Canastra Ann C. Canastra, MS, NCC, LMHC, ACS, LMSW, LPC

Nominated by NAMI Syracuse (NY)
Member, NAMI Syracuse (NY)
Listen to Ann's Candidate Speech

Job Title or Position:

  • Mental Health Counselor

NAMI Leadership Experience:

  • NAMI Syracuse Board of Directors (Board Member, then Board Advisory Member; 20+ years) 
  • NAMI Syracuse, Signature Education Program Coordinator (February 2022-present)​
  • NAMI New York State Board of Directors (Board Member, 6 years; Treasurer, 2 years; Development Committee Chair, 5 years)

Additional NAMI Involvement:

  • NAMI Family-To-Family, NAMI Homefront, NAMI Ending the Silence, NAMI Family Support Group, NAMI Smarts for Advocacy

Other Board Service:

  • Regis College, Mental Health Counseling Program Board Consultant
  • ​Central New York Glitter Gala Philanthropic Organization Board

Public Service:

  • Syracuse VA Medical Center (2005-present)

Relationship to Mental Health:

  • Individual with first-person experience of mental health illness; Family member or direct/front-line support of someone with a mental health illness; Provider/mental health practitioner/employee in the field; 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, Advocacy, Business/Nonprofit Leadership, Mental Health Service/Support, Philanthropy/Donor Cultivation, Research/Academia

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

  • Entertainment/Film/Television/The Arts, Marketing/Public Relations, Military/Veterans, Philanthropy, Politics/Elected Officials, Social Media

Candidate Leadership Style

The candidate indicated the following descriptors represent their leadership style:

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

Candidate Narrative

The candidate indicated that they possess these specific strengths and attributes that the NAMI Board has identified as high priority for the 2023-2024 Board:  

  • Diversity of age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, language, experience, and national geography
  • Knowledge of the philanthropic community and track record with donor cultivation

Dear Board of Directors, My passion for recovery and relentless advocacy within the mental health community is unmatched. Serving as a Board Member within NAMI NY State, I had an excellent track record for participation in all events. I am well-prepared and driven to serve on committees. I am skilled at fundraising and have the propensity to give above average. Serving on a Board has a responsibility for stewardship of our NAMI organization, which I am focused on. Further, I'm highly skilled at having difficult conversations and navigating interpersonal stresses that sometimes arise within organization. Finally, I identify as a life-long learner who will come open and ready to learn with each new day together. Thank you, Ann

I personally have helped advance the NAMI mission in my community by serving as a program teacher and leader for NAMI. I teach several NAMI Signature Programs and have helped to grow our reach through advocacy and community engagement. Further, I have served on our NAMI NY State Board and helped to advocate for various programming and legislation over the years.

I work well in coordination with other leaders to accomplish goals as evidenced by my history in working as a leader within VA speaks to this. I serve as a manager, and along with this I further serve on many national projects and within various training programs for new staff and/or experienced staff looking to specialize.

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