It is a great opportunity to work for NAMI FV because the organization provides help for the Latino community facing mental health struggles. It is a place full of empathy, kindness, and a place where there is always support from others who have lived through similar experiences.

Surid Lasso Blanco

Latino Program Specialist

Surid joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2021 and serves as the agency’s Latino Program Specialist. Surid is trained in many of NAMI Fox Valley’s spanish-language education programs, with her involvement with the agency dating back over 5 years. In her spare time, Surid enjoys riding bikes with her husband, playing the piano and singing.

Surid@namifoxvalley.org

Becoming a part of NAMI as a Parent Peer Advocate is a great way for me to help parents and their families get the support they need. With this role, I can help lift the stigma that can surround mental illness.

Amy DeBroux

Parent Peer Advocate

Amy joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2018 and serves as a Parent Peer Advocate in the Little Chute Area School District and Menasha Joint School District. Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and an English Language Learner (ELL) Certification.
Amy has taught in Connecticut early in her career, in addition to teaching in the Kaukauna and Appleton school districts. She lives in the Village of Harrison with her husband and two children. Amy enjoys gardening, biking, running and spending time at her cabin.

 amy@NAMIFOXVALLEY.ORG

I dream of a fair society. Working for NAMI is important to me as it is an organization that believes in and fosters empowerment. NAMI helps people become their best version of themselves, through empowerment, education, connection, and support (their mission). The stigma of mental illness combined with lack of access to resources such as mental health and addiction professional recovery based care, leads to oppression of people living with mental illness. I am passionate about social justice/fairness, and advocating for those whom are unable to control their circumstances. Fair to me means allowing people access to what they need rather than treating everyone the same.

Louise Ebben

Peer Companion

Louise joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2021 and serves as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program. Louise holds a Bachelors of Science Secondary Education and BSE in Broadfield Natural Science for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, with a minor in biology. She also is also a Certified Peer Support Specialist. Essential to maintaining her own mental health, Louise enjoys connecting with people and nature. She enjoys cooking and/or baking, alpine skiing, camping, kayaking, wildlife viewing, gardening, and particularly native landscape gardening to help struggling populations of birds and pollinators.

NAMI, through years of challenges, helped my family navigate the roller coaster rides that mental illness presented to us. I am in awe of the combined efforts that make NAMI Fox Valley the successful organization it is today. That is why I work here. My desire is that my experiences will give others hope.

Vivian Flanagan

Family Program Coordinator

Vivian joined NAMI Fox Valley in 2017 and serves as the Family Program Coordinator. Vivian holds a degree in human growth and development from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a teaching certification for early childhood and grades K-6.

Vivian, who taught 4K for 30 years in the Kaukauna School District, served as a volunteer receptionist for NAMI Fox Valley’s Franklin Street office before joining the staff and continues to fill that volunteer role one morning per week. When not working or volunteering, Vivian enjoys getting exercise, spending time with friends, and following the academic and athletic pursuits of her grandchildren.

 VIVIAN@NAMIFOXVALLEY.ORG

There is no health without mental health. Following my diagnosis, my treatment options were limited as I became a synonymous diagnosis. I am more than my diagnosis, and through my work with NAMI Fox Valley I look forward to offering hope, compassion, and advocacy for those on their own mental health journeys.

Alex Frantz

Peer Companion

Alex joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2022 and serves as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place Program. Alex is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in Drama. Alex also also received an Associates degree, with an emphasis in psychology, education and drama from UW Oshkosh. In their spare time, Alex enjoys binge watching Netflix, art and theatre, hanging out with friends and playing card games. Alex prefers they/them/their pronouns.

Alex@namifoxvalley.org

Before I found NAMI Fox Valley and the peer movement, I was unable to see any point in recovery. Upon meeting certain people within NAMI FV, I was able to finally begin to work on myself. I attribute the beginnings of my recovery to NAMI and the unique atmosphere of Iris Place Peer Run Respite; that is why I am ecstatic about being able to potentially be the persona that people look back on and say that I was instrumental to their recovery. I simply want to return the favor and help make individuals' lives authentically better.

Patrick Laycox

Peer Companion

Patrick joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2018 and serves as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program. Patrick, who is a certified peer specialist, enjoys gaming and studying japanese in his spare time. Patrick has lived experience with mental illness and strives to help others with similar struggles.

