Jack Brown, PeerFest Planning Committee member and podcast guest host.

PeerFest 2024, an educational and celebratory event for Texans who have faced mental health challenges and are on a journey to wellness, took place April 15-18 in Grapevine, Texas. Recorded onsite during the event, this episode of Into the Fold features two keynote speakers who each in his own way captures the spirit of PeerFest and exemplify why the Hogg Foundation is proud to be associated with this empowering convening. 

Guest host Jack Brown, a member of the PeerFest 2024 planning committee, sits down with PeerFest keynote speakers, Sir Billy L. Dorsey Jr. and Dr. William DeFoore, for a conversation about mental health, wellness, and what it means to make a difference for people in those areas. Dr. William DeFoore’s keynote address was entitled, “Goodfinding: A Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Incorporating Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology.” Billy L. Dorsey, Jr. presented “In the Right Seat: Finding Purpose at the Intersection of Passion, Proficiency, and Positioning.”

Joyous Helpers  

William DeFoore, PhD, a licensed counselor practicing for 50 years whose work focuses on the strength and value that each person brings, and Sir Billy Dorsey, Jr., a public speaker, award-winning music producer, songwriter, and philanthropist, both find great joy in helping others. 

“I want to utilize every moment that I’ve been blessed to have, graced to have on this earth to be a blessing to someone else,” says Billy.  

William shares this enthusiasm. 

“In my work, it’s a joy seeing people’s lights come on,” he says. “To see people light up from the inside and start to recognize their own beauty, their own worth, their own value. There’s nothing like it. It’s like music to the soul.” 


Finding Connection 

Both men also bring a perspective of lived experience to their work helping others. Billy draws from his own times of crippling depression and homelessness to reach out as a peer who empathizes with others’ pain. For William, growing up with a father with extreme PTSD has helped him understand and speak authentically to other people’s trauma. 

“Your personal, shared, lived experience is what empowers you to be who you are and impact the people you serve,” says Billy. “That’s what matters.” 

But they also approach mental health in unique ways. 

Working in mental hospitals, William met patients who had anger “boiling up inside of them,” but nobody to help them cope with it. 

“I developed some techniques and approaches to help people get their anger out in a healthy way so that nobody gets hurt,” says William. “Unhealthy anger is fighting against something which can sometimes make things worse, while healthy anger is fighting for what you believe in, channeling that energy, righteous anger in the direction of what you believe in.”  

He describes this shifting of focus in a positive direction as ‘goodfinding.’ 

“The goodfinding awakens the heart, it enlightens the mind, it gives us a connection to God and spirituality, and to the best of who we are,” says William. “It’s a mental shift.” 

While acknowledging that there is “a lot broken in this world, a lot of insanity, sickness, harm being done, goodfinding means recognizing that there’s also incredible beauty, incredible creativity, incredible generosity,” he says. 

For Billy, finding an emotional connection with an individual is essential. 

“If I make people feel something, they’ll remember what I said. It will resonate with them in a different way,” says Billy. “Because of the emotion that gripped them in that moment, they’ll not only take home with them, but they’ll go and tell other people about it.” 

Incorporating the arts, storytelling, and other experiences that make people feel and cause an emotional reaction is also a unique characteristic of his work.  


Pushing Forward 

Not surprisingly, William and Billy acknowledge that their work is not easy. Even so, they find it incredibly fulfilling. 

“Speaking, serving people, pouring out into other people – it’s very hard to have that replenished,” says Billy. “But when you get the person who the light comes on for, who connects, who sees what you’re sharing and the value in it, then it gives you the energy to push forward.” 

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During the month of May, the Hogg Foundation celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month. We are highlighting stories of recovery, strides in mental health policy, and the many ways our grantee partners are working to transform mental health in their communities.