Nonprofit Profile of NAMI GA

Nonprofit Profiles – From the Desk of: NAMI GA

I conduct a series called ‘From the Desk of:  Atlanta Nonprofit Leaders’.  This endeavor is a series of interviews of Executive Directors, Head of Schools and CEOs of local nonprofit organizations.   My Nonprofit Profiles blog posts highlight the most outstanding feature of each leader and his/her organization.  Here are their stories…

“Looking From All Views for Good Business”


Eric Spencer, the Executive Director (ED) of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Georgia (GA)


NAMI GA’s Mission:  The mission of NAMI Georgia is to promote recovery and optimize the quality of life for Georgian’s affected by mental illness through support, education, advocacy, and research.

NAMI GA’s Vision: NAMI Georgia will be the leading organization in the state working to ensure hope, help, health and acceptance for Georgians affected by mental illness.

Where:  http://www.namiga.org


Eric Spencer has quite an impressive background as a businessman.  Eric ran a consulting engineering business for 14 years.   By trade, he is an engineer with a degree in Chemical Engineering.  In practice, he is a compassionate administrator who utilizes his organizations’ core programming in order to take steps every day to meet the org’s Vision.  Eric’s leadership brings a focused and logical approach to an organization that serves individuals with mental health issues and their loved ones.  As the ED of NAMI GA, he is able to balance the sensitive and individualistic needs of consumers in Georgia with the operations of a nonprofit business.


Eric told me that in all of his professional experience, what really prepared him for the leadership of NAMI GA was being a coach for his daughter’s softball team.  After giving him a confused look, Eric explained the skills needed to successfully coach young adults in a sport: he needed to learn how to clearly and efficiently educate the team members on the goals for each particular position and then sit back (on the bench) and let each player execute to the best of their ability.  Eric learned the importance of planning, training, support and delegation from his coaching days.  He knows that this has helped him as an Executive Director of a growing organization that provides services to the whole state.   Eric states “we have tripled our budget and doubled the number of Chapters across the state”.

Eric understands business and knows that strategy is important.  He believes in the diversification of funding streams; a concept that is sometimes more important for a nonprofit organization that does not have a tangible ‘product’ to sell.  He works with his staff and Board to advocate for systems change in the way mental health is delivered in Georgia.  He also manages the Information Services, which include the website, newsletter, Social Media outlets, Advocacy Alerts, and monthly leadership and program teleconferences.  Eric wears many hats as the NAMI GA ED.  He is willing to get involved and do the work where it is needed and he also is able to let the leaders of each affiliate (NAMI GA has 30 affiliates or chapters throughout the state) lead their own chapter.

Eric Spencer is able to take a 20,000 foot view and a 10 foot view in his leadership of NAMI GA.  He takes all the different aspects of NAMI GA, both the business of running a nonprofit organization as well as advocating and supporting individuals with mental illness and their families, to help build the programming, services, fundraising, collaborations and advocacy that NAMI GA is known for.  An executive director who focuses on strategy and diversification while both executing (doing the work) as well as delegating tasks to grow and strengthen the organization is a Winner in my book!

To learn more about NAMI GA, please check them out at http://www.namiga.org.


Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art

Jeanne Ward is a Consultant and Personal Strategist who brings her knowledge of psychology, strategy and personal fulfillment to her current work. Jeanne started her career by helping mentally ill inmates to ‘get their lives back on track’ as they integrated back into society from jail in NYC. She leveraged this experience with a Social Work degree to manage teams who were supporting people trying to move back into the workforce. She later lived in Atlanta, GA and Frankfurt, Germany where she began consulting with nonprofit organizations to guide them on their strategy, volunteer development, and organizational development as well as to support the development of their leaders and board of directors. After the jolt of a divorce, Jeanne found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. Digging deep, she arrived at a new-found appreciation for herself and the world around her. This journey taught her that when we start with improving ourselves, the benefits multiply. Jeanne realized that her strengths of strategic thinking, relationship building, and implementation planning could be combined into her ongoing passion of personal leadership. Hence, her personal strategy work was born. Jeanne helps men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 who are fed up with their corporate jobs to create fulfilling professional and personal lives through the development of a personal strategic plan. This work ensures that her clients identify their professional and personal goals as well as create a plan to make those goals a reality. Jeanne is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Road Trotters Kid’s Running Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for children to build a foundation of running health and fitness which leads to a better connection to the organized running community as well as a strong foundation of Discipline, Self-Esteem, Respect and Team Work. She has also co-authored a workbook on networking, founded and organized the National Association of Social Workers-Georgia-sponsored ‘Social Service Career Network’ and organized a summit for the National Alliance for Mentally Ill attended by over 100 organizations from 6 Atlanta counties. Previously, she sat on the board of NASW GA as their Secretary as well as on the board of NAMI GA/DeKalb as their Co-President, was a senior consultant for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and helped to run a capital campaign for an independent school. Jeanne has an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work (City University of New York), an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York) and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Jeanne lives in Atlanta with her ten-year-old son.

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