NAMI NJ’s first executive director turned volunteer organization into largest grassroots effort to improve the lives of those with mental illness


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The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New Jersey (NAMI NJ) shared the passing of Sylvia Axelrod, the organization’s first executive director, who took NAMI NJ from a volunteer organization to New Jersey’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of those living with mental illness.
Highlights of Axelrod’s accomplishments over her more than 25-year tenure with NAMI NJ include:
“Through her leadership, Sylvia made NAMI NJ a state and national leader in providing support and education, building advocacy, and combating stigma. Sylvia was a respected leader, beloved advocate and trusted friend. NAMI NJ mourns her loss and renews our commitment to continuing her legacy into the future,” current Executive Director Meredith Masin Blount said in a prepared statement.

Axelrod died on Feb. 27 at age 82.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Network of NAMI NJ, 1562 Route 130, North Brunswick 08902. For more information, visit or

To share memories and condolences, visit the obituary page at
Axelrod’s family held a Zoom memorial service on March 6.

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