Christy Buck: 2024 Legacy of Brilliance Award

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Christy Buck is the 2024 recipient of the West Michigan Woman Legacy of Brilliance Award.

With over 36 years in the mental health field, Christy Buck's passion for transforming and saving lives through mental health education led her to develop two mental health and suicide prevention programs: be nice. and be nice.extension. In addition to being a keynote speaker, Buck and her staff have presented to over 300,000 people in West Michigan on mental health awareness, bullying and suicide prevention since 2006. Buck is also a certified instructor for QPR and Mental Health First Aid and has been recognized among the top 100 instructors in the country.

Buck is the second recipient of the Legacy of Brilliance Award, an honor created in 2023 as part of the annual Brilliance Awards, which recognizes a woman who for years has given of herself, personally and professionally, to better the lives of those around her.

When reflecting back on your work, what do you see and feel?
I see a journey marked by progress, challenges and profound moments of change. I feel a sense of pride in the strides we've made in raising awareness, challenging misconceptions, and advocating for greater understanding and acceptance of mental health issues.

While there's still work to be done, I see a growing momentum behind efforts, and feel I've been part of it. By continuing to raise our voices, challenge stigma, and advocate for change, we can create a world where everyone feels valued, understood and supported. I feel hopeful for the future!

I'm grateful for those I've had the privilege of working with over the years. Each person's story, each conversation, has contributed to a growing movement of change, reminding me of the resilience and strength of the human spirit.

What are some of your proudest moments?
When I've witnessed the personal growth and empowerment of individuals who've been impacted by mental illness. Whether it was seeing someone seek help for the first time, overcome stigma to share their story or become a passionate advocate, knowing I played a small part in their journey has been incredibly gratifying.

Being part of the creation of the "be nice. action plan" is a source of immense pride and has empowered others to take action and make a difference in their communities. By providing a framework for intervention and support, it has inspired individuals and organizations to get involved in mental health advocacy and suicide prevention efforts.

What's your advice to other women hoping to have as respected and impactful a career as yourself?
Notice the unique talents, passions and potential within yourself and others. Embrace the diversity of strengths and perspectives that each individual brings to the table.

Invite others to join you on the journey towards personal and professional growth. Create inclusive spaces where everyone feels welcomed and valued, fostering collaboration and collective success.

Challenge yourself and those around you to think critically, question assumptions and push beyond comfort zones. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.

Empower individuals to embrace their strengths, pursue their goals, and overcome obstacles. Cultivate a culture of empowerment where everyone feels supported to reach their full potential.

What are you looking forward to tackling next?
I know I can't and won't be tackling this alone! We have an amazing staff, board, volunteers and community believing in continuing to expand the reach of the "be nice. action plan" nationally—a powerful endeavor with the potential to create significant positive change! Its straightforward principles are easy to understand and apply, making it accessible to people from all walks of life, whether in schools, workplaces, communities or public spaces.

Edited by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

This article originally appeared in the Jun/Jul '24 issue of West Michigan Woman.

 Photo Courtesy of Mental Health Foundation. 


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