I started volunteering at NAMI by sharing my lived experience with the public. By going out into the community, I saw the need for education and advocacy surrounding mental health. The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example. I made it my mission to continue to work towards breaking the stigma around mental health. NAMI has helped me in my recovery and journey to live well. I believe my purpose is to be a voice for those who feel they can't speak up about their mental health.
Anna Bunker joined the NAMI Fox Valley team in 2020 and serves as the agency’s Outreach Specialist & Program Assistant. Anna has an Associate’s degree in Community Health and Behavioral Science and is currently working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Community Health and Psychology. She started NAMI on Campus at Fox Valley Technical College to take a stance against stigma occuring on campus and to create a larger presence on what mental health entails. In her spare time, she enjoys rock climbing and hiking.
I work for NAMI Fox Valley because I love to help people and being a Peer Companion at Iris Place is the perfect opportunity to do so. I enjoy giving people hope and showing them that you can live a full and happy life with mental health issues. NAMI is important to me because it's the only organization I have found that has made me feel like a full person who has hopes and dreams that can be met.
Patti joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2015 and serves as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program. Patti, who is a certified peer specialist, has been married to her husband, Steve, for over 30 years and has five children. In her spare time, she enjoys scrapbooking, throwing darts, and watching movies.
What stood out to me when I started [at Iris Place Peer Run Respite] was the compassion and empathy that was shown by my peers, staff and leadership. I never felt alone and felt understood.
Maria joined the team at NAMI Fox Valley in 2019 and serves as a Peer Companion at Iris Place Peer Run Respite. Maria has an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, as well as credits in the Health & Human Services program at UW-Oshkosh. In her spare time, Maria enjoys art and painting.
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 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.
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 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.
I love working with people at Iris Place and the relationships I encounter on almost a daily basis are the best paychecks I could receive. I never knew that years of pain and shame from my own mental illness would turn into something so beautiful. Some of the darkest times in my life - commitment, hospitals, institutions, and sickness - I now use as a story of recovery and hope for the individuals I cross paths with. I hope my story can inspire others to keep going.
Amanda (“Manders”) joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2015 and serves as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program. Manders has attended pastoral training and is a CNA and a certified peer specialist. In her spare time, she enjoys aqua zumba, scrapbooking, singing, and dancing. She resides in the area with her unconditionally loving husband, Craig, and two “fur babies” Baily and Lolly.
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 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.
NAMI Fox Valley is a great, very caring group of people making a difference in people's lives.
Sammie joined NAMI Fox Valley in January 2019 and serves as the agency’s Finance Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in French and worked on a Masters in Human Resources from UW-Madison and a Masters in Business Administration from UW-Green Bay.
Sammie lives in Two Rivers with her husband and enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing with grandchildren, reading, and traveling. She notes that, after only a few weeks in her position, she has found that everything she heard about NAMI Fox Valley is true: “It is a great, very caring group of people making a difference in people’s lives.”
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 joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2014. She has served in multiple positions at the agency and currently serves as a Parent Peer Advocate for the HOPE program (a joint program of NAMI Fox Valley, Catalpa Health, Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley, and the Neenah Joint School District.)
Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota and a Master degree in education from North Carolina State University. She also is a certified state trainer for NAMI’s Ending the Silence program. A Minnesotan who has lived all over the U.S., Megan currently lives in Appleton with her husband and two sons. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time at her cabin.
Taking the New Hope Peer Specialist class changed my life and my views on how to support and sit with people in hard spaces. I graduated from the course right as NAMI was hiring management positions for Iris Place, and the rest is history. NAMI FV, and Iris Place specifically, are so important to me because I've seen what the alternatives are. Many of the people I support aren't used to being told that recovery is an option for them. They aren't used to being treated with respect and mutuality.
Val joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2014 and serves as Assistant Program Director of the Iris Place program. In addition to certification as a peer specialist, Val holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Bachelor of Music in music performance, both from Lawrence University. Val lives in Appleton with her two cats, Binks and Pudge. In her spare time, she enjoys Krav Maga, making music, and making others laugh.
My family lost someone very special to suicide in 2013. Since then, I have worked tirelessly to achieve my two degrees in hopes of working in a non-profit that helps those affected by mental illness. I want to be on the forefront of mental health advocacy in our community.
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 dog Willy.
