Vanessa Fernandes, SHRM-CP

Nominated by NAMI North Texas
Member, NAMI North Texas
Listen to Vanessa's Candidate Speech

Specific Strengths and Attributes:

  • Diversity of age, race, ethnicity, language, experience and national geography
  • Knowledge of the philanthropic community and track record with donor cultivation
  • Experience with a variety of revenue models and financial oversight and management
  • Human capital management including professional experience in human resources and personnel development & management
  • Legal and risk management
  • Criminal Justice experience, professional and/or lived

Job Title or Position:

  • Nordstrom, Director

NAMI Leadership Experience:

  • NAMI Board of Directors (Member, 2018-present)

Additional NAMI Involvement:

  • NAMI Advocacy, NAMI Speakers Bureau, NAMIWalks
  • NAMI North Texas, Advocacy, Minority Mental Health Initiatives (2016-2021)
  • NAMI Central Texas, Advocacy and Fundraising (2012-2016)

Other Board Service:

  • University of Texas at Dallas, Diversity Advisory Board (Member, 2019-present)
  • United Way Austin, Board of Directors (Member, 2015-2016)

Relationship to Mental Health:

  • Family member or direct/front-line support of someone with a mental health condition; Non-Profit Advocate; Community Engagement/Employer

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, Banking/Trusts/Investments, Mental Health Service/Support, Risk Management, Financial Management/Accounting, Law, Business/Nonprofit Administration, Philanthropy/Donor Cultivation, Program Research/Evaluation

Estimated years of experience in the above areas:

  • Business Leadership: 22
  • Non-profit Leadership: 8
  • Mental Health Support: 9
  • Donor Cultivation: 20
  • Risk Management: 20
  • Financial Management: 15
  • Business Law: 10
  • Advocacy: 15
  • Adult Education: 15


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

  • Information Technology, Corporate Responsibility, Entertainment/Film/Television/The Arts, Legal/Law, Philanthropy, Real Estate, Social Media, Lobbying, Marketing/Public Relations, Human Resources/Personnel, Military/Veterans, Politics/Elected Officials, Traditional Media

Additional information about the connections and networks:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility, HR, Social Media sales & development, Real Estate negotiation and management – all relevant to my current roles in the for-profit space.
  • I have a Marketing and PR background prior to my Nordstrom Roles and I have worked with IT, Government Officials, Film, Entertainment and TV accounts in those roles.
  • My late husband was an Army Ranger and I support veterans through NAMI.

Candidate Leadership Style

The candidate indicated the following descriptors represent their leadership style:

  • Action-Oriented, Consensus Builder, Data Driven, Decisive, Outcome-Oriented, Process Thinker, Risk Taker, Innovator, Team Player
 

NAMI's core purpose is to create and manage a broad coalition of diverse individuals representing the lived experience of mental illness in order to drive changes in attitudes, policy, services and support for those impacted.

My experience in the for-profit space where I lead and support change, attitudes towards business, service, employee needs and company needs translates to what NAMI affiliates, state organizations and national teams need. I have experience working with a diverse employee base across multiple states and with various sizes of teams.

Those skill sets translate well to work being done by NAMI to ensure People Get Help early. Example - I have supported teenagers, LGBTQ+ and minority communities, individuals entering the workplace via social channels and channels and technology relevant to them.

My sales development experience translates to fund raising, donor and philanthropic grants cultivation which helps support and fund efforts that ensure People Get the Best Possible Care.

My community and employee engagement skills (Chamber of Commerce, engagement of local officials) along with PR training transfers to identifying and building partnerships like the AT&T partnership that can help finance and influence conversations that support our goal to get People Diverted from Justice System Involvement.

My retail experience in pivoting to growth, leading with a growth mindset to gain market share helps me identify opportunities for NAMI to Lead the Conversation on Mental Health and Illness in physical and digital spaces.

I have personally helped advance the NAMI mission in my community by leading the conversation with top employers, universities and leaders to support a diverse community. I have also worked to help the field with resources through fund raising, development and capacity building & leadership development efforts.

I work well in coordination with other leaders to accomplish goals as evidenced by partnerships with National Team to support ERG and donor events that benefit all three levels of our organization - not just National. Because, we do not exist without our affiliates, staff - state and local.

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