The National Alliance on Mental Illness office in Hallowell is pictured on Oct. 29 (left) and Jenna Mehnert is pictured in this undated photo. Credit: BDN file photo

Jenna Mehnert has resigned as CEO of NAMI Maine, the organization announced Friday, after coming under fire for her treatment of employees.

Her resignation comes more than two months after the state’s largest mental health organization hired a lawyer to conduct an investigation into allegations from former employees that she fostered a toxic work environment. She has led the organization since 2013.

The nonprofit’s board of directors ordered the investigation following an Oct. 30 Bangor Daily News story in which 15 former employees described how Mehnert’s “demoralizing” treatment of staff affected their own mental health and fueled high turnover at the agency for years. Several former staff had previously complained about Mehnert to the board.

News of Mehnert’s resignation came in a Friday afternoon press release announcing that NAMI Maine, which stands for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, would begin an immediate search for a new leader.

The press release did not provide any reasons for Mehnert’s departure, stating it would refrain from doing so because it is a personnel matter, but it included a statement from a board thanking her for her service.

“Mehnert’s resignation is a personnel matter, and no further details are available,” the release stated, noting that her resignation is effective immediately.

“This staff is passionate about their work, the population they serve, and the results of their efforts,” Amy Hodgdon, president of the NAMI Maine Board of Directors, said in the release.

“Our board will do an extensive search to ensure the best possible pool of applicants to lead this group forward,” she said.

Mehnert has been on administrative leave since Nov. 22, pending the outcome of the personnel investigation. A week after she went on leave, 52 former employees, board members, current and past volunteers, and community members sent a letter to NAMI’s board of directors to express their strong disapproval of Mehnert’s leadership and urged them to take action to address her “abusive” management style.

Callie Ferguson

Callie Ferguson is an investigative reporter for the Bangor Daily News. She writes about criminal justice, police and housing.