Dior is an award-winning mental health activist with over 10 years of experience in advocacy. She specializes in working with universities and corporations to discuss self-care advocacy, wellness accessibility, diversity within mental health, and related topics.
Her personal story and policy expertise inspire others to passionately engage in normalizing conversations around mental health. Additionally, she provides organizational consulting in the creation of actionable roadmaps to increase employee productivity through organized mental health support.
Dior identifies as a Queer Latina Feminist Mental Health Advocate. She was one of President Obama’s Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations recipients, is the creator of the “People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project” which she later turned into a book, and has served – and is currently serving- as a counselor through various hotlines and programs for individuals experiencing mental health change.
-Dior Vargas, Queer Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist
Disability Rights Iowa is honored to host in partnership with 25 Co-Sponsors, its first Annual Hybrid Event Celebrating National Mental Health Awareness Month. We invite all of Iowa as well as those beyond to join us for a personal, impactful and life-altering conversation with Dior Vargas.
This event will be recorded and posted on our Youtube account following the completion of the event for anyone interested in participating who cannot attend during the allotted time.
If you or a loved one are experiencing a life-threatening mental health crisis please call 911. If you or a loved one are experiencing a non-life-threatening mental health crisis please reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, prestamos Servicios en Español 1-888-628-9454, for deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing loss dial 711 followed by 1-800-273-8255.
This event would not have been possible without the diverse group of community partners who contributed financially and through in-kind donations to this event. We have 25 co-sponsors for this event. Their generosity, commitment, excitement, and passion for this important conversation on mental health is unmatched. With our co-sponsors support and partnership we are proud to offer Dior Vargas’s keynote in a variety of formats including an in-person experience, community satellite viewing experiences, and a live streamed online experience. Their partnership has ensured access was made available statewide. Disability Rights Iowa is grateful for the opportunity to grow our community through this event.
Jill Wells from Jill Wells Art created this wonderful logo for our Mental Health Awareness Event. The logo is an incomplete circle hat holds more weight on the bottom right side of the circle. The circle is broken on the top left side leaving room for a single butterfly in mid flight flying out of the circle. The butterfly’s wing has a simple decoration of a circle drawn on its wing. The image is in black and white.
National Mental Health Awareness Month Celebration
May 10th 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Dior will share with us her personal journey of growing up at the intersection of being a Queer Latina Feminist experiencing mental health symptoms without fully understanding her symptoms, and navigating her symptoms in her community that did not understand or accept her mental health symptoms. Dior will speak about the impact not being accepted or including in her community had on her mental health and her life. Dior will share what she learn through her personal experiences regarding her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act as a person with mental health diagnosis. Dior will also talk about how learning that her mental health diagnosis is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act ADA, changed and empowered her life, her work, and her mental health advocacy.
Participate in the Event
Registration to this event has now closed. If you would like to participate with the content of this event, the livestream is linked below in both english and spanish with captions and ASL.
This event will be a hybrid – in-person and virtual – celebration to ensure all Iowans have access to our event.
Dior will be speaking in person in Des Moines, Iowa with Disability Rights Iowa staff present. ASL and CART will be provided in the room CART will be provided in english and spanish. There will also be a live spoken language interpretation provided in spanish.
There will be satellite viewings of the livestream across Iowa. The locations will be:
Location: Polk County River Place
2309 Euclid Ave, Des Moines, IA 50310
Contact: email@example.com | 515-452-0757
Language: English, Spanish, ASL
Location: Sioux City Public Museum
607 4th St, Sioux City, IA 51101
Language: English, ASL
Location: Muse Norris Conference Center, NIACC
500 College Dr, Mason City, IA 50401
Language: English, ASL
Location: Hillcrest Family Services, Fellowship Hall
2005 Asbury Rd, Dubuque, IA 52001
Language: English, ASL
Location: Davenport Area Office, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services
3827 W. Locust St., Davenport, IA 52804
Language: English, ASL
Location: Fairfield Public Library
104 W Adams Ave, Fairfield, IA 52556
Language: English, ASL
Location: Council Bluffs Public Library
400 Willow Ave, Council Bluffs, IA 51503
Language: English, ASL
Satellite locations will host a reflection with staff and audience members after the livestream ends for those interested in participating.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all events hosted by Disability Rights Iowa. Communication Across Real Time Translation (CART) in English and Spanish, and American Sign Language will be provided for this event. Additionally, English-Spanish Spoken Language Translation will be provided. If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please email or call firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-452-0757 prior to May 2nd at 5pm.
