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Thursday, June 9

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT

Open Mind Documentary

Struggle in Paradise

Stuart Perlman, PhD with Kenneth Wells, MD, MPH

Struggle in Paradise, by Psychologist/Psychoanalyst/Artist Dr. Stuart Perlman, is an award-winning documentary about his Faces of Homelessness portrait project. It won the Gradiva "Best Movie of the Year" Award, from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. Dr. George Atwood, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University described this film: “Magnificent ... anyone who views it with an open mind and an open heart will find it to be transforming — the homeless men and women interviewed and painted are revealed as human beings like all of us, and seeing them and listening to their stories not only helps us to understand them, but also returns us to ourselves and to our own stories. The lives and experiences of the homeless show great tragedy; but they also show heroism, and beauty."


Fine Art Connoisseur magazine proclaims the portraits as “Great Art Worldwide”. Dr. Perlman reminds us that these homeless individuals, too, are to be valued: "If we can see into their faces and learn their stories -- their hopes, dreams, accomplishments and fears -- we can no longer pretend that they don't exist...we can no longer look the other way."

Kenneth B. Wells, MD, MPH, received his MD from UCSF and his MPH from UCLA. He is a psychiatrist, a Senior Scientist at RAND, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Professor of Health Services at the UCLA School of Public Health. He directs the Semel Institute Health Services Research Center which focuses on improving quality of care for psychiatric and neurological disorders across the lifespan. He is the Principal Investigator of the NIMH-UCLA/RAND Center for Research on Quality in Managed Care and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Partnership Initiative. He is also Co-Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation UCLA Clinical Scholars Program and Chair of the Community Health Improvement Collaborative.

Registration is required for this free live private Zoom event.


For questions email



Wednesday, June 15

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT

Open Mind

For You When I Am Gone

Steve Leder

From Rabbi Steve Leder, the bestselling author of The Beauty of What Remains, a guide to writing a meaningful letter about your life - For You When I Am Gone
Writing an ethical will, a document that includes stories and reflections about your past, is an ancient tradition. It can include joy and regrets, and ultimately becomes both a way to remember a loved one who is gone and a primer on how to live a better, happier life. Beloved Rabbi Steve Leder has helped thousands of people to write their own ethical wills, and in this intimate book helps us write our own. 
Because our culture privileges the material over the spiritual, we sometimes forget that our words carry greater value than any physical thing we can bequeath to our loved ones. Rabbi Leder provides all the right questions and prompts, including: What was your most painful regret and how can your loved ones avoid repeating it? When was a time you led with your heart instead of your head? What did you learn from your biggest failure? 
Including examples of ethical wills from a broad range of voices—old and young, with and without children, famous and unknown—For You When I Am Gone inspires readers to examine their own lives and turn them into something beautiful and meaningful for generations to come. 


Steve Leder is the senior rabbi of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. After receiving his degree in writing and graduating cum laude from Northwestern University, and spending time studying at Trinity College, Oxford University, Leder received a master’s degree in Hebrew letters in 1986 and rabbinical ordination in 1987 from Hebrew Union College. He is the author of five books: The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things, More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life Without Losing Your Soul, and the bestsellers More Beautiful Than Before: How Suffering Transforms Us, and The Beauty of What Remains.

Dr. David Reuben, Director, Multicampus Program in Geriatrics Medicine and Gerontology and Chief, Division of Geriatrics at UCLA Health Sciences will join Rabbi Leder in a discussion. Dr. Reuben is the Archstone Foundation Chair and Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the UCLA Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center and the UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care program.

Dr. Reuben sustains professional interests in clinical care, education, research and administrative aspects of geriatrics, maintaining a clinical primary care practice of frail older persons and attending on inpatient and geriatric psychiatry units at UCLA. His bibliography includes more than 220 peer-reviewed publications in medical journals, 39 books and numerous chapters.

Dr. Reuben is lead author of the widely distributed book, Geriatrics at Your Fingertips. Dr. Reuben is a past President of the American Geriatrics Society and the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. He served for 11 years on the Geriatrics Test Writing Committee for the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and for 8 years on the ABIM's Board of Directors, including as Chair from 2010-2011.

Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, Friends of Semel Advisory Board Member, will moderate the discussion. Rabbi Hirsch currently serves as the Chief Innovation Officer for American Jewish University developing the vision, strategic initiatives and implementation for all the campuses. Prior to AJU, Hirsch served as Hillel International’s Senior Rabbinic Scholar. In her role as the spiritual leader for wellness and spirituality on 550 campuses worldwide, Hirsch focused on developing a culture enriching students to become healthy, self-actualized and inspired to give back to the Jewish world. She launched her rabbinic career as the first woman rabbi at Sinai Temple, Los Angeles’s largest and oldest conservative synagogue. During her eight-year tenure on the pulpit, she was instrumental in the founding of Friday Night Live and other nationally-recognized innovative programming. Since then, she has published two books with Random House – We Plan, God Laughs: What to Do When Life Hits You Over the Head, an Amazon top 100 in all books, and Thresholds: How to Thrive Through Life’s Transitions to Live Fearlessly and Regret-Free – a Vanity Fair “Best Type.” Rabbi Hirsch has served as the Spirituality Consultant for Canyon Ranch Properties for 15 years, and most recently serves as the Spirituality Consultant for Miraval Properties, where she organizes retreats and leads workshops focused on grief, healing and spirituality. In addition, she is the co-founder of NotAlone, a mobile app empowering 18-24 year-olds to connect consciously and enhance their social and emotional wellbeing. She is also one of Jewish Women International’s Women to Watch. 

Registration is required for this free live private Zoom event.


For questions email



Thursday, September 22

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT

Open Mind

Salt In My Soul - An Unfinished Life

Diane Shader Smith

Based on Mallory Smith’s posthumously published bestselling memoir of the same name, the documentary film, Salt in My Soul - An Unfinished Life, offers a rare look inside the mind of a young woman trying to live fully while dying. 


Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 3, Mallory Smith turned to a secret diary to record her inner thoughts. Using that treasure trove of writing, and hours of audio and video discovered after her untimely death, Salt in My Soul, from award-winning director, Will Battersby, is a classic coming of age story about choosing to live mindfully and joyously in the face of immense struggle. 


This presentation will feature clips from the documentary that relate to the mental health challenges that Mallory faced as revealed in her diary.  A panel discussion will be interspersed with the clips and will feature: 


Diane Shader Smith, mother of Mallory, writer, speaker, publicist and fundraiser. When Mallory died at the age of 25, her catastrophic loss led Ms. Smith on a new path, both unexpected and transformative. A UCLA graduate, Ms. Smith has been interviewed by The Today Show, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, The Hollywood Reporter, and many other media outlets. In the midst of her profound grief following the loss of her daughter, Ms. Smith gave a TEDx talk about love, loss and legacy.  She has raised more than 5.5 million dollars for basic science research with a current focus on phage therapy, a novel treatment to combat antibiotic resistance, one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. 


Will Battersby is a partner at Reno Productions, a New York film, television and theatre production company that owns and operates the Westside Theatre. He has been making documentaries and features for 15 years. His films have played at major international film festivals such as Toronto and SXSW and have been released worldwide. His credits include Trumbo, which won the National Board of Review Freedom of Speech award; SXSW cult animated favorite The Spine of Night starring Richard E Grant and Lucy Lawless; Stephen King’s A Good Marriage; Oscar-nominated documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; They Remain starring Will Jackson Harper.  


Salt in My Soul, Mr. Battersby’s second documentary as director, was released worldwide in January 2022 to universal acclaim. His first, The Canal, will be released by Showtime which is currently adapting it into a series. He is producing alongside Patricia Arquette, who will also direct.  


Micah Smith – brother of Mallory featured in the film.  UCLA Graduate 

Brenda Bursch, PhD, will moderate the panel discussion. Dr. Bursch is a medical psychologist and a professor in the UCLA departments of both Psychiatry and Pediatrics. She spent 30 working with medically ill youth hospitalized in Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. In recent years, she has been working to embed medical psychologists into many of the UCLA subspecialty pediatric medical clinics, including pulmonology, where patients with CF are served. 

Registration is required for this free live private Zoom event.


