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Annual Meeting of Members

The Annual Meeting of NAMI Georgia Members will convene on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 3:45pm in Macon, Georgia at River Edge Behavioral Health. Members may also choose to register for the Leadership and Recovery Symposium, but symposium registration is not required for attending the annual membership meeting.

NAMI Georgia 2019 Annual Meeting
May 18, 2019 | 3:45pm-4:45pm
River Edge Behavioral Health
175 Emery Hwy
Macon, Georgia 31217



Download Candidate Statements

2019 Board of Directors Candidates

Name Tami Brown
Current Hometown Atlanta, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI Northside
Occupation Behavioral Health Program Manager- WellCare Health Plans
I have been aware of NAMI for several years given my educational and professional background. For years, NAMI has been an organization that I think and speak highly of. I regularly make referrals to NAMI and share background information for NAMI when I speak to presentations or mention reputable behavioral health, community support, advocacy, etc. for individuals and families needing support and education. I would like to become involved to help with the NAMI mission. I live and breathe behavioral health. It’s in my blood! I am an avid advocate for individuals with BH/SA needs and I plan to use my voice in as many arenas as possible to help with the cause for BH/SA parity, prevention and treatment services, education, fair (non-criminalizing) treatment at EDs/hospitals, legislation, funding, and so forth.


I take great pride in the time and effort I put into nourishing relationships and building partnerships with key players and decision makers in various industries that directly or indirectly affect behavioral health. I am a firm believer that connections and collaborations are key. As an active NAMI board member, I would continue with this philosophy to help

meet the goals of the organization.


Name Fred Cruser
Current Hometown Canton, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI Cobb
Occupation Senior Security Consultant, ABS Consulting Group
I am passionate about raising community awareness about mental health issues and resources. I took the CIT-Y training last year and would like to be involved in that process. I grew up in a medical and health care environment.


Although I have only been involved with NAMI for a short while, I have had a life-long passion about the needs of those in mental crisis. I have a grown daughter with mental problems and my late wife was clinically depressed. I grew up in a medical environment. My father is a retired physician, my mother was an RN, my son is a child/adolescent psychiatrist and my brother is the Virginia Director for Mental Health America. I have also been a first responder (both as police and rescue squad). My college degree is in psychology. I worked in a hospital emergency room while I was in college. I enjoy teaching and have taught classes in threat management, dealing with mental subjects and workplace violence. I have numerous professional connections in the security and law enforcement fields. I feel that NAMI is a critical component for driving awareness and providing resources for those with mental issues and their families. NAMI’s approach

seems to be holistic and I believe that to be most effective for the community.


Name Debra Feagins (Incumbent)
Current Hometown Powder Springs, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI Cobb
Occupation RN Editor
I currently serve on the NAMI Georgia Board as President and Bylaws Chair. I have also served in the past as the Secretary. As a member of NAMI, I have been actively working with NAMI supporting the Annual Walk and community programs over the past 5 years. As a healthcare professional with 32 years of experience with behavioral and medical programs, I have seen firsthand the impact of services that NAMI offers and the positive difference they make in the community.


I have been involved with the expansion of NAMI programs in the judicial system to educate parents about signs of mental illness and provide resources in the school systems. Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects individuals from all walks of life. There is much work that needs to be done to continue to heighten the awareness about mental illness. As a certified trainer for NAMI Basics, I have the knowledge to educate others about mental illness and ways to manage. I would like the opportunity to continue working with the community and stakeholders alike to further expand the work of NAMI

and reach those in need.


Name Dawn Fletcher
Current Hometown Sandy Springs, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI Northside
Occupation Director Patient Care Practice at Emory Brain Health Center
The NAMI website was a resource I utilized when my youngest daughter was struggling with severe depression and suicidality. I have also utilized information from the NAMI website as references while I was obtaining my MSN. Last year, I was able to attend the NAMI walk as a representative from Emory Brain Health Center. I would like to become involved with NAMI because it provides reputable and more importantly helpful information to individuals and families that are in need of mental health/behavioral health services.


