The Distinguished Service Award is NAMI’s highest honor, given in recognition of exceptional efforts to further NAMI’s goal of improving the lives of people who live with mental illness. Dr. Joyce Burland’s work to develop and market the NAMI Family-to-Family education program has been nothing short of inspirational. What began as a small but hopeful program in the upper regions of New England has now spread all over our nation and is beginning to make its power known in other parts of the world. Joyce’s work has not only transformed individual lives, but has also helped to transform the mental health care system. In the words of the NAMI Board of Directors, “The army of NAMI members that Joyce Burland armed with knowledge and passion is changing the way persons living with mental illness are treated. The army is on the move because of Dr. Burland and the programs she created and nourished.” All of NAMI expresses its deep gratitude for this tremendous achievement.
The Outstanding NAMI Member Award is the highest honor that NAMI gives to a member of our family. It is given in recognition of long and effective work to accomplish NAMI’s goals. The Rev. Hal Taylor has worked hard to see NAMI’s goals realized by both individual actions and as a member of our organization. As an individual, he worked for many years at a homeless shelter and as a counselor for persons who are incarcerated, many of whom live with mental illness. As a member of NAMI, Hal was instrumental in the founding of the NAMI Affiliate in the Greater Bloomington area in Indiana and has played a leadership role in the Family-to-Family program there. He has also worked tirelessly for many years to encourage brain donation to further research into mental illness.
Named for the founder of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training program, this award is given to recognize outstanding work in the criminal justice system to deal fairly and humanely with people living with mental illness. Under the leadership of Chief William McManus, every member of the San Antonio Police Department has received CIT training. Concomitant with this, and equally important, Chief McManus has worked to increase the size of the city’s mental health unit and has been a major supporter of jail diversion programs for offenders living with mental illness.
The Rona and Ken Purdy Award goes to someone who has done significant work to reduce the stigma attached to living with a mental illness. Doris Buffett is candid about her battles with depression and about the fact that many members of her family also lived with mental illness. Beyond her candor, she is extraordinarily generous to individuals in recovery who need a helping hand, having established partnerships with 16 different prisons to help incarcerated persons achieve educational goals and provide an alternative to actions that led to their incarceration in the first place. Her biography, Giving It All Away, is sure to serve as an inspiration for many who live with mental illness as well as for their family members.
Named for NAMI’s first legislative director and life-long grassroots advocate Dick Greer, this award recognizes leadership and vision in advocacy that has resulted in significant improvements on the state and/or national level. Buddy Wier, from Columbia, S.C., has exhibited a determination to do everything possible to give people living with mental illness and their families the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, a reason to hope and a future of recovery. His work in NAMI South Carolina has been nothing short of heroic—he has served as a board member of the NAMI State Organization and as president of his NAMI Affiliate. He is willing to talk to anyone who will listen—including some people who might have chosen not to given the chance—and he has brought hope to people throughout South Carolina and beyond. Buddy is a walking, talking personification of NAMI’s mission.
The Excellence in Community Mental Health Award is given to recognize outstanding efforts by professionals to reach out to people living with mental illness in their own communities. Dr. Perry Hoffman helped to establish the National Educational Alliance on Borderline Personality Disorder, including organizing and leading conferences about this disorder and helping to create its website. Her clinical work and her contribution to the development of Family Connections, a educational program for families of people with BPD, have filled a vital need for specialized family psycho-education about this difficult mental illness. Her extraordinary and compassionate leadership has had an impact on professionals, researchers, policy makers and, most importantly, has eased the burden for thousands of families.
This award honors effective efforts to ensure that diversity and inclusion are high priorities in the NAMI family. In selecting NAMI San Antonio for this year’s award, the NAMI Board of Directors salutes the comprehensive mental health and community services network members of this affiliate have helped to bring about. They have worked with the school system, local churches and the Veterans Administration and veterans groups to ensure that NAMI’s message of recovery and hope is heard loud and clear in Bexar County—in both English and Spanish.
The Outstanding NAMI State Organization Award is given to recognize exceptional efforts on the state level to further NAMI’s mission. NAMI Connecticut was chosen this year for the way in which it honors and furthers the values and spirit of our organization. Its staff and programs reflect NAMI’s commitment to diversity, it is recognized as a leader in advocacy in the state, the state office offers top-notch technical assistance to NAMI Affiliates and it offers the full complement of NAMI education programs. The NAMI Board of Directors was also impressed with its deep and diversified funding base. NAMI Connecticut is truly the “go to” organization on mental illness in the state of Connecticut.
The Outstanding NAMI Affiliate Award honors exemplary efforts to achieve NAMI’s goals on the local level. NAMI San Diego’s consistent support of NAMI’s mission of education, support and advocacy is evidenced by the number of support groups, education classes, community outreach activities, seminars and monthly education and advocacy meetings it offers. Their NAMIWalk has grown to be one of the largest in the nation. The NAMI Board was particularly impressed with their “Friends in the Lobby” program which offers NAMI information and support to those visiting loved ones in hospital psychiatric units.