For questions email



Thursday, September 29

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT

Open Mind Lecture

Just Like You

Jen Greenstreet with Ryan Lefebvre

We are losing too many of our children, friends and family living with anxiety disorders and depression to death by suicide. In the new documentary film, Just Like You, by award-winning filmmaker Jen Greenstreet, ten brave kids, two Emmy award-winning journalists, one determined parent, and one Columbia University clinical psychologist take on the challenges, fear and stigma plaguing the mental health community and especially today’s youth.  Just Like You immerses us in the lives of these young people who live with anxiety disorders and depression, and through their lens, we learn how they manage challenging and even life-threatening conditions. We also learn how we can support loved ones who live with mental illness and prevent death by suicide.  

After viewing clips from the film, we will have a discussion featuring:  

Jen Greenstreet, Founder/CEO of Just Like You Films  

Jen Greenstreet is the founder, executive producer and a board member at Just Like You Films. Jen served as a Prosecuting Attorney in Jackson County Missouri for 8 years, litigating 520 felony cases and representing the state in 46 jury trials. She taught criminal law at William Jewell College. After her legal career, Jen took her passion for advocating and storytelling from the courtroom to the big screen. Jen writes, directs, edits and produces the documentary Just Like You film series. She has produced, written and/or directed 22 short films and four feature length films. She is an 11-time Mid-American Emmy nominee and 2-time Mid-American Emmy award recipient. Jen recently was honored with the 2018 Kindest Kansas Citian Award and 2019 City Year Kansas City Idealist of Year Award.

Ryan Lefebvre – star of Just Like You. Ryan is best known as play-by-play announcer for Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals since 1999. He also broadcast TV and radio for the Minnesota Twins from 1995 to 1998 after his baseball career at the University of Minnesota.  In 2009, Ryan shared his life with anxiety and depression in his book titled, The Shame of Me: One Man's Journey to Depression and Back. He lives in Greenwood, MO with his wife, Sarah, and children, Micah, Evan, Lucas, and Callie. 

Registration is required for this free live private Zoom event.

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Wednesday, October 12

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT

Open Mind Lecture

I Try to Keep Catching His Eye

Ivan Maisel with Michael Gitlin, MD

I Keep Trying to Catch His Eye is a stunning, poignant exploration of the father and son relationship, of how our tendency to overlook men’s mental health can have devastating consequences, and how ultimately letting those who grieve do so openly and freely can lead to greater healing.


In this deeply emotional memoir, longtime ESPN writer Ivan Maisel,  reflects on the suicide of his son Max and delves into how their complicated relationship led him to see grief as love. In February 2015, Ivan Maisel received a call that would alter his life forever: his son Max's car had been found abandoned in a parking next to Lake Ontario. Two months later, Max's body would be found in the lake. There’d been no note or obvious indication that Max wanted to harm himself; he’d signed up for a year-long subscription to a dating service; he’d spent the day he disappeared doing photography work for school. And this uncertainty became part of his father’s grief. I Keep Trying to Catch His Eye explores with grace, depth, and refinement the tragically transformative reality of losing a child. But it also tells the deeply human and deeply empathetic story of a father’s relationship with his son, of its complications, and of Max and Ivan’s struggle—as is the case for so many parents and their children—to connect. 


Ivan Maisel is Vice President/Editorial and Senior Writer at  He has covered college football for nearly four decades from 2002-2021 as a senior writer for ESPN, where he wrote for, appearing on television,  ESPN Radio and on podcasts. He also served as Editor-at-Large for ESPN College Football 150.  Prior to joining, Maisel covered national college football for Sports Illustrated, Newsday and The Dallas Morning News.  He has been honored eight time for Best Story by the Football Writer Association of American and twice by the Associated Press Sports Editors, which in 2019 named him one of the 10 best sports columnists.  

Michael Gitlin, M.D. will join Mr. Maisel in conversation. Dr. Gitlin is Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director, Adult Division of Psychiatry, Director, Mood Disorders Clinic David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Registration is required for this free live private Zoom event.


For questions email



Thursday, November 17

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM PT

Open Mind Documentary


Patrick Sammon with Andrew Solomon, Ph.D.

