Members of the recently formed NAMI Diversity and Inclusion Work Group gathered for their first in-person working meeting on Feb. 5, 2010, at the NAMI Leadership Conference held in Baltimore. The day-long meeting proved that the group is comprised of strong expertise and unique perspectives that can benefit the organization as a whole to advance in the area of diversity and inclusion efforts.
As reported in a previous issue of this newsletter, the NAMI National Board of Directors unanimously approved the creation of this work group to assist NAMI in sustaining our commitment to the standard practices in diversity, inclusion and nondiscrimination as outlined in NAMI’s Standards of Excellence. Members of the work group were appointed by the board as representatives of a cross section of NAMI leaders’ diverse perspectives—as individuals living with mental illness and their family members, NAMI State Organization Affiliate staff and volunteers, racial/ethnic groups, sexual/gender minorities, veterans, urban and suburban areas and rural and frontier communities.
Among the topics discussed were group goals, initial action steps for NAMI and developed working definitions of diversity and inclusion to be standardized by the NAMI Board of Directors as key operational terms for states and affiliates. The work group also elected Matthea Little Smith, African American outreach director at NAMI Minnesota, as their chairperson.
Advancements of the NAMI Diversity and Inclusion Work Group will continue to be reported in future issues of this newsletter. Stay tuned!