NAMI Virginia
P.O. Box 8260
Richmond VA 23226
Mission Statement
We are the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Virginia.
Our mission is to promote recovery and improve the quality of life of Virginians with mental illness through support, education, and advocacy.
We envision a world free of stigma and discrimination where all people affected by mental illness get the help, hope, and support they need.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Rhonda Thissen MSW
Board Chair Mr. Peter Nicewicz J.D.
Board Chair Company Affiliation US Interagency Council on Homelessness
Contact Information
Address P.O. Box 8260
Richmond, VA 23226
Telephone 804 285-8264
Fax 804 285-8464
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1984
Former Names
Virginia Alliance for the Mentally Ill1984
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $710,000.00
Projected Expenses $700,726.00
Additional Documents
Membership Enrollment Form2015View
We are the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Virginia.
Our mission is to promote recovery and improve the quality of life of Virginians with mental illness through support, education, and advocacy.
We envision a world free of stigma and discrimination where all people affected by mental illness get the help, hope, and support they need.
NAMI Virginia is the only mental health non-profit organization in Virginia that provides free of cost support and education programs to individuals across their lifespan. We offer programming for youth, young adults, adults, and families. In FY17, NAMI Virginia and its affiliates served 18,425 Virginians through signature program related events (courses, presentations and support groups). As a result of the work of NAMI Virginia and its affiliates, NAMI Virginia was awarded the Outstanding State Organization of the Year Award for 2014. To learn more about how NAMI Virginia is making a difference, please refer to our Programs tab.
  1. Printing Donation: As annual updates are made to our crisis guide and resource guide for children and families, we find ourselves in need of a partnership which would provide in kind printing services.
  2. Marketing Volunteer: A marketing volunteer is needed to help with the promotion of programs and NAMIWalks Virginia. They will also assist with creating graphic design content for print materials and social media.
  3. Data Entry Volunteer: Volunteers are needed to assist with data entry year round. In particular data entry help is needed at the end of October following NAMIWalk Virginia. This data allows us to track donations and thank our donors.
  4. Office Needs: Our office is currently in need of the following items to assist with providing free programs throughout communities in Virginia: storage unit, 1 inch, 2 inch and 3 inch white gently used or new binders.


