William T. Emmet to Join NAMI as Chief Operating Officer

May 13 1998

Arlington, VA - NAMI today announced the appointment of William Emmet as its chief operating officer. Emmet will join the organization on June 1, 1998, when he leaves his post as executive director of NAMI-Rhode Island and resigns as a member of NAMI’s board of directors.

"Bill’s a well-respected advocate for people with severe mental illnesses," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn in making the appointment. "Bill’s unique grassroots perspective in particular will serve to strengthen NAMI’s capacity to effectively meet the real-life needs of our members.

"For almost two decades, Bill has been a tireless warrior and courageous voice for people with severe mental illnesses – people who far too often don’t have anyone advocating for their rights," said Flynn. "Everyone affiliated with NAMI, from our board to our staff to our members, is absolutely delighted by Bill’s appointment."

Reporting directly to Flynn, Emmet will have full authority and responsibility for the direction of NAMI’s 50-person staff and all internal management. In his role as COO, Emmet will manage all phases of program planning, implementation of NAMI programs, and financial management.

"We are extremely pleased to have someone of Bill’s experience and integrity as NAMI’s COO," said Flynn. "Bill leaves NAMI-RI in good fiscal health and with a sterling reputation among its members and state policy-makers. Under Bill’s leadership, NAMI-RI grew from nine to 11 affiliates, increased its budget by 375 percent, and won NAMI’s advocacy award for achieving health insurance parity in 1994. It was one of the first states in the country to pass such a measure."

A founding member of NAMI-RI in 1983, Emmet’s leadership abilities were evident as he launched NAMI’s flagship Family-to-Family Education Program in Rhode Island, an innovative program that provides scientifically based information, emotional support and guidance for advocacy. Emmet also developed the state’s only educational program for police officers, which trains them on the most effective ways to deal with people with serious brain disorders. The program has enjoyed wide success and has been distributed to some 250 police departments nationwide.

"From my first NAMI meeting some fourteen years ago, I knew I had found a home for myself in a movement that had the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives," said Emmet. "I cannot begin to describe the enormous support, information and empowerment I have received over the years from NAMI and its members around the country since I originally learned of my brother Tom’s diagnosis of schizophrenia. After years of work at the state level and as a member of NAMI’s board of directors for the last two years, I am honored to be in a position that will allow me to give back even more to the consumers and family members for whom NAMI so bravely advocates.

"I couldn’t be joining NAMI’s national office at a more pivotal time," said Emmet. "NAMI is enjoying unprecedented support from influential players in both the public and private sectors. As a result, NAMI stands poised to end society’s misunderstanding and fear of severe mental illness as we enter the new millenium."

Prior to his post with NAMI-RI, Emmet was a middle-school teacher and frequent contributor to leading publications, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Gazette, Atlanta Magazine, The Providence Journal-Bulletin, and The Runner.

Emmet replaces Armando Olocco, who resigned from NAMI after six years to join the Inter-American Development Bank in March 1998. Emmet, his wife Pat, and their two children will reside in the Washington area.