Key Staff

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.

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.

Marilyn Dornfeld
Marilyn Dornfeld, Director of Adult Programs

Marilyn joined NAMI in August 2014 and manages NAMI’s Family-to–Family program, Family Support Groups, and Family Connections (BPD). 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 Multicultural Outreach & Children’s Programs

Cynthia joined NAMI in 2011 and oversees children’s programs and provides training to parents and professionals. She also provides outreach to cultural communities. Prior to coming to NAMI, Cynthia worked as a Special Programs Counselor for the Minneapolis Public schools, working with homeless and highly mobile students. She also worked as a clinic manager for Hennepin county and served as a patient advocate for Hennepin County’s Family Medical Center. In that role, she developed and co-facilitated their cultural competency program. She has a BA in Sociology with a minor in Biology from Macalester College. Cynthia became involved with NAMI Minnesota after contacting NAMI for information and resources to help her daughter who lives with a mental illness.

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.

Beth Ringer

Beth Ringer, Director of Outreach & Community Engagement

Beth supports NAMI Minnesota’s local affiliates and oversees NAMI Minnesota’s community engagement efforts. She has a background in community organizing, and prior to joining NAMI Minnesota, Beth served as Director of Member Services with the Minnesota Social Service Association. She has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota. Beth is passionate about growing the movement to promote justice and end discrimination for all people affected by mental illnesses, especially those from historically marginalized communities. Beth joined NAMI in 2017.


Staff Photos by Scott Streble