Alternatives Conference Award Nominations

At each Alternatives conference, awards are given to people who have contributed to the community. Nominations for each of the following awards are welcome, and should be submitted by July 21, 2017.

Esperanza Hope Award

In honoring contributing members of our community, Alternatives has presented the Esperanza Hope Award to a consumer/survivor/peer of color who has expanded the idea of cultural competency and done exceptional work within the mental health and peer support community. Esperanza was a nationally and internationally recognized Latina leader, who often attended Alternatives. She is credited with starting Casa La Esperanza, the first clubhouse for Latino consumer/survivors in New York City. This award is given in the spirit of her leadership and perseverance in advancing cultural diversity issues for people of color who are consumers/survivors.

Youth and Young Adult Peer Leadership Award

In honoring contributing members of our community, Alternatives has honored those who excel in certain fields.  Alternatives wishes to stand tall with our emerging leaders and honor a youth or young adult who is excelling in providing leadership to engage more youth and young adults and who is also working on changing the system to be person centered, recovery, health and wellness focused.

Cookie Gant and Bill Compton LGBT Leadership Award

The Cookie Gant and Bill Compton LGBT Leadership Award is rooted in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBT) participants caucusing at Alternatives conferences since 1985. From secret to official, people proclaimed their place of competence and prominence in the mental health consumer/survivor community. The award recognizes leadership in a journey of coming out to make it safe to be proud and diverse. It was first given at Alternatives 2007 in St. Louis, in memory of Bill Compton of California and Cookie Gant of Michigan, who led by example when it wasn’t safe to be “out.”

Howie the Harp Arts Award

Howie the Harp (1953-1995), a leader of the consumer/survivor/ex-patient community, created peace with his music, playing his harmonica wherever he went. He was a founder of Altered States of the Arts, a national network for artists, writers, and performers, and was the emcee at Alternatives Conference talent shows. Howie was a longtime advocate for the arts in the consumer community. We honor the work he did by presenting an award in his memory to a person who has carried on that tradition.

Please find nomination forms for all awards online at