Waltraud “Wally” Prechter is President and Founder of the Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression, founded in November 2001. Wally is the widow of German-born entrepreneur Heinz C. Prechter. She served as the closest business advisor and confident to her late husband and entrepreneurial visionary, quietly helping build the business empire that was Prechter Holdings. She has now taken center stage in a national crusade to cure bipolar disorder – lobbying Congress, courting medical specialists, and serving on President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.
After her husband’s untimely death in July 2001, she established The Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression to fund research that will have two goals: first, to identify the genetic pattern and triggers for manic depression and shut them down before they have a chance to take hold; second, to prove mental illness is as much a physical illness as other disorders and, therefore, qualifies for “parity “treatment in research funding, treatment programs and insurance benefits.
In 2003 she raised $1.25 million with “The Cure Frontier: Gala Dinner”, the single-largest fund-raising event for manic depression in United States history. Through the Prechter Fund she has awarded major grants to research teams at Harvard and Stanford Universities.
In May 2002 she testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies about the scope of manic depression, the need for greater funding for the National Institute of Mental Health and for the specific assignment of resources to research on bipolar disorder. Wally was honored in April 2003 during the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation’s “Dreamcatcher Evening”.
She was born in Alfershausen, Germany and attended the University of Erlangen. She immigrated to the United States in 1977 and completed her education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education with honors. She serves in leadership positions in numerous civic and charitable organizations. Some of them are the University of Michigan’s Health Care Advisory Board, the University of Michigan’s President’s Advisory group, Georgetown University’s Board of Regents, Leukemia Society, Kresge Institute, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Gerry Ligon Research Center of Vision, and Commonwealth Center of Excellence for Bipolar Disorder in Pittsburgh.
Wally currently resides in Grosse Ile, Michigan. She has adult twin children.
She joined the Covenant House Michigan Board of Directors in 2003.