about NAMI KDK
In 1990, a small group of parents from Geneva and St. Charles came together looking for support and information after their children were diagnosed with a mental health condition. This small group became the nucleus of NAMI KDK which incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1993.
NAMI KDK has grown to become a strong affiliate whose mission is to provide mental health education, support, and advocacy for individuals, family members, and communities in Kane-so, DeKalb, and Kendall counties. All programs are provided free to the public, and are facilitated by an individual living with a mental health condition, their family members, or their significant others.
NAMI KDK Board Members
Kathryn Manning, President
In August 2021 Kathryn became a member of the NAMI-KDK Board of Directors. Kathryn retired in November 2020 from a 35-year career in global business consulting specializing in helping companies through major business transformations. The first half of Kathryn’s career was with one of the largest consulting firms in North America and the second half was serving as a director in boutique consulting firms. Kathryn specialized in process redesign to achieve strategic business goals, organizational change
management (OCM), strategy development, organizational restructuring, competency modeling and curriculum development plus methodology and post-merger integration. Kathryn earned her Master’s degree from Northwestern University, Evanston. Kathryn and her husband, Ed, are the adoptive parents of 3 children (now young adults) challenged with mental health disorders.
Kate Fish, Treasurer
Kate Fish is a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Graceful Therapy, PLLC in Oswego and Aurora, Il. Kate has been working in the mental health field for 10+ years and has a passion for serving the community in and outside of the therapy office. Kate has served on the NAMI KDK Board of Directors since 2019 in the roles of President, Secretary and general board member. She currently serves as the Treasurer. Kate joined the board in hopes of bringing the perspective of a young adult, mental health provider, and a community member who desires to serve individuals with mental illness and their family members.
Alternative Court, Kane County’s mental health treatment court for the last 5 years. She has been employed with Kane County Court Services for almost 9 years. Lindsey earned a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and currently holds two professional licenses. Besides working in the criminal justice field, Lindsey has professional experience on an inpatient substance abuse unit, in an outpatient mental health setting providing substance abuse counseling in both group and individual settings, and volunteer experience at a domestic violence shelter. Lindsey is committed to work towards ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, and to advocate for those individuals who cannot advocate for themselves.
Lisa Holch, Vice President
In November 2021 Lisa became a member of the NAMI-KDK Board of Directors. Currently, she works as the Behavioral Health and Psychiatric Services Director for the Kendall County Health Department. She has been working with the health department for 5 years and in the field of mental health for over a decade. Lisa works
to provide compassionate counseling to those who have chronic persistent mental health concerns along with the other unit staff. Lisa earned her Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LCPC), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP).
Dr. Heidi Podjasek, Secretary
Heidi joined the NAMI-KDK Board of Directors in August of 2021. Heidi’s career path has been in education, working as a middle school teacher, building principal, and central office administrator, most recently serving as the Director of Social Emotional Learning in Community Unit School District #308, in Oswego, IL. Heidi has also taught courses for prospective and current educators for both Aurora University and North Central College. Heidi earned her doctoral degree in Education in 2009 from Aurora University. She currently lives in Oswego, IL with her son, Lucas, and husband Dave.
Regina has been a practicing attorney since 1989. She commenced her career advocating for the indigent in the offices of the Public Defender in Kane and DeKalb counties, developing interest and expertise in defending the mentally ill. She is now engaged in private practice in Sycamore. Regina volunteers her time with several local organizations, significantly NAMI KDK, which she has served for over a decade.
Luisa Cicero (Fermina Ponce)
Emily Fagan is a classical musician and educator native to Aurora, IL. As a professional oboist she can be heard performing all around Chicagoland, including locally with ensembles such as the Fox Valley Orchestra. Emily also runs a private oboe studio, leads seminars and workshops on oboe pedagogy, and is an Applied Artist at Northern Illinois University.
