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Promoting Diversity in Membership: Growing the CFHA While Broadening its Constituency

Posted By Jennifer Hodgson, Thursday, January 27, 2011
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2011

This blog is not filled with grandiose rhetoric. You will neither find state-of-the-art statistics nor endearing stories about collaborative successes. Rather this blog is designed to challenge the face of CFHA and establish tangible solutions to help us move forward. It is an exciting time to be a member of CFHA as our association is gaining national attention for our grassroots work. CFHA’s annual conferences and pre-conference summits have stimulated important discussions and actions at each sponsoring state’s policy, payment, and community levels.

They have also resulted in an expansion of our membership base, hiring of staff, and increase in conference attendance. The key to success for any organization though is not accepting what it is but aiming for what it can become.Membership has always been the heartbeat to CFHA but until recently we have focused more on collaboration between the behavioral and medical specialties only. It is important and timely that we examine our diversity not only in discipline but also with regard to culture and geographic representation. We have been strong in the medical and behavioral health disciplines, particularly with family medicine physicians, marriage (couple) and family therapists, medical family therapists, and psychologists.

We have some representation from internal medicine, pediatrics, social work, counseling, pharmacy, psychiatric nursing, dental, nursing, and healthcare administration. However, many disciplines are missing from this list and are important to include and recruit to join CFHA. While some may be underrepresented (even those mentioned above), others are absent and need to be a part of our growing association. Which ones come to mind for you? How do you believe we can successfully invite them to become part of CFHA?

Diversity within CFHA does not just need to happen in discipline, but also in race, ethnic origin, and sex as well. While we are actively working on statistics regarding our current CFHA composition, attending the annual conferences gives a fairly accurate depiction of where we are not as strong. Again, it is critical that we work hard to grow the association so that it mirrors the populations we serve and represent. What ideas you do have? What are your thoughts about how we can grow and diversify our membership?

Lastly, we have a lot to learn from our international collaborators. Although we have drawn some presenters and attendees from other countries, this is one area of our outreach that is in need of additional focus. The challenge for many of our overseas colleagues is the expense of coming to the United States for a conference. Our limited budget precludes offering scholarships for international attendees. However, we need to think outside of the box for ways to engage groups who value collaboration as we do and who have learned how to study it, initiate it, and create policy for it. What international groups are you aware of that we need to begin to engage in active discussions?

In CFHA there is no need for guilds but there is a need for fair representation across all of the variables addressed above in this blog. I hope you will join me in celebrating our growth and accepting this challenge of diversifying our membership.

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Elonda Underwood says...
Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Dr. Hodgson,

I appreciate your blog on celebrating the growth of CFHA and accepting the challenge of diversifying its membership. You brought forth greater awareness about what I believe is an important issue for CFHA and the community at large. The following are comments that I have about promoting diversity.

CFHA needs to define what diversity means to them. We must examine how we exemplify the value of diversity as a professional organization through our membership and to our client base.

CFHA must have clarity about the specific benefits of diversity to their success. As you stated, our membership should be representative of our client base so that we are better able to understand the needs of families how to serve them effectively.

CFHA needs to assess how we are presently doing in terms of recruitment and retention and promotion, which again you have addressed some of these concerns already. Does CFHA have membership that reflects its client base? Has CFHA surveyed membership concerning the gaps that need to be filled?

A combination of written surveys, focus groups and interviews can be an effective source for gathering such data.
After the assessment, CFHA could develop a plan to address gaps/issues and create a plan to support diversity.

This may involve examining all systems and processes and changing those that impede inclusion. Furthermore, it may require educating and training staff to be aware of their conscious and unconscious biases and assumptions that impede working together and holding members to the same standard. Finally, it may be beneficial to establish a diversity council to champion diversity initiatives, and to deal with relevant issues/ concerns related to collaborative healthcare and health care delivery as well as working with diverse populations.

Information was modified/adapted based on web article. See link below.
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What We Do

CFHA is a member-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to making integrated behavioral and physical health the standard of care nationally. CFHA achieves this by organizing the integrated care community, providing expert technical assistance and producing educational content.