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Chief Timothy Burton (Ret.), MBA
Criminal Justice Diversion Project Coordinator
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Ilya Cherkasov, MS
Senior Manager, Education & Support
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Marilyn DeSantis, MS
Chief Financial Officer
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Sarah Ford, LCSW, MTS
Senior Manager, Community Education & Outreach
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Jill Gichuhi
Compass Helpline Director
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Eliza Greenberg
Program Associate, Education & Support
Karen Gromis
Deputy Director of Development
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Jacqueline Hubbard, Esq.
Policy Director
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Jay Lapin, MSW
Senior Manager, Education & Support
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Kyrie Mohammed
Program Associate, Community Education & Outreach
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Christina Phillips
Donor Relations Coordinator
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Dr. Myisha Rodrigues
Executive Director
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Amanda Stone, MPP, MA
Communications & Public Policy Specialist
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Michelle Ward-Gilles, Ed.M.
Division Director, Community Education & Outreach
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Eliza T Williamson
Deputy Director of Programs
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Dr. Myisha R. Rodrigues
Executive Director

Myisha R. Rodrigues, PhD, LMHC (she/her) is currently the Executive Director of NAMI Massachusetts. With nearly 20 years of experience in the mental health, education, and non-profit sectors, Dr. Rodrigues is committed to facilitating the well-being and development of individuals, organizations, and systems through transformative coaching, strategic initiatives, and continuous improvement. Her praxis is guided by advocacy for social justice, critically conscious philosophy, and healing centered engagement. Dr. Rodrigues’ love of the arts has shaped her narrative as a practitioner, leader, and scholar. As a licensed mental health clinician and certified trauma professional, she has facilitated the professional development of her peers locally, nationally, and internationally.

Dr. Rodrigues earned a PhD in Counseling & Psychology with a concentration in Transformative Leadership, Education, and Applied Research from Lesley University. She earned an M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College and a B.A. in Dance and Movement Studies from Emory University. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Council of the International Society for Policy, Research, and Evaluation in School Based Counseling (ISPRESC) and has a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Tufts University’s Institute for Nonprofit Practice.

Programs
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Eliza T. Williamson, M.Ed., MFA, CPS
Deputy Director of Programs

Eliza (she/her) is a writer, national trainer, speaker, curriculum developer, and advocate. Her role at NAMI Mass is Deputy Director of Programs, where she oversees all programming for the organization, including peer, family and community education programs, as well as the Compass Helpline. Eliza has worked in the non-profit sector in Massachusetts for over two decades, supporting and advocating for people and families with life interrupting challenges: trauma, mental health conditions, problems with substances, being unhoused and systems of oppression. This work, in addition to her own lived experience, has shaped Eliza’s lifelong passion for social justice, equity and amplifying the voices of those most marginalized. As a queer woman whose young adult life was interrupted by her own mental health struggles and the associated discrimination, Eliza knows firsthand the way that mental health systems can help as well as do harm. At NAMI Mass, Eliza leads a team that strives to develop and offer programs and supports that honor the experiences, dignity, and humanity of each member of our community. Eliza holds a Master of Education with a focus in Conflict Resolution and Violence Prevention and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, both from Lesley University. Outside of NAMI, Eliza is lead trainer for the state’s Certified Peer Specialist training through the Kiva Centers. In her free time, you’ll find Eliza submerged in the Atlantic Ocean, dancing with her wife in their kitchen or chasing her dogs, Nelson and Clementine.

Education & Support
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Ilya Cherkasov, MS
Senior Manager, Education & Support

Ilya Cherkasov (he/him) is a Senior Manager of Education and Support at NAMI Massachusetts. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Ethics and Public Policy from Suffolk University. Eight years ago, Ilya’s own and his family experiences with mental illness led him to NAMI. Ilya is a trained NAMI FSG facilitator, F2F teacher and Basics teacher. In his work he assists over 200 family education and support program leaders in Massachusetts with delivering NAMI signature programs to communities across the state. Ilya is deeply committed to the NAMI mission and finds huge reward in seeing the organization’s strength grow. Among other things, he embraces the principles found in the Stoic teachings.

