Making use of national leadership conference

By Devan Gagliardo is the program director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County.

Feb. 27, 2017

A few weeks back, I hopped a plane to Washington, D.C., for the 27th annual National Leadership Forum put on by National Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA) along with Anita Young from Chestnut Health Systems.

The two of us went to the conference to represent the Behavioral Health Alliance of Grundy County. And what a jam-packed four days it was!

The training sessions were top notch, pack with information on leadership, marketing, prevention tactics, new research in the area of drug/alcohol abuse, and trends in teen drug/alcohol abuse and misuse.

Over the course of four days, I attended numerous training sessions with titles such as What Communities Can do to Address Emerging Issues in Substance Use and Mental Health in Older Adults; Dynamic Leadership: Building a Community that Cares; Cultural Humility: The Power of Engagement; Fighting with Faith; Are you Paying Attention to ADHA; and Marijuana, Public Safety, and Drugged Driving.

While attending so many information-filled sessions in a short period of time is a bit overwhelming to the brain, it was certainly worthwhile.

One of the best aspect of the conference was that many youth were involved.

Youth from all over the country came together to learn, advocate for change, and even teach some of the adult sessions.

Oftentimes youth aren’t called upon to weigh in on youth matters, so it was truly great to see CADCA open its doors to the youth and for the youth to dive right in.

Another aspect of the conference I thought was positive was the fact that so many congressional leaders attended and spoke in support of the work CADCA is doing.

Leaders from California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all came to share their thoughts on this topic.

In addition to these leaders, many of those in attendance, us included, were able to meet with local congressional leaders on Capitol Hill. Our local group was given time to speak to Congressman Adam Kinzinger’s staff as well as Sen. Tammy Duckworth and her staff.

Both meetings went extremely well, and we thank both for their support.

In the last year or two, there has been much information published across the country regarding prescription drug abuse, the heroin epidemic, and other drug and/or alcohol related issues.

Although I am aware more needs to be done around these issues, attending the CADCA conference allowed me to see there are individuals working on this issue across the country.

And even better these individuals are coming together from across sectors: schools, churches, police departments, social service agencies, students, colleges, hospitals, health departments, and local, state and federal lawmakers.

The Behavioral Health Alliance is a local network of professionals discussing local issues on behavioral health, mental health, and substance abuse.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28 at 3:30 p.m. at 518 W. Illinois Ave in Morris.

There will be a presentation by Dr. Bipin Sharma and Matthew Beutler on ECS Inpatient Rehabilitation Center, which is a new residential substance abuse disorder treatment facility for men in Joliet.

Anyone is welcome to attend and can contact Devan at 815-941-0852 or [email protected] for more information.