NAMI Vermont Annual Conference

NAMI Vermont’s Annual Conference brings together mental health professionals, advocates, peers, family members, and community members for an inspiring day of education and connection.

NAMI Vermont 2023 Conference: Together for Mental Health





November 15, 2023
8 a.m.–4 p.m.
DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington Vermont – Conference Center
870 Williston Road, South Burlington, VT 05403
Google Maps Link

NAMI Vermont has pulled together an exciting lineup of workshops and keynote speakers for this year’s Annual Conference. Join us for our first in-person conference since 2019 as we come “Together for Mental Health” at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Burlington on November 15.

Our annual conference draws mental health professionals, peers, family members, and community members together for education and networking on the latest in mental health research, best practices and treatment options, and raising awareness to confront stigma that surrounds mental illness. Our speakers will provide unique perspectives for a broad audience. Join us for an enriching day of learning, networking, and deep conversations.

About the Conference



Keynote Speakers

Workshops and Presentations


Annual Business Meeting


The NAMI Vermont 2023 Conference: Together for Mental Health has reached capacity and registration is closed. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Registration is live! NAMI Vermont members are offered a discount on their registration. If you would like to become a member of NAMI Vermont, visit Discount available for groups of 10 or more people from one organization. Use the button below to complete the online registration form.

  • Individual non-member registration fee: $95
  • Individual member registration fee: $55
  • Group of 10 or more: $50 per person
Apply for a Scholarship

NAMI Vermont has a small number of scholarships available for those with limited financial means to attend the Annual Conference. To be considered for a scholarship, please fill out the following application form.

Continuing Education Units (CEU) Information

We are pleased to offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) at no cost at this year’s Annual Conference.

The NAMI Vermont 2023 Conference: Together for Mental Health has been approved for Social Workers for 5.0 continuing education hours by NASW VT. Authorization number: CE 1133. Participants will receive a certificate of completion based on conference attendance and a completed evaluation form.

This conference has been approved for Allied Mental Health Practitioners for 5.5 continuing education hours by Vermont Board of Mental Health Counselors. Authorization number: CA-193791. Participants will receive a certificate of completion based on conference attendance and a completed evaluation form.

Recovery Coaches will receive a certificate of completion based on conference attendance and a completed evaluation form.

If you would like to receive CEUs for this conference, please indicate this in your conference registration.


The conference will take place November 15, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

8:00 AMRegistration; Breakfast; Exhibitor Hall Opens; Raffle Opens
8:45 AMWelcome and Opening Remarks
Executive Director of NAMI Vermont: Laurie Emerson
President of the Board of NAMI Vermont: Chip Siler
Commissioner, VT Department of Mental Health: Emily Hawes
9:00 AMKeynote Presentation: Dr. Xavier Amador
10:15 AMBreak; Exhibitor Hall
11:45 AMLunch; Exhibitor Hall; Me2/Burlington Ensemble
1:00 PMNAMI Vermont Awards Ceremony
1:15 PMKeynote Presentation: Dr. Paul Foxman
2:30 PMBreak; Exhibitor Hall; Announce Raffle Winners
4:00 PMConference Closing & Evaluations
4:15 PMNAMI Vermont Annual Business Meeting

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Xavier Amador

I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help: How to Help Someone Accept Treatment

Dr. Xavier Amador is an internationally renowned clinical psychologist, author, and leader in his field. His books, published clinical research, worldwide speaking tours, and extensive work in schizophrenia, bipolar, and other disorders have been translated into 30 languages. He is the CEO of the Henry Amador Center on Anosognosia and a family caregiver of two close relatives with serious mental illness. 

Dr. Amador is a Visiting Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York, and over the course of two decades he was Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University and Director of Psychology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.  

His expertise has been called upon by government, industry, and the broadcast and print media where he has appeared as a frequent expert for CNN, ABC News, NBC News, NBC Today Show Fox News Channel, CBS 60 Minutes, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Cosmo, Wall Street Journal, and many other national and international news outlets. 

