Co-Founder & Board of Directors

Dr. Xavier Amador, Founder of the LEAP INSTITUTE and co-Founder of the LEAP FOUNDATION, is an internationally renowned clinical psychologist and leader in his field. His books, authoritative clinical research, worldwide speaking tours and extensive work in schizophrenia, bipolar and other disorders have been translated into 30 languages. Dr. Amador is the author of the International Best Seller, “I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!” He is also a family caregiver of two close relatives with schizophrenia and another with bipolar disorder.

From 1989 to 2002, Dr. Amador was on the medical school faculty at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 2002 Dr. Amador resigned a tenured faculty position at Columbia University and as Director of Psychology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute to honor his commitment to families that asked him to help educate mental health practitioners, family caregivers, and others about anosognosia and science-based practices proven to help persons with serious mental illness.

Dr. Amador was not only keeping a promise he made but also responding to his frustration as a clinical researcher who saw much needed knowledge stranded in professional journals rather than in the hands of clinicians, families, law enforcement, judges and legislators attempting to address the needs of persons with severe and persistent mental illness.

To honor his commitment, and pursue his dream, he accepted a position as Director, Center for Research Education and Practice at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) where he founded NAMI’s Scientific Council, nationally launched Family to Family, Peer to Peer and In Our Own Voices as well as NAMI’s national initiative on Assertive Community Treatment (ACT).

After his tenure on staff, during which he was also Deputy Executive Director of NAMI, he resigned to serve on the Board of Directors at NAMI.

Visiting Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York, over the course of two decades he was Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University and Director of Psychology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He served as co-chair of the Schizophrenia section of the DSM-IV-TR.

Author of more than 120 peer-reviewed articles and 8 books including “I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!”. Written for both professional and lay readers; he shares research and practical advice on how to help engage patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in treatment, and shares his personal experience with his brother who suffered from schizophrenia.

His expertise has been called upon by government, industry and the broadcast and print media where he appears as a frequent expert for CNN, CNN International, ABC News, NBC News, Fox News Channel, CBS 60 Minutes, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and many other national and international news outlets.

Dr. Amador is also the Director of the LEAP® Institute which was founded to provide education and training on anosognosia, the problem of poor adherence and provide practical communication tools (LEAP® communication program) designed to build bridges and partnerships with persons who hold views of their illness and needs that are opposite to that of their loved ones, doctors, and sometimes even law enforcement.

LEAP® Institute has trained tens of thousands of clinicians, family caregivers, law enforcement, justice officials and legislators worldwide. LEAP® Institute is separate and distinct from LEAP FOUNDATION which is a nonprofit 501(c)(3). 


Board of Directors

Michael Fitzpatrick,

Executive Director of NAMI National for ten years, a seasoned public policy expert and previous elected state legislator who has shown an enduring commitment to improving the lives of persons with mental illness and their families.

Ken Freirich,

President of the Health Monitor Network, is an entrepreneur who started, built, operated and grew a variety of world-class organizations. His passion is improving the quality of healthcare. Ken is also a philanthropist who cares deeply about persons suffering from mental illness, their families and healthcare providers.

Norm Ornstein,

is a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a Washington D.C. think tank. He too has lived experience with a mentally ill son. Norm has written many books and is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post and many magazines, such as The Atlantic and the National Journal. He wrote a weekly column for Roll Call from 1993 until 2013, and is currently co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project.

Andrew Sperling, Esq.,

is the Director of Federal Legislative Advocacy for NAMI where for more than two decades he has worked passionately on issues affecting the mental health community with a focus on improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses. Since 1994, Mr. Sperling has also served as Co-Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force. Mr. Sperling previously held the position of deputy director of government relations for the National Community Mental Healthcare Council and was a legislative assistant for U.S. Representative Dick Swett. Mr. Sperling earned a BA from Tulane University, a MA from George Washington University and a Law Degree from the Franklin Pierce Law Center.

Bruce Harlow,

a highly active NAMI advocate and leader, who works with legislators and the community to improve the quality of care provided to persons with mental illness, and who, like Dr. Amador, has lived experience as a caregiver of a loved-one with severe and persistent mental illness.

Gregory L. Adams,

is President of iLearn Systems, an internationally recognized, interactive learning company. He is working to bring the LEAP Program to the internet in a highly effective, experiential-learning format. He is also Vice President of PLAN of Southeast Michigan and assists NAMI, and other nonprofit mental health organizations. His passion for this work grew out of his personal experience as a caregiver for a loved-one with severe and persistent mental illness.

Maria Tatiana Amador,

Maria has lived experience with family members suffering from SMI and anosognosia. A young adult, she is studying to become a psychologist. Her volunteer work spans issues and vulnerable populations both within the mental health community and beyond. As a family caregiver, she has a deep and life-long commitment to ensuring that the mission of the LEAP Foundation succeeds and endures.

Sharon Fiorella,

a highly successful business woman, wife and mother who has lived experience with a loved one suffering from SMI and anosognosia. Sharon has developed deep experience and a keen understanding of how many persons with SMI are inappropriately caught up in the criminal justice system. Her volunteer work and philanthropy has, in recent years, focused more and more on the problems created by anosognosia and the broken mental health care system that results in persons with serious mental illness being isolated and landing in jails and prisons rather than treatment. She is dedicated to providing science-based education and resources about anosognosia, mental health diversion and LEAP to professionals, families and criminal justice professionals.