Patrick@namifoxvalley.org

I really feel we need to do whatever we can to support our community and people dealing with mental illness. We are on the front lines fighting stigma!

Megan McLachlan

Parent Peer Advocate

Megan joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2014. She has served a variety of roles at the agency, and currently serves as the agency’s Parent Peer Advocate for the HOPE program (Neenah Joint School District). In this role, she helps parents with children with mental health challenges navigate their family’s journey.

Megan holds a Masters in Education from North Carolina State University. She is the state trainer for NAMI’s Ending the Silence program, and co-creator of Mental Health Chat.  A Minnesotan who has lived all over the U.S., Megan currently divides her time between Appleton and Madison, and her role there at NAMI WI as the program coordinator.

 MEGAN@NAMIFOXVALLEY.ORG

I am passionate about mental health education and disorder prevention. I believe in the mission of NAMI and am honored to play a role in destigmatizing mental health concerns.

Kristi Nielson

Outreach & Peer Program Specialist

Kristi joined the NAMI Fox Valley team in 2021 and serves as the agency’s Outreach & Peer Program Specialist. Kristi has a Masters degree in Public Health. In her spare time, Kristi enjoys hiking with her husband (Ryan) and two dogs (Beau and Cricket), cooking, and reading. With roots in North and South Carolina, Wisconsin continues to be a fun new adventure for her.

kristi@namifoxvalley.org

As someone who has felt the devastating impact of suicide, I'm very grateful to be a part of a team that provides mental health support and education to our community.

Morgan O’Connell

Marketing & Development Coordinator

Morgan joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2017 and serves in a multi-faceted role as Marketing & Development Coordinator. Morgan holds Associates Degrees in both marketing and business management from Fox Valley Technical College. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters (Grace and Evelyn), and her dogs.

 MORGAN@NAMIFOXVALLEY.ORG

Much of the incredible passion and energy of NAMI Fox Valley's staff and volunteers stems from the fact that the vast majority of those who work or volunteer here live with mental illness or have a close loved one living with it. Breaking down stigma and creating a community that promotes mental health and recovery is, for many of us, deeply personal.

Maren H. Peterson

Executive Director

Maren joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2015 and serves as the agency’s Executive Director. Maren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Grinnell College and a law degree from Fordham University School of Law. She is a 2017 graduate of the Nonprofit Leadership Institute at Fox Valley Technical College.

Maren returned to her hometown of Appleton in 2014 after nearly twenty years away, most of which she spent living and practicing law in New York City. She has greatly enjoyed her return to the “Little Apple” and particularly loves taking advantage of the many local gems of downtown Appleton, where you’ll often spot her reading or, come football season, cheering on the Packers.

 MAREN@NAMIFOXVALLEY.ORG

NAMI Support Groups have always been a safe space for me to find support and connect with others. If I had this support in my teen years, I believe it would have been a vital resource for my recovery. I now have a drive to be that support for teens in the community.

Amy Richards

Teen Support Group Specialist

Amy Richards joined NAMI Fox Valley in 2020 and serves at the Teen Support Group Specialist. Amy is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, is a CCAR Recovery Coach and Trainer, and an Emotional-CPR practitioner.

In her spare time, Amy is passionate about music and animal rights. She enjoys foraging for wild edibles, creating art, and road trips on the Harley.

arichards@namifoxvalley.org 

I am thankful for the opportunity to work for an organization where my lived experience with a mental illness can be a beacon of hope and prove that recovery is possible by supporting and educating others living with a mental illness.

Vicki Rivera

Peer Program Coordinator

Vicki joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2016 and serves as the agency’s Peer Program Coordinator. In this role, Vicki oversees the teen and adult peer support and education programs.

Vicki received her Bachelor of Science in psychology and human services from Upper Iowa University and her LGBTQ Mental Health Certificate from the University of Milwaukee. She and her wife, Lydia, have four children and a granddaughter. In her spare time, Vicki enjoys photography, gardening, and walking her three dogs, Pepper, Kenda, and Sammie.

