AUGUSTA – Carol Carothers, who has won multiple awards for her advocacy on behalf of people living with mental illness, has stepped down after 14 years as executive director of the Augusta-based National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine.

The announcement of her resignation was posted on the NAMI Maine website along with a statement from the board of directors expressing appreciation for her years of services.

The announcement said her resignation was effective Jan. 4.

Carothers, of Belgrade Lakes, holds active licenses in Maine as a clinical professional counselor and an alcohol and drug counselor.

Last year, the NAMI Maine organization’s Crisis Intervention Team received the Program of the Year award from Crisis & Counseling Centers, for its partnership in “working collaboratively in the field of mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring disorders.”

In October 2011, Carothers received the Shalom House Johnson & Korda Innovation Award. In 2004, she was named a community health leader by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for her efforts “to prevent inappropriate incarceration and improve the treatment of people with mental illness.”

Valerie Gamache, who became president of the NAMI Maine board of directors in June, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday; and Catherine Kidman, who is serving as interim executive director for NAMI Maine while the organization searches for a replacement for Carothers, also was unreachable. Kidman previously served as interim executive director of the Maine Women’s Fund.

According to the NAMI Maine website, the group has provided “support, education and advocacy on behalf of people with mental illness and their families since 1984.” In 2011, it consolidated with AlphaOne, which serves people with disabilities.

Carothers has weathered storms at NAMI Maine. In 2008, a bookkeeper at the organization went to prison for embezzling $257,000 from the organization.

Last October, Wade Hoover was arrested at the NAMI Maine offices, where he worked as veterans’ support coordinator, and charged with using the organization’s Internet connection to distribute child pornography. Charges remain pending against Hoover in federal court.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said at the time of the arrest that NAMI Maine officials were cooperating with investigators.

For the fiscal year ending June 2011, Carothers was paid $67,588 and received $6,656 in other compensation.

 

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com