About NAMI Connecticut

Our Staff

We offer support, education, and advocacy to people living with mental illnesses, their family members, friends, professionals and the public at large.


Kate Mattias, MPH, JD

Executive Director

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Kate Mattias joined NAMI Connecticut as Executive Director in 2006.  She found NAMI Connecticut, as a family member, in late 1999.  Her focus is on growing the organization so it can continue to provide help and hope to people living with mental illness, family members, professionals and the community at large.  Her passion is speaking to state residents and organizations on the supports available to them through NAMI Connecticut and throughout the state; finding help, finding hope.


Daniela Giordano, MSW

Public Policy Director

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Daniela Giordano is the Public Policy Director for NAMI Connecticut and staff to a statewide mental health advocacy network, Keep the Promise (KTP) Coalition. The common goal is to enhance access to and quality of community based services, supports and housing for individuals and families impacted by mental health challenges across the state.  Prior to focusing on policy advocacy, Daniela spent several years in direct services as a case manager at a community mental health agency and had the opportunity to work with adults and adolescents living with mental health challenges. Daniela has a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut, with a concentration in policy practice.


Susan Kelley, JD

Child & Adolescent Policy Program Manager

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Susan Kelley is the Child and Adolescent Policy Manager at NAMI Connecticut, AND serves as primary staff support to the Keep the Promise (KTP) Coalition Children’s Committee.   Previously, Susan practiced public interest law, representing children and parents in child welfare/juvenile matters in Northern California. She also developed online programs on child abuse reporting laws and child abuse prevention for children and educators.  Susan brings to NAMI Connecticut over 15 years combined experience in child welfare/juvenile and public interest law, child and family advocacy, and service on non-profit boards. She received her law degree from the University of San Francisco Law School, and has a BA in English Literature from Princeton University.


Jessica Goldman

Youth Adult Programs

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Jessica Goldman is the Young Adult Coordinator at NAMI. Jessica is a young adult who brings her own personal lived experience to her work to inspire and educate others. Jessica manages the young adult related programs at NAMI and she partners with many other young adult initiatives and organizations across the state. Her personal journey has led her to graduate with a degree in Psychology and Community Engagement at CCSU in May of 2016. When Jessica is not working, you can find her on her yoga mat, at the beach, or cuddling up with a her cat Handsome.


Maura Sheil-Hughes

KTP Coordinator

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Maura Sheil-Hughes joined NAMI Connecticut in 2007.  She is the Policy Support Staff for Keep the Promise Coalition.  She is proud to support NAMI and Keep the Promise Coalition members in their quest to learn advocacy skills for mental health through KTP’s annual trainings.  Maura supports the Public Policy Director, the Child and Adolescent Policy Manager and members at monthly meetings for the Adult and Children’s Committees, the Legislative Sessions and Public Hearings on mental health.  She also organizes the annual KTP Awards Ceremony, the annual trainings--Essentials of Legislative Advocacy and Legislative Leadership— as well as many other Keep the Promise Coalition activities.  Her focus is to help anyone affected by mental health issues to know that they can learn to become powerful advocates for themselves or their loved ones and get the services they deserve to live a productive life.


Louise Pyers, MS

Criminal Justice Project

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Louise Pyers, M.S.  is the Criminal Justice Project Director and CIT Liaison. Louise helps families navigate the criminal justice system, provides logistical support for the Crisis Intervention Training and works with our civilian mental health providers to encourage strong police-mental health partnerships. She also works within other criminal justice agencies to collaboratively develop effective training on mental health issues.


Paloma Bayona

Program Director

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Paloma R Bayona is the Program Director and joined NAMI in 2006. She oversees the Family & Professional education programs as well as the Support Groups. She is very proud of her work with NAMI Connecticut and she will continue to work for those who need her stand up at a time they are not able to. Her focus is to expand resources, provide support, educate family members and people living with mental illness, the public, professional and the community as well as to break down bias and end discrimination.


Don Fischer

Recovery Programs Coordinator

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Don Fischer serves as NAMI Connecticut’s Recovery Programs Coordinator. He started volunteering for NAMI Connecticut in 2000 and had been a member of an affiliate board and later and the NAMI Connecticut board prior to joining the staff 2007. Don is also facilitator for NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups and one of the original In-Our-Own-Voice presenters.


