Member Spotlight: Jay Reeve

By Jay Reeve, CEO, Apalachee Center

Jay Reeve, CEO Apalachee Center

(Q) What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Dealing with misunderstanding and prejudice towards folks living with serious mental illness. Even after decades of very clear research, there’s still a public perception that brain illnesses are different in nature than other genetically-based, environmentally influenced illnesses that occur below the neck. After 34 years in this field, I am more convinced every year that the root of many of our biggest challenges as a healthcare specialty is prejudice – or stigma, as it’s often called. From lack of funding to excessive bureaucratic burden, to well-meaning but ill-conceived treatment mandates, it all comes back to prejudice – even among folks who are committed to this field and think they are helping. The evidence base and empirical research behind the treatment of brain illnesses has come an enormously long way in the last 50 years, and the fact that we haven’t yet uniformly approached psychiatry, psychology and behavioral health in a way analogous to oncology or cardiology is a function of the lag in science-to-practice brain medicine – and that’s both a consequence of prejudice, and a barrier to decreasing it.

(Q) What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I have the extraordinary privilege of being able to talk every day with people who are in recovery from serious brain illness (who are generally not neurotypical). These are the most creative, interesting and courageous people I’ve ever met. Since I started, I have felt as if this work carries with it an amazing gift for those of us who are called to it – who wouldn’t want to spend every day with the most interesting people in the world?

(Q) What is your hope for the future of health care in Florida?

I have great hope for the future of health care in Florida. We are living in a state where the First Lady and the Secretary of the Agency for Healthcare Administration have named brain health as their priority area of interest, and where public interest in this field grows every year. Our challenge is to ensure that folks with content expertise and lived experience in the identification and treatment of these illnesses inform and guide public policy discussions in this area. That goes back to decreasing prejudice, and I’m very hopeful that is happening.

(Q) What are your favorite hobbies?

For most of my life I have been an avid runner, swimmer and all-around exercise fanatic, although I notice that I’m slowing down some as I get older! I still usually run, swim, lift weights and/or do yoga twice a day. Since moving to Tallahassee 14 years ago, I also hunt quail a few times every winter.

Member Showcase: Dianne Clarke, Operation Par

By Dianne Clarke, CEO, Operation Par

How would you describe your job to a child?

My job is to help people who have abused drugs and alcohol learn what they need to live a healthy and happy life. To do this I read and study new ideas, talk to people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and work with people who share the same goals. It is a great job!

How did you start out in the profession?

After graduating with a degree in Criminology from Florida State University (Go Noles!) with plans on entering law enforcement plans changed. I was working in loss prevention (stopping shoplifters) at a department store waiting to get on a police department during a time when it was difficult for women to enter that field. I got into quite the altercation over men’s suits and ended up with quite a shiner. I saw an ad in the newspaper to be a midnight shift counselor at Operation PAR and thought that fit into my interests and seemed safer! I showed up for the interview with a shiner and 40 years, a Masters, and Ph.D. later I’m still here! God puts us where we are supposed to be!

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

The biggest challenge in my role as CEO at Operation PAR is preparing the way for the next generation of substance use disorder specialists and leaders of this field. My challenge is to share and pass forward the deep and wonderful history of addiction treatment and at the same time to share and pass forward new and exciting information as we learn more about the brain and this disease. It is a challenge I enjoy.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I had to purchase a car 2 weeks ago after a car accident in Tallahassee going to the One Association board meeting. The finance department man, who looked about 45 and had my employment information, said to me “you look very familiar.” I always know what that means when someone says that and knows where I work. I smiled at him and then he said I was 13 when he was in the adolescent residential center, I laughed and said now I know why you don’t look familiar to me! I ran that program for many years. He proceeded to tell me what a blessing it was in his life. He still knew his counselor’s name and remembered things he learned in treatment. He was married and had a 12 and 8-year-old of his own. That is the most rewarding part of my job!

What are your favorite hobbies?

My hobbies are things that 1.) have a beginning, middle, and end (unlike my job); and 2.) that I can think of nothing else while I’m doing them. I quilt, sew, and embroider. I must concentrate only on these things so that I do not become a member of the needle through the finger club – yes that is a real thing that includes tetanus shots!!

Member Spotlight: Ivan Cosimi, SMA

Ivan Cosimi, SMA
Ivan Cosimi, SMA

How would you describe your job to a child?

I work for a company that saves lives by helping people with either mental health issues or an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

How did you start out in the profession?

I began my career in the behavioral health industry in 1993 as a Billing Department Manager at Marion-Citrus Mental Health Center (Now, The Centers) in Ocala.   I moved to Stewart Marchman Center (Now, SMA Healthcare) in 1998 as CFO.

Like many in our field, my family has struggled with addiction and mental health.  As a result, I feel closely connected to our mission at SMA.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Having been in the industry for 25 years, I find the biggest challenge is trying to serve a population suffering from behavioral health issues that is growing rapidly.  Over those many years, the funding for the provision of services to this population has not kept pace with the need.  In addition, the requirements for the funding have become more complex.  With limited funding for services, trying to square our company’s mission with the growing needs of our community is the biggest challenge that consumes much of the work that I do as an administrator.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to work with an incredible team of professionals that are all committed to our mission of providing the best possible behavioral health services to the communities we serve.  The team has in many ways become family to me.  We get to celebrate our successes and comfort each other when we have setbacks.  Of course the best times are when we can celebrate those who are in recovery from their illness and leading productive and healthy lives.

What are your favorite hobbies?

I love being in the outdoors, especially when I am cycling!  I mostly enjoy road biking and mountain biking.  I also love music.  I enjoy all kinds of music and I am always in search of something new to enjoy.