Key Staff Members

The staff of NAMI Minnesota is dedicated to increasing understanding of mental illness and creating change in the mental health system through increased education and awareness. Their passion for their work is fueled by personal experience with mental illness and by a deeply held belief in social justice. Key staff members are listed below:

Sue Abderholden, MPH, Executive Director

Sue is responsible for providing direction and leadership toward the achievement of the organization’s mission and leads NAMI’s public policy efforts. She brings over 30 years of experience in nonprofit and advocacy work having held top management positions at Arc Minnesota, the Minnesota office of Senator Paul D. Wellstone and PACER Center. She received her B.A. from Macalester College and a Master’s degree in Public Health Administration from the University of Minnesota. Her passion for NAMI’s mission stems from having family members who live with depression and anxiety. Sue became NAMI Minnesota’s executive director in October 2001.

Management Team

Marilyn Dornfeld

Marilyn Dornfeld, Director of Adult Programs

Marilyn joined NAMI in August 2014 and manages NAMI’s Family-to–Family program and Family Support Groups. She is also a Family–to-Family teacher and trainer and is certified to teach Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR), Good Mental Health in the Workplace, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health First Aid, Early Warning Signs and other programs. After the illness of her son she became involved with NAMI Minnesota. Marilyn has a Masters degree in Education and is a former educator in the St. Paul Public School System.

Cynthia Fashaw

Cynthia Fashaw, Director of Children’s Programs & Multicultural Outreach

Cynthia directs NAMI Minnesota’s children’s, youth and young adult programs, and directs outreach and training to multicultural communities.  Cynthia provides training to parents, foster parents, youth and professionals, and develops and conducts trainings in cultural communities. She provides information, education and trainings on mental health, suicide postvention/prevention, school success for k-12 and post-secondary students, crisis planning and a number of other trainings.  She is a certified instructor for Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and Suicide Postvention.

Melissa Haeska

Melissa Haeska, Director of Operations & Grants Management

Melissa leads NAMI Minnesota’s operations team and serves as the organization’s grant manager. She has a broad leadership background formed by 20+ years of operations and content marketing leadership roles. Prior to joining NAMI Minnesota, Melissa held a Director-level position in corporate operations, while volunteering with a couple nonprofit organizations focused on education. Her passion for NAMI’s mission comes from her experiences with family members who live with mental illness. Melissa has a BS in marketing from Winona State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Augsburg College. She joined NAMI Minnesota in 2019.

Julia Hanson

Julia Hanson, Director of Development and Organizational Advancement

Julia leads advancement efforts at NAMI Minnesota. She creates, supports, coordinates, implements, and evaluates a development and marketing plan to raise over $2.5 million for NAMI Minnesota. She has almost 8 years of fundraising experience at various-sized Twin Cities nonprofits. Before this position, Julia was the Development Director at Doing Good Together. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration from Metropolitan State University, along with a fundraising certificate from the University of St. Thomas. She is grateful to be part of such a wonderful organization and feels personally connected to the mission, as she herself lives with anxiety and depression. She joined NAMI Minnesota in 2019.

Sara Carothers, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement

Sara leads a team of eight outstanding staff who support the NAMI Minnesota mission through outreach and engagement. She also supports the 21 NAMI affiliates across the state in their grassroots efforts to improve the lives of people who are living with mental illnesses and their families. Sara has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 20 years, focusing primarily on fundraising, community connections, and helping people give their time in meaningful ways. Sara recently earned her Masters of Public Administration degree from Ohio University and began working for NAMI Minnesota in late 2019.

Staff Contacts

Public Awareness Coordinator

Fanny Fernandez, Parent Educator-Bilingual

Hayley McHale, Tobacco Cessation and Suicide Prevention Programs Coordinator

Kay King, Older Adults Program Coordinator and Community Educator

Nancy Quinn, Workshop Coordinator

Jasara Rosendahl, Volunteer Coordinator

Wil Sampson-Bernstrom, Health and Wellness Community Educator

(Staff Photos by Scott Streble)