Thomas Burr

Communications Manager

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Thomas Burr is the Communications Manager at NAMI Connecticut, and has been on the Public Policy staff since February 2011. Additionally, as a VOLUNTEER member of NAMI for over 15 years, he has served on the NAMI Connecticut Board, and continues to serve as a volunteer on the NAMI Manchester Affiliate Board. His focus is to help everyone in the State of Connecticut know what NAMI is and all the great things we do to help folks affected by mental health challenges.


Iris Nazarro

Manager, Member and Affiliate Relations

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Iris Nazario joined the NAMI Connecticut family in 2004 as a staff person, member and volunteer. She is currently the Manager of Member and Affiliate Relations which consists of collaborating with all local affiliates and the National office regarding operations and membership outreach. She also has been a co-Walk Manager, planning, coordinating and organizing NAMI Connecticut's biggest fundraiser, the NAMI Connecticut Walk for the last 11 years and 12 Walks. For the last 4 years she has held a seat on the NAMI Hartford affiliate board and also facilitates the family support group for the group.


Janice Shilosky

Programs Coordinator

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Janice Shilosky is a Program Coordinator, working for NAMI Connecticut for the past 10 years.  She is the Co-manager of the annual NAMI Connecticut walkathon, assists and helps coordinate NAMI Connecticut programs and manages the NAMI Connecticut Report bi-monthly newsletter.


Paul Brainerd

Professional Education

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Paul Brainerd is the Provider Education Coordinator at NAMI Connecticut.  Paul manages the Perspectives course, which offers essential insight for Mental Health Providers and their front line staff. It incorporates and encourages collaboration between the providers, their patients and families into the process and stages of treating mental illness..


Board of Directors

We offer support, education, and advocacy to people living with mental illnesses, their family members, friends, professionals and the public at large.

  • Marisa Walls, President

  • Katherine Nicoletti, Vice-President

  • Michele L. Bankowski, Treasurer

  • Cynthia Randolph, Secretary

  • Morris Bell, Ph.D.

  • Torry Bernard

  • Christina DeFranco

  • Howard Drescher

  • Marvin Elbaum

  • Maybelle Mercado-Martinez

  • Laura Noe

  • John Pendleton

  • Anthony Pierlioni

  • Howard Reid

  • Dr. Gary Rhule

  • Karen Rolen

  • Otto Wahl

  • Justyna Wawrzonek

  • Laura Noe

I chose to serve on the NAMI board because I have witnessed the significant impact that mental illnesses can have on someone’s life. I am choosing to be the voice for those individuals that cannot advocate for themselves. I will assist NAMI in reaching out, educating and supporting individuals, families and communities affected by mental illness. Reducing the stigma that is associated with mental illness is a common goal for NAMI. I am honored to be on the NAMI board while serving an important population.
— Kayla Cortes
As an active practitioner in the field of psychology and mental health, I feel strongly in achieving change in the perception of the public in regards to mental illness. I have embraced that challenge and enjoy the opportunity to apply my knowledge and long experience, along with a deeply felt passion and enthusiasm, in a manner which is beneficial to NAMI Connecticut, its stated aims and our community.
— Dr. Maybelle- Mercado-Martinez
I vowed at the start of 2013 that I was going to become an advocate of mental health, behavioral health services and suicide. My primary focus would be education: educating the public on mental health, the wide spectrum of disorders and the lack of quality mental healthcare for everyone. My hope is to end the stigma – one person at a time. NAMI Connecticut can multiply my power of one. NAMI Connecticut can help me spread the word. I can become a more meaningful advocate for those who have not yet found their voice with NAMI Connecticut. Together we can educate the general population, improve access to mental healthcare and help those who need us most. Together, we can make changes to end the stigma. Together, we can advocate for those with mental illness.
— Michele L. Bankowski
I am delighted to serve on the board as a representative of the strong link between the mission of NAMI Connecticut and the Yale University Department of Psychiatry.
— Morris D. Bell, Ph.D., ABPP

NAMI's Bylaws

Please find the complete list of NAMI bylaws in the document below.