In 1983, coordination among advocates for the mentally ill to form an alliance in the Commonwealth led to a Family Caucus on January 12, 1984 through the Virginia Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation Conference on Expanding Residential Services held at the John Marshall Hotel in Richmond. The Family Caucus was comprised of over forty persons representing 15 family organizations from at least ten counties across Virginia. The impetus for this historic event was provided by two organizations: Pathways to Independence of Northern Virginia, and the Richmond Area Schizophrenia Foundation,
In February, the Steering Committee met in McLean to plan for an April organization meeting in Richmond. A logo and letterhead were designed and approved. Persons on the Virginia AMI mailing list were asked to send their nominations for a Board of Directors to be elected at the organization meeting. 
On April 7th, in Richmond, more than 70 people representing many areas throughout the state gathered to enlarge the nucleus of the new organization: the Virginia Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Incorporated as a non-profit organization on March 28, 1984, the Virginia Alliance celebrated its formal organization with welcoming remarks from professionals throughout the state, from the dedicated cadre of parents who have been spearheading the movement, and from the moving testimonials for the chronic mentally ill who were their own strong witness to what can be accomplished through support groups.
The First Annual Meeting of the Virginia Alliance was held at Wintergreen in November 1984. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Community Support System Conference which was jointly sponsored by the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, the Commonwealth of Virginia Association of Clubhouses, the International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services, and the Virginia Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Over 500 people were in attendance during the conference representing a coalition of consumers, families, providers, professionals, legislators, state, county, and local officials who gathered together under the banner of “We Can Make a Difference About Mental Illness.”
The First Anniversary Meeting of our founding was held in Harrisonburg on the campus of James Madison University in May of 1985. At this meeting, 24 organizations were affiliated with the Virginia Alliance. This group included Community Services Boards, Clubhouses, and a local Mental Health Association, as well as the support groups we now refer to as affiliates.
In 1986, a Spring Conference and Open Meeting of the Alliance Board of Directors was held at Virginia Wesleyan University, Virginia Beach in April with the theme being “Continuing Advocacy for the Mentally Ill”. This was followed by a meeting held June 7th in Roanoke designated as the Annual Meeting of the Alliance. Further organizational work was accomplished; the Class of 1989 was elected to serve on the Board, and additional committees were established to do the work of the Alliance.
In January 1987, Gene Ferrell became President. During her two year tenure the Alliance moved forward by adopting By-laws at the Convention in Charlottesville that fall. Gene organized and strengthened our committees to do the work of the Alliance. The committee structure is the basic operating tool of our organization, and is the focus of our volunteer effort to reach our goals. For example, during this period Lillian Hutchinson’s Membership and Affiliate Relations Committee began its outreach to areas in the state where no affiliates existed. This effort resulted in increasing the number of our affiliates from the 17 in 1987 to 26 this year. During 1988, a part-time Executive Director was hired to work in our Richmond office, and to support, the successful efforts of the Coalition. Later that year, the Board made the decision that we must have a full-time Executive Director, with a full-time office in Richmond if the Alliance was to become a more effective advocacy organization. 
CEO Statement
NAMI is about awareness and hope.  It is a place to go and turn to when all else seems hopeless.  Our array of support and public education efforts are focused on educating people about mental illness, offering resources to those in need, and insisting that mental health become a top local, state, and national priority.  We engage people across the Commonwealth and expand relationships based on mutual interests related to mental health education, policy, and action. Above all, NAMI is support, hope, and help.
Board Chair Statement
The feedback from our education, support, and outreach programs tell the story of NAMI and why volunteers become involved with the organization. When you are looking for help, when you feel alone, when you are struggling with something so difficult and people talk about it as though it is a big mystery, you want help. You want support.  You want people who understand. That is NAMI. We have all been there in one way or another and we have the lived experience to help others know how to provide care, what works and what does not, how to navigate the highly complex mental health care system, what the laws are, and what to do when it seems like there is simply no answer.
One mother, struggling for years with her adult son's serious mental illnes said upon completing our Family-to-Family program, "This course has been excellent in granting me insight to my son's severe mental illness. I have benefitted by receiving information on how to communicate with my son. What I was trying before just was not working. And I feel a bonding closeness to the others who know what I am going through, instead of feeling so alone like I usually do. The program has taught me a lot of information in a way that's not too overwhelming".
Peer-to-Peer participants tell a story of empowerment, hope, and the road to recovery.  One program participant said, "For so long I was the one receiving services and needing the constant help.  Now I am a Mentor.  It feels so good to give back to others.  It's empowered me".
That is the story of NAMI.
Areas of Service
Areas Served
In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
Metro Richmond
Tri-cities Region
Richmond, City
Chesterfield County
Colonial Heights, City
Dinwiddie County
Goochland County
Hanover County
Henrico County
Hopewell, City
Petersburg, City
Powhatan County
Prince George County
Sussex County
Charles City County
Gloucester County
King and Queen County
Lancaster County
Louisa County
Mathews County
Middlesex County
New Kent County
Northumberland County
Hampton Roads
Northern Neck
Northern Virginia
Shenandoah Valley
Southside Virginia
Southwest Virginia

We are a statewide organization actively engaged in support, education, outreach, and advocacy in cities and counties throughout Virginia.

Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Peter Nicewicz J.D.
Company Affiliation US Interagency Council on Homelessness
Term June 2016 to June 2018
Board of Directors
Board Members
Ms. Leondra Burchall National Endowment for the Humanities
Mr. Damien Cabezas Horizon Behavioral Health
Dr. Varun Choudhary M.D.Magellan of Virginia
Ms. Cristy Corbin United Methodist Family Services
Dr. Steven Dixon PhDUnitedHealthcare Community Plan
Ms. Jennifer Giles Veteran, US Navy and Community Volunteer
Ms. Becky Graser Peer Recovery Centers
Ms. Linda Hyatt PhDGateway Homes
Mr. Rob Krupicka Small business owner
Mrs. Sandy Mottesheard Community Volunteer
Mr. Peter Nicewicz J.D.U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
Mr. William Phipps LCSWMagellan of Virginia
Mr. Robert Reed Esq.Allen & Allen
Mr. Richard Shelton Good Neighbor Community Services
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 1 2
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 8
Female 4
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 90
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Human Resources / Personnel
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Ms. Rhonda Thissen MSW

Rhonda comes to NAMI Virginia after 12 years in state government, primarily at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, where she worked on policy and planning issues related to services for adults with serious mental health disorders and those experiencing homelessness. Ms. Thissen earned a Master’s degree in Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University, and in her role as a social work policy practitioner, has worked for both public agencies and not-for-profit organizations on a wide range of issues, including promoting access to primary medical and behavioral health care, improving economic opportunities in underserved communities, developing and coordinating affordable housing and homeless services, domestic violence intervention, and HIV/AIDS care. She is also an adjunct professor of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Former CEOs
Ms. Mira Signer July 2007 - May 2017
Senior Staff
Megan Hodges Director of Development
Stephany Melton Hardison MSWDirector of Children and Youth Policy and Programs
Deborah Michael CPADirector of Finance
Ms. Rhonda Thissen MSWExecutive Director
Sarah Wilson MSWDirector of Child and Youth Programs
Full Time Staff 6
Part Time Staff 2
Volunteers 500
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Date Strategic Plan Adopted Jan 2013
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
  • Coalition for Virginians with Mental Disabilities
  • Commonwealth Consortium on Criminal Justice and Mental Health
  • Campaign for Children's Mental Health
  • Permanent Supportive Housing Coalition
  • Governor's Re-Entry Council Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness
Family-to-Family is a 12-week course for family members/family caregivers of people with serious mental illness. It is taught by family members who have received special training on how to facilitate the course. Family members/caregivers learn more about mental illnesses and how to best support and care for their loved one. Each course is dedicated to one-three topics, including:
  • Current information about schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and co-occurring brain disorders and addictive disorders
  • Up-to-date information about medications, side effects, and strategies for medication adherence
  • Current research related to the biology of brain disorders and the evidence-based, most effective treatments to promote recovery
  • Gaining empathy by understanding the subjective, lived experience of a person with mental illness
  • Learning in special workshops for problem solving, listening, and communication techniques
  • Acquiring strategies for handling crises and relapse
  • Focusing on care for the caregiver: coping with worry, stress, and emotional overload
  • Guidance on locating appropriate supports and services within the community
  • Information on advocacy initiatives designed to improve and expand services
Population Served Adults
Long Term Success Program evaluations indicate that participants consistently find their expectations met or exceeded for obtaining education, support, greater awareness, and knowledge on dealing with their loved one's mental illness.
In Our Own Voice is a unique mental health public education and anti-stigma program in which two individuals who have gone through an intensive weekend training share compelling stories about living with mental illness and achieving recovery.
IOOV is an opportunity for those who have struggled with mental illness to gain confidence and to share their individual experiences of recovery and transformation.
Throughout the IOOV presentation, audience members are encouraged to offer feedback and ask questions. Audience participation is an important aspect of IOOV because the more audience members become involved, the closer they come to understanding what it is like to live with a mental illness and stay in recovery.
IOOV presentations are given to students, law enforcement officials, educators, providers, faith community members, politicians, professionals, inmates, and interested civic groups.
The goals of IOOV are to meet the need for consumer- run initiatives, to set a standard for quality education about mental illness from those who have been there, to offer genuine work opportunities, to encourage self-confidence and self-esteem in presenters, and to focus on recovery and the message of hope.
Peer-to-Peer is a free 9-week course for individuals with personal mental illness experience focusing on relapse prevention planning, recovery, and wellness.
Peer-to-Peer consists of ten two-hour units and is taught by a team of two trained “Mentors” and a volunteer support person who are personally experienced at living well with mental illness.
Mentors are trained in an intensive three day training session and are supplied with teaching manuals.
Participants come away from the course with a binder of hand-out materials, as well as many other tangible resources: an advance directive; a “relapse prevention plan” to help identify tell-tale feelings, thoughts, behavior, or events that may warn of impending relapse and to organize for intervention; mindfulness exercises to help focus and calm thinking; and survival skills for working with providers and the general public.
Each class contains a combination of lecture and interactive exercise material and closes with Mindfulness Practice (techniques offered to develop and expand awareness). Each class builds on the one before: attendance each week is strongly recommended.
Population Served Adults

