Save the Date! The Annual Business Meeting will be held on December 13, 2023, 7:00-8:00 PM via Zoom. Connect with affiliates, vote for new board members and bylaws, and discuss organizational matters. Dive into insightful panels for a well-rounded experience. Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute and connect! Keep reading to learn more about this year’s Board of Directors candidates, and register using the Zoom link below.
We are fortunate to have six well-qualified candidates running. The NAMI membership will select three Board members who will serve through 2026. Please review the candidate biographies below.
This year, we will also vote on two amendments to our NAMI Mass Bylaws. One amendment expands the protected classes within our Non-discrimination Clause to include caste origin. This amendment will keep our bylaws consistent with the NAMI National Bylaws which were amended in June 2023 with overwhelming support from NAMI members across the country. A second amendment codifies the requirement in our charter agreement that states that changes to the NAMI Mass Bylaws must be approved by the national organization prior to a vote by our membership.
Please use the Absentee Ballot and Cover Sheet sent to you to vote in the election. Absentee Ballots must be received by the NAMI Mass office by Wednesday, December 6, 2023, to be valid and counted. You must be a current member of NAMI Mass in good standing with dues paid up as of October 29, 2023 to vote – whether you have Open Door, Regular, or Household memberships you only get one vote. We will be announcing the results of the Board election on Saturday, December 16, 2023.
We hope you can join us for our annual meeting. If you have any general questions, please contact Mayreliz Perez, at email@example.com. See you there!
I have worked in the mental health field for the last ten years with a primary focus on underserved populations in a community mental health setting. For the last five and a half years, I have had the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of positions with River Valley Counseling. Most recently, I obtained my MBA through Fitchburg State and my current role provides me the opportunity of managing budgets that are grant funded through DPH/BSAS, as well as the City of Springfield. Additionally, I am knowledgeable and committed to advocating to address health disparities experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. I identify as a white, heterosexual female, who has lived experience with being a ward of the state, a history of childhood trauma, experiencing homelessness as a young adult, and a person in recovery with 14 years of sobriety.
As Director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness at the Boston Public Health Commission, I bring to the Board a public health perspective and commitment to reflect the Commission’s core values of equity, anti-racism, transparency, collaboration, and being people-centered. These values overlay two integral frameworks I hold: social work and racially-just trauma-informed care (TIC). The ethical principles of social work inform my thinking on mental health – including the need to address root causes related to mental health issues, the need to advocate for social change to address social injustice, respect for the inherent dignity and worth of all people, an ability to recognize the central importance of human relationships, and an abiding commitment to behave with integrity and in a trustworthy manner in al matters. My expertise in trauma-informed care fosters my understanding of and commitment to highlighting the intersection of mental health issues, trauma, racism, and oppression. I advocate for others to understand how Adverse Childhood Experiences, social determinants of health, structural violence, racism, and oppression are strong forces that shape population mental health.
My experience as a Director at HomeStart, a community therapist at Arbour Counseling, a trauma-focused therapist, trauma-informed advocate and educator and DEl and racial justice leader at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, and a Cambridge Health Alliance Health Equity Scholar have given me invaluable tools and skills that I would bring to membership on the Board. From these experiences I have learned to use the art of community organizing principles to advance advocacy in health equity; the importance of a socio-ecological leadership framework to advance equity, diversity and inclusion; the importance of intra and inter collegial collaboration; and the emotional Intelligence and insight needed to lead diverse thinkers in advancing health equity in mental health.
Early in my role as Director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness I sought to advance collaboration with NAMI MA. I facilitated the creation of a panel involving Myisha Rodrigues, PhD, LMHC, Executive Director for NAMI MA, Kevin Simon, MD, MPH, Chief Behavioral Health Officer for the City of Boston, and Chairman Jackman, PhD, Founder of InnoPsych to explore the historical roots of trauma and the impact of mental health stigma entitled Addressing the Roots: Historical Trauma and Mental Health Stigma in Communities of Color.
My identity reflects my passion for an intersectional approach to mental health. I bring to all that I do the desire to bring social and racial justice into the world. I do this for myself, and to be an example to my two daughters. It is all the more important to me to be an example to them, as I am a single mother by choice. I also have lived experience as a user of mental health services, being in psychotherapy on and off throughout my adult life to address the stressors of single parenting and familial legacies of anxiety and depression that likely stem from histories of immigration that arose from the need to seek safety. I would be honored to join the Board and bring my interests, identities and expertise to the table.
