About NAMI Spokane

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Since its inception in 1979 NAMI has become “The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness” with offices in every state and local affiliates in more than 1100 communities across the country.

Through the dedicated efforts of grassroots leaders, NAMI focuses on three cornerstones of activity that offer hope and health: Education, Support and Advocacy. NAMI Spokane, a non-profit 501(c)(3), all volunteer, self-help organization was incorporated in 1980, with an office in the Peyton Building, and has since provided help to thousands of individuals and hundreds of families through its education programs, support groups, advocacy network and information/referral desk. All of our education courses, support groups and advocacy forums are free to the public and draw participants from Spokane County, eastern Washington and western Idaho.

We are funded through membership dues, donations and small foundation grants. All our courses and support groups are Peer Supported locally: Teachers, Mentors and Facilitators are family members and individuals in recovery who have been trained in NAMI Program Policy and Procedure. Our Mental Health Advocacy endeavors are aided by NAMI Action Centers and the NAMI Washington Public Policy Committee. We are recognized as the voice of reason on mental illness, always promoting public policy changes that raise the bar on treatment delivery and research. We provide a voice for those affected by mental illness and strive to end discrimination, overcome stigma and achieve services that improve lives. Mission Statement NAMI Spokane is dedicated to the eradication of mental illnesses and to the improvement of quality of life for all of those who have been affected by mental illness.

Our Areas of Focus:
1) Public Education and Information Activities
2) Family and Peer Education and Support Activities
3) Advocacy on behalf of people living with mental illness and for the health of our
community
4) Visible community events that raise funds and awareness while engaging the public

NAMI Spokane Staff

Laree Shanda

Laree Shanda

Executive Director

Laree Shanda has lived and worked in Spokane since 1980, serving in leadership positions for several non-profit and social service organizations. She attended Eastern Washington University studying Recreation Therapy and later pursued her Masters’ in Technical Communication (Information Design) as applied to the healthcare industry. She worked several years in Forensic Services at Eastern State Hospital, primarily serving people acquitted “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity” (NGRI) and is acutely aware of the stigma faced by people with mental illness. Committed to broadening society’s understanding of the many gifts and talents that are often overshadowed by symptoms and misconceptions, she is a staunch advocate of protecting the rights and dignity of people who live with mental illness and supporting their families and friends.

Shanda joined NAMI Spokane in April 2019 as their first full-time, paid Executive Director and remains their sole employee. She especially appreciates the diverse contributions of the volunteer workforce, which has served NAMI Spokane for decades and continues to be the lifeblood of the organization.

NAMI Spokane Board Members

Olivette Orme

Olivette Orme

President

This is Olivette Orme’s second term on NAMI Spokane’s Board of Directors. She first served from 2015 to 2018. She was born and raised in eastern North Carolina, attended high school in Richmond, Virginia then spent a year in the Netherlands as an exchange student with the American Field Service. She returned to North Carolina where she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1976. After a two years back in Richmond as the Executive Director of Richmond’s arts festival, June Jubilee, she moved West in 1980 work as the Executive Director of the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City. There, she fell in love: with the West and with her husband, Eric, a Salt Lake native. They moved to Spokane in 1988 and raised three children, two sons and a daughter. Olivette discovered NAMI as a result of their youngest child who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder when she was 13. She became a Family-to-Family teacher in 2014. Olivette has served on the Boards of Directors for Planned Parenthood and Saint George’s School and currently also serves on the Board for NAMI Washington. She is passionate about NAMI’s mission and excited to help build its capacity to serve the many in our community who live with mental illness as well as the families and friends who love them.

Hadley Morrow

Hadley Morrow

Vice President (Immediate Past President)

Hadley was born and raised in Spokane, and attended St. George’s School. She then went onto University of Denver to earn a BA in International Studies with a focus on Security and Conflict Resolution, with a minor in a Religious Studies. As part of her studies, she spent a semester in Rwanda studying abroad and writing a thesis on post-genocide peace building and reconciliation. This experience sparked her interested in exploring intersections between community and trauma. She eventually returned home to Spokane and began working for Better Health Together, where she convenes community partners in various health and services fields to collaborate on projects that will improve the health of our community. It was through this work that she was introduced to NAMI. Being a person with mental illness herself, she was eager to get involved with the organization and joined the Board in June of 2018. Outside of work you’ll usually find Hadley out and about with her blue heeler Smokey, or at home gardening with her partner Nick.

Jessica Ochoa

Jessica Ochoa

Treasurer

Jessica came to the Spokane area in 2011, as a first-generation college student, and proud child of Michoacán immigrants. She studied at EWU, where she graduated with a degree in Anthropology and research focus on Chicana feminist perspectives. She then received her graduate degree in Public Health dedicating her life to equity and justice work. While navigating personal mental illness, Jessica joined NAMI in 2018 excited to work for a non-profit organization committed to the mental health needs of Spokane. Jessica is honored to be a part of the board! She enjoys going on bike rides, cultura, food, oldies and spending quality time with her little one.