The NAMI Virginia HelpLine is a statewide toll-free phone and email service for people seeking help and resources on mental illness. The HelpLine connects people to state and community resources and empowers Virginians in need to become self-advocates in seeking answers, looking for information, and participating in the treatment of mental illness. Virginians who call the HelpLine have often tried everything else and have gotten nowhere. They need an informed, compassionate person who understands what they are going through; can offer empathetic, timely support; and understands the complex, fragmented mental health and insurance systems. The majority of our callers are contacting us related to a Virginian experiencing a serious mental illness affecting their daily life. Common types of calls include requests for written materials on mental illness, information about how to obtain treatment, housing or legal referrals, information about support groups, and questions about how to help a love one who will not seek treatment. Written material requests also include outreach brochures produced by NAMI Virginia, such as our general NAMI Virginia brochure detailing our free services, and Guide to Helping an Individual through a Psychiatric Crisis brochure. The resources and connections NAMI Virginia provides have been vetted so that callers are not simply getting yet another number that results in a dead-end.

Population Served Adults

NAMI Connection Support Groups are free 90-minute weekly support groups led by trained individuals who are at a point of managing their illness and are able to give back. These are recovery support groups for all adults living with mental illness regardless of their diagnosis, offering an environment of respect, understanding, encouragement, and hope.

Family Support Groups offer a supportive, informal, and confidential venue for families and caregivers of people with mental illness. Support groups are facilitated by trained NAMI members who have loved ones with mental illness.
The goal of the VFN is to establish and strengthen our statewide network of family advocate committees to provide opportunities for support, education, and empowerment of families with children and youth with mental health needs, while also promoting family-driven and youth-guided policy and promoting the voices of families and youth throughout the child-care systems.
Description This is a free six-week course for family members, caregivers and friends of military service members and veterans living with mental illness. The course is taught by trained family members or caregiver of military service members and veterans living with mental illness.
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $710,000.00
Projected Expenses $700,726.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$352,398$334,334$281,923
Individual Contributions$265,351$218,875$195,205
Investment Income, Net of Losses$698$963$1,313
Membership Dues$12,029$16,818$15,544
Special Events($81,221)----
Revenue In-Kind------
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$465,951$473,794$428,091
Administration Expense$46,557$42,921$37,760
Fundraising Expense$101,357$70,996$58,904
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.971.001.00
Program Expense/Total Expenses76%81%82%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue18%13%12%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$242,888$279,635$295,864
Current Assets$240,643$249,079$238,281
Long-Term Liabilities$0----
Current Liabilities$11,787$29,708$45,852
Total Net Assets$231,101$249,927$250,012
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities20.428.385.20
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 11/2016View
Solicitations Permit Extension 05/2018View
Organization Comments Under the guidance of our accounting firm, NAMI Virginia recently adopted a new fiscal year of July 1 – June 30. The fiscal year used to be January 1 – December 30. This change was adopted in 2016. Due to the change in fiscal year, a short year Form 990 was completed and filed for the period January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016. Another Form 990 will be completed and filed for July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. As a result of the change in fiscal year, an 18-month 2016 audit was completed in December 2017. 
Foundation Comments
  • Form 990 and audit prepared by Joyner, Kirkham, Keel & Robertson, P.C.
  • Financial analysis performed with audit.