I mentioned in an earlier post that on paper it looked as if I spent several years hopping from one job to the next. In fact, I have spent most of my career working for grant projects. Organizations accept grant funding as seed money to create innovative ways to get the job done, try new ideas, market the program, and measure its success with less financial risk to the organization/company. In each of my positions, the work began under one grant, used the information from the data collected, and expanded the work to the next related project. Collaboration, relationship building, leadership, team building, negotiation, program development, training and presentations, customer service, budgeting and management are all skills necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the various positions. I held project management positions.
Hopefully the timeline below will provide helpful information about how one job led to another:
1996 - Began working for the Illinois Emotional/Behavioral Disability Network (EBD Network) to provide support to other families, link resources to schools and communities, and assist with data collection. The EBD Network was a grant project:
- Funded through the Illinois State Board of Education with federal flow through money from the US Office of Special Education Programs
- Used to provide advocacy, education, and support to parents of children with disabilities and measure the success of the activities.
- Money for the EBD Network grant was seed money to be used to create innovative ways to help families with emotional problems across Illinois.
1998 – Collaborated with the Huntley Consolidated School District #158 to create a new position that provided education and support to parents who had difficulty accessing special education and mental health programs for their children. As a result:
- Huntley School District #158 was identified throughout the US as a leader in developing a Parent Resource Coordinator project
- The District received funding and technical assistance from the EBD Network to support the development of new programs
- The goal was for the district to find the funding to continue the position after 3 years.
2001 - Accepted the position of Assistant Director for the Illinois Federation of Families (IFF), a non-profit that was created with federal and state tax dollars to advocate, educate, and support families who had children with emotional and behavioral disabilities. It is important to note:
- IFF was initially funded through a System of Care grant with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), seed money to jump-start a non-profit.
- The expectation was that when the grant ended, the non-profit would succeed because of the connections it made in communities, schools, and with families across the state.
- For years, IFF programs were funded through contracts with the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois State Board of Education, SAMHSA, donor campaigns and fundraisers to implement projects specific to each funding agent.
2005 – McHenry County Mental Health Board received a 9 million dollar System of Care grant from SAMHSA. Illinois was experiencing astronomical budget deficits and programs for mental health and education received drastic cuts across the board, including IFF. In order to continue the work I was doing:
- McHenry County hired me to work directly for the grant project to develop a non-profit similar to the Illinois Federation of Families
- The training and advocacy I would have been providing through IFF for McHenry County, was now coming from another grant because IFF’s funding had decreased by 50%.
2008 - I founded Families ETC, became the first Executive Director, with a start-up budget of 57,000.
2009 – Families ETC Executive Director
- In April of 2009, Families ETC received a partnership agreement with the McHenry County Mental Health Board for $289,000 to provide programming and evaluation assistance.
2011 - My contract ended, the Executive Director position was eliminated, and I became a freelance writer and “independent student”.