Iris Awards 2020

Congratulations to our 10 deserving 2020 Iris Award recipients! These awards are given to people who stand out in their efforts, contributions, and dedication to improve the quality of life of people affected by mental illness and to promote recovery. Because of the cancellation of our in-person conferences in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Iris Awards ceremony is presented in video format above.

Congratulations again and thank you for all you do to improve the quality of life of people affected by mental health conditions in Wisconsin!

 


2020 Iris Awards Recipients

Rosie Pechous – Advocacy Award
Rosie Pechous has tirelessly fought and advocated for mental health policy change in higher education. As student body president, Rosie advocated for a mental health awareness week at her university, which provided mental health resources and support to her fellow students. She has developed, written and lobbied for the Student Medical Leave Act, which is intended to help those students who require a leave absence to stay on track with their schooling, as well as treatment. Rosie also gained the support of all UW Institutions on the Student Medical Leave Act. She has also advocated for workplaces to institute mental health days to support their employees. Rosie has changed the lives of people all across the state with her advocacy and NAMI Wisconsin is proud to present her with the Advocacy Award. 

 

Det. Justin Greuel – CIT Officer of the Year
Det. Justin Greuel is both a CIT trained officer, as well as CIT International certified training coordinator. He has helped to train over 150 police officers in CIT during his time with the Eau Claire Police Department. Det. Greuel is also an active board member with NAMI Chippewa Valley. He helps to organize local events and does community presentations on CIT and mental health advocacy. Det. Greuel has been able to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations through building rapport with the individuals with whom he comes into contact. His quick and comfortable application of CIT principles has kept his fellow officers, as well as people experiencing a mental health crisis safe. 

 

Bernie Corsten – Spark Plug Award
Bernie Corsten has been board president of NAMI Northwoods for years and has been the one constant figure enthusiastically representing NAMI in the community. Bernie has helped NAMI Northwoods grow in so many ways, securing a free office space, finding skilled board members and officers, starting signature programs and recruiting participants, writing grants, and finding just about any way to help NAMI grow and be an amazing place for those looking for mental health aid. Bernie has and continues to give so much of her time and passion to NAMI Northwoods and has helped build the amazing organization they are today. 

 

Paula Verrett – Jim Maddox Peer of the Year Award
Paula Verrett has been involved with NAMI since she began attending support groups in Outagamie County in 1997. Paula gained confidence and strength through her time with NAMI and began to be able to use her lived experience to help others. She volunteers at NAMI Fox Valley and as a State Trainer. She has worked as NAMI Fox Valley’s Recovery Specialist and now as the Director of the Iris Place Program, NAMI Fox Valley’s peer-run respite. In everything she does, Paula continues to share her own story and to hold space for others’ experiences, encouraging and nurturing growth and recovery. She serves as an inspiration and positive role model for those who live with mental illness and gives hope to those moving forward in their own healing.

 

Beverly Norelius – Lifetime Contribution to Advocacy
Beverly Noreluis is the founder of NAMI Barron County. She has been relentless in her efforts throughout the last near two decades breathing life into this affiliate and reaching those out in the community through her efforts. She has led the efforts that have allowed NAMI Barron County to expand temporarily into the five surrounding counties. She has also played a crucial role in expanding mental health advocacy in the Midwest. What started as a dream for Beverly, has now become so much more than she could have ever hoped for.  

 

 

Kathy Jacobson – Special Recognition Award
Kathy Jacobson is the Board Secretary at NAMI Barron County. She consistently goes above and beyond what is expected of her by volunteering to teach NAMI Basics and presenting for NAMI Ending the Silence. Over the past year, Kathy has volunteered for over 300 hours in Barron County. Her volunteering includes answering the phone calls that come into her affiliate, coordinating classes and empowering others to become facilitators and teach classes. Her efforts have led to the creation of a peer to peer class in the Barron county jail and a peer support group at a local hospital. Kathy works tirelessly to help NAMI Barron county succeed and continue to provide their services to those that need them. Kathy has taught NAMI Family to Family 8 or more times and has been the support person for Peer to Peer class 3 times and taught Basics 4 times. 

 

Linda Froehlich – Education Advancement Award
Linda Froehlich has committed so much time to NAMI Portage-Wood, all on a volunteer basis. She is Affiliate Treasurer, an In Our Own Voice Presenter, Family to Family Teacher, CHAT Presenter, CIP Trainer, and editor of her affiliate’s newsletter. Linda is the Program coordinator for her affiliate and gathers all of their program data. She is also in charge of most of the outreach done by NAMI Portage-Wood and took part in the 2019 NAMI Wisconsin Healing Art Show. Linda has committed countless hours to her affiliate, always looking for ways to be involved in the community and support those in need. 

 

Jeff Berzowski – Leadership Award
Jeff Berzowski has served as member of the NAMI Oshkosh Board of Directors for 6 years, being board president for the past 2. Jeff has helped to transform NAMI Oshkosh into the healthy and growing organization that it is today. Jeff has handled the incredibly full plate that comes with being board president of a growing affiliate with professionalism and ease. He has shouldered many responsibilities that go above and beyond what is asked of him as board president. He has helped plan, set up, and tear down NAMI Oshkosh’s 5k fundraiser, all while serving as the emcee to the event. Jeff has shown immense dedication to NAMI Oshkosh over the years he has served on the board and continues to do so today. 

 

Frank Mixdorf – Outstanding Contribution to NAMI Wisconsin
Frank has been Board President of NAMI Green County for many years and continues to serve in this position. Frank and his wife, Carol are true advocates in the Mental Health Community. Frank has led NAMI Green County through the process reaffiliation process and continues to ensure that their county is on top of things both throughout the state and nationally. Frank has been described as “a fantastic role model”.  Frank’s contributions to NAMI, both locally and statewide have helped to grow and strengthen the NAMI name and community in the state of Wisconsin. 

 

Janet DeLeo – Volunteer of the Year Award
Janet DeLeo has dedicated hours upon hours to NAMI Kenosha County. Beginning with her son’s diagnosis of Schizophrenia, she became a tireless advocate. She is a family to family teacher in Kenosha and remains in contact with many of her previous family to family students. She also hosts a family support group for loved ones coping with mental illness. She is never too busy to take a phone call or to make time for a coffee with someone who is facing a tough time. Every year, she hosts a holiday party for people living with a mental illness. This party provides entertainment, good food, and useful gifts.  Janet also serves on the NAMI Kensha Board of Directors, where she has introduced a project that is designed divert people living with a mental illness from the criminal justice system. Janet is an incredible volunteer and represents NAMI Kenosha excellently.