How was Next Generation behavioral health born?

I started my first business in the early 80s. Remember Gold Circle? I cut these pics of kids out from their weekly circular, glued them to this paper, photocopied and plastered it all over the bulletin boards in the entryways of grocery stores in town.


This funded life until my first W2 gig at Ponderosa Steakhouse.


Even at 11, it appears I was already into knowing and explaining my WHY...

I loved school. I love reading. I do not always tolerate authority with grace. Higher education was a path forward that made sense. If you are a a faculty person, or happen to know some-then you get what I mean-they are inherently contrarian. 


You were not supposed to work while in grad school (um, not sure how that was supposed to fly for working class kids). So shh. Do not tell them I was slopping beers and folding sweaters at Casual Corner (do you remember that store!?) to pay for books.

As an undergraduate, I had a 4 month internship with an Assistant District Attorney in the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit in the City of Philadelphia. I realized while seeking justice and getting bad guys sounded appealing (was thinking about law school), what I really wanted was to be a part of the healing (decided to go for clinical psychology graduate school). 


No matter what other full time leadership position I have had along the way, for 20 years I have maintained my commitment to working with trauma survivors. I know what #grit looks like. I carry their stories with me. Every. Single. One.

At 27 I was done with my PhD program and managing a team of graduate students, undergraduates, administrative staff and community volunteers. I was responsible for a multi million dollar budget and negotiating contracts and memorandums of understanding with health care systems.  I loved the problem solving, the immediate gratification of negotiating a solution with complicated personalities at the table...I decided operations was a detour I was interested in taking in my career. 


I had colleagues I respected who got very excited about getting articles published. I was aware I was not moved by it...it would be months between submitting a manuscript and hearing anything from reviewers! I loved consuming the science-I just had no patience? the wrong temperament? insufficient attention span? for the practice of it. I disappointed mentors who meant a lot to me when I opted out of academia. 


The  #fullreal truth is, I had also been told very bluntly at the start of my graduate training by someone powerful in my program that I probably "Did not belong in the academy" because of the fact that "I looked like I cared more about presenting a pretty picture than having substance." I was devastated (and deeply shamed) by that experience...But I digress...that anecdote is in my Imposter Syndrome 2.0 keynote...

I served as Project Director, Research Resources Director, Executive Director and Chief-of-Staff from 2000 to 2013.


I did clinical work in the evenings and taught as an adjunct throughout those years-which makes for a pretty odd professional identity.


In 2014 I decided my hybrid identity and set of experiences might be useful-for others! 


I love what I do. 


Ironically, I give TALKS about how that is not a necessary ingredient for a good, full, meaningful life!?


But the truth is-I love working with clients in the sacred space of my offices and being trusted with their most vulnerable selves-and watching them thrive. I love speaking with groups and hearing about how something I said landed just right and now they will behave strategically moving forward. I love watching an entrepreneur take their business from here to HERE because we slayed a psychological dragon that was getting in their way.


My presentation style is based on science with an eye toward application. I share personal stories with the hopes someone can see themselves in some of my history or pain or victory. I give action items and homework and thoughts about measuring traction on a goal. I take it seriously when trusted with an event.