Biographies of Speakers
(press conference video follows the biography listings)
Maria Morrissey is Kevin’s only sister, 3 1/2 years older than him. In her own words, “Kevin is the baby of the family, so I had a very special, very tender love for him as the youngest of four boys. Kevin was a bright, sunny, delightful child, and clearly very smart. As children, Kevin and I were very close–we shared a bed as young children, and shared a love of reading always. My mother went to the library every Saturday and the kids were of course invited to go with her. Kevin and I would go every week and would both bring home stacks of books to read, especially in the summer. As we grew older, we drifted apart largely because I traveled a great deal, but we did correspond via letters and I always loved him dearly. We were all very proud of what Kevin had achieved without a college degree–his job as Managing Editor at VQR especially.
As far as why I want to tell Kevin’s story…The day he died, I was told by his co-workers that Kevin had been bullied for 3 years and that it had escalated severely in the last 2 weeks before he took his life. Naturally this was infuriating and made me want to find out more, but at that time I needed to focus on the memorial and dealing with his body. After the memorial, we went to his apartment for a private wake. In his bedroom, his friend Waldo and I were chilled to find the book “Working with the Self-Absorbed: How to Handle Narcissistic Personalities on the Job” sitting alone on his bureau. We both instantly felt it was a message he left behind, as all the other books in his apartment were in huge stacks; only this one sat alone. We were even more dismayed to open it up and find all the notes he’d made and things he’d underlined. Clearly he tried to find a solution to the problem. He also left his suicide note open on his computer, which was right next to the book. Between the book and the note, Waldo and I both got the sense that Kevin was asking us to carry on the fight that he clearly felt he couldn’t carry on any longer. I strongly believe that that is what Kevin wanted, and vowed to myself then and there to do anything I could to bring about a change in this country’s laws, so that others would not have to suffer workplace bullying to the point of such utter hopelessness they contemplated or committed suicide, and no families would have to experience the pain of losing a loved one to workplace bullying-related suicide.”
Katherine Hermes is professor of history at Central Connecticut State University. She received her J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1992 and her Ph.D. in history from Yale University in 1995. On May 2, 2005, she received a phone call at work telling her that a childhood friend, Marlene Braun, manager of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, had committed suicide. As the executor of Marlene’s estate, Kathy received Marlene’s suicide letter explaining the reason for her suicide: her boss had made her life “utterly unbearable.” After contacting Dr. Gary Namie at the Workplace Bullying Institute, she became the Connecticut coordinator for WBI’s Healthy Workplace Bill legislative campaign. She coordinates Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates, with groups on Facebook, Google and Change.org. Since 2006 Connecticut has introduced annually either a healthy workplace bill and a bill to study workplace bullying among state employees.
Ken Kamholtz is a resident of New York State who has served in the United States Air Force and currently works in the field of law enforcement. He will give a personal account of why anti-bulling in the workplace legislation is needed in New York State.
Senator Diane Savino, Assemblyman Steven Englebright along with other NYS Legislators and unions share their support for the NYS Healthy Workplace Bill.
Maria Morrissey and Kathy Hermes talk about the suicides of their loves ones, Kevin Morrissey and Marlene Braun after experiencing workplace bullying. Ken Kamholtz also shares his experiences as a law enforcement officer.