NAMI Mourns the Passing of its First Executive Director, H. Bernard Smith

Mar 9, 2023

H. Bernard Smith

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) was saddened to hear of the passing of H. Bernard Smith, the first executive director of NAMI whose leadership and advocacy created a lasting impact on the lives of so many families and individuals affected by mental health conditions.

Smith was a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother; an honorable veteran of the Korean war; a Jewish Theological Seminary graduate; and a practicing clinical social worker.

His extensive experience working with citizen’s committees to develop plans and legislation for community-based mental health services, and his role as the executive director of the Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board for 10 years, positioned him as a perfect fit to lead the NAMI Alliance in 1981 as its first executive director. Smith helped grow NAMI affiliates into the most potent mental health lobbying and support group at national, state and local levels.

“Bernard’s contributions were foundational to the mental health movement we’re continuing to build today,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “His leadership and dedication remain an inspiration for all of us; we will be forever grateful for his life and his legacy.”

Services honoring Smith will be held at 11 a.m. March 10 at The Temple-Tifereth Israel at 26000 Shaker Blvd. in Beachwood, Ohio.

In lieu of flowers, Bernard’s family is suggesting donations to NAMI Ohio or The Temple-Tifereth Israel.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).