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
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.
The reason that NAMI Fox Valley is so important to me is that it helped me, as someone who lives with mental illness, to develop my personal meaning of recovery: to live such that you are not just surviving, but thriving. This agency empowers, supports, includes, encourages, and even challenges people to find out what recovery means to them, and to live it! Walking alongside others as they do this is what we do at Iris Place.
Kara joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2014 and serves as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program. Kara holds a Bachelor degree in linguistics from DePauw University and is a certified peer specialist. Previously, she worked for 14 years as a journalist at a local newspaper. She lives with her husband and daughter in Appleton and enjoys reading, writing, volunteering, and traveling.
Lydia Rivera joined NAMI Fox Valley in 2019 as the Latino Program Assistant and assists in oversight of NAMI FV’s spanish-language programming. This includes overseeing the Spanish-language Family-to-Family, the Women’s Spanish-Language Support Group, and our Bilingual Teen Support Group.
Lydia was born and raised in Ozona, TX with Spanish as her first language. She is a current student at UW-Milwaukee pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. She and her wife, Vicki, have five children and a granddaughter. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors and walking her three dogs, Pepper, Kenda, and Sammie.
My involvement with NAMI Fox Valley started with the peer specialist training. It was during that training that I discovered I could use my voice to advocate for those living with mental illness. Shortly after graduating from the peer specialist program, I was hired by NAMI Fox Valley to be a Peer Companion at Iris Place, and now have the pleasure of serving as a Recovery Specialist.
Vicki joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2016 and serves as the agency’s Peer Program Coordinator. In this role, Vicki is a Peer Support Specialist for the Ascend Initiative (a joint program of NAMI Fox Valley and Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities) and also assists with the management of the agency’s consumer 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, Penelope, and Sammie.
I came to NAMI Fox Valley when I was in need of support and have stayed to return the support I was given. Through NAMI Fox Valley, I have had the opportunity to become a certified peer specialist, which has increased the knowledge and skills I have in order to meet people where they are and walk with them as they pursue what they need for their wellness.
John joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2013 and has served in several peer support and leadership roles. Currently, John serves as the Data Specialist for Iris Place Peer Run Respite. Along with his peer specialist certification, John is trained in Intentional Peer Support and Emotional CPR.
I came to NAMI Fox Valley because I lived with mental illness and have family members who do. I lost two family members to suicide and addictions, and want to help others.
Breanna joined the NAMI Fox Valley staff as a Peer Companion for the Iris Place program in 2017. She now serves as the agency’s Volunteer Coordinator and is excited to bring our community together to deliver NAMI Fox Valley’s mission.
Breanna received her degree in Early Childhood Education from Fox Valley Technical College. She enjoys swimming, camping, crafting, and spending time with her husband, Chris, and dog Dakota.
I wanted to work for NAMI Fox Valley because it offers support and education opportunities to people who live with mental illness or have family members who live with mental illness. I believe that it is important for all of us to keep learning about mental health and mental illness so that we can reduce the stigma associated with it and be more supportive and compassionate toward those who struggle. I love our saying: 'Be Kind.'
Lisa joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2017 and serves as Program Assistant. Lisa received her marketing degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and also is certified to teach grades 1-8. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and biking.
Back in 2003, I was looking for a part time office job and started at NAMI Fox Valley as the Administrative Coordinator. I didn't know much about mental illness back then, but have learned a lot over the past 14+ years. I've also met many wonderful people who live with mental illness or are family members of someone living with it. I've become an advocate for those folks and admire their courage.
Helen joined the staff of NAMI Fox Valley in 2003 and serves as Office and Building Manager. When she’s not here keeping the office running, Helen enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing cards, gardening, and watching the Packers.
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 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.
I came to NAMI Fox Valley because I fully believe that breaking the stigma of mental illness is vitally important for our society as a whole. It is my hope that through education and advocacy, I can play a small but significant role in helping to create a bigger voice for those struggling with mental health challenges.
Megan Zimmerman joined the NAMI Fox Valley team in June 2018 and serves as the agency’s Community Outreach Coordinator. Megan has a Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health Education from UW–La Crosse. Much of her career has been spent in the world of addiction and substance abuse, and she is looking forward to delving further into the world of mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, going to her family’s cottage in the summertime, and playing year round sand volleyball with friends.