The board of directors of the Rochester Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness recently appointed Heather Brooks Newton as executive director.
Like many people involved with NAMI Rochester, Newton came to the organization because of a personal need.
“My husband and I found NAMI several years ago when we were struggling to make sense of our son’s mental health condition,” she said. “The support and education we received was invaluable to our family’s recovery. I am proud to be leading this dynamic and critically important organization.”
“We’re thrilled that Heather will take on this leadership role,” said Kim VanCamp, president of the board. “Heather is well-known to NAMI Rochester as co-chair of the 2018 NAMIWalks Rochester. Her education and many years of nonprofit management experience, along with her passion and commitment to our mission of support, education and advocacy, will enable her to plan effectively for the future and expand our programs.”
Newton earned her master’s in public administration from Syracuse University. She spent the early part of her career working and volunteering for several nonprofit organizations before spending nearly a decade in university admissions. Most recently, she led the development and community engagement efforts at Foodlink.
“We have made great strides in the past 37 years since NAMI Rochester’s founding, and there is more and more attention being paid to mental health education and awareness,” Newton said. “Through increased partnerships with secondary schools, colleges and community partners, NAMI will continue to play a critical role in the mental health and wellness arena. In particular, NAMI’s unique family programming, as well as our nationally accredited anti-stigma work in middle and high schools, are two areas of potential growth in the coming year.”
Newton succeeds Pat Sine, who retired after 28 years with NAMI Rochester. Sine was executive director for 22 years, and helped to grow the organization from a small group of concerned parents to one that has served thousands in the Rochester community.
NAMI Rochester provides classes and support groups at no charge, relying on donations to cover the costs. The agency’s primary fundraising event, NAMIWalks Rochester, will be held on May 4 at Village Gate. Visit for information.