By Moisés Barón, Ph.D.
I have to be honest. It was not easy for me to leave my job at USD. I truly loved it there – the university, the students, the work I was doing with my team developing multidisciplinary and innovative programs to help and support students.
I told my wife, “If I’m ever to leave USD, it had to be for a nonprofit. And I’d have to be doing something truly meaningful for our community.”
Just a few weeks after I uttered these words, I learned about the CEO position available at San Diego Center for Children. As I went through the interview process, I mentally checked off all the items that fit within my career and life goals. Taking on a position that allowed for growth, check! Helping turn a distinguished nonprofit into a community leader in mental health– check! Working with an organization that provided an impressive array of behavioral health services– check! And of course, the opportunity to work with a passionate team with a commitment to best practices – and check! I was meant to do this!
And 60 days later here I am. As I look out my new office window, overlooking the residential cottages here at San Diego Center for Children, I am filled with such great appreciation for the professionalism and level of care and commitment of this staff. This accredited organization, is made up of a staff who strive for excellence with the ability to not only identify best practices but to effectively implement them to make a real impact in the lives of the children and families we serve.
There is no doubt that a solid foundation has been laid over the last 127 years. But despite staff passion, great work and long history, most of our community is still not familiar with who we are and what we do. In fact, when I told my friends and colleagues I was leaving my job of 17 years at USD to become the CEO of San Diego Center for Children, I was surprised at how many long-time San Diegans had never heard of the nonprofit or the services available to the community.
This is something we need to work on. To help at-risk kids in our community we need families to learn about the services we offer and we need a community that rallies around these efforts to provide much necessary support. So, our challenge for the future is to make the San Diego Center for Children a household name so that we can support and empower more families who are caring for a child with behavioral health problems.
It should be our goal to make it clear and easy for all families in need to find mental health services that fit their child’s unique needs. We will continue to work on creating a comprehensive continuum of care that also partners with other community organizations that offer complementary services. Through strategic collaboration, we can help spread awareness of services available and the important role mental health plays in a child’s life.
As we head into the last few months of 2014, I look forward to continuing to get to know my staff (at all 8 SDCC locations throughout the County) as well as current and potential community partners. Together, let’s create more pathways for more children and families to reach better health, improved relationships and greater quality of life.