In his morning keynote presentation, Dr. Amador will talk about the research on the prevalence, etiology, and clinical significance of poor insight of persons with serious mental illness. He will discuss evidence that poor insight is a symptom of these disorders rather than denial. He will also summarize strategies for helping such persons.

bald man dressed sharply smiles at camera

Dr. Paul Foxman

The Anxiety Epidemic in Kids and Teens

As a psychologist, Paul Foxman, Ph.D., is the founder and Director of the Vermont Center for Anxiety Care in Burlington, Vermont. Known for his knowledge and clarity, sense of humor, compassion, and engaging speaking style, he has delivered hundreds of top-rated educational programs and keynote addresses and appeared on television and radio as an expert on the topic of anxiety. Dr. Foxman’s books include Dancing with Fear (2007), The Worried Child (2004), The Clinician’s Guide to Anxiety Disorders in Kids and Teens (2017), Traumas and Triumphs (2022), and a co-authored casebook, Conquering Panic and Anxiety Disorders (2003). Dr. Foxman co-founded the Lake Champlain Waldorf School, now flourishing from kindergarten through high school.  

Anxiety disorders are now recognized as the most common emotional problem in the U.S and globally according to the National Institute of Mental Health and the World Health Organization. The increasing rate of stress and traumas to American children, which includes violence in society, social media use, divorce, family breakdown, adverse childhood experiences, the pandemic, and a failing school system, has produced a “shell-shocked” generation suffering from anxiety in many cases. Our challenge is to recognize anxiety in children and adolescents and help them cope. 

In his afternoon keynote address, Dr. Foxman will explain how, why, and when anxiety develops in childhood and which children are most vulnerable. He will describe the various manifestations of anxiety and distinguish between “normal anxiety” and an anxiety disorder. In addition, he will discuss some of the strategies that can reduce and even prevent anxiety.  

Workshops and Presentations

Bake It Till You Make It: Live!

Dayna Altman

Dayna Altman is an energetic and dynamic speaker, entrepreneur, author, and creator. The full force and sole operator of Bake It Till You Make It LLC, Dayna harvests her passion for mental health advocacy by using food and baking to create an authentic recipe for vulnerable storytelling. A nationally recognized mental health leader by the Biden-Harris administration, dual graduate of Northeastern University, and active Boston community member, Dayna has experience working in the mental health field and with youth-based non-profits. Currently, Dayna pursues writing poetry, documentary filmmaking, and exploring new ways to change the world using her own story. Living with depression and OCD, as well as being in recovery from an eating disorder and sexual assault, Dayna works each day to become her message.  

Participants will watch an abbreviated version of “Bake It Till You Make It: Live!,” a presentation in which Dayna uses ingredients as metaphors to chronicle her mental health and advocacy journey. She will then share the ways in which she has seen creativity connect and heal with research from the Journal of Positive Psychology and her anecdotal experiences.

LEAP to Help Persons With Serious Mental Illness

Dr. Xavier Amador

In addition to his keynote presentation, Dr. Amador will demonstrate his evidence-based program in a workshop session. LEAP (Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner)® is a communication program to help you create relationships with people who are unable to understand they are ill, with the goal of helping them accept treatment. Participants in this workshop will learn about the LEAP approach and acquire useful skills through roleplay activities.

Understanding Resilience

Kristine Reynolds

Kristine (Kris) Reynolds (she/her) is the Director and Founder of the Vermont Center for Resiliency and Assistant Professor at Vermont State University Lyndon in the Applied Psychology and Human Services Department. She received her master’s degree in social work from Colorado State University and has been working in the mental health field for over 18 years. 

She has experience in EMDR, CBT, and mindfulness. It was while working with Veterans in Colorado that Kris found her niche working with individuals who had experienced major stressors and trauma. In addition to specialization in working with individuals who have experienced complex trauma, Kris specializes in the treatment of anxiety, mood disorders, and relationship conflicts, and serves children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. 

Kris is an avid runner and enjoys all things outdoors, and spending time with her family which includes the furry and feathered variety as well as the human. 

