Heather Strachan is the current Program Manager for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Iowa Chapter (NAMI Iowa). She is a native of Humboldt, Iowa and attended Iowa State University in Journalism. Heather’s background spans campaign organization, public policy and program development, notably her work on the Obama 2008 Iowa Caucus staff, Campaign Manager for State Representative Helen Miller, and as Communications Director for the Urban-Ag Academy in 2011-2012. Heather credits her mother’s political involvement from the time she was a young child for instilling a strong spirit of public service and voluntarism.
A lifelong passion for mental health and systems change landed her on a different path. In 2014, Heather joined UnityPoint Berryhill Mental Health Center in Fort Dodge as a Certified Recovery Specialist. There she served as a resource expert, partnership builder, and her own experience with trauma led her to specialize in care coordination for victims of domestic and sexual violence. Heather helped establish a partnership between Berryhill and the emergency department, and has been on the forefront of advocating for the use of peer providers in crisis and emergency services. She has represented Berryhill and NAMI Iowa on DHS focus groups, as well as the FTA’s Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility.
In 2018, Heather brought her expertise to NAMI Iowa where she is responsible for the training of NAMI facilitators across the state. She continues to advocate at the state government and system level for improved services for people with mental illness and their families, and leads NAMI’s work with Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault to develop cross training for mental health and sexual assault survivor advocates. Her personal passions also include criminal justice reform, and healthcare equity for women after twice surviving endometrial cancer. Heather is an avid swimmer and enjoys photography, writing poetry/spoken word, traveling, and exploring the nooks and crannies of Des Moines.