Mary Rappaport/Valerie Rheinstein 703/524-7600
|For Immediate Release
5 Aug 98
Statement by Laurie M. Flynn, Executive Director
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
ARLINGTON, VA NAMI today announced the election of Jacqueline Shannon as the president of its national Board of Directors. Shannon, a former Texas educator and long-time advocate for individuals with severe mental illnesses, will serve as president for a one-year term. Shannon, whose son was diagnosed with schizophrenia 15 years ago, has served on NAMI’s Board since 1995, most recently as first vice president.
In her role as president, Shannon will help shape NAMI’s public policy agenda and the organization's advocacy efforts. Shannon also will continue her advocacy efforts with the Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments, a program that addresses the concerns of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
"A well-respected advocate for people with severe mental illnesses, Jackie has long-played a critical role at NAMI," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "Her grassroots expertise, first-hand knowledge of severe mental illness and boundless courage in speaking out for those whose voices frequently aren't heard, will strengthen NAMI’s ability to meet the needs of our members."
"I take quite seriously the responsibility I have in putting forth the concerns, frustrations and hope shared by thousands of families whose lives are significantly affected by mental illness," said Shannon upon accepting her appointment. "I am honored to continue advocating on behalf of those most deserving of appropriate treatments, adequate services, and societal compassion."
Shannon's involvement in the mental illness movement began when her son was first diagnosed with schizophrenia. An accomplished English and reading teacher with a Masters of Arts in Education from Angelo State University and post-graduate work at Villanova University, Shannon and her husband helped to launch the NAMI affiliate chapter in Concho Valley, Texas in the early 1980s. Her advocacy quickly broadened to the state level, and soon thereafter she was elected to president of the NAMI Texas board of directors where she served a three-year term. It was during this period that Shannon's advocacy efforts expanded to the national level when she went on to serve in such roles as chair of the NAMI State President's Council and chair of the NAMI Membership Committee.
In addition to successfully serving in leadership positions within organizations working for people with severe mental illnesses, Shannon has been honored with a variety of prestigious awards and accolades for her advocacy efforts, including the 1994 Helen Farabee "Wings" Award from the Texas Department of MHMR, the 1995 TEXAMI Family Advocate Award, and the 1995 Friend of Counseling Award (with her husband) from the Three River Counseling Association.
With more than 185,000 members, NAMI is the nation's leading grassroots, advocacy organization solely dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and severe anxiety disorders. NAMI has more than 1,200 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. NAMI’s efforts focus on support to persons with serious brain disorders and to their families; advocacy for nondiscriminatory and equitable federal, state and private-sector policies; research into the causes, symptoms and treatments for brain disorders; and education to eliminate the pervasive stigma surrounding severe mental illness.