Annual Conferences

NAMI NJ 2024 Annual Conference
Saturday, April 20, 2024
Middlesex County Fire Academy
1001 Fire Academy Drive, Sayreville, NJ

View Press Release

NAMI NJ thanks our conference participants and supporters for the invaluable contributions in making our annual conference a grand success. Your enthusiasm and active support were the driving forces behind this remarkable in-person event. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback, which is a testament to the collective effort put forth by all involved. We especially thank our keynote speaker, Stacy Ross, for her impactful sharing which resonated across the amphitheater. Other esteemed speakers gave captivating presentations and led thought-provoking discussions; and our amazing exhibitors added tremendous value to the conference experience. We are truly humbled by the overwhelming participation and commitment. We look forward to your continued support and engagement in future conferences!


Keynote Speaker

Stacy Ross is an author, speaker/advocate, and mother of an adult with Borderline Personality Disorder. With raw honesty, Stacy tells the story of her sometimes heartbreaking, and sometimes heartwarming, 28-year journey parenting a child with mental illness. Stacy’s openness about her struggles makes her both relatable and believable with listeners often recounting personal experiences for the first time. Stacy also shares coping skills and strategies she’s learned along the way leaving audiences feeling empowered, hopeful, and less isolated. Read more


Honesty as the Foundation for Building Strong Boundaries

In this talk we will explore the power of honesty in laying the groundwork to build strong boundaries. Using personal anecdotes, we will begin by demonstrating the critical role honesty plays in understanding, coping with, and getting the right help for your family member. From there we will discuss how setting healthy boundaries can bring you closer to your family member, debunking the myth that boundaries drive us apart. Together we will then outline the ABC’s of building strong boundaries. An excerpt from Stacy’s upcoming memoir will be used to further illustrate points raised. Q&A will follow with audience members able to ask questions directly or submit them via index card to preserve privacy. Participants will leave with a clear understanding of the importance of honesty and boundaries in building healthy and long lasting relationships, as well as suggestions on how to establish strong boundaries in their own lives.


Insightful Panel Discussions

AM Panel Discussion: Practical Lessons on Setting Boundaries for Self-Care

– Lynne Brotman, Certified & Registered Yoga Teacher, NAMI Ending the Silence Presenter
– Renee Folzenlogen, MA, LPC, LPAT, ATR-BC, ACS, ATCS, Coordinator of Intensive Family Support Services in Essex County, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris
– Tammy Smith, MSW, LCSW, Outpatient Therapist, Department of Veterans Affairs, NJ Health Care System
– Victor Chou, Recovery Program Leader, NAMI NJ

Moderator: Jennifer Hughes, LCSW, Chief Program Officer, NAMI NJ


PM Panel Discussion: Planning for the Future

– Ellen Nalven, M Ed, Executive Director, Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey (PLAN|NJ)
– María del Carmen Rodríguez, PhD, LPC, NCC, NJ-DRCC, North Atlantic Region Chairperson, American Counseling Association
– Regina A. Sessoms, Recovery Program Leader, NAMI NJ
– Subha Bolisetty, Program Manager, NAMI NJ
– Weili Lu, PhD, CRC, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions, Rutgers University

Moderator: Meredith Masin Blount, Chief Executive Officer, NAMI NJ


Concurrent Workshops

1. Ask the Psychiatrist – Self-Medication: Historical and Practical Perspectives
Speaker: Rahul Malhotra, MD
Dr. Malhotra will briefly talk about the history and state of self-medication, leaving ample time for Q&A.

2. Practical Tools to Empower Your Future
Speaker: Ellen Nalven, M Ed, Executive Director, PLAN|NJ
This workshop will share future-planning resources and explore alternatives to guardianship (supported decision making, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, PAD), ABLE accounts, as well as ways to assist individuals to live, work, and go to school in the least restrictive settings.

3. Practical Wellness Tools
Speaker: Keertana Jonnalagadda, Rowan-Virtua SOM
This exclusive and transformative workshop is crafted specifically for the “busy” you, who deserves to prioritize their well-being and find balance in their lives. We aim to empower you with the tools and knowledge necessary to flourish as an individual, finding harmony in both your daily responsibilities and personal aspirations through firsthand exploration of these techniques.

4. Psychiatric Advance Directives
Speakers: Dr. Robert Eilers, Medical Director, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services; Lisa Ciaston, Legal Liaison, Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs; New Jersey Department of Human Services
This workshop provides an overview of the Psychiatric Advanced Directive (PAD) which is a written legal document that expresses an individual’s preferences about their mental health care during a personal mental health crisis.

5. Understanding Tardive Dyskinesia
Speaker: Shital Mistry, MSN, FNP, Clinical Science Liaison with Teva Medical Affairs
This workshop will delve into the involuntary movement disorder, called Tardive Dyskinesia, which is associated with prolonged use of antipsychotic medication.


Special Thanks

All About You Healthcare Advocates offers comprehensive health screenings, including blood pressure, blood sugar, and physical assessments.



Thank you to our sponsors!

Bronze Sponsors


Scholarship Sponsor & In-Kind Donor

Scholarship Sponsor

Mind by Design Counseling


Conference Exhibitors

All About You Healthcare Advocates

Brave Balancing Being & Ellesbe Consulting

Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey

Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions
at Rutgers School of Health Professions


Johnson and Johnson

Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris

New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma

Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey, Inc.

Teva Pharmaceuticals

United States Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration



Past Conferences