Robin Cunningham at home with his dog, Barclay

Welcome to Cure Alliance! We are delighted that you have decided to visit our website. We are planning regular blog entries from diverse writers on a variety of subjects and issues that we believe you will find interesting.

My name is Robin Cunningham. I am a co-founder of Cure Alliance for Mental Illness, along with Hakon Heimer, and I’d like to start this blog by telling you a little bit about myself and why I chose to become involved in Cure Alliance.

I have what I call a “checkered past.” I’ve been a Teamster, a technician in a virus lab, and a scuba diver in oceanography.  I’ve worked in a lumber mill and on Wall Street. I’ve been confined to a single room against my will and have traveled throughout the US and abroad. I’ve lived in a $40 a month rooming house and on the upper east side of Manhattan. I’ve borrowed money to buy food and negotiated financings in the hundreds of millions of dollars. I’ve worked on corporate mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and turnarounds. With others I’ve bought and sold companies and have been instrumental in the formation of four new ventures. With major international corporations and business start-ups I’ve served in positions from analyst on up to chairman of the board and in the functions of finance, marketing, sales, administration, and strategic planning. I retired at the age of 46 (though my family might disagree).

For the last ten years I have been heavily involved in advocating for the mentally ill, giving speeches; granting interviews; writing articles and blogs; making appearances. I also serve on the board of several non-profit organizations (New Jersey NAMI, Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare and PeaceLove Studios), as well as the New Jersey Governor’s Counsel on Mental Health Stigma, all of which revolve around these serious brain disorders. Why have I become involved with mental illness, you ask? The answer is quite simple. Earlier generations of my family were riddled with mental illness, and I developed schizophrenia at the age of thirteen.

But why have I come out of a comfortable retirement to become a co-founder of Cure Alliance? The answer to this question is again quite simple. First, I am motivated by the terrible personal, social and economic costs of mental illness. Almost all families have at least one member with some sort of mental health issue. Second, I have come to the conclusion that the source of more effective treatments and eventual cures for mental illnesses will be found in fundamental research in genetics and in brain development, structure, circuitry, imaging, and physiology. Third, in order to obtain the necessary funds for such research we must all become involved. We must all become better informed about the pervasiveness and impact of mental illness. We must all demand solutions.  We need to act individually, but also together. Fourth, Cure Alliance has been formed specifically to give us all the opportunity to participate in this undertaking, each of us to the extent we are able and in our own way.  And last but not least, I think it will be fun and rewarding to work together—online and on the ground—with a community of people who care about all those affected by mental illness.

 April 21, 2012
© 2012 Cure Alliance for Mental Illness.