This post is a reprint of the incoming CFHA President's message given at the 2015 Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. Reprinted with permission.
I am so honored and excited (and a little intimidated) to be the incoming President of CFHA. First I would like to offer my thanks to our Executive Leadership Team. The powerful thing these folks all have in common is an unassailable commitment to CFHA -- past, current and future. This is a commitment that I wholeheartedly share and that I will be proud to help harness and encourage as CFHA’s President.
In my day job I am CEO of an association, albeit one that is quite different from CFHA. That notwithstanding, I know first-hand some of the challenges of leading a member-driven organization, of being both strategic and responsive; inclusive and equitable; efficient and transparent in serving the needs of the membership while meeting the mission of adding value to the field -- AND while sustaining the organization itself. I will bring that perspective to my new role as your President.
There is another experience that I bring to CFHA and that is a deep and personal appreciation for its uniqueness. Over the 32 years of my career in public health and nonprofit leadership, I have been a member of a number of associations and served on a number of Boards. Each experience has had its value; however, none has matched the value I have derived from CFHA and from the friends and colleagues I have gained through CFHA.
I first heard about CFHA in about 2000 when I assisted in the management of an international healthcare development project in Kiev, Ukraine. Through the project, we enlisted the involvement of Barry Jacobs, David Seaburn, and Suzanne Daub – all early members of CFHA and early adopters and ambassadors for collaborative care. With their help, we added the principles of Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) into the overall scheme for community-oriented primary care that we were advocating and helping to develop in post-Soviet Ukraine.
Later, when we began to advance larger scale IBH closer to home in Philadelphia, I remembered how I first came to appreciate its principles and decided to attend my first CFHA conference in 2007 in Asheville, NC. What I discovered is what you, as members, know: this is an amazing association that convenes thought leaders and dedicated practitioners, educators, researchers and advocates who are extraordinarily generous, welcoming and accessible; who are focused on advancing the field, not their respective guilds; who are intellectually open and curious about a variety of evidence, models and approaches to whole-person, system-oriented healthcare; who are eager to share what they know and to learn from others; and who take it as their personal responsibility to nurture those newer to the field so that collaborative care can spread, strengthen and come to scale as the national standard of care. As a case in point, we now have a record number of participants in our formal Mentoring Program and scores more who have formed those connections informally. And, of our record number of new members one-third are early career professionals, which I consider to be a very powerful indicator of our vitality.
As a clear example of CFHA exceptionalism, we can look at a bit more of my own CFHA story. I am not a medical, mental health or any other kind of clinical professional; I am not a researcher or a university educator; I do not have a doctoral degree. Yet, here I am, talking to you today as CFHA’s incoming President. While I do believe I have a contribution to make, can you think of any other professional association that would embrace someone with my profile as its President? I can’t. The willingness to find a place for anyone who can contribute to the organization’s mission underscores the culture of inclusion, shared learning and movement building that characterizes CFHA. This is YOUR association and a place where YOUR talents and contributions will be recognized, encouraged and gratefully accepted.
So, what can you do to advance CFHA’s future and the future of IBH? Be a movement builder -- maintain your membership and encourage your colleagues of every stripe to join us. Get involved in a committee or SIG, share your experience through a blog or webinar, volunteer to be a mentor, encourage your team to attend the next conference, submit a manuscript to our journal Families, Systems & Health, include your CFHA affiliation in your bio and your introduction whenever you make public presentations, vote in Board elections and/or nominate yourself, share with us the advances occurring in your community or reach out to us if you have an idea for how CFHA can help you to advance collaborative care in your setting.
Given the direction in which health care reform is going with ever-increasing momentum – toward a more value oriented, population based, and integrated delivery system across all levels of care – CFHA has within its expertise and within its membership the capacity to disseminate the “how to” strategies that accelerate the adoption of effective team-based care, patient and family inclusion and efficient integration of behavioral health in medical settings across the continuum. If you share those values, vision and sense of purpose with CFHA, add your voice and energy to our collective influence. As members of this association, you are CFHA and it is through you – each of you – that we can harness the power of collective impact.
||Natalie Levkovich is CFHA President. She has served as the executive of the Health Federation of Philadelphia (HFP) for nearly three decades. HFP is the SE Pennsylvania network for community health centers that provides comprehensive primary care to nearly 300,000 low income and underserved individuals per year.