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Candidates

Marilyn Ricci -- Nominated by NAMI Farmington Valley, Connecticut

In the late 1990's, my family became involved with NAMI after a family member received the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Over 18 years, our family has had experience with many hospitals, long-term care facilities, ACT, plethora of medicines and medicine and illness side effects.

What brought you to NAMI and what roles have you played in your NAMI Affiliate and NAMI State Organization?

For three years, my family struggled alone to cope with the diagnosis of schizophrenia that turned our world upside down. At the third hospitalization a psychiatrist told us about NAMI. I joined the closest affiliate and we began to be educated. The Family to Family course dramatically changed our lives. With understanding, we became a better family for our son living with schizophrenia. My gratitude caused me to immediately sign-up to be a Family to Family teacher. Soon after, I joined the NAMI Connecticut (CT) State Board, and became President of NAMI CT in 2002. In 2004, I helped start an affiliate in my community. I served as NAMI CT Walk Chair for two years. Besides teaching Family to Family, I became a Provider Education presenter, State Support Group trainer, and a Parents and Teachers As Allies presenter. On the national level, I served on the NAMI National Standards Committee, presented at two NAMI conferences on nutrition and wellness, and at the NAMI leadership conference on affiliate development. Presently, I am the third president of the NAMI Farmington Valley affiliate and the co-support group leader for the affiliate. When teaching Family to Family and facilitating the monthly support group, I see the enormous change NAMI makes in the lives of families and those living with mental illness.

What advocacy and organizational priority areas do you believe NAMI should be pursuing in the next three years and how can you help as a Board member?

My advocacy is based on my 18 years of experience with the mental health system. I feel that evidence based treatments in the community need to be available to all who need them. The whole person must be included in the treatment, meaning overall health as well as mental health. My "on the job" education has given me the resolve and passion to advocate for a better mental health system. Fighting stigma is also a priority. Stigma holds back treatment and interferes with family wellness.

Please describe any previous service on a board and what you regard as your greatest contribution to that organization's work through your service on its board.

In my professional life, I am a registered dietitian. The first board I was on was the Reading, Pennsylvania Nutrition Council when I was 21. After moving to Connecticut, I joined CT's Nutrition Council and became its chair. I have also been a board member of the Canton, CT League of Women Voters as well as its President. For NAMI CT, I have been a State Board Member and State President and an Affiliate Board Member and I am presently President of the Farmington Valley affiliate. During my State Board presidency, CT held its first state conference and first NAMIWalk. I am the third President of the Farmington Valley affiliate, which reflects a strongly held position that affiliates must have written bylaws and adhere to them. Unless there is continuous leadership development an organization will not survive and therefore will not be able to support, advocate or educate. The result is that many families like mine will be forced to face mental illness alone. I can't accept this. As a national board member, I will speak to the needs of affiliates and work to strengthen this vital level of the organization.

How can you contribute to NAMI's evolution as "a dynamic, well-run organization that seeks and engages a diverse and growing membership," as called for in the NAMI strategic plan?

As a member of the NAMI national standards committee, I was involved in the organization's standards development. At both the affiliate and state NAMI level, I have seen the difference a "dynamic, well-run organization" makes in serving its community. Strengthening the NAMI organization at all levels is the foundation for meeting NAMI's mission. I will not be satisfied until NAMI is strong at all levels across the country and will do whatever I can as a National Board member to further this aim. In CT, we have been working on membership retention at both the state and affiliate level. This is an area I am interested in working to improve since we are only as strong as our members. I am ready to share my experience in affiliate and state organization at the national level. NAMI must be there for all who need support, education and advocacy.

What fund raising, financial oversight, legal, marketing, or information technology expertise do you have to offer to NAMI?

Since 2004, I have been captain of a NAMI Walk team that raises over $5000 and has over 30 walkers. I've learned that you just have to ask. In 1981, I had the opportunity to start my own food service business which gave me experience in finances, organization and employee development. I believe I am a better nonprofit leader as a result.

Job Title or Position: Dietitian
Employer: Self-Employed
NAMI Affiliations: NAMI Farmington Valley (Conn.), President; Support Group, leader
Other Board Service: none
Public Office: I am not currently serving in any public/elected office.

Candidate Statement as Published in the NAMI Advocate

For three years, my family struggled alone to cope with the diagnosis of schizophrenia that turned our world upside down. At the third hospitalization a psychiatrist told us about NAMI. The Family to Family course dramatically changed our lives. With understanding, we became a better family for our son living with schizophrenia. My gratitude caused me to immediately sign-up to be a Family to Family teacher. Soon after, I joined the NAMI Connecticut (CT) State Board, and became President of NAMI CT in 2002. In 2004 I helped start an affiliate in my community. For two years, I served as NAMI CT Walk Chair. Besides teaching Family to Family, I became a Provider Education presenter, State Support Group trainer, and a Parents and Teachers As Allies presenter. On the national level, I served on the NAMI National Standards Committee, presented at two NAMI conferences on nutrition and wellness, and at the NAMI leadership conference on affiliate development. Presently, I am the third president of the NAMI Farmington Valley affiliate and the co-support group leader for the affiliate. When teaching Family to Family and facilitating the monthly support group, I see the enormous change NAMI makes in the lives of families and those living with mental illness.

My advocacy is based on my 18 years of experience with the mental health system. I believe that evidence based treatments in the community need to be available. The whole person must be included in the treatment, meaning overall health as well as mental health. My "on the job" education has given me the resolve and passion to advocate for a better mental health system.

I believe in a strong NAMI organization. Unless there is continuous leadership development an organization will not survive and therefore will not be able to support, advocate or educate.

Listen to Marilyn Ricci's Election Speech

Related Files

Marilyn Ricci Nomination Letter (PDF File)

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