Amanda Lipp

Lipp PicUse these links to go to specific areas of the profile:
Candidate speech
Experience with mental illness
Skills, knowledge and experience relative to the NAMI Strategic Plan:
Driver 1: Build a Movement
Driver 2: Leverage Technology
Driver 3: Drive Advocacy
Driver 4: Focus on Youth
Driver 5: Strengthen the Organization
Employment and other affiliations
Candidate statement in the Advocate
Letter of Nomination

Nominated by NAMI California

Member, NAMI Sacramento (CA)

Listen to Amanda's speech here.

When I was 18, I experienced psychosis and hospitalization, which remains part of my identity to this day. I believe progressive ‘early intervention and prevention’ works to the extent that we acknowledge all signs and stages of distress as ‘serious’, as the seriousness of one’s health-experiences is individually relative.

Please describe how your skills, knowledge and experience will contribute to the NAMI Board of Directors role in delivering on the strategic plan. Using no more than 300 words per driver, respond to each of the five drivers in the 2015-2019 NAMI Strategic Plan.

Driver 1: Build A Movement - NAMI will broaden public awareness and inclusion in every part of the alliance.

NAMI’s history is important, and leveraging its history as a springboard for growth is how NAMI will continue to build a future. Building a movement requires NAMI and partner organizations to be continuously inquiring its intentionality: where have we been, but more importantly, where are we headed? NAMI’s preservation of its history is only as meaningful as it’s ability to adapt in changing political climates, and diversifying populations. As I reflect on “building movements”, I recall when I was abroad in Europe filming a documentary about mental health. I attended the International Mental Health Collaborating Network Conference in Wales as a representative of NAMI, and was invited to participate in their board meeting. This experience humbled and inspired me to keep an open mind in regard to the cultural-negotiation of perspectives in mental health, and the multitude of methods through which service-delivery may be offered and customized to individuals’ narratives and needs. This global experience instilled in me the value of strength in diversity, and to continue to think outside the box in design of programs and service delivery models. Shortly after this journey, in 2014, I graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development. I went on to co-design the first U.S. hosted 7th International “Together Against Stigma” Conference, cohosted by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), the California Mental Health Services Act (CalMHSA), and the California Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), where over 17 countries joined to share best-practices, stories, and opportunities for global awareness. I feel it is my duty to spread the mission of NAMI in a culture of global opportunity, collaboration, and cultural awareness.

Driver 2: Leverage Technology - NAMI will expand use of technology to build capacity and connection.

The Internet has arguably become the “modern first responder” for systems of care. One of the first actions people take when searching for providers, resources, or opinions, is to “Google-it”. This is also the first action many of us take when we are in crisis, and in need of access to immediate support and services. As such, it is critical that NAMI and partner organizations continue to optimize their online “store-front” in a manner that is optimized, accessible, user friendly, and relatable. Additionally, technology is critical to local affiliate operations, as it relates to monitoring phone-lines, computers, programs, and referrals to services. It only takes one break in the chain of technological communication for crisis to spiral into something that could have been preventable, or to miss an opportunity to engage a new advocate. As such, technology provides the opportunity for NAMI to optimize its “reach” to areas of the population where access may be limited – from rural communities, to individuals who simply prefer to online versus in-person engagement. Additionally, utilizing technology as a means to measure programs, gather feedback, and build awareness, are all practices through which NAMI can continue to support. I personally didn’t realize the power of technology until it intersected with storytelling; moreover, how storytelling lends to online engagement and help-seeking behavior. My senior year of college I developed a passion for filmmaking, so I bought a camera and traveled to Europe for six weeks to create a documentary about mental health. I studied film at Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland, and traveled throughout Western Europe interviewing people from a variety of social stratum and professions. To date I have filmed and produced over 20 short films online about people’s experience of psychosis, including short films about NAMI Conventions and affiliate fundraisers.

Driver 3: Drive Advocacy - NAMI will lead advocacy efforts that drive increased access and quality.

As NAMI continues to be a player in the global movement of mental health care, it will be critical that NAMI remain strength-based, flexible, and focused on efforts to engage individuals as active participants in the development of their mental and physical care. This includes NAMI being flexible to evolving modes and vernaculars through which individuals interpret their experiences, while acknowledging the practicality of when and why mental health diagnosis, definitions, and systems are in place to streamline access to care. I believe NAMI has a role and duty to engage in a level of productive system-disruption of media and political systems through which stagnancy of innovation may be identified as a barrier to access of quality care. Indeed, mental health may be viewed as a constant cycle of addressing both the science and art of mental health: both how mental states and interpreted individually, and how we leverage the science of systems and brain-based research to set new standards for medicine and service-delivery. As a participant of NAMI’s Engagement and Listening Session think-tank of stakeholders from around the country, I became humbled by the fact that NAMI continues to listen and adapt. The meeting resulted in NAMI’s report, A New Standard for Mental Health Care, which underscores the critical importance of organizational engagement in setting a new standard for how we approach individualized healthcare. Our discussions reflected conversations that are all too familiar to families around the nation: how do we support our loved ones are struggling? How do we help each other overcome adversity while embracing culture and identity? It will continue to be critical that NAMI continues to examine and advocate legislation that supports access to housing, affordable care, and strengths-based communication for families, individuals and communities.

