Who We Are

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI West Michigan is the local affiliate of NAMI.   Founded in 1979 by several families around a kitchen table, NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

NAMI West Michigan is the grassroots part of that organization and it’s here to directly help the West Michigan community.  We offer support, education, and resources.  As part of that work, we raise awareness and fight stigma.

NAMI WEST MICHIGAN

What we Do

Support

We facilitate support groups for people living with a mental illness and those who live in support of individuals living with a mental illness.  

Education

We currently offer Family to Family and Peer to Peer classes, as well as FaithNet conferences.  We are working to provide additional NAMI programs in the near future. Watch for announcements of these new programs here and on our social media platforms. 

Resources

We are connected to many local resources in West Michigan and can help you discover and connect with those resources.  We also have a library with materials that can be borrowed.

Advocacy

Together, we must work to let people know that mental illness is a medical condition that needs to be talked about. Stigma and guilt must disappear.  Research on mental illness lags far behind research on other medical conditions.  We must advocate locally and join NAMI National as they advocate at the Federal level for reducing stigma, improving communication and encouraging.

Recovery

Yes, recovery is possible.  Many of our members and other living with a mental illness live in long-term recovery.  With support, education, and resources, people diagnosed with a mental illness can and do take charge of lives and find ways to live a full, productive life.

Our Board

Steve Bergman

Steve Bergman is Executive Director and Board President. He is a retired Family Physician who left private practice after 25 years and transitioned into providing medical care in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

“When our family was dramatically affected by mental illness, we did not know where to turn. NAMI’s Family-2-Family class was instrumental in our learning and healing process. A primary goal is to coordinate cooperation among the many mental health resources available in our area.”

Neil Shepard

Neil Shepard, PhD is a faculty member in the Department of Social Sciences and Humanities at Davenport University. His research interests include the destigmatization of disability and mental illness. He became involved with NAMI through participation in the 2016 NAMI Walk.

Lisa Tamblyn-Bergman

Our Vice President is Lisa Tamblyn-Bergman. Lisa is a Mental Health Therapist. When family members experienced mental health challenges, Family to Family class offered a place of belonging, understanding, healing, and growth. She currently serves as Education committee co-chair and teaches Family to Family classes. She is committed to educating and supporting people as they navigate the many systems and processes on the road to recovery and resiliency. She looks forward to the day when NAMIKent is a household name.

Natalie Wagner

Our Treasurer is Natalie Wagner. She serves as the Director of Student Life at Davenport University and has worked in higher education for over 20 years, witnessing the importance of increasing mental health awareness and resources for college students. She is a PhD candidate in the Educational Leadership program at Western Michigan University. Natalie has been involved with NAMI since the first NAMIWalks event held in Grand Rapids in 2016.

Tanisha Franklin

Author Tanisha Franklin is the author of God Changed My Story and God Changed My Story “After Healing, A New Beginning.” Tanisha has 2 sons and is happily married to her husband Artee. Tanisha is also a part of another Mental Health Organization called IMWM (I Matter, We Matter). She feels that your mental health is important. Her desire is to help as many people as possible by writing her stories on how God has changed her story. Tanisha wants people to know that they are important and it’s okay, not to be okay. Her desire is to help those who need help, seek the help that they need. Tanisha wants ALL people to know that it’s okay to get help.

Dave & Ginger Sper

Dave and Ginger Sper initially got involved with NAMI in 2017 after the tragic shooting death of their 30-year-old son by law enforcement while he was having a manic episode. Jon had struggled with bipolar disorder since his late teens. Shortly after his death, Dave and Ginger created a Memorial Fund with NAMI specifically to help pay for law enforcement officers to attend Crisis Intervention Training classes where they would learn about the effects of mental illness and how to deescalate the difficult situations they would be confronted with. Since Jon’s death, hundreds of Kent County officers and deputies have gone through the 40-hour CIT class.

Dave and Ginger have participated in and led teams for 3 NAMIWalks. Currently retired, they enjoy reading, traveling, gardening, biking, and spending time with their 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

Jamie Dalton

She obtained her undergraduate Degree in Business Administration and Sociology from Aquinas College, and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Western Michigan University. Jamie has worked in the mental health field for many years as a Medical Social Worker, Case Manager, and Supervisor. Recognizing the need for African American Therapist, in 2018 She stepped out on faith and opened her private practice known as Disclosures Therapy LLC.

