SIERRA VISTA — During its annual meeting on Saturday, the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) announced a new executive director in Anna Eickenbrock.
As she prepares to step into her new position, Eickenbrock plans to hit the ground running.
“I love tending to people’s needs,” said Eickenbrock, who describes herself as a “caretaker through and through.”
When the opportunity to work for NAMI presented itself, Eickenbrock said she didn’t think twice about applying for the position.
“I do not take on a task that isn’t fueled by passion, and NAMI falls right into that category,” she said. “I have such a wonderful feeling about this new adventure.”
Eickenbrock will be replacing former NAMI Southeastern Arizona (SEAZ) executive director Kelly Norris, who recently submitted her resignation with the organization for another opportunity.
“In spite of having very short notice, we were fortunate to find three strong candidates for the position, so the selection was a difficult decision,” said former NAMI Board President Livingston Sutro, who was one of three members of the selection committee.
“Anna has an excellent educational background as well as experience in working with nonprofits, so she was selected as our new executive director,” Sutro said.
Eickenbrock has launched two nonprofit organizations that serve Southern Arizona. In 2015, she started Operation Toothbrush, which provides personal items for homeless veterans and other homeless individuals in the community.
“In 2019, we fed 70 homeless veterans and their families a Thanksgiving feast,” she said.
The second nonprofit, Our Heart for Children, provides resources for children in need. The organization’s goal is to eliminate lunch debt for students who cannot afford to pay the cost of school lunches and have accumulated a debt at the end of the school year, Eickenbrock explained.
“We also provide Care Cabinets at Joyce Clark Middle School and Buena High School, filled with personal hygiene items for students who need them. We’re able to do this through donations and wonderful community support.”
While proud of the two nonprofits, Eickenbrock credits the support of her “amazing” husband, Kelly, an Army retiree, and two “equally amazing” children, Jonathan Davis, 19 and Alexis Ann, 14, for helping to make the nonprofits a success.
“I may have started them, but they truly are a family operation,” she said.
Both nonprofits, Sutro noted, “dovetail nicely with the programs and focus” that NAMI has in place.
“We look forward to working with Anna in the future, and are excited about seeing what she will bring to the organization,” said Sutro, who plans to continue serving on NAMI’s board.
New directorBorn in San Diego to parents who were serving in the U.S. Army, Eickenbrock lived all over the world while growing up.
“My parents retired out of Fort Huachuca, which is how I arrived in this area in 1999,” she said. “I attended Buena High School, enrolled in accelerated classes and graduated early by earning a GED because I wanted to get through high school and start exploring different opportunities,” Eickenbrock said.
After Buena, she earned an associate’s degree in general studies at Cochise College, along with EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certifications. In 2019 she received her Bachelor’s in Administration of Justice at University of Arizona South, graduating as a member of Gamma Beta Phi Society, a national honors and service society.
“I also was a Dean’s List honorable mention recipient at UA South,” Eickenbrock said. “This year, I received my Military Families graduate certificate at UA South and also graduated from the James E. Rogers College of Law from UA.”
Eickenbrock holds a masters degree in legal studies from James E. Rogers and she graduated as the outstanding graduate of 2020 at the UA South campus.
On top of her whirlwind schedule, Eickenbrock also is employed as a server at the Outback Steakhouse, a job she’s held for six years and says she absolutely loves.
“I have the most incredible superiors and co-workers,” she said. “As of now, I plan to keep my job at the Outback. Eickenbrock officially starts her executive director position July 1.
“I absolutely love NAMI and the services the organization provides those with mental health considerations,” she said. “I’m very excited about the outreach and connections that NAMI offers through its programs and look forward to interacting with those who would benefit from the free services and resources NAMI offers. I’m very excited about this opportunity.”