Ray C. Lay, CHWCRS-SA Veteran/Forensic Peer Support Specialist

Nominated by NAMI Indiana
Member, NAMI Greater Indianapolis
Listen to Ray's Candidate Speech

Specific Strengths and Attributes:

  • Diversity of age, race, ethnicity, language, experience and national geography
  • Criminal Justice experience, professional and/or lived

Job Title or Position:

  • CEO, SMI Enterprises LLC

NAMI Leadership Experience:

  • NAMI Indiana Board of Directors (Member, 2015-present)

Additional NAMI Involvement:

  • NAMI Family-to-Family, NAMI In Our Own Voice, NAMI Sharing Your Story with Law Enforcement, NAMI Speakers Bureau

Other Board Service:

  • Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, Board of Directors (Member, 2017-present)
  • Indiana Balance of State, Board of Directors (Executive Committee Member, 2013-2020)

Public Service:

  • United States Marine Corps, Honorable Discharge

Relationship to Mental Health:

  • Individual with first-person experience of mental health condition; Provider/mental health practitioner/employee in the field

Candidate Strengths Assessment

The candidate indicated they have experience in the following areas that will help NAMI achieve its mission and strategic goals:

  • Adult Education, Business/Nonprofit Leadership, Advocacy, Criminal Justice, Mental Health Service/Support, Business/Nonprofit Administration, Program Research/Evaluation

Estimated years of experience in the above areas:

  • Adult education: I am back in school now studying Entrepreneurship to better my business, 45 years.
  • Advocacy: 10 years as Peer Support, over 15 years for self.
  • Criminal Justice: 5 years Forensic Peer Support.
  • Mental Health Service/Support: 10 years Indiana Certification and 9 years Veteran Peer Support Program.
  • Research/Evaluation: 15 years as research participant, 18 months Illness, Management and Recovery (IMR) now I am a facilitator of IMR.
  • Business: Founded a nonprofit in 2015, for profit 2018. Both are currently active.

The candidate indicated they have connections and networks in the following areas:

  • Criminal Justice, Military/Veterans

Additional information about the connections and networks:

  • I have been working with my fellow vets that are involved with the Criminal justice system for quite a few years. Most are also experiencing homelessness like I did. Some now own their own home like I do now.

Candidate Leadership Style

The candidate indicated the following descriptors represent their leadership style:

  • Action-Oriented, Consensus Builder, Data Driven, Decisive, Outcome-Oriented, Peacemaker, Innovator, Team Player

I will try and use my own skills to advance that NAMI is an inclusive organization that has its members’ best interest at heart. NAMI Indiana has helped me to help train correctional officers and police on mental health issues and CIT. Recovery with a dual diagnosis is challenging but doable and I wish to show others that persons do Recover. I will show that even though NAMI does not offer treatment, being a member of NAMI can be treatment.

Despite over 6 years in prison, I carry no bitterness but only a desire to better myself and others living with mental health conditions. We did not ask for our conditions but life gets better when our conditions are addressed by us.

One of the best ways to address stigma is to show that Recovery is possible and courageously share my story. I am a member of the NAMI National IOOV Hall of Fame.

I have personally helped advance the NAMI mission in my community by being a NAMI In Our Own Voice presenter since 2014 and illustrating that recovery is possible. Training both correctional officers and police and showing that Recovery is possible.

I was a member of our VAMC mental health intensive case management team for about 5 years as a volunteer. The team consisted of a psychiatrist, NP, RN and 4 LCSW. We were able to keep the majority of our caseload in the community instead of being hospitalized.

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