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.
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