 VICKI@NAMIFOXVALLEY.ORG

Being a part of something bigger than one’s own self in life is a wonderful thing. It is the acknowledgement that there is a constant connection in all things everywhere, and it is the willingness to participate in the teamwork that life necessitates from each of us individually and all of us collectively. I truly believe that every person has something unique and great to offer simply through existence. I love being part of a team that helps others strengthen their understanding of their own personal value by bringing connectedness through open-minded and accepting environments, where people are able to bond through similarities while simultaneously celebrating diversities.

Janet Shannon

Finance & Accounting Manager

Janet joined the NAMI Fox Valley staff in 2022 and serves as the agency’s finance and accounting manager. After graduating from Fox Valley Technical College with an Associate’s degree in Accounting and a second in Business Management, Janet chose to further her education and proceeded to earn a Bachelor’s in Accounting with a minor in Taxation, as well as an MBA with double concentrations in Finance and Management Information Systems.

Originally from Phoenix, AZ, she has also lived in Beijing, China and all over Wisconsin, and she now resides with her two awesome children in Neenah, WI. Outside of accounting, Janet enjoys long-distance running, spending time with her family, kayaking, traveling the world and learning about other cultures, being in the comfort of nature whenever possible, pursuing creative projects around her house, and experiencing the newfound world of virtual reality.

janet@namifoxvalley.org

Hope is thinking things will get better, faith is knowing things will get better.

Jason Swiertz

Peer Companion

Jason joined the NAMI Fox Valley staff in 2021 and serves as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program. Jason is a Peer Support Specialist, and in his spare time he enjoys collecting comics, toys, and records.

Jason@namifoxvalley.org

I started attending NAMI support groups as a teenager and it helped shape how I perceive my newly diagnosed mental illness and fostered hope that I didn't have. I am now privileged to facilitate virtual online support groups and give back to this organization that helped shape who I am.

AnnaClaire Sylvester

Support Group Specialist

AnnaClaire joined the NAMI Fox Valley team in 2020 and serves as the agency’s Support Group Specialist. AnnaClaire assists the Peer Program Coordinator by facilitating NAMI FV’s online support groups. AnnaClaire has been involved with NAMI FV since she was a teenager.

In her spare time, AnnaClaire enjoys reading, doing number puzzles, watching documentaries and taking walks.

I always loved helping people. I have volunteered for many events at NAMI Fox Valley and thought "someday, I'd love to work here." I am able to talk to people and hear their stories of strength, their challenges they have faced, and how they've recovered.

Kayla Timm

Office Manager

Kayla joined the team at NAMI Fox Valley in 2021 and serves as the agency’s Office Manager. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys crafting, and spending time with family and friends.

kayla@namifoxvalley.org

I came to NAMI Fox Valley in 1997 in search of support for my own mental health condition.  NAMI helped me realize that having a mental illness is not a death sentence. I have benefited both from receiving peer support and providing peer support. NAMI has become my second family.

Paula Verrett

Iris Place Program Director

Paula officially joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2012 after many years as a devoted volunteer. She has served in multiple positions at the agency and currently serves as the Iris Place Program Director.

Paula is a certified peer specialist and holds a Bachelor of Science in education and human services and a Masters in social work, both from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. In her spare time, Paula enjoys outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and music.

 PAULA@NAMIFOXVALLEY.ORG

I want to help others find the strength in themselves that I have found after struggling with mental illness for nearly my entire life. Meeting new people that I share a mutual understanding with on such a personal level is fulfilling and exciting.

Courtney Wendt

Assistant Director of Iris Place

Courtney joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2020 as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program, and became the Iris Place Assistant Director in 2022. Courtney enjoys sewing, baking, day trips, cats and laughing at her own jokes. Courtney works at Iris Place so that maybe someday her story can be one of the many building blocks for someone else’s recovery. “Healing is not linear.” is her favorite quote.

Like so many of us, I have numerous friends and family members who are navigating their own journeys with mental illness, so I feel truly fortunate to work for an organization that educates our community on mental health. It fills my heart to play even a small role in reducing the harmful stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Megan Zimmerman

Community Outreach Coordinator

Megan joined the NAMI Fox Valley team in June 2018 and serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Megan holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Community Health Education from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Megan discovered early on in her professional life that she had a passion for working with non-profit organizations and underserved populations. Megan’s personal hobbies include spending time with her husband and son, Jon and Cain, and hiking with her chocolate lab, Oakleigh.

MZimmerman@namifoxvalley.org