I was offered the privilege to serve as NAMI Rochester’s Executive Director in January 2019 and am proud to be leading this dynamic and critically important organization. My husband and I found NAMI several years ago when we were struggling to make sense of our son’s mental health condition. The support and education we received was invaluable to our family’s recovery.
At NAMI, we often refer to mental illness as an equal opportunity disease. 1 in 5 Americans, regardless of their age, race, religion, education or income, are living with a mental health condition. Often, the most challenging part of mental illness is how isolating it can be for individuals and their families. There is a stigma around brain illness that does not exist for illnesses that affect other organs in the body. Stigma can prevent individuals and those who care for them from seeking treatment.
Each time a person has the courage to speak up and share their story, the shame and silence around mental illness is diminished. I am honored to have been selected to lead NAMI Rochester’s efforts to end stigma and provide support and education to those who need it.
Director of Education & Community Outreach
I am consistently grateful for the support, knowledge and growth NAMI Rochester has provided to myself and family. Many years ago I started here as a volunteer to support my “family of choice” who were very involved here, volunteering at events including the NAMIWalks Rochester and other outreach in the community. After almost losing my life to suicide in 2014, and learning to live with a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder I returned to NAMI Rochester to take Peer to Peer, our signature program for those of us living with a mental health condition. My parents took Family to Family, our class for loved ones supporting us. Slowly, we began healing as a family, rebuilding our lives and taking this new journey we were on one step at a time.
Recovery was my full time job for the first half of 2015, and was thrilled to be contacted in July to apply for the special event coordinator position, and overjoyed when I was selected. Where better to continue my road to a thriving life than this agency that I love so much. Over the years I was trained to do In Our Own Voice and Ending the Silence – two programs where we use our experience and knowledge to raise awareness and reduce stigma.
I’m honored to now be the Director of Education and Community Outreach for NAMI Rochester. In this role I am committed to expand our programs in the community, including our newest initiative - Partners for Suicide Prevention and make NAMI a household name to continue helping those affected by mental illness live their best lives. In addition to my work here at NAMI I serve on the Department of Psychiatry Advisory Council of Consumers & Families at the University of Rochester Medical Center, volunteer with numerous community organizations and consult as lived experience faculty with SafeSide Prevention.
When I’m not talking mental health & suicide prevention I love being a doggie mama to my sweet dog, Bella, spending time with family & friends, cooking, exploring and doing my small part to make this world a better place.