BY LOIS MAHARG
Judy Gardner returned from NAMI National’s Executive Director Leadership Exchange pleased with what she learned.
“It was awesome,” said Gardner, Executive Director of NAMI Washtenaw. “It was invaluable, just what I wanted.”
The exchange, which took place in Arlington, VA, was an opportunity for NAMI executive directors at the affiliate and state levels to get together to learn and exchange ideas, Gardner said. There was a meet and greet dinner on Tuesday, Sept. 11, followed by three full days of workshops. The workshops covered three main topics: fundraising, strategic planning, and budgeting. NAMI National queried participants beforehand to ascertain what they most needed help with and found these were the three main areas of concern.
“We also talked about board development,” Gardner added.
Another part of the program involved going to Capitol Hill to lobby legislators. Gardner and Kevin Fischer, Executive Director of NAMI Michigan, visited the offices of Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters and met with their aides, discussing bills that could impact the mental health community and “letting them know we’re grateful for the work that they’ve done,” Gardner said.
In addition to hosting the exchange, NAMI National paid for participants’ room and board.
In all it was a very positive experience, Gardner said. Now she’s working to implement what she learned.