Emily discovered her passion for mental illness awareness in high school after experiencing her own mental health struggles. She has since spoken to thousands of students, first responders, community members, and government officials about the importance of mental health awareness in the community. As a speaker for Vision for Change, Emily assists in teaching Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to first responders, dispatchers, and law enforcement throughout all of Illinois. She has volunteered with the NAMI organization for over twelve years, half of which have been with NAMI-KDK. As one its newest board members (2022), she is excited to further the discussion, research, services, and support of mental health in her community!
Toshia Moss, M.B.A, SHRM-CP has 15 years of experience in public administration at the City of Aurora and joined the Human Resources Dept. in 2015. She is currently the Recruitment & Retention Coordinator and is responsible for Talent Acquisition strategies and initiatives, recruitment of sworn public safety personnel, and administrative oversight of the Civil Service Commission.
Toshia's previous roles with the City of Aurora include, H.R. Generalist, Assistant to Mayor Thomas Weisner for 2 terms, and Program Manager for the Greeter Program at the Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce.
She is an active board member of the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) since 2021 and is a former board member of the Aurora African American Heritage Advisory Board (AAHAB), previously serving as President.
Toshia is passionate about living an intentional lifestyle with a mindful approach. As a result, her time, energy, and resources are aligned with things she cares about and enjoys.
She believes in the mission of NAMI-KDK and the impact mental wellness has in our lives, specifically how we show up in relationships. Toshia is committed to support change surrounding the negative stigmas of mental health, particularly in the African American community.
She is known as a collaborative leader, with enthusiasm, compassion and integrity, Toshia lives a purpose driven life with her husband and 3 children.
Social Communicator and journalist, Master in organizational communication management from University of La Sabana, Colombia. Master in Creative Writing from University of Salamanca, Spain. ILBA recipient for her poetry books Al desnudo (2018) y Mar de (L)una (2019). Her poetry talks about universal topics such as human nature, dualities, mental conditions included in her poetry book Sin Nombre (2019). Ponce has been published in prose anthologies with MAGMA editorial (2019) René and From Pilsen with Love, España. In 2021 with Féminas Antología de infidelidades y mentiras escritas por mujeres, Ars Communis editorial. Her most recent books have been the translation to English of Moon Ocean and her new poetry book Se llamará piedra, published by Sudaquia Editorial, 2021.
Early 2020 she was appointed Laureate Deputy Poet for the city of Aurora, Illinois. Ponce’s poetry has been translated to English, French, Italian and Arabic.
Desi (Desiree) Avitia joined the Board of Directors for NAMI in August of 2021. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified therapy dog handler. Desi graduated from Aurora University with her MSW (master in social work) in 2019. She has over 5 years of experience in crisis work that includes working with AID (Association for Individual Development) as a Victim Services Case Manager and as a victim advocate with Mutual Ground. Desi is now a police social worker with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. As a police social worker, she is often called to provide support to individuals experiencing a crisis. She has extensive experience working with victims, providing services to families and working with individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder. She is passionate about spreading mental health awareness and helping others feel supported on their mental health journey. Because of her work in the community, Desi strives to work with others to collaborate, build partnerships and have important conversations about mental health.
Desi is a member of Kane County Hoarding Task Force, Kane County Veteran Suicide Prevention Task Force, Kane County Major Crimes Task Force, Kane County Negotiations Response Team, Multidisciplinary Team (MDT), and APSS (Association of Police Social Services).
Board meetings are open to the public. Please contact our Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you wish to attend any of our future meetings.
Meetings are held via Zoom on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m.
2022-2023 Board Meeting Dates
September 27, 2022
October 25, 2022
November 22, 2022
December 27, 2022
January 24, 2023
February 28, 2023
March 28, 2023
April 25, 2023
May 23, 2023
June 27, 2023
Our Board currently has 1 vacancy and we are recruiting for a board member from DeKalb County with skills in funds development. Diversity is a plus. If you are interested in joining our board, please contact Executive Director Sara Gray, email@example.com.