BOARD

NAMI Chicago is supported by a board representing individuals living with mental illness and their families, who are uniquely positioned to guide our organization and provide leadership to grow. Board members are passionately committed to our mission, bringing their own experiences and expertise to everything we do and are strongly engaged in all aspects of our work, from programming to development.

Edmund Eisenberg, CPA – President John Kennedy – Vice President Brian Anderson – Treasurer Jennifer Koehler – Secretary
Fred Friedman Sabrina Guthrie Laura Hearn Alexa James
Colleen Kula Hopkins Nona Manns Lt. Jeff Murphy Sherri Thornton-Pierce
Marcia Schumacher Mike Schumacher    

STAFF

NAMI Chicago maintains staff with expertise in social work, policy, outreach, and educational programming. With broad interests and capabilities, the NAMI Chicago team is driven by our mission to support individuals living with mental illness and their families.

Alexa James, MS, LCSW – Executive Director

Alexa James, a licensed clinical social worker, has devoted her professional life to serving people living with mental illnesses. In 2013, Alexa assumed the leadership of NAMI Chicago as Executive Director. In the 10 years preceding her appointment as Executive Director, Alexa worked with children and adults living with mental illness as well as those impacted by poverty and trauma. She earned her Master’s Degrees in Social Work from Loyola University and in Child Development from Erickson Institute. Alexa’s passion is to see that our community is equipped to support those in need of mental health support and to end the crippling stigma that attaches to those living with mental illness.

Jennifer McGowan, MPH – Associate Director

Jen McGowan brings experience in health policy and public health to her role as NAMI Chicago’s Associate Director. Before joining NAMI Chicago, Jen worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health Illinois’ State Health Assessment and Improvement Plan with the state health department. Jen was a policy analyst in the Illinois Governor’s Office, working on health care policy and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act from 2012 to 2015. She has experience in policy analysis and implementation as well as training development. She earned her Master’s Degree in Health Policy Administration from UIC. Jen looks forward to working on addressing the needs and gaps of the current mental health system to improve access and quality of care for those living with mental illness.

Antonise Cox, MSW – Office Manager / Program Coordinator

Antonise started NAMI Chicago as a clinical intern from 2012-2013. She holds a Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University School of Social Work. Antonise started working full time in September 2015. She manages all office services and programs.

Rachel Whybrow, LSW – Director of Education

Rachel Whybrow, a licensed social worker, is dedicated to serving individuals and family members impacted by mental illness. In the years prior to working at NAMI Chicago, Rachel worked with youth and their family members during inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations. Rachel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois-Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work with a concentration in mental health. In March 2014, Rachel was hired by NAMI Chicago as the Director of Education. Rachel’s spends her time at NAMI Chicago managing education programming throughout the city of Chicago. Rachel is committed to early intervention and reducing the stigma through education in our neighborhoods, schools and communities.

Edlyn Alcedo, BA – Outreach & Volunteer Manager

Edlyn Alcedo has been with NAMI Chicago since 2011. She received a Bachelors in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University and completed some post graduate work at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Edlyn co-facilitates our Spanish language support group for family members and persons living with mental illness, manages our volunteer efforts, co-teaches de Familia a Familia and provides presentations & outreach to Latino communities.

Kyra Newman, MSW – Director of Recovery

Kyra Newman began with NAMI Chicago as an intern while pursuing her Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She was hired full time in June 2015 and manages the Honest, Open, Proud program, Pathways in Living class and other restorative programming.

Kimmins Southard – Helpline Coordinator

Kimmins Southard joined NAMI as the Helpline Coordinator in fall 2016. Kimmins earned their Masters in Social Work from the UIC Jane Addams College with a concentration in Community Health and Urban Development in 2016 and continues to pursue a Masters in Public Health, expected in spring 2017. Prior to joining the NAMI team, Kimmins served Chicago’s communities through homeless outreach and HIV services for 4 years. Kimmins began providing supportive mental health referrals on the NAMI Information & Referral Helpline as an intern in 2015. As the Helpline Coordinator Kimmins continues to expand the referral database and build partnerships to support callers from across the city of Chicago.

Kasey Franco, MA – Training & Outreach Coordinator

Kasey Franco joined NAMI as the Training and Outreach Coordinator in February of 2017. She earned a Master of Arts degree specializing in Forensic Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Prior to that she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Kasey has experience in the criminal justice system, residential settings, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient centers, and community mental health. She has extensive experience working with individuals who have experienced trauma and mental illness.

Kate Bowker, MSW - Education Manager

Kate joined NAMI Chicago as an intern in the Fall of 2016. As Education Manager, she brings a ​passion and commitment to raising awareness about mental health, and advocating for Chicago's youth. She graduated from UIC's Jane Addams College of Social Work with a Master of Social Work degree. 

Ligita Bole, Data Entry Coordinator

Ligita has been with NAMI Chicago since 2014. She assists will our data entry projects.

Betty Frazier, MHP – Support Specialist

Betty has been with NAMI Chicago since 2001. She runs the recovery-focused Social Support Group, coordinates Social Support Club events, and teaches our WRAP class.

Ashley Williams – Moving On Project Director

Ashley manages our outreach efforts under the Moving On Project, which is a part of the Williams Consent Decree. Ashley didn’t plan for a career in mental health but when her sister got sick she was led into the field. Her mission is to help families get the services and supports that she and her family did not get. In 2014 Ashley took over responsibilities as the Williams Outreach Project Director under the Williams Consent Decree. Before her current role at NAMI Chicago Ashley worked as an Employment Specialist, helping persons living with mental illness find competitive employment in the community. Ashley has made it her lifelong mission to educate people on the importance of receiving treatment. Treatment works but only if you get it!

Luberta Conner Livingston, Marlena Johnson, Sherrie Martin, Juan Pablo Rivera, and DaJuan Warren are all Outreach Workers for the Moving On Project. They work in various nursing homes throughout the Chicagoland area, providing information to the residents about their rights under the consent decree.

We host interns from a variety of graduate programs in the Chicago area, including the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work, Loyola University’s School of Social Work, the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, St. Augustine College, Elmhurst College, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, The Adler School of Professional Psychology, and others.

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