Karen Ranus

  • What does your organization do?

    Our organization provides no-cost education, support and advocacy programming for families and individuals directly affected by mental illness as well as community-wide mental health education and training in faith communities, workplaces, neighborhoods and schools in an effort to move our community toward a more positive, proactive and integrated approach to mental health.
  • How did you become interested in this work?

    I took one of NAMI Austin's free family classes six months after my family experienced a serious mental health crisis. The 12-week course transformed my family's experience from one of shame and despair to one of hope and healing. It made me a passionate advocate for the organization's programs and mission.
  • What drives your passion?

    The families and individuals we serve who often are living in isolation, navigating serious illness with little support or understanding. I want to help create a community in which we can have honest, supportive and respectful conversations about mental health and create more opportunities to easily access affordable and integrated mental health services and treatment.
  • Did you have a mentor or a role model?

    Mentors and role models are instrumental to my growth, both professionally and personally. I am fortunate to have some incredibly bright, thoughtful and insightful people in my life who both affirm and challenge me.
  • What's the biggest challenge in your work?

    Balancing the many needs of a small organization experiencing exponential growth has been challenging (but fun!) the last two years. There is so much to do, and never enough time to get it all done. As we expand, I'm having to learn to ask for help, to say "no" and to trust myself (I'm often smarter than I realize!). I've learned to love the challenges because that's where I'm being stretched and experiencing the most learning and growth.
  • What's the best advice that you have ever received?

    Stand in a place of integrity, knowing that the decisions you make each day (big and small) are intentionally connected to the mission entrusted to you. In a nutshell, be mission driven. Always.
  • What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?

    1. Never stop learning.
    2. Rest. Play. Relax. You're much better at your job when you take time to recharge your battery!
    3. There is no such thing as failure. Every misstep is an opportunity to engage in tip #1.