Martha Silva arrived in the United States from Cuba at age 15 with the Operation Peter Pan in 1962. This program was coordinated by the United States government, the Roman Catholic Church and Cuban exiles to bring children from Cuba. These children were placed in foster care until they could be reunited with their parents. She worked as a Senior Account Analyst at Liz Claiborne Inc. and Riviera Trading Inc.. She is currently the president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Hudson County Affiliate, and director of NAMI NJ en Español Program.
Ms. Silva’s son and mother have both been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which influenced her decision to become a volunteer for NAMI. In 1998 she started the NAMI Hudson County affiliate. In 2002, in view of the need for support groups in Spanish in the Latino community, she took the initiative to start NAMI NJ en Español Outreach. The program became official in 2004; it is known today as NAMI NJ en Español.
Ms. Silva is also a NAMI National trainer for the Family to Family program in Spanish. She was a speaker at the NAMI National Multicultural Strategic Summit in 2006 and at the NAMI Tennessee conference in 2007. Her achievements include being the recipient of the NAMI NJ 1999 Meritorious Affiliate Member Volunteer Award. In addition, in 2005 she was the recipient of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute Shining Lights Award for Excellence in Community Service. Most recently she received a citation from the 35th New Jersey Legislative District for her accomplishments, and outstanding leadership in the community.