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Jay Lapin, MSW
Senior Manager, Education & Support

Jay Lapin, MSW (he/him) joined NAMI Mass in February as the Senior Manager, Ed & Support, focused on peer programs. Jay graduated in December 2019 with a master’s degree in social work from Tulane University in New Orleans. His previous work was in education, mentoring and suicide prevention. Growing up Jay was raised by a parent with bipolar disorder, and he also lives with the same diagnosis. Jay has witnessed the challenges of the mental health system as an individual seeking help, as a caregiver and as a professional. He hopes to work to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to create a culture that values the voices of those with lived experience. Outside of work Jay can be found walking around Jamaica Plain with his Pitbull, Blue or attending all the live comedy shows in the area.

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Eliza Greenberg
Program Associate, Education & Support

Eliza Greenberg (she/her) graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.B.A. in Business Management and a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management in May of 2018. She previously worked in the corporate events industry, assisting with the logistical planning on pharmaceutical events. More recently, her work has focused on civic engagement and community development. 
Having a parent who works in the mental health industry, Eliza grew up having conversations about reducing stigmas surrounding mental health and the importance of accessible education regarding mental health matters. She hopes to continue these conversations and establish inclusive education and support resources that are easily accessible for everyone. Outside of work Eliza enjoys baking and planning the next game or movie night with friends!

Community Education & Outreach
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Michelle Ward-Gilles, Ed.M.
Division Director, Community Education & Outreach

Michelle (she/her) is an educator, curriculum writer, trainer, storyteller, and advocate, with extensive experience in teaching, program management, and volunteer training. Michelle has a background as an elementary school teacher and curriculum writer and holds a Master of Education degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education along with bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Missouri. She joined the NAMI Mass staff in 2018 and is also a speaker for several of our education programs. Her passion for mental health education comes from experiencing her own mental health challenges and from supporting others navigating mental health issues. Outside of work, Michelle enjoys cooking and is always looking for new recipes to try. She also loves traveling, hiking and camping with her husband, and reading a good novel!

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Sarah Ford, LCSW, MTS
Senior Manager, Community Education & Outreach

Sarah Ford (she/her) is the Senior Manager of Community Education & Outreach at NAMI Massachusetts (The National Alliance on Mental Illness). Sarah is an LCSW having earned her degrees from Boston University’s School of Social Work and School of Theology. Her previous work focused on youth and family programming for community-based non-profits in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Hawaii. Her work with families has educated her on the many systemic barriers that prevent individuals from living a full and healthy life. Having witnessed the shortcomings of the mental health system in both her personal and professional life, Sarah is deeply motivated to increase support, education, and access for anyone experiencing mental health concerns.

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Chief Timothy Burton (Ret.), MBA
Criminal Justice Diversion Project Coordinator

In April of 2020, Chief Timothy Burton (Ret.) (he/him) joined the staff of NAMI Mass as the coordinator of the Criminal Justice Diversion Initiative following his retirement from 35yrs. In law enforcement. Tim’s law enforcement experience includes 12yrs. as a major city Chief of Police in Maine and Texas. He is a police policy expert and has implemented several programs, including Crisis Intervention Training, designed to improve the police response to those experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Tim provides technical advice, policy guidance, education, and advocacy in furtherance of the NAMI Mass Criminal Justice Diversion Initiative. He teaches criminal justice management and operations at the undergraduate level and brings extensive knowledge of the criminal justice and mental health systems

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Kyrie Mohammed
Program Associate, Community Education & Outreach

Kyrie Mohammed (she/her) is the Program Associate to Community Education and Training department. She has been with the organization since November of 2019. Her work background includes nonprofit and event management. She holds a BA in History for the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. In her free time, Kyrie enjoys traveling, art, running and swimming!

