History

Learn About the Dave Nee Foundation

The Dave Nee Foundation was founded in 2006 by James Hyre, Wynne Kelly, and Andrew Sparkler following the 2005 suicide of David Dawes Nee II (1976-2005), then a third year law student, studying for the Bar exam at Fordham University. He graduated from Princeton University in 1998 and the Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut, in 1994. He was born in Hong Kong and died in New York City.

The Dave Nee Foundation honors Mr. Nee’s memory by combating the social stigma associated with depression and by seeking to prevent the loss of life through suicide, especially among young people and those in the legal profession. The Dave Nee Foundation’s Board of Directors consists of his close friends and family, and its Advisory Board consists of leading mental health professionals.

Why we are here Since its founding, the Foundation has focused on the legal sector; raising awareness, providing information and resources about depression and suicide to law students and attorneys. We hope to change the culture of the legal profession, a field where many students and practitioners experience high rates of depression and suicide, by working closely and collaboratively with law school administrators, law firms and bar associations, we can create safe spaces for candid conversations about mental health and well-being.

Our Vision  We envision a world where stigma is no longer a barrier to getting help, where individuals know how to respond to those suffering and provide support, and where mental health services are accessible and flexible.

What we Do We seek to eliminate the stigma of mental illness by engaging in research, providing education and by building networks of like-minded individuals who share our vision of a stigma-free world.

Our Mission Eliminate the stigma associated with depression and suicide by promoting and encouraging not only the diagnosis and treatment of depression among young adults, but also the education of young people, their families, and friends about the disease of depression.

We believe A principal reason for the high suicide rate in the United States is a glaring lack of sufficiently candid discussion about, and early treatment of, depression. We hope to spread the message that depression and thoughts of harming oneself are common and that treatment for depressed and suicidal thoughts must become socially acceptable. We believe that friends, colleagues, and family members should know how and when they can intervene if they think a friend, colleague or family member might be struggling with depression, substance use and/or suicidal thoughts.


 

Thank You to Our Past Board Members for Their Service

The Dave Nee Foundation deeply appreciates the service of its former board members. We will never be able to thank you enough for the countless hours, the immeasurable energy, and passion you gave toward strengthening this organization. We would not be able to make the difference in people’s lives that we do without your vision and generosity. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for the Foundation.

Amy Marisa Balducci, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Princeton Alumnus

Pierre Bastien, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Princeton Alumnus

Anne Buckman Calder, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus

James Hyre, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus

Matthew Kaufman, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus

Wynne Kelly, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus

Kathryn Beaumont Murphy, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Princeton Alumnus

Claire Nee Nelson, sister of Dave Nee and fellow Princeton Alumnus

Andrew Sparkler, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus

Erica Sparkler, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus

Michael Stanitski, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus

David Stoner, friend of Dave Nee and fellow Fordham Law School Alumnus


 

Organizational Timeline

2006: Receive nonprofit tax status from IRS.

2006: Beacon of Life Grant Program started.

2007: Formed an Advisory Board consisting of esteemed mental health professionals to assist with our cause.

2008: Launch Uncommon Counsel—a unique program that raises awareness about the prevalence of depression and risks of suicide among students in law schools. Grants are given to nonprofits that are in need of additional capital, and are selected for their outstanding work to combat depression or suicide that is in line with the Foundation’s core mission.

2009: Started the LawLife Line with the Jed Foundation.

2012: Katherine Bender, PhD joins as a consultant to help manage Uncommon Counsel

2012: Stephanie Arcella joins as a development consultant.

2013: Katherine Bender, PhD becomes a full time employee of the Dave Nee Foundation, managing the growth and expansion of Uncommon Counsel.

2014: Rachael Barrett hired as first full time executive director

2014: Introduce the Starr Initiative on Character and Fitness as a new program area.

2015: Four new board members join Dave Nee Foundation.