of Southern California, she worked in sales and marketing for the food and beverage industry. During that time, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While she was figuring out what it meant for her life, she discovered the lack of understanding within the companies she worked for. Although accommodations may be made for someone with a physical ailment her new diagnosis gave her a label that companies did not support. She was faced with a lack of compassion that eventually drove her out of the corporate world to open her own business fighting the stigma she faced.
Located in Portland OR, she opened J. Pepin Art Gallery. The gallery features artists, including herself, that are living with a mental illness. It is reframing the perception of mental illness by exhibiting the work of professional artists alongside stories of their creative journey. She has been awarded the “Pathfinder Award” by National Alliance of Mental Illness Multnomah and the “Mental Health Hero” Award by Trillium Family Services, as well as been featured in news stories for her work to fight stigma. Jennifer is the winner of ASHA International’s 2017 Hope Bringer Award.
Jennifer says: “After personally experiencing prejudice and realizing the stigma that came with my diagnosis, I want to reframe how people think about mental health. Had the companies I worked for better understood mental health, they could have created a supportive environment that would have enabled me to continue on the successful career path I had. In addition, I want to provide hope to people living with a mental health condition as well as their friends, family, and employers. I want to represent someone who is living with a mental health condition in a healthy and productive way.”