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.
Dinah Dale, Director of Development and Organizational Advancement
Dinah oversees NAMI Minnesota’s marketing, communication, and development efforts to comprehensively support the organization’s mission and activities. She came to NAMI in March 2017 from HIRED, where she was Director of Development & Communications, and she has more than 20 years of donor development experience. Dinah has a bachelor’s degree from William Woods University and a juris doctor degree from Washington University School of Law. Dinah has family members who live with mental illness, and became an activist as a teen in suicide prevention after her father’s suicide.
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, Director of Multicultural Outreach and Children’s Program
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.
Renee Obrecht-Como, Director of Operations and Grants Management
Renee joined NAMI in September of 2016. She oversees NAMI Minnesota’s basic office operations and manages NAMI Minnesota’s growing grants and contracts portfolio, including information management and evaluation systems. Prior to joining NAMI Minnesota, Renee served as Program Operations Director with University of Minnesota Extension’s statewide health and nutrition programs. She brings nearly 20 years experience with managing community programs, grants, and contracts. Her personal and family history with depression and bipolar disorder fuels her passion for NAMI’s mission. Renee has a Master’s degree in history with an emphasis on public health policy.
Beth Ringer, Director of Outreach and 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.