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Richard Birkel Named NAMI Executive Director

For Immediate Release: March 19, 2001
Contact: Farrell Fitch
Sciens Worldwide Communications
202-452-6500, Ext. 11

Arlington, VA--The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today announced the appointment of Richard Birkel, Ph.D., as executive director of the nation's largest grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses. Birkel, currently president and CEO of the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute (Kennedy Institute) in Washington, D.C., will start on April 23, 2001.

"Rick Birkel brings to NAMI proven skills as a strategic leader of non-profit organizations and a keen perspective as a family member of people who live with severe mental illness," said Jacqueline Shannon, president of NAMI's board of directors. "He has first-hand knowledge of the issues that are critically important to NAMI members."

Prior to his leadership of the Kennedy Institute, Birkel served as vice-president of a management and research firm specializing in urban health issues; a member of the faculty at University College at the University of Maryland; director of the Washington Business Group on Health's national center on work-site health promotion; and a faculty member at the Pennsylvania State University. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology, as well as an M.A. in public administration from the University of Virginia.

"I look forward to working with NAMI on critical public policy initiatives that directly affect the lives of people with mental illnesses," Birkel said. "They include passage of the federal Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act of 2001 and state legislation to protect access to life-saving medications and treatment. Continuing the fight against stigma and discrimination is a top priority." 

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