The Wood River Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness will have a change in leadership following a vote by the board during a retreat in October.

NAMI-WRV Executive Director Christina Cernansky will step down to take her “dream job” in Boise, working with the military on suicide prevention, the organization announced last week.

Cernansky has been working with NAMI-WRV for nearly five years, according to the news release, including more than three years as executive director. The organization stated that in 2015, there were five monthly support groups; NAMI-WRV now provides nearly 60 opportunities a month to attend support groups for adolescents, adults and family members faced with mental health challenges.

“This is an inspiring time at NAMI-WRV,” NAMI board President Page Klune said. “We have been blessed that Christina has helped us get to this point.”

Klune said a search is underway for a new executive director.

“We have a search committee,” Klune said. “Christina Cernansky will be holding the reins until at least January.”

Meanwhile, the NAMI-WRV board voted to appoint Brittany Shipley, head facilitator of Bluebirds, NAMI’s adolescent mental health and suicidality support group, to the full-time position of NAMI program director.

In addition, NAMI-WRV will likely have an expanded board of directors for 2020-2021. Final appointments will be voted at the next board meeting.

Existing board members accounting professional Melanie Collins, speech language therapist Kerri Everett, family therapist Alyson Witmer, real estate agent and small-business owner Page Klune and Silver Creek High School teacher Chris Koch could be joined by newcomers Jason Barbee, a mental health therapist, Trinita Annys Dye, a middle school special education teacher and Bailee Rider, a Blaine County School District administrative assistant.

The board reappointed Page Klune to serve as president and Chris Koch as vice president.

NAMI-WRV’s mission is to support the mental health of community members through education, support and advocacy.

“Our vision is to support mental health wellness in the Wood River Valley,” the organization said in a statement. “We aim to link community members with local health resources to educate the community on mental health topics, cultivate the acceptance of mental health challenges and foster inclusion for individuals, families and friends.”

The executive director position has been posted on namiwrv.org/job and applications will be accepted until Dec. 6. To learn more about NAMI-WRV, visit namiwrv.org.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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