Eileen Silber and NAMI came together when she and her husband learned their son had schizophrenia. During the initial disbelief, confusion, and gradual acceptance, it was NAMI that provided information and support. It was a life-saving experience for Eileen, and she has tried ever since to give back what she received.
A native of Canada, Eileen graduated from the University of Toronto. She came to the United States and studied to become an oral teacher of the deaf at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, MA. After teaching, she went on to earn a master of science in audiology and speech pathology degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Eileen is married and the mother of four children. She has been a small business owner and volunteered for many years with the League of Women Voters. It was through League work that she began to develop awareness of legislative and governmental processes and develop skills in advocacy. Long before her son became ill, she worked part-time for the Illinois Governor's Advocacy Council and for the Illinois Association of Community Mental Health Centers. She has served as President, Women of the Medical School, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
Elected to the board of NAMI in July 2001, she brings long experience from her efforts in North Carolina. She served as President of NAMI North Carolina, which received NAMI's Outstanding State Award under her leadership. She has risen through the NAMI ranks, facilitating Caring and Sharing, teaching Family to Family, and serving on her local board. She has served on the Executive Committee of NAMI's State Presidents' Advisory Council.
Eileen's other activities on behalf of those with mental illness include board membership on the County Area Board for MH, DD and SA; NC Council Of Community Programs for MH, DD and SA; and Life Plan Trust of NC. The latter is a non-profit organization that helps families develop and implement plans for the future of their mentally ill relative. Other state activities include service on the Olmstead Task Force and the joint legislative sub-committee dealing with reform of the entire mental health system in North Carolina.