ASL and CART are being provided by Deaf Services Unlimited.
Live Spanish Translation is being provided by EDITA.
Co-Sponsors and Resources
Children’s Rights Clinic – Drake Law School
The Children’s Rights Clinic is a semester-long course in which students have the opportunity to engage in children’s rights advocacy, including direct representation of children in administrative, school disciplinary, and juvenile court proceedings. Under the supervision of a faculty member, students will be responsible for all aspects of representing their clients, including interviewing and counseling clients, engaging in fact investigation, conducting legal research, negotiating with the opposing party, drafting litigation documents, and appearing in juvenile court or other adjudicative bodies.
Additionally, students will participate in a community education project or support an advocacy effort aimed at improving outcomes for children.
Through case rounds, a mandatory weekly seminar, and their case and project work, clinic students learn to work collaboratively, practice self-regulated learning and self-reflection, synthesize facts and legal principles, and develop transferrable lawyering skills. Students who successfully complete their first semester may take a second semester of clinic with faculty permission.
City Manager’s Office at the City of Sioux City
The mission of the Inclusive Sioux City Advisory Committee is to advise the Mayor and City Council on equity and inclusion strategies that strengthen connections among diverse communities living and working in Sioux City and with the city government and members of the Sioux City Business and non-profit communities. The goal of this work is to create more equitable outcomes for the people who live and work in our community.
Deaf Services Unlimited
At Deaf Services Unlimited, we’re all about connecting people. Facilitating communication between Deaf people and hearing people is our business… and nobody does it better!
We understand you want the process to be hassle-free and uncomplicated. With DSU, you’ll get nothing less. Scheduling an interpreter through DSU is as simple as a phone call or click of the mouse.
Disabilities Resource Center
Disabilities Resource Center of Siouxland (DRC) is a non-profit, non-residential, consumer-driven organization committed to providing and increasing consumer designed services and community awareness regarding disabilities.
We offer five core services of Advocacy, Peer Support, Information and Referral, Independent Living Skills Training, and Independent Living Transitional Services. We provided skills training in the areas of self-advocacy, assistive devices, socialization, healthcare, homemaking, and computers. We can provide you with the latest information on initiatives for persons with disabilities throughout the state. We can match you with others who have similar disabilities so that you can share common experiences and support each other in everyday problem solving and goal reaching victories.
Three Rivers Independent Living, Inc was one of 8 Centers for Independent Living in Iowa that were created because of the Federal Rehabilitation Act. We started in Sioux City in 1985. All Centers are consumer-driven organizations committed to providing consumer designed services and community awareness regarding disabilities. Today there are only 6 Centers in Iowa. In 2012 we changed our name to Disabilities Resource Center of Siouxland to better reflect who we are.
Discover U is about becoming the best version of yourself. Whether you are seeking your high school equivalency diploma, or you want to enhance your life skills through a variety of interactive courses, from art to culinary and computer skills to photography— NIACC is here to help.
The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement was founded at Drake University in the spring of 2013 with two goals.
First, the institute will facilitate collaborative, high-quality, nonpartisan, multi-disciplinary public policy research and analysis dedicated to the issues that defined Senator Tom Harkin’s legislative career, including labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition.
Second, The Harkin Institute will foster active and informed citizen engagement in public decision making and public policy making through education and outreach that expands the knowledge and understanding of these issue areas among students, scholars and the public.
Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council
Iowa’s Developmental Disabilities Council was created in response to a federal law, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. The purpose of the law is to assure that people with developmental disabilities and their families help design and have access to necessary services, supports and other assistance. The DD Council is a federally funded state agency that advocates for the development of services and supports so that Iowans with developmental disabilities can make choices and take control of their lives. The Council is made up of 20+ volunteers who represent Iowans with disabilities, family members, service providers, state agencies and organizations concerned with developmental disability issues.
