The IOCDF Ambassador Program is a volunteer grassroots effort designed to empower those in the community to raise awareness and educate the public about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders. Led by National Ambassador, Ethan Smith, the focus of this initiative is to engage our IOCDF Advocates (OCDvocates), about ways that they can advocate for themselves and for others, as well as to educate the community with accurate information about this often misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorder.
IOCDF Ambassadors are:
- dedicated volunteers who are able to serve as point-people for various IOCDF grassroots advocacy projects like the OCDvocates,
- anyone affected by OCD or related disorders, including OCD sufferers, family members, and OCD treatment professionals,
- individuals who have chosen to volunteer their voice and their time to spread awareness in their community.
What Does the IOCDF Ambassador Program Look Like?
The Ambassador Program is organized into four levels:
- National Ambassador
- Lead Ambassadors
IOCDF National Ambassador – Ethan Smith
Ethan currently lives in the Los Angeles area working as a successful writer/director/producer/ author. As a child, Ethan caught the acting bug early, performing in school plays, community theater, and even commercials. Ethan also struggled to be a normal kid. Diagnosed with OCD at age 14, Ethan’s functioning was significantly impaired due to his mental illness and lack of proper treatment available. Ethan continued to struggle throughout his twenties. Despite various therapist’s inability to properly treat his OCD, Ethan managed a very successful acting career. He appeared in over 150 commercials, guest-starred on television shows like “Dexter” and “CSI: Miami”, and films like “Big Trouble”, “Recount”, and “I Love You, Man”. At the age of 31, Ethan became unable to function and was bedridden, riddled with OCD and anxiety. After 17 years, Ethan finally received life-changing treatment in 2010. Since, Ethan has made OCD advocacy his soul-mission. Fueled by a desire to prevent the suffering he endured for 32 years, Ethan has approached his advocacy with honesty and brutal vulnerability. In just 7 short years, Ethan gave the keynote speech at the 2014 annual OCD conference in Los Angeles, became a National Spokesperson for the International OCD Foundation in 2015, and currently serves as their national ambassador. Ethan has written countless articles for numerous publications and given national interviews for major media outlets.
The Lead Ambassador will each lead a small team of Ambassadors in their areas of special interest. The Lead Ambassadors and groups are as follows:
- Lead Outreach Ambassador – Jeff Szymanski
- Lead Creative Expression Ambassador – Ethan Smith
- Lead Parents & Kids Ambassador – Denise Egan-Stack
- Lead Social Media Ambassador – Meghan Buco
- Lead International Ambassador – Jenn Coward
IOCDF Ambassadors are those who our IOCDF Lead Ambassadors have recognized as being strong and dedicated advocates in the OCD community. Ambassadors will work together as a group, with direction from their Lead Ambassador as well as Ethan Smith and IOCDF staff, and they will help to direct the OCDvocates, as well as serving as a point of contact for those within their community.
By taking our OCDvocate pledge, any member of the community is invited to become an OCDvocate. IOCDF Ambassadors will be reaching out to OCDvocates via the IOCDF blog, social media, and email, with challenges, projects, and ways you can join them to work together and make a big impact. Examples of OCDvocate challenges may include:
- Participate in online (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) social media campaigns
- Participate in on-site “calls to action” (e.g. conference-based projects)
- Participate in coordinated national events (e.g. 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walks, OCD Awareness Week events)
- Contribute to a regular “From our IOCDF Advocates” blog or newsletter feature
- Fundraise on behalf of the IOCDF in a grassroots way (e.g. house parties)
- Opportunities to display your support of the IOCDF (e.g. “Proud IOCDF Advocate” badges, stickers)