Over 300 guests shuffled around inside Tannahill’s Tavern & Music Hall, their silent auction bid sheets in hand. 

Attendees were hoping to take home one of the 14 auction packages available at M2G Ventures’ fourth annual fundraising event, Art of the Mind, Nov. 2. The packages included 10 art pieces and four travel opportunities. 

Launched in 2019, the fundraiser supports the Fort Worth location of UT Southwestern Center for Depression Research & Clinical Care, which researches early identification and treatment of mental illness. 

After dinner, each winning bid was announced.

By the end of the night, M2G had raised over $220,000. 

“It’s the most we’ve ever raised in one year for an event,” said Hannah Stephens, director of social impact with M2G Ventures. 

Over 300 guests filled the Tannahill’s Tavern & Music Hall located within the Fort Worth Stockyards. A trio of attendees wait in the lounge before dinner. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)
Artist Chris Coleman sets up to create a live painting in the lobby. Guests circle around to watch him work. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)
One guest stops to examine the bright neon piece ‘Submerged 44’ by Carmen Menza. The piece was one of 10 up for auction. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)

M2G Ventures is a commercial real estate development group that adapts mixed-use districts and buys vacant buildings, redesigns them and leases the space.  

The company’s annual fundraiser is part of its mental health initiative, which is focused on diagnosing and treating mental health illness. It was launched by M2G’s co-founders Susan Miller Gruppi and Jessica Miller Essl after Miller Essl’s husband, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, died in 2017. 

After its launch, the sisters spent the first six months looking for the top researchers or nonprofits doing innovative work in mental health.

Following several interviews, the two found Dr. Madhukar Trivedi at the UT Southwestern Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care in Dallas. He has been conducting research to improve the treatment of depression for over two decades. 

In 2019, the organization committed to raising $1 million for the center. That year, Trivedi opened his Fort Worth clinical site within the Moncrief Cancer Institute. 

“They were looking for many places to put their energies in,” Trivedi said. “They did their due diligence and met with me and felt there was a connection with what I was offering.”

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi is the chief of the division of mood disorders and director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)

Prior to the Nov. 2 event, M2G had already raised over 70% of the $1 million goal.

Now, with less than $100,000 left, the company is going to spend the rest of the year campaigning to reach it. Still, that won’t be the end. 

Once M2G Ventures reaches its initial commitment, the company plans to set another goal. 

“We channeled our heartbreak into action,” Miller Essl said at the event. “We demand better outcomes for those being treated with mental illness. We want a future for our children that is different from those that we see with a mental illness today.”

David Moreno is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at david.moreno@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter.

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David Moreno is the health reporter at Fort Worth Report. Prior to the FWR, he covered health care and biotech at the Dallas Business Journal. He earned his Bachelors of Arts in broadcast journalism and...