“I am the mother of three magnificent established adult / children, Jodeci, Tyra and Jordan, and grandmother of two rambunctious toddler’s that overflow my heart with love, laughter and joy. I lost my eldest son Jodeci at the age of 26 to suicide in 2019, which spiraled my life into a whirl depression and anxiety associated with suicidal ideation. In 2021 realizing that ‘hurt people can also ‘help’ people, I turned my tragedy into triumph and founded my 2nd. organization, ‘I Matter We Matter’. My Mission to provide free mental health support groups to individuals and families in ALL communities by letting them know that there is ‘No One Door’ to healing, and that they truly do Matter.”

John Roskowski

John Roskowski is a retired U.S Army Officer. His career included a period in the U.S. Air Force and a break in service over a 40 year span. Upon his retirement from the Army, which included combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, John was employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and volunteered assisting combat veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project. After a family member’s mental health diagnosis, John and his wife were introduced to NAMI and attended its Family-2-Family course. John’s goal is to enhance awareness of NAMI’s resources so families facing loved one’s mental health challenges know where they can turn to for support.

In Recognition of John and Betty Walker

John and Betty Walker were instrumental in establishing NAMI of Kent County and working tirelessly to help it grow and flourish.  Their efforts are a primary reason why NAMI Kent County is a vigorous and healthy organization today.  You can learn more about their story by clicking on the “Read More” icon.

John and Betty Walker first learned that their older daughter was diagnosed with a mental illness in 1981. This began their journey navigating resources and treatments in helping their daughter live with a mental illness. Since then, their daughter has been hospitalized many times. Trying to help her get the best help and treatment possible was truly a daunting task. There are so many unknowns and the stigma associated with mental illness means few people want to talk about it. This makes finding resources even more difficult. After their daughter had been hospitalized several times, her psychiatrist suggested to John and Betty that they reach out to NAMI to find support for themselves.

The Walkers had just moved to St. Louis so Betty called the number for NAMI of St. Louis and talked to the man who answered the phone. Finally, there was someone she could talk to and who understood what they were going through! They realized that they were not alone after all! They became involved with that NAMI affiliate and remained involved until they moved to Grand Rapids in 1987. Once in Grand Rapids, they found NAMI Kent County, which at that time was known as AMI-SHARE or The Alliance on Mental Illness and the Self Help Association for Relatives’ Enlightenment. Not long after that, they joined the board.

After 10 years on the board, Betty was elected President and she served for 6 years. During her tenure, AMI-SHARE became NAMI of Kent County. In 1998, Betty was trained, along with Linda Hunt and Ethel Bucek, in the Family in Action (FIA) class, sponsored by the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Michigan (AMIM). The three of them taught several of those classes to Kent County community members. Meanwhile, John continued to serve on the board of NAMI of Kent County and then he also joined the board of Network 180, the Kent County community mental health agency. While serving as President, Betty worked with a fellow member, Carol Siegel, to start a newsletter. John and Betty wrote countless articles in the quarterly newsletter. In 2000, John received the Madden Service Award. This was an award presented at the Michigan Association Community Mental Health Board Conference for making an outstanding contribution to the community mental health system.

Even though Betty stepped down as President in 2002, she and John continued to serve on the board with Betty serving as Corresponding Secretary. John was elected to serve as President in 2010; a post he held for just a couple of years. During all this time, John and Betty attended almost every board meeting. They became involved in the mental health community, getting to know the people who provide the resources available to people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or those who live in support of someone with a mental illness diagnosis. They coordinated speakers for the monthly NAMI Kent County general meetings. Betty helped run the support group on the third Tuesday of every month. Betty also worked with Karen Rozelle to bring the first Family to Family class to Kent County beginning March 1, 2012. That class continues to be taught today. John and Betty were the ones who answered the phone when people called wanting to know what NAMI is. They regularly attended NAMI Michigan conferences and, in 1999, they attended their first NAMI national convention which was held in Chicago that year. They found the convention so inspiring and helpful; they attended several more in places such as Nashville, Albuquerque, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and Washington DC three or four times, covering most of their expenses.

Despite failing health, John and Betty continued to attend board meetings. Betty was useful in reminding the board of policies and procedures. If we needed to know some historical fact about NAMI Kent County, we could count on Betty to know the answer. If one of us younger board members couldn’t remember the name of a person who could provide a valuable resource for our members, Betty would remember that name.

With all that they have done since they first became involved in this organization, it is easy to see that John and Betty have been integral to the heart and soul of NAMI Kent County. NAMI Kent County is grateful for the hard work, dedication, and love that John and Betty Walker gave to this organization and its members for over 30 years. They have touched so many lives over those years, letting so many know that they are not alone.