The DD Council promotes the development of a coordinated system of services and supports that provide opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to be independent, productive, integrated and included in their communities. The DD Council does this with projects and activities that:
- influence changes to laws, policies and attitudes that affect supports and services used by Iowans with developmental disabilities
- build the ability of Iowans with disabilities to make choices and have control over their lives; and/or build the capacity of communities to create welcoming accommodations for people with developmental disabilities
- assist Iowans with developmental disabilities to be advocates and leaders involved in the decision-making processes that affect them.
To create change with and for persons with developmental disabilities so they can live, work, learn and play in the community of their choosing.
Iowans with disabilities and their families are fully included in communities of their choice.
Iowa Healthiest State
The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.
It’s an ambitious goal, and we can’t do it without your help.
Take part in our programs, join us at one of our events or share our resources with others. Together, we can inspire Iowans and show the rest of the nation the road to wellness.
Iowa Safe Schools
The mission of Iowa Safe Schools is to provide safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ and allied youth through education, outreach, advocacy, and direct services.
All students need a safe, supportive atmosphere in which they can learn, including students that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ). Unfortunately, bullying, harassment, and discrimination against LGBTQ students occurs often in our schools. In fact, 82% of transgender youth report that they feel unsafe at school1 and 74.1% of LGBTQ students were verbally bullied in the past year because of their sexual orientation2. As these students face verbal and physical harassment, educators, policy makers, parents, and other students are often hampered by the lack of quality information and resources to protect LGBTQ students.
Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Iowa VR is an employment program for individuals who experience a disability. We focus on service delivery that assists individuals to prepare for, obtain, retain, and advance in employment. For those who have been determined eligible, it is an individualized program that delivers employment services based on your unique individualized employment plan.
We approach what we do in collaboration with our job candidates, our business partners, our community providers, and our One Stop Core Partners. Our goal is employment for our job candidates that meets the needs and interests of our job candidates as well as the needs of our business partners. We have an increasing presence in our secondary school systems as we facilitate transition services for students with disabilities in efforts to prepare a Future Ready Iowa Workforce.
Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) is Iowa’s state vocational rehabilitation program and is a division of the Iowa Department of Education. We are a part of the state-federal vocational rehabilitation system. Each state receives funding to operate a vocational rehabilitation program(s) based on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Jill Wells Art
owa based artist Jill Wells is best known for her
dynamic and colorful narrative paintings
investigating race, history, stereotypes, accessibility
and human experiences. Born 1980, in Des Moines,
Iowa, Wells was raised in Indianola, Iowa.
She studied at Drake University (BFA 2005). An
award-winning artist, Wells has been in practice
for more than 20 years, with public and private
works in Iowa, California, Mississippi, Arizona and
New Orleans. Her artwork is represented in the
permanent collections of: The Center of Afro-
futurist Studies at Public Space One, The City of
Iowa City and The University of Iowa,
Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families,
Disability Rights Iowa, Iowa Lutheran Hospital,
The Annette Nature Center, Blank Park Zoo, Polk
County Jail (west wing) and Creative Visions
Human Development Center.
In 2021 Wells was the recipient of the Iowa Arts &
Culture Resilience Grant for the development of
her mentorship program, Artist X Advocacy [A.X.A].
Additionally in 2021, Wells was selected for ARTIST
Inc. Fellowship and was a TEDx speaker on the
powerful impact of public works of art. In 2020,
Lavender and Lime profiled Wells in an online
published portrait manifesto series, Black Lives
Matter Portrait Manifesto and gained a fellowship
in the Iowa Creative Incubator at Mainframe
Studios. Currently Jill Wells serves on the Board of
Directors for The After School Arts Program and
works as a full-time Artist.
La Cuscatleca South
La Cuscatleca is a family owned restaurant that has been serving salvadorean dishes in the Des Moines Metro Area since 2012. We take pride in offering fresh, authentic salvadorean dishes. We are famous for our pupsuas, but our many offerings are much, much more than that. Come visit us and try a little piece of El Salvador!
Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer (L.U.N.A.)
LUNA serves serves Latinx survivors across Iowa, with offices in Des Moines (Polk) and Marshalltown (Marshall), which are two of the four Iowa counties with the largest Latinx populations. L.U.N.A. was created in 1999 by a group of survivors who came together to support one another due to the lack of resources available to the Latinx community in Iowa and became incorporated in 2002. L.U.N.A.’s mission is to empower, educate, and advocate for victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community, so that they may build futures free from violence. Our core services include educational and individual one-on-one counseling, crisis intervention, personal/legal/medical advocacy, support groups, 24-hour bilingual crisis line, safety planning, community referrals, empowerment classes, and domestic violence and sexual assault training. L.U.N.A. is a one of kind program with a full bilingual and bicultural team serving approximately 1,500 men, women, and children each year. Melissa Cano Zelaya has been the Executive Director since January 2015.
Lawmark Capital is a leading commercial real estate firm headquartered in Des Moines. Our focus is on providing a custom “turn-key” solution for each of our clients that allows us to identify and secure space that perfectly matches their unique personality and culture.
Markey’s Rental & Staging
Markey’s is an innovative event technology company with a growing national footprint. We provide live event management, production services and overall audiovisual support for associations, corporations and venues. Markey’s specializes in accessible live events by using our technology to integrate captioning, translation and other accessibility services. We are here to work alongside you to help with the technology and to tailor an experience just for you and your attendees- in any location.
Mental Health and Disability Services – Dubuque County
Dubuque County is also one of nine partners in the East Central Region (ECR) which provides comprehensive mental health and disability services to eastern Iowans, funded by the Community Mental Health Block Grant (federal) funding. This partnership allows individual access to a regional base of services to address many of their needs. The nine counties pool their resources together to provide a core set of services to help improve the health of Iowans living in this region.
Mental Health and Disability Services – East Central Region
The East Central Region (ECR) is a partnership between 9 counties to provide comprehensive brain health and disability services to individuals in eastern Iowa. Iowans have a regional base of services which meet statewide standards to address their needs. Counties pool their resources and offer an array of services to improve the health of Iowans.
Mindspring Mental Health Alliance
MindSpring is an independent local organization providing mental health education, support and advocacy. We are dedicated to improving the lives of individuals, families and the community on mental illness. MindSpring welcomes anyone who shares our mission and vision.
We have all been affected by mental illness in one way or another. NAMI on Campus is open to everyone, students, faculty and staff, providing information and resources to support mental health and to empower individuals to take action on the NIACC campus.
Mental illness impacts the lives of at least one in four adults and one in 10 children across the United States. NAMI on the NIACC Campus exists to help ensure that all individuals have positive and successful college experiences by providing support in improving the wellness & quality of life of all NIACC students affected by mental illness. Everyone can be part of the solution.
If you are in need of assistance for a non-emergency mental health related crisis please call this number 855-622-4692
NAMI on Campus – NIACC
NAMI was founded in Madison, Wisconsin by Harriet Shetler and Beverly Young. The two women both had sons diagnosed with schizophrenia, and “were tired of being blamed for their sons’ mental illness”. Unhappy with the lack of services available and the treatment of those living with mental illness, the women sought out others with similar concerns. The first meeting held to address these issues in mental health led to the formation of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1979. In 1997, the legal name was changed to the acronym, NAMI.
Office of Latino Affairs, Iowa Department of Human Rights
The Office of Latino Affairs serves as an ongoing resource for Iowans of Latino heritage, government agencies, businesses and other entities in the state.
We help to remove barriers for Latino Iowans and bridge existing cultural language and service gaps by:
- Assisting public and private groups to develop inclusive strategic plans, programs and initiatives and to implement them.
- Connecting organizations and Iowa employers with Iowans of Latino heritage
- Educational presentations and forums in English and/or Spanish.
- Serving as the voice of the Latino community on committees, advisory boards, task forces, and initiatives.