Breakthrough? Psychedelic Psychotherapies, Interventional Psychiatry, and Other New and Prospective Treatments for Mental Health Challenges

Kurt White

Kurt L. White is the Vice President of Community Partnerships at the Brattleboro Retreat, a private non-profit psychiatric hospital founded in 1834. He is a clinical social worker by training, and he continues to practice with individuals, families, and groups in addition to his other duties. Mr. White is an adjunct professor at Smith College School for Social Work, where he teaches on a variety of topics including group psychotherapy. He is a Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and is recognized as a Master Addiction Counselor by NAADAC, the organization for addiction professionals. He is a past president of the Vermont Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. His interests include group psychotherapy, psychodynamic theory and practice, anti-oppression practice in clinical and agency settings, addiction and co-occurring issues, and the emerging field of psychedelic psychotherapy.  

man in red shirt smiling headshot

Exploring Rural LBGTQ+ Health Justice and Access

Frank Osten

Frank Osten (he/him) is a queer and trans harm reductionist, organizer, and educator residing in western Massachusetts. He has spent the past five years living and working in New England, expanding harm reduction messaging, opportunities, and education to people who use drugs and the people who support them. Frank is currently working as a health justice organizer at Out in the Open. 

Out in the Open connects rural LGBTQ+ people to build community, visibility, knowledge, and power. It is a multiracial grassroots movement and capacity-building organization based throughout Vermont and central Maine.

Rural LGBTQ+ people face unique challenges and roadblocks when accessing medical, mental, and other healthcare services. This workshop will explore these obstacles and discuss what health justice means to rural LGBTQ+ folks while identifying strategies for bridging access gaps through a review of Out in the Open’s work in rural spaces across New England.

man in red shirt smiling headshot

Perspectives on Mental Health: Lived Experience Stories

NAMI Vermont Panel Discussion

Margie Lemay, Office Manager at NAMI Vermont, will moderate a panel discussion about the different ways people experience mental health challenges. Margie previously worked at Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) for over 30 years developing, growing, and improving their Scholarships Program. She has been employed as NAMI Vermont’s Office Manager since December 2017. She also volunteers as a Family Support Group facilitator, a Mental Illness and Recovery Workshop teacher, a NAMI Smarts teacher, and a presenter of the Provider program. Margie and her husband raised two boys diagnosed with severe mental health challenges. Her lived experience spans nearly 25 years and is a tremendous asset to the work she does for NAMI Vermont. Last January, Margie’s youngest son passed away at the age of 31, having struggled with the symptoms of his mental health conditions since he was about 10 years old. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Margie has recommitted herself to doing everything in her power to ensure that Vermonters receive the care and information they need to cope with mental illness and find a path to recovery that allows them to lead productive, fulfilling lives.

Dr. Jacqui Kelleher, Executive Director of Vermont Family Network, will discuss what it’s like to be a parent supporting children with mental health struggles and bring her perspective as head of a family support organization.

Jodi Girouard is an author, poet, and skilled speaker who will provide insight on her own mental health journey and how she has healed through writing and sharing her story. She has been a member of the NAMI Vermont Board of Directors and has extensive experience sharing her own story, including as part of the NAMI In Our Own Voice program.

Christina Guessferd worked as a WCAX TV anchor and reporter for five years. She has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She will share her story of learning to succeed in an extremely public and demanding environment with her diagnoses by prioritizing her mental, social, and emotional well-being. 

Help support our annual conference by becoming a sponsor! We have several levels of sponsorship available, each with their own perks as thanks for your generosity. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, send a completed sponsorship form to Cathy LaClair at [email protected]. You may email Cathy with any questions you have or call her at 802-876-7949 x103.

Annual Business Meeting

NAMI Vermont’s Annual Business Meeting will take place immediately following the Annual Conference. The meeting will occur in-person at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in South Burlington from 4–5 p.m., with the option for attendees to join virtually as well. This meeting provides an opportunity for NAMI Vermont members to vote on the Slate of Candidates for the Board of Directors and for all attendees to hear about key organizational highlights from NAMI Vermont staff and committees. If you would like to attend the Annual Business Meeting, but you are NOT planning to attend the conference, please fill out the registration form below. If you are planning to attend the conference, please submit a conference registration form and indicate that you will also be attending the Annual Business Meeting.