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ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 7, 2013 — The Board of Directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) announced today that Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick chose not to renew his contract which expired in December.
Fitzpatrick will continue his strong and successful tenure until the end of 2013 in order to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
"When Michael took over as NAMI's chief executive in 2004, he brought tremendous energy and unique professional perspective to address many challenges," said NAMI Board President Keris Myrick. "As a result, NAMI is a stronger organization today, positioned to lead the fight into the future to improve the lives of millions of Americans affected by mental illness."
"During Michael's tenure, he assembled a skilled team and worked with NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates and our membership base to expand education and support programs and advocacy at every level. He also has provided a steady hand in maintaining financial stability during a period that included a national economic crisis that affected the non-profit community."
"Leading NAMI for nine years—which will be 10 by the end of the year—has been a privilege," Fitzpatrick said. "In building a great organization, there is neither a single defining action nor any one leader that makes it successful. NAMI's achievements are the result of the combined talent and dedication of state organizations, local affiliates, board members, advocates, members and staff."
"NAMI's many volunteers work every day to provide hope and save lives. I am so very proud to have worked side by side with all of them."
"I also know that leadership change is healthy for any organization."
Prior to 2004, Fitzpatrick served both as director of NAMI's Policy Research Institute and NAMI's national policy director. He served in the Maine State Legislature and has held senior management positions in state government and nonprofit agencies in both the mental health and primary health sectors and in the private sector, developing successful education, employment, housing, outreach and rehabilitation programs.
Fitzpatrick's leadership of NAMI has coincided with enactment of mental health insurance parity in 2008 and passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
In 2006 and 2009, NAMI published landmark Grading the States reports to set a baseline for reform of the public mental health care system; these were followed in 2011 with reports on state budget cuts in mental health services. NAMI also became a leader in the effort to protect and strengthen Medicaid benefits for people living with mental illness.
Fitzpatrick has helped NAMI build a foundation for the future through new charters for NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates, expansion of education and support programs, state-of the art technology, and strengthened commitment to diversity and youth through NAMI's Multicultural Action Center and Child and Adolescent Action Center. NAMIWalks also have blossomed into the nation's premier public community based mental health event.
"I look forward in 2013 to continuing NAMI's commitment to organizational health as we work in communities across America to grow NAMI's visibility and capacity to reach all in need," Fitzpatrick said. "In these challenging times of dramatic change in our health care system, NAMI's collective advocacy is needed more than ever."
"Michael's record is a challenge to build on," Myrick said. "We are grateful he has committed to seeing us through a transition year and ensuring that NAMI's future stays strong and vibrant. We also are confident that NAMI will find and engage a new leader by the end of the year."
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope.