Jonathan Ater and his wife, Deanne, have been honored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon (NAMI Oregon) with the Gordon and Sharon Smith New Freedom Award. The annual award recognizes advocacy for individuals living with mental illness and their family members.
Former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith and his wife, Sharon, presented the award at a dinner Oct. 21, 2010.
“The Aters turned their family experience with mental illness into a personal crusade that has helped improve Oregon’s mental health system for countless individuals and families,” said Chris Bouneff, executive director of NAMI Oregon. “Through their tireless advocacy and public involvement, Jonathan and Deanne helped bring these treatable disorders to the forefront of health care discussions. Their willingness to continue speaking out, both publicly and privately, serves as inspiration to Oregonians, NAMI supporters and many, many others.”
From 1994 to 1998, Jonathan served as chair of the Oregon Commission on Children and Families. He served as co-chair of the Governor’s 2004 Mental Health Task Force and was appointed by the governor to serve on the Oregon Health Fund Board. He serves as vice-chair of the Oregon Health Policy Commission. Jonathan has served on two working groups that advise senior management of the Oregon Department of Human Resources and is past chair of the Albertina Kerr Foundation.
Deanne has provided professional mental health counseling as an unpaid volunteer at William Temple House in Portland, worked as a counselor in the Hillsboro school district for children with special needs, and served on the boards of directors of several agencies including Outside In, Planned Parenthood, and Rainbow Adult Living Facilities, where she served as interim executive director.
NAMI Oregon is the state’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to education, support and advocacy around mental illness and treatment.