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James Mcnish Fund

James McNish Headshot.webp
James McNish 
April 11, 1931 - November 1, 2022

Jim McNish was a local businessman who helped found the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Kane-South, DeKalb, and Kendall counties in 1993. His participation was inspired by the mental health struggles of his daughter Cathie (deceased). During his 25 years of leadership at NAMI KDK, he contributed to the creation of alternative courts for the mentally ill and crisis intervention training for local police officers.

Jim was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and educated in Canada and London, England. After a career in Canada, New York, and Illinois with General Electric and Keene Corporation, he moved to Geneva, Illinois, where he acquired manufacturing businesses specializing in engineering, manufacturing wastewater, and waste treatment equipment. He leaves three daughters, Jacquie, Michelle, and Rachael McNish.


Judge Judy Brawka (Ret.), former NAMI KDK Board Member

Jim McNish was a force of nature - not like a storm, frightening and full of bluster, but more like gravity, quiet and powerful. Jim pulled people into his orbit with the sheer force of his heartfelt passion and dedication to mental health. His innovative ideas and his power of persuasion inspired others to join in and support expanding mental health treatment and work against the stigma attached to mental illness. He was a founding member of NAMI KDK and served faithfully for decades. I am personally grateful to have been pulled into Jim’s orbit and served with him at NAMI KDK. Jim McNish made a difference in the lives of thousands of people with mental health needs and their families. He truly left this world a better place.

Sara Gray, Executive Director NAMI KDK

As the current Executive Director, it is important that I pause to reflect on the impact of James (Jim) McNish on our affiliate. In 1990,  Jim & Diana McNish along with other parents in the Fox Valley area came together looking for support and information after their children were diagnosed with a mental health condition. This small group became the nucleus of NAMI KDK which was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1993. 


Jim became a strong advocate for mental health. He built collaborations, empowering individuals affected by mental illness, and was a connector. He was instrumental in the creation of Kane County Treatment Alternative Court. The mission of the Kane County Treatment Alternative Court (TAC) is to guarantee justice for criminal defendants with mental illness, co-occurring disorders, or developmental disabilities, to enhance public safety, and promote the continuity of mental health care in the community. 


Jim McNish was passionate, well informed, and through his community advocacy, he led the charge to leverage our community to create solutions. The McNish family’s personal experience is what struck close to home and made a tangible difference. The bravery of sharing your own story is powerful and changes hearts. 


I want to express our gratitude for a lifetime of dedication to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness. There is an enormous void in our lives. I also want to thank Michelle, Jacquie, and  Rachael for sharing their father with us. Please know that we hold your entire family in our hearts as you grieve your loss.

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