- Up-to-date and reliable information, resources and news on Facebook, our monthly newsletter and in media interviews/ articles.
One Iowa was founded in 2005 to advocate for LGBTQ Iowans’ right to marry. The original goal of the organization was realized on April 3, 2009 when the Iowa Supreme Court made the unanimous decision in Varnum v. Brien to make marriage equality a reality in Iowa.
The organization then changed course and dedicated itself to defending the right to marry from powerful opponents. In 2012, it became clear that marriage equality in Iowa no longer needed the vigorous defense it once did.
We shifted our focus to a comprehensive approach to ensure LGBTQ Iowans’ rights and dignity are respected in every facet and stage of their lives. One Iowa’s current mission is to advance, empower, and improve the lives of LGBTQ Iowans statewide.
Please Pass the Love
PLEASE PASS THE LOVE is committed to increasing school mental health (SMH) supports to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for children, families, and educators as well as offer culturally responsive comprehensive services and evidence-based supports to school systems. We strive to bridge positive relationships between the educational and mental health communities to more effectively prevent and address mental health issues for our children and adolescents throughout the state of Iowa.
We believe school mental health needs to be comprehensive in order to address the complex and varied needs. Everything we do revolves around students, staff, families and community, because we know that effective school mental health is not one training or event. It is a climate transformation that benefits everyone.
We are here for you, for your family, for your school and your community.
Please let us know how we can help you.
University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
As Iowa’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) shares the vision of “a life in the community for everyone.” We partner with Iowans with disabilities, their family members, providers, state and local agencies, and many others to improve the health and full community participation of persons with disabilities, and to advance the community supports and services on which they rely. We work towards our goals through University training, community training, technical assistance to state and local agencies/organizations, clinical services and direct community supports, research and policy analyses, and information sharing.
Iowa’s UCEDD has a new podcast, Disability Exchange. Click on the image to the right to learn more about the podcast, link to episodes, or download accessible pdfs of the transcripts on our new Disability Exchange page.
- Learn more about the Iowa’s UCEDD.
- Learn more about Iowa LEND.
- Learn more about our UCEDD Core Functions.
- Learn more about our UCEDD Areas of Emphasis.
- Learn more about the AUCD, UCEDD & LEND Network.
Youth Law Center
The Youth Law Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which provides free juvenile legal information and advocacy to Polk County youth and legal advice to youth across the State of Iowa. The Youth Law Center provides youth, and professionals who work with youth, legal information pertaining to areas such as: emancipation, abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, family problems, school, homelessness, mental health, chemical dependency, delinquency, and guardianship/custody issues. The team is also available to speak to school and community groups about youth rights and responsibilities. The Youth Law Center’s professional services team is comprised of case workers and attorneys.
Planning Committee and Satellite Location Organizers
The following list of people volunteered their time to plan every detail of this event to ensure it’s success. Disability Rights Iowa thanks them all for their passion and dedication to mental health advocacy and to Disability Rights Iowa.
- Bill Stumpf
- Ann Cameron- Williams
- Tammy Crouch
- Mistie Johnson
- Elizabeth Estey
- Jamie Hager- Meyer
- Nick Malcom
- Joseph Jones
- Daniel Van-Sant
- Dan Tallon
Thank you to all of our co-sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible. Each of these co-sponsors has been more than generous with time and resources to ensure the widespread success of this event.
May 10, 2022
Welcome all Iowans, Iowans at…
May 4, 2022
Mental Health is whatever condition your…
April 29, 2022
Growing up, I didn’t have a positive representation of what it meant to live with mental illness. I had stigma on top of stigma. I knew from young adulthood that I had bipolar disorder and PTSD, but I was terrified to get officially diagnosed. I studied both of these diagnoses in college (I majored in psychology), and I knew that mental illness ran in my family. But I kept telling myself, “No. It’s not me.” I listened to the stigmatized thoughts that everyone had filled my mind with.
Every Donation Matters.
Part of our funding comes from the generous donations from our supporters. Help us make a difference for Iowans with disabilities through donating to our cause.