About NAMI Connecticut

NAMI Connecticut provides support, education, and advocacy to all Connecticut citizens affected by mental illness.

Our Staff



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.  Kate has a Master's in Public Health from Columbia University and a law degree from Quinnipiac University School of Law. 

Since joining NAMI Connecticut her focus has been on growing the organization so it can continue to provide help and hope to people living with mental health conditions, family members, professionals and the community at large.  

During her tenure, in addition to implementing important national programs like Family to Family, both community and professional education programs have grown, including Parents and Teachers as Allies, Ending the Silence, and NAMI Basics. Kate is dedicated to individuals and families knowing they are not alone in their struggles with psychiatric conditions. 


Susan Kelley, JD

Child & Adolescent Policy Program Manager

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Susan Kelley is Children’s Policy Director at NAMI Connecticut, and since 2016, Director of the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health (ACMH), a statewide collective advocacy organization, housed at NAMI Connecticut, which seeks to develop smart policies and increase access to quality mental health services for all children in Connecticut. She formerly served as staff to the Keep the Promise Children’s Committee, the predecessor organization to ACMH.  Prior to joining NAMI Connecticut, 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.


Valerie Sacco

Youth Adult Programs

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Valerie Sacco is the Young Adult Coordinator at NAMI. Valerie manages all of the Young Adult related programs at NAMI Connecticut and she partners with many other young adult initiatives and organizations across the state. Valerie is a young adult who originally became involved with NAMI in 2014 by volunteering as a  Young Adult Connection Group Facilitator, Ending the Silence Presenter, and Board Member of her local NAMI affiliate. Valerie is a certified peer support specialist who brings her own personal lived experience to her work to inspire and educate others. Her goal is to increase peer-support groups and education for emerging adults throughout the entire state.


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

Community & Affiliate Relations Manager

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Thomas Burr is the Community & Affiliate Relations Manager at NAMI Connecticut, and has been a member of the NAMI Connecticut staff since February 2011. As a member of NAMI for over 15 years, he has served as a volunteer on both the NAMI Connecticut and NAMI Manchester Affiliate Boards, and is the former Board President of the Manchester Affiliate. His current focus is to help everyone in the State of Connecticut know about NAMI and what we provide to help folks affected by mental health challenges.


Iris Alamo

Member and Donor Relations Manager

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Iris Alamo joined the NAMI Connecticut family in 2004 as a staff person, member and volunteer. She is currently the Manager of Member and Donor Relations which consists of collaborating with all local affiliates and the National office regarding 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 13 years and 14 Walks. For 7 years she held a seat on the NAMI Hartford affiliate board.


Janice Shilosky

Program Coordinator

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Janice Shilosky is the Program Coordinator, working for NAMI Connecticut for the past 13 years.  She is the Co-Manager of the annual NAMI Connecticut Walk, assists and helps coordinate NAMI Connecticut programs and manages the NAMI Connecticut quarterly 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.

  • Howard Reid, President

  • Marvin Elbaum, Vice-President

  • John Pendleton, Treasurer

  • Trish Demaris, Secretary

  • Morris Bell, Ph.D.

  • Torry Bernard

  • Brenda Liz Cotto

  • Christina DeFranco

  • Joseph Gatto

  • Michelle Jaffee

  • Desiree Lee

  • Robert Pearston

  • Anthony Pierlioni

  • Cynthia Randolph

  • Gary Rhule

  • Elisa Romm

  • Otto Wahl

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.


Contact NAMI Connecticut

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