The National Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization. It was begun by a small group of peer specialists in Michigan interested in what was happening in other states. Founded in 2004, the organization now includes members from every state and several countries outside the US. Members of this network can come together to share their ideas and innovations, exchange resources and information based on real world application, and add their voice to others when concerns and issues affecting all of us require a global response from a global community. We are actively and intentionally working on making iNAPS a more inclusive and safe space for individuals who have historically been marginalized.

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iNAPS Rebrands as the National Association of Peer Supporters

iNAPS has reorganizied and rebranded as the National Association of Peer Supporters. With this change iNAPS has a new logo (see above) and is now officially the International Association of Peer Supporters, Inc doing business as the National Association of Peer Supporters, Inc.

 To align more closely with the mission of iNAPS, iNAPS will prioritize the development of a professional association of peer support specialists by recruiting and uniting peer support workers as members of the professional association. iNAPS will direct its focus to providing services to their members and promoting the interests of peer support specialists.

iNAPS will continue conversations with peer support workers in other countries to explore the establishment of an international coalition and continue to welcome individuals from across the world as both members and volunteers. iNAPS will also build strong partnerships with international organizations, participate in global gatherings and coalitions, and work to advance collaborative, peer support initiatives world-wide.

iNAPS leadership is moving forward with a laser-focused approach to growing and supporting their membership, providing an innovative virtual experience for the 14th Annual Conference in October, and addressing workforce development issues that impose barriers to the growth of the peer support profession. Over the coming months the iNAPS board will evaluate their capacity to search for and hire an Executive Director.

An Opportunity for Growth and Change

2020 has been full of challenges and for many of us, crisis. The coronavirus impacted each of us on a personal, family, and community level. This ongoing pandemic will continue to alter our lives.

In May, our country’s history and present reality of racism came front and center with the killing of George Floyd. For some the harsh reminder of racism has brought tremendous pain, while others an acknowledgement that we have more to learn about antiracism and how to act to fight against racism.

As the trade association for the peer support profession, iNAPS understands that racism, along with other forms of discrimination, is structural and systemic. Systems employing peer support specialists can harbor discriminatory and stigmatizing policy and practices, and peer support specialists may also face additional societal stigma and discrimination based on class, ethnicity, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, etc. We also know that discrimination, racism, and other forms of oppression impact the people in various systems whom peer support specialists serve.

While iNAPS has made efforts to engage a diverse group of individuals from marginalized social groups, our Board recognized during our October strategic planning session that we can do better. We agreed to take proactive steps to increase the participation of underrepresented individuals and social groups in the membership and leadership of iNAPS.

One of the core values of peer support from iNAPS National Practice Guidelines is that peer supporters facilitate change. The iNAPS Board of Directors is committed to growth and change through the development of intentional practices and policies that support an organizational culture of acceptance, safety, and welcoming for all individuals. We continue to learn through this process and look forward to sharing this with you as we learn and grow from it.

Crisis as an opportunity for growth and change is a foundational concept to the peer support profession. Turning trauma, crisis, and chaos into meaningful change requires thinking in a new way, seeing in a new way, and responding in a new way. We hope you will join us in this effort.

Take care of yourself and your community,

Dana Foglesong

President, iNAPS Board of Directors