Reply to Public Comment to the NAMI NC Board


Dear DS:

You wrote:

“What exactly does the NAMI NC Board of Directors do?  What is its function in the everyday goings on of NAMI NC?  Are there any goals the Board wants to accomplish in 2018-19?  How will NAMI NC go about getting its finances back in the black?”

All good questions, and I’m happy to answer them.  For your information, your questions were read to the entire Board (and some visitors) at the start of our meeting on Saturday, June 23.  My response was that the meeting itself would answer all of these questions — and we took four hours doing so.  Since it will be a while before our minutes will be available, I’ll offer some answers here, in a response that will take a lot less than four hours to read.

The June 23 meeting was three months after the meeting at which new board members were installed and I was elected President of the Board.  The function of the Board is primarily governance of the statewide organization, giving direction to the paid staff, and helping them as best we can to carry out the day-to-day work.  All members of the Board are volunteers, and most of the actual work is done by committees chaired by Board members, but including other NAMI members as well.  When I took over, there were no functioning board committees other than the Executive Committee, and only one member of the previous Executive Committee is still on that committee.  In the past three months, we have regenerated nine other committees, and all ten Board committees are now hard at work on the business of NAMI NC.  I’ll list them here in alphabetical order, along with a few of their recent activities.

  • Board Recruitment Committee, chair David Smith
    • Working on recruiting members across the state to run for open seats on the Board in our October election — very important because the current Board has only 10 elected members and it needs to have 18 for all this committee work.  See more about this at the end of this message.
  • Budget and Finance Committee, chair Reid Shalvoy
    • Presented a detailed financial picture for the current situation and a budget for FY 18-19 that was approved by the Board.  This budget is balanced, but it depends on increasing our revenues and paying down debts in a measured manner.
  • Bylaws/Policy & Procedures Committee, chair David Smith
    • Presented a number of changes to the Bylaws that were approved by the Board to be voted on by the membership in October.  Some technical policies were also approved.  The committee still has work to do on Policies and Procedures and some more changes to Bylaws that will be ready in 2019.
  • Development Committee, chair Fonda Bryant
    • Working on ways to improve the revenue stream as part of returning to financial health, especially through partnerships with other organizations.
  • Education Committee, chair Dale Mann
    • Working with new staff Programs Director, Peg Morrison, to establish the training schedule for 2018-19 and to encourage affiliates to participate in the new Ending the Silence program.
  • Executive Committee, chair David Smith
    • Meets in advance of each Board meeting to set the agenda.
  • Executive Director Search Committee, co-chairs Judy Jenkins and David Smith
    • Proposed hiring Deby Dihoff as Acting Executive Director until a new ED is in place.
    • Now reviewing 15 applicants for the ED position to decide on priorities, interviewing procedures, etc., with a goal of having a new ED in place by the Annual Conference in October.
  • Military/Veterans Committee, chair Johnnie Puckett
    • Planning activities to bring NAMI support and services to veterans, active military personnel, and their families, including the NAMI Homefront signature program.
  • Public Policy Committee, chair Judy Jenkins
    • Establishing a Public Policy Platform for 2018-19, consistent with NAMI’s national public policy, but focused on NC issues.
  • Reaffiliation Committee, chair Audrey Hart
    • Working to assist staff and affiliates with the reaffiliation process, which must be completed by all affiliates by the end of this year.
    • Proposed the first two affiliates to be approved by the Board (they were) to go to national for final approval.  Those two are NAMI Cumberland-Harnett-Lee and NAMI South Mountains NC.

Now about goals — a very pertinent topic.  For the short term, our goals as a Board have been to get the organization back on a sound financial footing and to regenerate the work of the Board through its committees.  As you can see from the list above, we have made significant strides on both fronts.  For the future, we need to have a serious conversation that would lead to a new strategic plan and a set of short-, middle-, and long-term goals toward which we can direct our efforts in a focused way.  For that, we need a board retreat of at least a full day, which hasn’t happened since November 2014.  I’m hoping we can do it in November this year, after we have elected new Board members to get back up to full strength.

And that leads me to an important message to everyone who may be reading this, especially members and willing-to-be members of NAMI who reside in North Carolina.  NAMI is an important and dynamic organization that needs your help — your dues and contributions, yes, but also your time and talents.  NOW is the time to think about whether you have time and skills to contribute to this Board by running for election this year (see for links to information and application form).  It’s not an honorary position — we’re a working board, and we need workers.  Many of our members came to NAMI because of a crisis — their own or that of a family member.  If you’re beyond that crisis stage and are ready to give back, we need you.  Sign up now.  If you don’t see yourself in this position, think about leaders in your affiliate who could be statewide leaders, then persuade them to apply.  And thank you for having read this far, as well as for your service to and through NAMI.

David A. Smith, President, NAMI NC Board of Directors