I’m thrilled to express my keen interest in joining the NAMI Mass Board if Directors. In alignment with the qualities sought in a NAMI Mass Board Candidate, I bring a commitment to leverage my unique skills, abilities, and lived experiences for NAMI’s benefit. I’ve demonstrated integrity, judgment, and collaborative abilities throughout my career.
My interpersonal and communication skills have been honed through academic and counseling work. I am cooperative and supportive, yet I can assert my opinions when necessary. Above all, my unwavering passion and dedication to NAMI’s mission align seamlessly with the organization’s goals.
In a previous life, I pursued a career as a professional basketball player. My career took a sudden turn, however, when I fell critically il during a training camp. Without health insurance or stable employment, I found myself at a crossroads. Fortuitously, a former teammate’s father introduced me to the hiring manager who would offer me my first job in the mental health field as a case manager. Working with individuals in the very community in which I grew up, an urban, predominantly Black and poor city in New Jersey, I helped clients transitioning to the community after long-term state psychiatric stays. In this role, I witnessed the profound impact of structural issues like poverty, racism, and ableism on mental health challenges. More importantly, I discovered the power of recovery with the right support, one that respects an individual’s self-determination and humanity. This experience would fuel my academic journey culminating in a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Trauma Students and a PhD in Counseling & Psychology with a focus in transformative leadership, education, & applied research.
Professionally, I’ve served as a mental health counselor at virtually every disposition along the mental health continuum in Massachusetts. As an Assistant Professor and Program Director of Graduate Counseling Programs at Regis College, I’ve bridged education and practice, empowering future counselors. I also serve on the Advisory Board for the Graduate Counseling Programs at Regis, where a significant achievement was successfully crafting a mission for the program that informed all our processes – from marketing to admission to curriculum and instruction – and served as a model for other departments at Regis. This experience reinforced the importance of collaborative decision-making and effective governance, skills I’ll bring to the NAMI Mass Board. Additionally, as the owner of Jones Counseling & Consultation, I’ve gained valuable insights into the opportunities and challenges posed to businesses focused on mental health and wellness.
Overall, I am excited about the opportunity to contribute my skills, experiences, and dedication to the NAMI Mass Board of Directors. Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve NAMI Mass.
My name is Zoe Larsen and I am interested in a Member position on the NAMI MA Board of Directors. In addition to my professional experience, I also have lived experience that I believe will be an asset to the NAMI MA Board of Directors. Much like many others with mental health conditions, my journey has consisted of misdiagnoses and years of uncertainty. Although my mental health journey started many years before, I was finally diagnosed properly in the Spring of 2018. Throughout my process, I have navigated the mental health system through a variety of modalities. During this time, it became evident to me that there are inconsistencies in treatment offered and that treatment is not always easily attainable for people with varying backgrounds.
My own navigation of the mental health field led me to become a certified peer specialist. In 2012 I worked at a community crisis stabilization unit in Lowell as a peer specialist and remained in this role for several years. In this role I gained exposure to a diverse population with varying mental health needs. For the past 12 years I have been employed at a private non-profit organization on the North Shore. In my current role as Director of Housing and Respite Services, I have used my personal and professional experience and have applied it to the work I do with my program participants. I work with people from all walks of life, many of whom have a mental health diagnosis, and all of whom have experienced homelessness. I pride myself on being able to work with diverse groups with care, empathy, and compassion.
Given my personal experience with utilizing mental health services, | volunteered to serve on the Patient and Family Advisory Committee at Beverly, Addison Gilbert, and BayRidge Hospitals. My focus on this committee is to advocate for the mental health needs of patients and family members who have had encounters at any of the aforementioned hospitals, and to make sure their voices are heard with regard to policy and experience.
I currently serve as a board member for the Lynn Community Connections Coalition Board of Directors. I work with other board members to ensure that the organization’s goals align with community needs and work on strategic initiatives to improve the health of the organization. I find this work to be very fulfilling and am looking for more opportunities to share my experience and knowledge to benefit others.
My formal education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am in the process of finishing a second Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Non-Profit Management. This degree program has an emphasis on leadership skills and governance, which has empowered me to feel confident in applying for NAMI’s Board of Directors today.