Driver 4: Focus on Youth - NAMI will develop and implement strategies that engage youth, young adults and their families, expanding our reach across the lifespan.

Focusing on younger demographics in mental health typically translates to the practice and paradigm of ‘prevention and early intervention’; that is, supporting youth “up the stream” in efforts to avoid potential distress or crisis. While I believe this to be a vital mission, I also recognize the role adversity plays in our capacity to build resilience and grow stronger from challenges we may endure. I recall telling myself in the hospital, “This could be my college internship”. I believe this was my mind’s way of normalizing psychosis – to continue to have that “college experience”, even though my “dorm room” was an inpatient unit, and “parties” became group therapy. Needless to say, the hospital became the foundation through which I would reconcile strength with adversity, and regain a sense of purpose. At 20, when I was appointed to the NAMI California Board of Directors, I came onto the board with the perspective that my involvement would not be limited or tokenized to the circumstance of my age, as I believe “youth leadership” should be in appreciation and utility of skill-sets, backgrounds, identities, or any other “measure” for which any person, regardless of age, may become involved in a cause they are passionate about. I also became a part of NAMI’s Young Adult Advisory Group, supporting NAMI in their efforts to creatively re-frame the notion of “youth culture” in leadership, decision-making, and intergenerational partnership that lends to participatory action.

Driver 5: Strengthen the Organization - NAMI will grow and develop financing, infrastructure and capacity that support a vibrant and bold organization.

I am excited for NAMI to continue expanding its thinking beyond its NAMI cohort, and consider non-traditional partnerships as investments for its members. Meeting people “where they’re at” for care requires fostering a culture of cross-collaboration of services, programs, and resources. Moreover, taking a cross-collaborative approach with

information lends to pathways and opportunities for fiscal diversification, given ever-changing funding streams and political climates. Over the eight years I have been involved with NAMI, I have learned that the bedrock of the “NAMI movement” is in all of our stories. The ripple-effect of our stories not only drives our sense of connection, but influences policy and systems change. The key to unlocking those stories is meaningful engagement: meeting people “where they’re at” in all stages of one’s health and identity. I believe creativity is key in building a fiscally sound organization that drives its programs and tools; specifically, leveraging the passions and interests of NAMI members in raising funds and diversifying funding opportunities. I have produced films and PSA’s that have resulted in over $75,000 in fundraising, which allowed me to realize the power of multimedia as a strategy for both awareness and fundraising that fosters organizational growth and innovation.

Job Title or Position: Consultant, Speaker, Filmmaker

Employer: Lipp & Associates

NAMI Affiliations: Secretary, Executive Committee, Program Committee Chair, NAMI California Board of Directors; NAMI In Our Own Voice/NAMI Ending the Silence/NAMI Parents & Teachers as Allies presenter (stipend), NAMI Sacramento

Other Board Service: Board Member, Partners for Strong Minds;   Advisory Board Member, Art With Impact

Candidate Statement as Published in the NAMI Advocate

When I was 18, I experienced psychosis and hospitalization, which remains part of my identity to this day. I believe progressive ‘early intervention and prevention’ works to the extent that we acknowledge all signs and stages of distress as ‘serious’, as the seriousness of one’s health-experiences is individually relative.

I’ll admit that I didn’t want to be part of NAMI when my family first encouraged me to take the NAMI Peer-to-Peer class. I was 18 at the time, recently discharged from hospitalization after psychosis my freshman year. I feared that attending the class would confirm an identity of being considered a ‘seriously mentally ill’ person. I couldn’t wrap my head around that notion when I was trying so hard to not feel ill. Though, in my decision to join the class, I realized that it could be a place for discovery - to see my experience of “illness” as source of strength and opportunity. Little did I know that a year later I would be awarded a youth scholarship to attend my first NAMI CA conference. I remember feeling anxious in my attempt to find my “NAMI niche”. In the herd of people in route to see the keynote speaker, I bumped into a lady who I recognized as a patient from the outpatient unit. After the pleasant shock of our re-acquaintance, she grabbed my hand to introduce me to her daughter. I didn’t realize I was about to meet Jessica Cruz, the Executive Director of NAMI California. It was in that moment when I first felt the great inter-connection of NAMI. That year I became trained in all of NAMI’s speaker programs. By 20, I had given over 100 presentations across the state, and was appointed to NAMI California’s Board of Directors, becoming the youngest person to serve on a NAMI state board. I currently serve as board secretary, chair of the Program Committee, and a member of the Executive Committee. It is my passion to serve the community, driving NAMI’s Strategic Plan in efforts to engage all generations, partner with diverse stakeholders, and create innovate programs.

Read Amanda Lipp's nomination letter [pdf]