Compass Helpline
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Jill Gichuhi
Compass Helpline Director

Jill (she/her) has worked for NAMI Massachusetts since September 2016. She has more than 10 years of experience in information and referral and has also worked in peer and family support roles. She is passionate about suicide prevention and the idea that housing is an essential first step to wellness.

Development
Karen GromisDeputy Director of Development
Karen Gromis
Deputy Director of Development

Karen Gromis (she/her), Deputy Director, Development of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) has over 25 years of fund development experience in implementation and strategies. Karen’s background is in the theater sector working on fundraising, market communications, and audience development. She wanted to make a career shift into another nonprofit organization that also was a cause she cares deeply about, so she joined NAMI Massachusetts in 2007. Karen supervises the NAMIWalks Mass campaign and has raised over 9 million dollars at this event over the years. She plans to work towards her Certified Fund Raising Executive credentials this year.

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Christina Phillips
Donor Relations Coordinator

Christina Phillips (she/her) joined NAMI Mass as the Donor Relations Specialist in March 2022. In her role, she maintains our donor database, processes donations and acknowledgments, and provides general assistant to the development department. Before joining NAMI Mass, Christina graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Plymouth State University and worked in various administrative and customer service roles. As mental illness awareness and advocacy has been a longtime passion of hers due to personal experience, she was drawn to NAMI Mass’s mission as a way to use her experiences to give back to others. She now uses her knowledge of mental health and background in database management and client relations to assist in NAMI’s development efforts.

Policy
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Jacqueline Hubbard, Esq.
Policy Director

Jacqueline Hubbard, Esq. (she/her) joined NAMI Massachusetts in May ‘22 as our new Policy Director. In this role, Jacqueline will facilitate internal discussions and decision making on our policy/advocacy positions, coordinate our engagement with key leaders, legislators, statewide coalitions, and commissions, and support the development of our positions on critical social issues related to mental health at the state and federal level. Before joining NAMI Mass, Jacqueline worked as a Public Policy Fellow with United States Senator Patty Murray, a Public Policy Analyst with the National Disability Rights Network, Chief of Staff to State Senator Barry Finegold, and a Staff Attorney with the Disability Law Center. In these roles, Jacqueline authored multiple published reports on a variety of disability rights issues. As a sibling of an autistic twin and an individual with lived experience of trauma, Jacqueline has a deep passion for using policy/advocacy work to elevate the voices of those most impacted by systemic inequities and who often face violations of their human rights. She is eager to bring her extensive policy knowledge and passion for helping others to NAMI Mass.

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Amanda Stone
Communications & Public Policy Specialist

Amanda Stone, MPP, MA (she/her) joined NAMI Massachusetts in September ‘22 as the Communications & Public Policy Specialist. In this new position, Amanda will help strengthen our policy and advocacy work and coordinate the brand messaging and visual identity of NAMI Mass. Prior to this role, Amanda worked as the Research Assistant for Simmons University’s Center for Faculty Excellence and as the Communications Director at Cambridge Athletic Club. She has also held various internships with prestigious marketing and communications groups, such as MLM Strategies and The Novus Group. From Medford, MA, she cares deeply about the future of behavioral health in the Commonwealth. Amanda is thrilled to join NAMI Mass where she will combine her passion for mental health with her professional and educational experiences in communications and public policy.

Finance
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Marilyn DeSantis, MS
Chief Financial Officer

Marilyn DeSantis, M.S. (she/her) is the Chief Financial Officer and has been working at NAMI Mass since 2008. She is responsible for the financial operations of the organization and supports the Executive Director with budgeting, revenue and expense monitoring, contracts, and reporting requirements. Marilyn has a background in financial management and investor services. She holds a Master of Science degree in Management. Marilyn came to the organization because of its mission and is proud to support the work of her colleagues and the many volunteers who continue to educate and support those living with mental health conditions and their families. Outside of work, Marilyn enjoys spending time with her family.