The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Seattle began in 1978, as a statewide organization, WAMI (Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill). In response to a tragedy involving mental illness, eight strangers came together to see what they could do to inform the public, influence the legislature, and support those who struggle with mental illness, their families and friends. WAMI/NAMI Greater Seattle has continued this work ever since.
That year WAMI hosted the first Washington State Conference on Chronic Mental Illness, and, in 1979, was instrumental in the founding of the national organization, NAMI. In 1983 we were admitted as a United Way funded agency, and in 1985 began to receive funding from the Washington State Legislature. In 1993, with help from individual and corporate donors, we were able to purchase our current premises in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.
In 1996, WAMI was recognized by the national organization as its largest local affiliate, and also influenced the State Legislature to sponsor SB 5995 mandating non-discriminatory health insurance. In 1999, we completed our Hofmann House for Men, a project that guided a group of individuals recovering from mental illness to renovate an older home for themselves, stay in treatment, hold down jobs, and attend school.
In 2002, acknowledging that we are an affiliate of a national organization, we changed our name to NAMI Greater Seattle. Later that year, Eleanor Owen, founder and original director of WAMI, an energetic and outspoken advocate for those who live with mental illness, stepped down, and Frank Jose became the new executive director.
Encouraged by the success of its model Hofmann House for Men project, NAMI Greater Seattle, supported again by individual and corporate donors, embarked on another house, this time for women. The remodeling of Hofmann House for Women was completed in 2007, and like the first house, is now a stable, secure, and supportive home for its residents.
In 2007, Frank, a very effective voice in the state legislature, left to work for the state government, and Nancy Cole, who had already worked with us on the HH4M project, became executive director. A high priority for NAMI Greater Seattle under her leadership was to pay off of debt incurred in the renovation of HH4W. Following Nancy Cole, Eleanor Owen returned as an interim executive director. Christine Lindquist took over for Eleanor in 2010 as our current director.
Our work continues and the need is as great as ever. Perhaps you would like to join us. Members of NAMI Greater Seattle are individuals with mental illness, their families and friends, administrators, educators, clinicians, legislators, members of religious groups, professionals and concerned citizens. Together we can make a difference.