2017 Annual Conference

Recently retired WWE superstar AJ Mendez is a powerhouse – strong, quirky, and totally confident. But that wasn’t always the case. Growing up in New Jersey, AJ was a quiet girl trying to act “normal” when she felt anything but. As her family struggled with drug addiction, poverty, and mental illness, she found escape through comic books and video games, inspired by the tough and unconventional female characters. It wasn’t until she discovered the WWE that she learned superheroes could be real.

NAMI NJ is proud to feature AJ as the Keynote speaker at the NAMI New Jersey Annual Conference on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at the Ramada Conference Center in Jamesburg, NJ . AJ will be signing copies of her best selling book, Crazy is My Superpower. Read more about AJ’s story here:



8:30 AM    Registration & Breakfast

9:30 AM    Welcome

Mark Perrin, MD, President, NAMI NJ

Sylvia Axelrod, MA, Executive Director, NAMI NJ

9:45 AM    Opening Remarks

Valerie L. Mielke, MSW, Assistant Commissioner, Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services

10:00 AM    Overview: Transforming Care for First Episode Psychosis in NJ

Steve Silverstein, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Rutgers University;

Melissa J. Sampath, MA, LAC, Clinical Manager, Care Plus NJ, Inc.;

Alyson Hague, LCSW-Team Leader/Outreach and Referral Specialist, Rutgers;

David Sauder, LCSW, ACSW, Team Leader, Oaks Integrated Care;                

James Castorina, MA, LAC, Outreach and Recruitment Specialist, Oaks Integrated Care


AJ Mendez 

12:00 PM  Book Signing: CRAZY IS MY SUPERPOWER

12:15 PM   Lunch Buffet

1:15 PM     Recovery Oriented Cognitive Therapy

Paul M. Grant, PhD, Assistant Professor, Aaron T. Beck Center, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

A Tribute to Sylvia Axelrod, NAMI NJ Executive Director
2:15 PM – 4:00 PM

In a special afternoon event starting at 2:00p.m., NAMI NJ will be celebrating our Executive Director, Sylvia Axelrod’s twenty five years of service to NAMI New Jersey.

You are invited to register for this special event by emailing Lisa Powell at lpowell@naminj.org or call (732) 940-0991.

If you would like to support this event to honor Sylvia’s work, please download the Support & Journal Advertisement Confirmation Form here.


Early Bird Discount Deadline: Friday, October 20, 2017
General Registration Rate Deadline: Monday, November 20, 2017


Sponsorship Opportunities

See Sponsorship Brochure

Complete online form here



This conference is made possible by our sponsors