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Candidates

Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith

Nominated by NAMI Montana

I believe I can trace my depression back to age four. However, I wasn’t diagnosed with major depression until my teens. Today, I have also been diagnosed with Bipolar II, PTSD and Agoraphobia. Recovery comes in the form of self care, exercise, diet, med compliance and volunteer work.

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

A young mother committed suicide near my home. My concern led me to discover support groups for families but none for those of us living with mental illness. Through my search I found NAMI Montana. I was elected as Consumer Representative and am now serving my second two-year term. I have been trained in NAMI Smarts Advocacy, Peer-to-Peer, NAMI Connection, Parents and Teachers as Allies and In Our Own Voice (IOOV) and am the State Trainer for IOOV. This year I have taken a very active role in Montana’s Legislature, testifying one to two days a week on behalf of NAMI’s legislative priorities. I was elected as the Consumer Council Web Liaison to communicate between the web developers and the council about the website redesign. I have also been soliciting and posting articles from consumer members for NAMI’s Consumer Council Sharepoint Site. Finally, NAMI Montana held a “Montana Mental Health Institution Reboot” contest and the entry I entered, along with two other people, won second prize. In it we offered new cost saving ways to keep people in their communities and out of Montana State Hospital and Detention centers.

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?

I advocate for Evidenced Based Practices, early detection, intervention and treatment through Community Based Services and believe that these issues are important for NAMI National to pursue. Within these categories, I have identified three areas I would like to see become NAMI priorities. Being from the rural and frontier state of Montana I also have my eye on ways to provide services that acknowledge the distances one must travel for psychiatric services. An example of this is that currently providers can use Telemed services but insurance companies will not reimburse them.

I envision leveraging the NAMI Smarts program, rolling it out nationally, and adding even more voices to the causes listed above. Being involved in the NAMI Smarts Advocacy Program I realize how many more people can be trained in the simple process of writing, editing and telling their stories, thereby becoming self advocate. The Grassroots aspect of NAMI National has the opportunity to expand advocacy among those living with mental illness and their family members through the NAMI Smarts Advocacy training. This kind of involvement is a great complement to recovery; taking a stand for our rights and speaking up can be very empowering. I am also active in reducing the number of mentally ill inmates that are incarcerated. In my own state I am working towards having the Montana State Mental Hospital be turned into a forensic only unit and to have detained inmates moved there for more appropriate care. I would like to see mental health treatment in prisons become a NAMI priority.

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. How will you make service on the NAMI Board of Directors your top volunteer priority?

I have served on the Central Service Area Authority (CSAA) for the past three years; first year as VP and second & third as President. I have informed this Board, that should I be elected to the NAMI National Board I will step down. The Service Area Authorities (SAA’s) were created by the Montana Legislature to act as the “eyes and ears” in our respective communities and to collaborate with the Montana public health department. The goal of the SAA’s is to help the State know what is needed in various communities. In this way they can avoid the “one size fits all” programs they had developed and rolled out, often falling flat. Once again, due to the sheer size of the state and the cultural differences in various parts of the state (Montana has six Indian Nations, urban and rural communities) a “one size fits all” simply doesn’t work. I believe that my organizational and communication strengths have brought the CSAA Board back into alignment with our bylaws, dramatically improved the board web site and gotten our fiscal house in order. We are actively holding the state responsible for the collaboration this Board is legislatively mandated to have with the State. I intend to offer the same level of attention to the NAMI Board should I be elected. Finally, one of my volunteer priorities, when on the NAMI National Board will be to stay to advocate on Capitol Hill, giving me time to develop a rapport with the staffers of key Senators and Representatives on Mental Health issues. In the past I have had the privilege of speaking with US Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, as well as Senator Al Franken regarding service dogs and our Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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?

My business experience honed my organizational and communication skills. Bringing diverse groups of people together to collaborate and perform more effectively was the essence of my 34-year career. As a business owner and corporate consultant I am impressed by the use of the NAMI Strategic Screens, to make sure that all initiatives are appropriate and aimed at fulfillment of the NAMI mission. Also, living in a rural/frontier state adds a perspective that is often unknown to those living in larger urban & suburban cities. I will bring a perspective to NAMI of the needs of people living in rural America and on Indian Nations. I am an advocate for systems that work for people in large states with small populations. Montana is physically the fourth largest state in the nation, with approximately six people per square mile, yet its population just passed one million. I can engage multiple voices for rural health care systems that work. These delivery systems absolutely must be improved. Necessity and knowledge informs us that mental health services can be more effective, but systematic change is needed. I will proudly represent others in rural/frontier states and I believe that the NAMI Board will benefit greatly from understanding the difficulties of delivering services in a remote rural/frontier state. We have all of the challenges that every other state has but availability of services is more challenging in rural/frontier states.

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

I speak up when the status quo needs challenging. I am a big picture person who deals with details. I created and ran six successful businesses over 34 years. Knowing the rules, regulations, obstacles and opportunities in the business and regulatory landscapes allowed me to win while working within the system. Being hands-on with financial oversight, legal, marketing, and information technology decisions has given me a broad perspective. Through my career I created, ran and ultimately sold six businesses; the largest Real Estate Review course in the State of Texas, the largest Real Estate School in Austin, Texas, a Web Design Firm, then moved into Corporate Training, Consulting and Coaching. Over those years I honed my skills as teacher and speaker. I am calm, confident and have the ability to talk with people in a way that makes sense. I’m a trained mediator and coach. I’ve learned how to collaborate and how to help people work together.

Over the years I have taught in excess of 65,000 people in person and over 12,000 telephonic and/or webinar classes. Most were in the United States but I have worked with clients in many different countries, including England, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. I have never been shy about asking people for money. My experience in the private sector honed this skill and I believe that my fundraising abilities will develop quickly.

Job Title or Position: Mental Health Advocate
Employer: Retired
NAMI Affiliations: NAMI Montana, Consumer Rep
NAMI Montana, Board Member
Other Board Service: Central Service Area Authority, President
Public Office: I am not currently serving on any other boards of directors

Candidate Statement as Published in the NAMI Advocate

1) A young mother committed suicide near my home. My concern led me to discover support groups for families but none for those of us living with mental illness. Through my search I found NAMI Montana and was elected to the board and named their Consumer Representative. I have been trained in NAMI Smarts Advocacy, Peer-to-Peer, NAMI Connection, Parents and Teachers as Allies and In Our Own Voice (IOOV) and am the State Trainer for IOOV.

2) I advocate for Evidenced Based Practices, early detection, intervention and treatment through Community Based Services. I envision leveraging the NAMI Smarts program, rolling it out nationally, and adding even more voices to the cause.

3) In my three years on the Central Service Area Authority, my organizational and communication skills have enabled me to bring the Board back into alignment with our bylaws, dramatically improve the Board web site, and press for the mandated collaboration of this Board with the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division of the State of Montana.

4) Bringing diverse groups of people together to collaborate and perform more effectively was the essence of my 34-year career. I will bring a perspective to NAMI of the needs of people living in rural America and on Indian Nations. I can engage multiple voices for rural health care systems that work. These delivery systems absolutely must be improved.

5) I speak up when the status quo needs challenging. I am a big picture person who deals with details. I created and ran six successful businesses over 34 years. Knowing the rules, regulations, obstacles and opportunities in the business and regulatory landscapes allowed me to win while working within the system. Being hands-on with financial oversight, legal, marketing, and information technology decisions has given me a broad perspective.


Related Files

Alicia Smith Candidate Speech

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