Jessica llegó al área de Spokane en 2011, como una estudiante universitaria de primera generación, y orgullosa hija de inmigrantes Michoacanos. Estudió en EWU, donde graduó con un título en Antropología e investigación centrada en las perspectivas feministas Chicanas. Luego recibió su título de posgrado en Salud Pública dedicando su vida al trabajo de equidad y justicia. Mientras navegaba por enfermedades mentales personales, Jessica se unió a NAMI en 2018 emocionada de trabajar para una organización comprometida con las necesidades de salud mental de Spokane. ¡Jessica se siente honrada de ser parte del Board! En su pasatiempos le gusta andar en bicicleta, disfrutar la cultura, la comida, los oldies y pasar tiempo de calidad con su pequeña.

Keara Rypien

Keara Rypien

Secretary

Keara is a born and raised Spokaneite, and graduated North Central High School and college at Eastern Washington University with a degree in Public Health. Keara is strong advocate for mental health and wellness given her family’s history of struggles with mental illness. Keara is particularly interested in athlete head injuries and mental health. Her cousin, Rick Rypien, who was a professional hockey player, died by suicide at age 27, and uncle, Mark Rypien, who is a former NFL player and Spokane community leader battles depression and has likely developed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy CTE as a result of his head injuries.

Her advocacy is demonstrated in her career: Keara works as a behavioral health coordinator tasked with the promotion mental health wellbeing for students across 59 local school districts, and has worked to enhance regional suicide prevention efforts. Now, she’s ready to take a step further and help NAMI build capacity to advocate for, and deliver quality mental health programs to the Spokane community. Keara is a strong believer in early intervention and is specifically interested in promoting youth programs. In her free time, Keara enjoys training for marathons with her favorite fur child, Rori, and golfing with her husband, Tyler.

Julianne Jett

Julianne Jett

Member-at-large

Julianne moved to Spokane in 2018 after living abroad in support of her spouse’s military career. Her passion for mental health research and advocacy began when her brother started to exhibit symptoms of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Eager to illuminate the biological mechanisms underlying stress-related mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety disorders, Julianne completed a doctorate in neuroscience where she investigated the effects of stress exposure on cognitive function. She has worked with non-profit organizations on a local and international level since 2012. However, the opportunity to use her background in research to advocate for mental health resources during her non-profit work abroad was particularly impactful for her. The desire to continue supporting mental health outreach and education efforts is what brought Julianne to NAMI Spokane, where she joined the Board in 2019. In her free time, Julianne spends as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors with her family and nurtures her creative side with art projects.

Linda WIlliams

Linda WIlliams

Member-at-large

Linda has lived in Spokane for over 35 years. She grew up in Seattle, majored in Spanish at the University of Washington and spent a year at the University of Madrid. In the 70’s she worked several years for the Girl Scouts, organizing troops and managing volunteers in Central and South Seattle.

Linda moved to Spokane with her future husband, Tim, after getting an MBA. She worked in financial analysis over the course of 25 years at four community banks while raising two sons and a daughter. Her career wrapped up in 2015 after she’d spent several years as SVP/Treasurer at AmericanWest Bank.

Linda became involved with NAMI Spokane after her younger son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2011. She and Tim attended a NAMI Family-to-Family course and Linda served on the NAMI Spokane board from 2016 to 2018. Her community involvement includes Transitions where she served as Board Chair from 2015 to 2017.

Linda strongly believes in NAMI’s mission and wants to work in extending the reach of NAMI Spokane as it increases programs to serve a broader part of our community.

Tamara Sheehan

Tamara Sheehan

Member-at-large

Heidi Curnow

Member-at-large

 

Volunteer Positions Needed

We NEED volunteers to expand our capacity and assure more people are served and supported. In ALL cases, free training is provided. Here’s an overview (not all inclusive) of available opportunities:
Office – Assist with daily office operations. Answer the phones, help the caller identify available resources, respond to emails, distribute mail, file paperwork… you choose the tasks that best match your skills and interests. No experience required.
Community Events – Tell others about the Education, Support, and Advocacy work of NAMI Spokane at resource fairs, special events, festivals, and more. Invite others to join our efforts. Choose how much you wish to be involved.
Family to Family Facilitator (F2F) -or- Peer to Peer (P2P) Facilitator – Use your own lived experience to help others. As a peer, you can share the practical knowledge gained on your road to recovery. As a family member, you’ve lived through a mental health condition in a loved one. You have the unique qualifications to help and teach others in similar situations.
Support Group Facilitators for Family or Peers – Help support group participants share their experiences in a safe and confidential setting. Encourage them to have hope, help them find their inner strength, and help them develop their own support network.
Outreach, with the aim to increase awareness of the challenges and prevalence of mental health conditions.
In Our Own Voice – Tell your personal story, first hand. Help others understand what its like to live with a mental health condition – the challenges, the pain, and even the lessons and growth you’ve experienced. Audiences vary from professionals to community groups to family members and more.
Training Provided at no cost.
Ending the Silence – Speak to teachers, parents, and students in middle and high schools. Give your perspective as a family member or a young-person living with a mental health condition. You’ll be grouped in pairs to help broaden the understanding, empathy, and acceptance of the audience
around mental illness. Take away the mystery, the stigma, and the fear – you can really make a difference.
Newsletter – Write, edit, design and format, assist with electronic and/or hard-copy distribution.
Process Memberships and assure accuracy of our records. Send thank you cards to members and reminders for renewals.
Help us paint the town green for May, Mental Health Awareness Month. Reach out to community partners and see how much green we can wash across the city. Help us make education about mental health easily accessible.

All training provided at no cost.

If you’re interested in volunteering, call the NAMI Spokane office at 509-838-5515.