The critically acclaimed documentary, CURED by filmmakers Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon, depicts the inner workings of the campaign that led to homosexuality being delisted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973.  


Mentally ill. Deviant. Diseased. And in need of a cure. These were among the terms psychiatrists used to describe lesbians and gay men in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. According to the medical establishment, every gay person—no matter how well-adjusted—suffered from a mental disorder. And as long as lesbians and gay men were “sick,” progress toward equality was impossible. 


CURED chronicles the battle waged by a small group of activists who declared war against a formidable institution—and won a crucial victory in the modern movement for LGBTQ equality. This feature-length documentary takes viewers inside the David versus-Goliath struggle that led the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental illnesses in 1973. Viewers meet the key players who achieved this victory, along with allies and opponents within the APA. The film illuminates the strategy and tactics that led to this pivotal yet largely unknown moment. Indeed, following the Stonewall uprising of 1969, the campaign that culminated in the APA’s decision marks the first major step on the path to first-class citizenship for LGBTQ Americans. 


While CURED is indisputably about science, medicine, and politics, at its core this is a film about activism and the process of social change. It features a diverse group of crusaders with stubborn dedication and big personalities who came together at a crossroads in LGBTQ history. Their tenacity, resourcefulness, and ingenuity brought about a change that transformed not only LGBTQ people’s perceptions of themselves, but also the social fabric of America.


Patrick Sammon who conceived, co-directed and co-produced CURED along with LA-based filmmaker, Bennet Singer,  will participate in a discussion about the film with world-renowned author, Andrew Solomon, PhD.  Mr. Sammon previously served as creator and executive producer of CODEBREAKER, an award-winning drama-documentary about the life and legacy of gay British codebreaker Alan Turing that reached more than three million viewers world wide.   


Andrew Solomon, Ph.D. is a  writer and lecturer on politics, culture and psychology.  He is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books including Noon Day Demons that he won the National Book Award for, and Far From the Tree that was made into a documentary film. Dr. Solomon is also a Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center, former President of PEN American Center ; and an activist in LGBTQ rights, mental health, and the arts

Registration is required for this free live private Zoom event.


For questions email



Tuesday, December 6

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT

Open Mind Lecture

Heartbreak, A Personal and Scientific Journey

Florence Williams with Steve Cole, PhD

In her new book, Heartbreak - A Personal and Scientific Journey, renowned journalist and author, Florence Williams, offers a gripping account of grief and healing.  Through a remarkable merging of science and self-discovery, Williams explores the fascinating, cutting-edge science of heartbreak while seeking creative ways to mend her own. With warmth, daring, wit and candor, Williams offers new evidence-based ways to think about loneliness, health and what it means to fall in and out of love. 


When her twenty-five-year marriage suddenly falls apart, Florence Williams expects the loss to hurt. But when she starts feeling physically sick, losing weight and sleep, she sets out in pursuit of rational explanation. She travels to the frontiers of the science of “social pain” to learn why heartbreak hurts so much—and why so much of the conventional wisdom about it is wrong.


Soon Williams finds herself on a surprising path that leads her from neurogenomic research laboratories to trying MDMA in a Portland therapist’s living room, from divorce workshops to the mountains and rivers that restore her. She tests her blood for genetic markers of grief, undergoes electrical shocks while looking at pictures of her ex, and discovers that our immune cells listen to loneliness. Searching for insight as well as personal strategies to game her way back to health, she seeks out new relationships and ventures into the wilderness in search of an extraordinary antidote: awe. Florence Williams is also the author of Breasts, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Nature Fix. A contributing editor at Outside magazine, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic, and many other outlets. She lives in Washington, DC.

Dr. Steven Cole will join Ms. Williams in conversation. Dr. Cole is a Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. His research utilizes molecular genetics and computational bioinformatics to analyze the pathways by which social and environmental factors influence the activity of the human genome, as well as viral and cancer genomes. He pioneered the field of human social genomics, and discovered the "Conserved Transcriptional Response to Adversity" that mediates health disparities via fight-or-flight stress signaling to the immune system. He serves as Director of the UCLA Social Genomics Core Laboratory, and is a member of the the Semel Institute's Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Registration is required for this free live private Zoom event.


For questions email