Our History

NAMI DuPage was founded by a group of parents in 1985 as an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nationwide mental health advocacy organization, begun in 1979, dedicated to improving the quality of lives of people affected by mental illnesses. These parents were looking for services for their children who had been diagnosed with mental illnesses. By joining forces, they thought they could advocate for improved services. NAMI DuPage has grown from this small handful of people to an organization of over 1,000 members and has become one of the largest and most innovative of 1200 affiliates nationwide. NAMI has been a catalyst for change and reform in DuPage County.

Major Events:

NAMI DuPage Timeline:

  • 1/4/1985: Dan and Ann Daniels meet with Ieva Pipyne and Linda Richman (DuPage Health Department- Westmont Satellite office) to discuss son with Dx of schizophrenia—referred to Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Chicago
  • 6/4/1985: Meet to formulate plans for local AMI (organizational meeting)
  • 6/18/1985: organizational meeting; chose name for Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI) of DuPage County, IL; elect officers.
  • 12/3/1985: Decision to join AMI of Illinois and National AMI
  • 4/15/1986: Handbook (250 in circulation)—65 members
  • 5/1/1986: IRS 501(c)3 approved
  • 3/1/1987: Handbook (334 in circulation)—79 members
  • 8/1/1987: First office opened at 122 W. St. Charles Road, Villa Park, IL
  • 6/1/1990- 12/31/1990: throughout the year, the Board worked with Lutheran Social Services to get group homes in DuPage
  • 5/1/1991: Office relocated to 1403 N. Main St., Wheaton, IL
  • 9/1/1992: identify home to purchase for group home- Glen Ellyn Woods
  • 11/22/1994: Second group home in Naperville opened to residents.
  • 4/1/1997: Verbal agreement worked out with DuPage Health Dept.; Mental Health Division will provide job coaching; AMI to operate resale shop
  • 4/30/1997: job initiave—Encore Shop opens.
  • 12/1/1997: Website created
  • 5/27/1998: name change– The Alliance for the Mentally Ill becomes the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • 1/1/2003: proposed and approved start of In Our Own Voice
  • 2/15/2003: Elsie Mills is introduced as the first Executive Director of NAMI DuPage
  • 7/8/2003: Current mission statement adopted– “Our mission is to provide support, advocacy and education in order to improve the quality of life of individuals with mental illness and their families.”
  • 7/8/2003: United Way of Naperville approves NAMI as an affiliate member
  • 2003 Hired first Executive Director and P/T Community Education Coordinator
  • 2/1/2004: Mental Health Court installed in DuPage County
  • 2005: NAMI DuPage Speakers Bureau created to include family member speakers
  • 2004 Hired second Executive Director
  • 11/3/2006: close on a home in Winfield for a Fairweather Lodge—New Beginnings is chosen as the service provider
  • 7/1/2007: NAMI of DuPage receives Affiliate of the Year award from NAMI National
  • 10/1/2007: offices moved to 2100 Manchester Road
  • 2007—began hospital program through grant with community memorial ($300,000)
  • 2007: Ending the Silence program implemented in a couple of schools.
  • 2009: New Executive Director named—Angela Adkins
  • 2009: NAMI Illinois presented NAMI DuPage with the Most Innovative Mental Health Program Award for the hospital program
  • 2009: invested in Gift Works database
  • 2010: Switched lunchtime benefit to an evening dinner/dance
  • 2011: Expanded hospital program to include all six hospitals in DuPage County
  • 2011: Naperville JC distinguished service award for non-profits
  • 2012: Expanded school programs to include middle schools
  • Opened an internal print shop as a social enterprise and as part of our job readiness program
  • 2013 received an endowment award from an individual donor for $200,000 to invest in ETS and educating youth
  • 2013: Executive Director awarded Influential Woman in Business Award by Daily Herald Ledger
  • 2014: formed public and private partnership to open a new community center
  • 2014: started community connections peer program
  • 2014: Non-profit of the Year award from Daily Herald Business Ledger
  • Hired full time Development Director to oversee fundraising campaigns, grants and special events
  • 2015 Hired a P/T volunteer Coordinator to increase volunteer opportunities.
  • Hired P/T Recreation Director to introduce daily drop-in recreations programs
  • 2015: NAMI moves to new community center/offices
  • 2015 trained 12 family and individual peers as the start of the Peer specialist program to provide an extension to support groups with one on one peer counseling
  • 2015 Opened the Living Room an alternative to Emergency Rooms for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis that does not require a hospital visit
  • 2016 Opened the Rise & Shine Café as part of a social enterprise along with job preparedness
  • 2016 Began Recreational/Social programs for Health department Clients during the day and NAMI individual and family members’ week day evenings and some weekends.
  • 2016 Executive Director Awarded Executive of the Year by WSPN (West Suburban Philanthropic Network)
  • Received $100,000 grant to begin a Women’s program for individuals, family members and care givers