December 17, 2020
I appreciate and welcome the opportunity to offer a few comments as I look forward to my upcoming retirement. As those of you who attended our Pinehurst conference heard me say, it has truly been my privilege to serve in this leadership role with i2i (as well as our legacy organization). I’ve learned a great deal about North Carolina’s unique service system, about what really matters to the people that system is responsible to, and about myself. While the take-aways from my experiences are far too many to list, there are 2 overarching concepts that I’ve learned and value above all: that the folks who work inside the larger BH/IDD/SUD system bring a variety of skillsets and opinions to this work, but all share a bottom-line commitment to making that system work; and that equal consumer participation and direction are absolutely required for progress to occur.
I am proud to say that i2i has evolved in a way that reflects these values, and that a primary goal of our organization, in its convenings, trainings, and information dissemination, is to create opportunities to bring the combined forces of providers, plan managers, and stakeholders together. Fortunately, experience has shown us that there is no limit to the interest and enthusiasm of consumers and people with lived experience to participate in these efforts, but there are barriers, and chief among those are the resources folks need in order to participate. And much of that boils down to financial support: to attend meetings, for family/childcare, hotels, gas, etc. As professionals, our organizations provide salary to compensate for time and offset costs, but as a rule there is no equivalent for consumer involvement. That disparity prevents the assurance of a level field for discussion and involvement in service planning and policy influence.
Therefore, effective immediately, i2i is creating a fund to support consumer and family participation to ensure that our work can always be equally informed by consumers and families. This resource is intended to function as a way for i2i to pay consumers for meeting attendance and to serve as a source for stipends for trainings, conferences, and events. Announcing the creation of this initiative is my final duty as Executive Director of i2i, and I could not be more excited or pleased to do so.
Please join me in contributing to this fund, and I challenge each of you to add this as part of your on-going giving plans.
For all you do, my sincere thanks. Be well.