Kennedy Forum Illinois’ Executive Director Kelly O’Brien to step down in summer 2018
March 22, 2018

Executive Director of The Kennedy Forum Illinois, Kelly O’Brien, has announced she will step down from her post this summer. The Illinois Forum was founded in 2014, and under her leadership has grown quickly into a sustainable force for change.

The Kennedy Forum Illinois is a leadership initiative working to combat stigma and end discrimination against those with mental health and addiction challenges. The organization, founded by Illinois civic leader Peter O’Brien, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, the Civic Federation’s Laurence Msall, and Threshold’s CEO Mark Ishaug among others, is part of a broader national advocacy platform led by former U.S. Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

“Kelly’s mark on this organization is indelible,” said Peter O’Brien, Chairman of The Kennedy Forum Illinois’ Board. “She took an idea, and along with the Board and Leadership Council, grew it into a movement that has truly changed the conversation in our state. She leaves us in very good stead.”

In four short years, The Kennedy Forum Illinois has convened, educated and mobilized thousands across the state through its annual meetings, On the Table collaboration, community outreach mental health crisis training, and Mind Matters speaker series. The Forum leads significant policy advocacy in the state, working with public officials to improve access to mental health and addiction services by advancing parity, ending discrimination and removing barriers to treatment.

“Working with this incredible group of state and national civic leaders to create something meaningful and effective has been a privilege,” said Kelly O’Brien. “Together with them, building The Kennedy Forum Illinois has been one of the most gratifying and joyful endeavors of my professional life and I am proud of all we have accomplished.”

The board of directors has launched a search to fill Kelly O’Brien’s role. Interested applicants should visit  for more information about the position and how to apply.

Kelly O’Brien said her departure mid-year leaves time to search and transition to new leadership. “I have every intention of continuing The Kennedy Forum’s fight for mental health and addiction equity from other vantage points,”  Kelly said. “This is personal.”