naracio Cathryn Nacario, RN, MHA

Nominated by NAMI San Diego (CA)
Member, NAMI San Diego (CA)
Listen to Cathryn's Candidate Speech

Specific Strengths and Attributes:

  • Knowledge of the philanthropic community and track record with donor cultivation
  • Experience with a variety of revenue models and financial oversight and management
  • Criminal Justice

Job Title or Position:

  • Chief Executive Officer, NAMI San Diego

NAMI Leadership Experience:

  • NAMI San Diego, Chief Executive Officer (2017 - present)

Additional NAMI Involvement:

  • NAMI Provider Education, NAMI Advocacy, NAMIWalks

Other Board Service:

  • Special Needs Trust Foundation (3 years)
  • Restoring Citizens (4 years)
  • Mental Health Contractors Association (Board President, 2 years; Secretary, 2 years; Total service, 4 years)
  • Being Alive San Diego (President, 2 years; Total service, 8 years)
  • Medical Group Managers Association of California (President/Secretary, 4 years)
  • American Lung Association, San Diego (Board Member, 2 years)

Relationship to Mental Health:

  • Family member or direct/front-line support of someone with a mental health condition; Provider/mental health practitioner/employee in the field; Other Professional; 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 Administration, Business/Nonprofit Leadership, Criminal Justice, Mental Health Service/Support, Philanthropy/Donor Cultivation


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

  • Criminal Justice, Human Resources/Personnel, Legal/Law, Military/Veterans, Philanthropy, Politics/Elected Officials, Traditional Media

Candidate Leadership Style

The candidate indicated the following descriptors represent their leadership style:

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

Candidate Narrative

I believes in servant leadership which focuses on the well-being of people and the communities being served. Servant leadership is collaborative, inclusive, and places an emphasis on bringing those around her to their highest potential. It is a service-first model to engage and activate those to be their best in a supportive manner. I have a passion for assisting vulnerable populations in receiving the services and support they deserve. Throughout most of my career, which bridges both nonprofit and for-profit sectors, I have been responsible for operational efficiencies, fundraising, and development which all contribute to financial success and sustainability. I has been able to turn agencies and/or distinct business units into financially self-sustaining operations being able to serve more individuals in need. The combination of non-profit and for-profit work has allowed me to guide organizations to a place of stability allowing for organizational growth. In addition, the size and depth of each organization have varied from being very small to large, nationwide companies with varying levels of responsibility, human resources support, and operational support. This experience will allow me to assist and guide NAMI as we support smaller, volunteer-only affiliates as well as larger affiliates with paid staff. Each affiliate will have its unique needs and my knowledge can provide direction in each situation. I have had the unique opportunity to work within the criminal justice system with the San Diego District Attorney office on several special projects.

As the CEO of NAMI San Diego, I have advanced the NAMI Mission by expanding our services, employing 110 staff with lived experience, and I am a vocal advocate on the local and state level for mental health and co-occurring policy and legislation.

I work well in coordination with other leaders to accomplish goals as evidenced by being appointed by the San Diego Board of Supervisors to the Workforce Steering Committee, San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan has invited me to participate in several initiatives and projects, I was named in the San Diego Business Journal's Top 500 Most Influential Business People in San Diego County in November 2021. I also sit on numerous collaborative advisory boards such as PERT (CIT) and I am invited to be at a guest speaker for many organizations such as the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.

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