I am certain that my professional and personal experience will be a benefit to the NAMI Massachusetts Board of Directors. I am passionate about mental health advocacy, support, and awareness, and I believe that my interests and experience align strongly with NAMI’s mission.
I became involved with NAMI Mass in 2014 as a peer, someone who has survived the mental healthcare system in ways that allow me to grasp the vast potential of this system to both harm and to mend. That first hospitalization in 2014 was soon after I lost someone very dear to me to suicide and my soul was so grieved, I felt that it would require too much of me to exist in a cruel world where beautiful people like my friend was left without hope.
I discovered a path towards recovery after completing NAMI’s Peer to Peer class with many others who understood what it’s like to daily manage a chronic condition that is both brutal, relentless, and often alienates so many people who genuinely care but also come to realize the need for self-preservation. Since the beginning of my healing journey, I have become a certified peer specialist, housing and medical case manager on Mass Cass, and have become a daily practitioner of trauma-informed care for the most vulnerable in Boston.
I am applying to the NAMI Massachusetts Board of Directors because I am frustrated by our current system and its limitations. I seek to join a team that intends on creating more effective, sensible options backed by relevant data, and to work towards implementation despite the tremendous challenges this work presents. If given the chance to earn a position at NAMI Mass Board of Directors, I will work passionately to deepen connections and conversations within NAMI through creative collaboration towards our mission to build better lives for those affected by mental health challenges.
Thank you for your consideration.
I am writing to express my deep interest in joining the NAMI Massachusetts Board of Directors, With an extensive background in education, spanning over two decades and including roles as a teacher, Principal, and Superintendent, I believe I possess the skills and expertise necessary to make a meaningful contribution to NAMI’s mission and vision.
For the past nine years, I have served as the Chief Executive Officer of CCM Education Group LLC. In this capacity, I have been dedicated to driving the organization’s vision and mission. My responsibilities have included inspiring and empowering school leaders and youth-serving organizations, developing customized decision-making strategies, collaborating with community partners, and delivering keynote speeches on vital topics such as diversity, inclusion, social and emotional learning, and change management. Throughout my career, I have consistently leveraged my educational expertise to design tailored solutions aligned with clients’ unique visions and values.
My experiences as an educator and leader, coupled with my unwavering commitment to fostering inclusive, equitable, and supportive environments, align seamlessly with NAMI Massachusetts’ mission and vision. Recognizing that mental health si intrinsically linked with education, I am eager to apply my knowledge and skills to support NAMI’s efforts to enhance the quality of life for individuals living with mental health conditions and their families.
As a prospective member of the NAMI Massachusetts Board of Directors, I pledge to utilize my skills, experiences, and insights to advance the organization’s mission. My ability to connect with individuals on a personal level, coupled with my strategic thinking and problem-solving abilities, can significantly contribute to the board’s efforts to empower those affected by mental health conditions.
NAMI Massachusetts’ vision of a society that humanizes mental health experience resonates deeply with my own beliefs and values. I am a staunch advocate for principles such as respect, agency, self- determination, non-coercion, and non-violence as fundamental pillars of mental health advocacy. My unwavering commitment lies in creating a culture of inclusivity and compassion where individuals and families can navigate their unique paths to healing and recovery with dignity and unwavering support.
If elected to the Board of Directors, I will devote myself tirelessly to the following goals:
- Amplify the Voices of Lived Experience: I will champion the importance of lived experiences and ensure that the voices of individuals and families remain at the forefront of NAMI Massachusetts’ initiatives and programs.
- Enhance Accessibility and Equity: My advocacy will prioritize increased access to mental health resources and services, particularly in underserved communities, with a focus on eliminating disparities in mental health care.
- Collaborate and Innovate: I will actively collaborate with fellow board members, stakeholders, and community partners to develop innovative solutions and strategies to address the evolving mental health landscape.
- Advocate for Policy Change: I will use my platform to advocate for mental health policy changes at the local and state levels, striving for a more equitable and just world for all.
I am deeply honored to be considered for a position on the NAMI Massachusetts Board of Directors, and I wholeheartedly commit to dedicating my time, energy, and expertise to furthering the organization’s critical mission.
Together, we can continue the essential work of creating a society that supports and uplifts individuals and families affected by mental health conditions.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration, and I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to contribute to the remarkable work of NAMI Massachusetts.