Our staff has a strong commitment to serving the many constituents of our organization. But first and foremost, they focus their energies on those who take advantage of our programs and services.
Click on a Staff member to learn more about them.
My mental health journey began about 5 years ago when I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder. Prior to my diagnosis, I felt alone and confused and, ultimately, I turned to self-medication to reduce my symptoms. Over the past several years, I’ve added tools to my mental health toolkit to better understand and treat my symptoms and want to share my story with others. I work for NAMI because it allows me to work with like-minded individuals on a quest to improve the wellbeing of the community I’ve grown up in. Most importantly, NAMI provides a consistent source of hope and is always there to ensure individuals aren’t alone in their own mental health journey.
Peer Support Program Director
After a life-altering event I was in search of meaning and purpose. Gratefully, I found just what I was in need of when I began working at NAMI Southeast MN in January, 2018. It's a privilege to work amongst some of the most compassionate and passionate staff and volunteers. I fully appreciate how NAMI SE MN creates a safe place for individuals living with a mental health condition, family members, staff and volunteers to show up as their true authentic selves and know they will be cared for and supported.
I’ve been on my mental health journey since middle school but experienced an event in 2019 that was very difficult and sent me into a downward spiral. In November of 2019, I was admitted into a residential anxiety and O.C.D. program at Rogers Behavioral Health in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Since then, I’ve been working hard every day to explore new ways to better my mental and physical health. This has included intensive DBT and CBT therapy, dozens of trials of medications, a variety of diagnoses, and countless interactions with various mental health providers.
Certified Peer Support Specialist
For many years I was an active volunteer at NAMI Southeast Minnesota as a support group meeting facilitator, peer supporter, speaker, and newsletter creator. I became a Certified Peer Support Specialist in 2019 and was thrilled to be hired in March 2021 as a Crisis Peer Support Specialist, to mostly work at the new SERCC (Southeast Regional Crisis Center).
Education and Events Director
Mirna Hernandez Lopez
Hi my name is Mirna Hernandez L. I am excited to be part of NAMI SE MN team because I have realized the need to provide more information about mental health and mental illness.
I believe that mental health is very important, knowing more about mental illness and being diagnosed early, gives us the opportunity to improve our quality of life and if each of us stays mentally healthy we can live in a more resilient and functional community.
Development Associate, NAMIWalks Manager
I joined NAMI Southeast Minnesota Staff in May of 2021. I was state certified as a Peer Support Specialist in August of 2019 and began my journey volunteering as a Peer Support in May of 2020. I have been on my own mental health journey for 33 years and continue to learn new tools and find out new parts of myself. My motto is: My experience is my strength and growth is my hope. I am thrilled I have a place to share my story with others through the work of NAMI Southeast Minnesota.
I believe there is immense power in authenticity and connection. When we walk together, openly sharing our experiences and challenges, we discover that we're not alone. NAMI creates opportunities for bonds to form, relationships that are the very essence of our humanity. It's humbling and powerful to bear witness to these connections and to see the strength of the human spirit on display day in and day out. I work for NAMI because it surrounds me with people and stories that provide a constant source of inspiration and hope.
Our family became involved with NAMI when our daughter was diagnosed with a mental illness in the mid 90’s. NAMI provided a lot of information and understanding that at that time not even a lot of medical professionals knew.
Because of the help NAMI provided to our family, my wife Maggie and I started volunteering with NAMI. I started out “just writing the checks to pay bills”, to doing support for computers and operations.
We also taught “Family to Family” classes and “Hope for Recovery” in various parts of Minnesota.
Fortunately, we have seen the attitude and stigma about mental illness change so that people now talk about it and help and information is more readily available. There is still more to do, but the last 20 years have shown that things can improve.
Certified Peer Support Specialist
My involvement with NAMI Southeast Minnesota started back in 2006 when I attended support groups. At that time I found a community of individuals who helped advocate and support each other with mental illness. That was the first time I felt that I was not alone. In 2017 I became a Certified Peer Support Specialist and was hired at NAMI. I am also a support group meeting facilitator and have started two support groups (one for dual diagnosis called Double Trouble), and I work at SERCC (Southeast Regional Crisis Center) still advocating for the community.
Certified Peer Support Specialist, Community Engagement Specialist
I am the 1 in 5 people who experience a mental illness, and I joined the staff at NAMI SE Minnesota in 2021 to help reduce the stigma and to help bring connection among those in Southeast Minnesota who live with a mental health condition. When we walk this journey together, we are stronger.