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Awards honor citizen advocates

PITTSBURGH – Shortly after Joseph Rogers was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1969, he took a battery of tests to see if he was eligible for vocational rehabilitation.

Counselors suggested a different tack, saying the 18-year-old should collect Social Security benefits instead.

Today, Rogers is expected to be given a Heinz Award, an annual $250,000 prize given to people making notable contributions in five areas: the arts and humanities; the environment; the human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy and employment.

Rogers should be considered “the Martin Luther King of mental health’s consumer movement,” said Mary Hurtig of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Rogers joined that association in 1984 and rose through the organization to become its president and chief executive officer, promoting the idea that people with mental illness should play an active role in their treatment.

Another Heinz winner, Mildred Dresselhaus, used her experiences to become an advocate.

The physics and electrical engineering professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has promoted the advancement of women in the sciences for more than 40 years.

Other recipients and the organization’s history can be viewed:


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