I cannot think of a time when I have not been connected to mental health issues. Most recently, my teenage daughter has suffered with severe bouts of depression resulting in multiple suicide attempts. During these dark times, NAMI has been a helpful resource. Mental health issues are scary for the individual and their loved ones. Personally and professionally, I want to help improve access to mental health care for individuals and families.


Name Darryl Russ
Current Hometown Mableton, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI Northside
Occupation Licensed Professional Counselor, Russ Counseling & Consulting, LLC
I am excited about the opportunity to become involved with NAMI because it provides a fabulous opportunity to provide education, support, and empower consumers/participants to achieve their dreams while minimizing the stigma associated with mental health challenges. My nephew and aunt are living successfully with Bipolar Disorder due to family support, encouragement, appropriate medical care, and education. My dream is that all who desire services will have access and that these services are delivered in a manner that empowers and not stigmatizes.

My extensive life experience with the underseved has yielded a sensitivity and cultural awareness that would be an asset to NAMI. I am a firm believer that everyone has value and potential and should be empowered to reach this potential. In my profession, I have had the opportunity to see miracles occur with SPMI and homeless clients that were considered untreatable but love, purpose, support, family, education, therapy, and medication has addressed the whole-person and the real person was revealed. Finally, in my heart, I’m connected to mental health because I love to see people blossom and achieve despite the opposition and stigma.


Name Kurt Schulzke (Incumbent)
Current Hometown Buford, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI Hall
Occupation Professor University of North Georgia
Members of my family have suffered with mental illness. I wish to serve because I believe strongly that the mentally ill should be treated with more consideration and generosity by society than they sometimes are. By serving on the NAMI board, I can help improve the circumstances of the mentally ill. My professional background in law, corporate governance, and accounting should be especially helpful to NAMI at this time. NAMI is important because of what it can do for the mentally ill.


Name Gary Yandura (Incumbent)
Current Hometown Brookhaven, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI Northside
Occupation Police Chief Brookhaven Police Department
I am currently on the NAMI Georgia Board also serving on the Finance Committee. I was previously involved in the initiation of the Crisis Intervention Team training in Georgia in 2005 with the City of Atlanta and GBI. This began with a grant from Georgia Pacific allowing myself as Chief of the College Park Police Department to send officers with GBI and Atlanta Police to Memphis, TN to review their successful CIT program. This program, along with De-escalation training, is now part of the continued certified training of Georgia’s POST which began with NAMI Georgia. Law enforcement continually deals with people suffering from mental illness conditions whom have historically been dealt with as criminals causing overcrowding of our jails and criminal justice system while not providing for their treatment and successful interactions within our communities. I have been involved in Senate Sub-committees and testimony at the Capital for controversial legal issues and other legislation. I am also involved with the Federal Government as a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, DHS- Strike Force, and FBI’s MATCH Task Force which involves the investigations of Sex Trafficking and Child Exploitation.


I currently serve on the NAMI Georgia Board as well as Chairman of the Crisis Intervention Training Advisory Board. I wish to serve in an effort to change the perception within law enforcement of the stigma and treatment of mental illness vs. criminal activity. My 43 years of law enforcement experience has provided me the networking skills to

assist NAMI in reaching and seeking required funding, programming and legislation needs.


Name Cindy Zeldin
Current Hometown Atlanta, GA
Your NAMI Affiliate NAMI DeKalb
Occupation Senior Consultant, Health Management Associates
I have an extensive background in health policy and advocacy and served for more than eight years as Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, a statewide consumer health advocacy nonprofit. Through my work, it became clear to me that public policy surrounding mental health and substance use disorders needs to be dramatically improved to ensure that people receive the behavioral health services they need. I support NAMI’s mission and believe I can add value to the board of directors by bringing a broad lens on health policy and advocacy; experience running a small nonprofit that may help NAMI in the areas of governance, evaluation, and fundraising; and experience working with legislators, reporters, and other advocates.


As a health policy professional with extensive experience advocating for health care consumers in Georgia, I believe I could bring skills and relationships that will help NAMI educate and advocate decision-makers around mental health. My experience managing a non-profit can also be helpful for governance, development, and evaluation. It would be an honor to serve on the NAMI board.


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