14A native Sicilian-Italian speaker, Mariagrazia Buttitta is an author, a motivational speaker and a mental health & disability advocate. Mariagrazia holds a master’s degree in counselor education: clinical mental health counseling from The College of New Jersey, and is pursuing a National Certified Counselor credential (NCC).

Mariagrazia––the author of, Now I SEE: How I Battled Blindness, Mental Illness, an Espresso Habit and Lived to Tell the Tale, has also been featured on the Huffington Post and on the Medium and speaks to college students and organizations about her blindness, along with her long-term battle with depression and anxiety.

In 2015, Mariagrazia founded an Instagram social media campaign, the (#YSS) Your Sunglass Selfie Project, using the hashtag #eye4acure in an effort to tear down stigma and negative assumptions held about the many different types of blindness that exist, including her own cone dystrophy.

Mariagrazia continues to address and end stigma that surrounds both mental and physical disabilities through speeches, writing and advocacy work.  Her website, the cornerstone of her advocacy efforts, is also designed to help people who face the often crushing burdens of disability and stigma to face adversity, connect with professionals, and embrace their differences.

When not working, Mariagrazia loves spending quality time with family and friends, hiking, collecting sunglasses, exercising, shopping, and hanging out with her two therapy dogs, Happy and Lucky. Her one true weakness—espresso … and lots of it.

“My ability is stronger than my disability.” — Luke Watson

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