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NAMI Rochester names new executive director

NAMI Rochester names new executive director

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Donna Leigh-Estes has been named executive director of the Rochester affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), its board of directors announced.  

Leigh-Estes succeeds Heather Newton who left the organization in March. Kristina Mossgraber served as interim director during the search for a new executive director.  

Leigh-Estes returns to NAMI Rochester after having served a decade as the organization’s assistant director, from 2008 to 2018.  

Donna Leigh-Estes

While serving as assistant director for NAMI Rochester, Leigh-Estes provided community education and training and implemented community outreach efforts, participated in the NAMI Rochester expansion into Wayne County, supervised and trained Mental Health Court representatives and advocated and collaborated with supporting agencies for individuals and family members dealing with mental health issues. 

She recently returned to Rochester from Florida, where she was director of development for Compeer Sarasota and previously executive director of ABA Academy/Easter Seals SWFL. 

“I am honored to be chosen to lead NAMI Rochester at this pivotal time in the mental health community,” Leigh-Estes said in a release. “Working alongside an energized team, I look forward to growing NAMI Rochester’s connections in the community and furthering the understanding that mental illness is treatable and mental health is attainable.” 

Leigh-Estes will represent NAMI Rochester at the local, state and national level and with community organizations, including Monroe County Office of Mental Health, New York’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Program, Coordinated Care Services, Inc. and Suicide Prevention Coalition. 

The mental health organization provides support, education and advocacy to individuals and families of all cultural backgrounds who are living with mental illness. Through peer-support programs and educational courses driven by volunteers, more than 3,000 people were served last year in Monroe and surrounding counties. 

“We are thrilled our extensive search resulted in our finding the ideal leader, who in fact already has committed so much to NAMI Rochester,” said Cynthia Constantino-Gleason, president of the NAMI Rochester Board of Directors. “Donna’s commitment to the NAMI mission and compassion for our members and families and volunteers will guide NAMI in the direction that best serves our community, enabling NAMI’s support, education and advocacy to help all in need.” 

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