The Ken Steele Award is given by NAMI’s Consumer Council to recognize outstanding contributions by an individual living with mental illness to improve the quality of life, increase empowerment and promote integration and inclusion for other individuals living with mental illness. Mike Weaver works tirelessly as an advocate for the rights of people living with mental illness at the local, state and national levels. Serving as a mentor to hundreds of his peers in his community, he uses his story to strengthen and empower others in their journey to recovery. In his home state of North Carolina, he has worked effectively with the state government to advance the Peer Support program. He has served on countless committees, including the NAMI Board of Directors, and has been asked to speak at conferences across the United States. Mike is an excellent model of recovery and is working diligently to improve lives.
The Gloria Huntley Award is given to a facility or individual to recognize significant strides in reducing the use of seclusion and restraints in a treatment setting. Elyn R. Saks has been a champion for reducing and eliminating restraints and seclusion for adults and youth. Elyn specializes in mental health law, criminal law and children and the law. Her research has focused on the ethical dimensions of psychiatric research as well as forced treatment of those with mental illness. She has used her book, The Center Cannot Hold, as an outreach tool to educate others across the country about the dangers and harmful effects that can be caused by restraints and seclusion. In addition to this, Elyn created the Saks Institute of Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics with the funds she received from the 2009 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Each year the Institute spends one academic year researching and improving efforts on one important mental health issue. This past year has been dedicated to researching the use of restraints and seclusion in psychiatric hospitals. Elyn is not only an excellent model of recovery, but also true advocate for people living with mental illness.
This award recognizes a NAMI State Organization for exceptional commitment to promoting participation in the NAMI movement by fostering partnerships with, providing leadership opportunities to and promoting recovery, independence and choice for people living with mental illness. NAMI Kansas is recognized for their efforts to promote and encourage the involvement of individuals living with mental illness within the state. The NAMI Kansas Consumer Council has empowered leaders to rise up and take an active role in education, support programs and advocacy issues within the state. This past year the council has been working to identify recommendations and effective guidelines for peer support groups, as well as working to increase the number of trained Peer-to-Peer facilitators and collaborating with other consumer-run organizations across the state.
Each year the NAMI Family-to-Family education program recognizes one NAMI State Family-to-Family program director for state coordination of the program. Holly McCaffrey, assistant executive director of NAMI Illinois, is being recognized this year. Holly has held several key NAMI Illinois staff positions since the late 1990s. Currently, she wears several staff hats and oversees the NAMI Illinois education and support programs. In her role as education director, she has successfully used her leadership skills to grow the program in the state and her exceptional communication skills to communicate with and collect data from Family-to-Family teachers throughout the state. Her record of accomplishment for this year is outstanding, with more than 600 program graduates.
The In Our Own Voice (IOOV) Distinguished Service Award honors exemplary efforts to expand the scope and effectiveness of this unique public education program. This year NAMI Massachusetts is being honored for their efforts to bring IOOV to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. In 2010, this progressive NAMI State Organization developed an IOOV presentation video featuring an American Sign Language interpreter along with subtitles. The state’s commitment to sharing NAMI’s message of recovery with this audience exemplifies the spirit of community and hope that IOOV stands for.
The NAMI Basics Leadership Award recognizes the exceptional efforts of a program leader to further the growth of the NAMI Basics education program in their community or state. Under Denise David’s leadership, NAMI NYC-Metro has not only provided multiple offerings of the NAMI Basics course, but has also made it possible for classes to be held specifically for foster parents. Denise and her colleagues also piloted the provision of the course to audiences of professional providers only. This offering was so successful that is has been replicated in other areas of the country. Additionally, Denise and her daughter spearheaded a NAMI Basics team for the NAMI NYC-Metro NAMIWalk. These innovative outreach efforts are testimony to Denise’s commitment to the needs of children and adolescents living with mental illness and their families.
The Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Distinguished Service Award recognizes the exceptional efforts of a program leader to further the growth of P2P in a NAMI State Organization or NAMI Affiliate. Haydee Meza, the program coordinator for P2P and Persona a Persona in NAMI Southern Arizona, has made many contributions to the program. She spearheaded the first Spanish-language, third edition teacher training, which initiated the program statewide. Through Haydee’s efforts, NAMI Southern Arizona graduated 49 percent more peers in 2010 than in 2009. Haydee has also served as a consultant and trainer to help other states expand Persona a Persona. Always willing to lend a hand where it is needed, her enthusiasm and unbeatable spirit are an inspiration to those working with her.
The NAMI Connection Leadership Award recognizes exceptional efforts by a program leader to further the growth of NAMI Connection in their state. Coming on board as a program director in NAMI Florida only a year ago, Carol Weber has already demonstrated a strong passion for the program and has gone to great lengths to nourish and grow more than 30 Connection groups throughout the state. Carol has also led the charge as one of the pilot states for Conexion NAMI, reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community.
The Lionel Aldridge Award recognizes an individual living with mental illness who exhibits courage, leadership and service on behalf of all people living with mental illness. Dr. Mark Vonnegut, a pediatrician outside of Boston, is being honored for his eloquent and honest writing about his experience of mental illness, his advocacy for a “person-centered” approach to medical care, his courage in speaking openly and publicly about his illness and his strength in being able to become a physician and practice medicine in spite of four hospitalizations due to his illness. He brings hope to all people whose lives are affected by mental illness.