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January 2023

Message from Lynn Canfield, ACMHAI President


Although late to say so, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as ACMHAI’s President in 2023. I’ve been involved with the organization for many years, as chair of the I/DD Committee for a decade and as Board Secretary during the transition from full time staff support to consultant coordinators. I’ve participated in the Legislative, Medicaid/Managed Care and Ad Hoc Committees as often as possible.

ACMHAI members have been the best mentors and guides since I took the role of Executive Director of Champaign County’s 708 and 377 Boards. I value what I learn from our colleagues, Ms. Dart, and guest speakers through our meetings, trainings, webinars, and unplanned discussions of Very Important Things. A highlight is hearing about each other’s successful strategies and how we adapt them for the unique characteristics of our very different local communities. The ways we may differ include economic, geographic, cultural, governmental, and political realities which can directly shape our allocation processes and operations.

I am active with the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Directors (NACBHDD), as Chair of the Behavioral Health & Justice Committee and Board Secretary. What started as a NACBHDD liaison role with the National Association of Counties (NACo) Health Policy Steering Committee (and its Behavioral Health Subcommittee) has expanded to include the NACo Healthy Counties Advisory Board and Stepping Up and Data Driven Justice Initiatives. These, along with communities of practice, have shown me the potential of local authorities and collaborations across systems, and I have advocated on behalf of my county, our state, and this field through legislative advocacy, policy statements, and Congressional Briefings.

My hope for ACMHAI in 2023 is that we build on the great work done to revitalize the organization. Lucky for me, our current strategic plan captures the thoughtful contributions of many members and identifies paths to realizing this aspiration. Add the great good fortune of those communities with newly established mental health authorities; their success is connected to ours as we build toward authentic local representation for the people of Illinois who have behavioral health conditions or developmental disabilities. What keeps emerging for Champaign County might matter to other communities, that we can and should advance trauma-informed and culturally responsive systems, so that all of our neighbors may recover fully from the many disruptions of the global pandemic and so that we have the tools to manage such threats in the future. The practices which hold promise for that recovery will also support people displaced by weather disasters and war; this impacts many regions of the state.

For some very exciting background: I’ve been in this role with our boards since 2016 and was the Associate Director for Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities from 2009 to 2016. Before that, I worked for 19 years in the DD system as a residential instructor, case manager, program manager, and clinical coordinator focused on behavioral health services. From the beginning of my life to the end of hers, I was also close with a family member who had I/DD and was her guardian for a time. She was the reason for the shift from my strange educational path into social services. I have a BS in Math from UIUC and MA in Linguistics, with focus on the then new field of cultural competence. Getting reacquainted with it twenty years later has been a bonus of working for the Champaign County 708 and 377! For another tangent and to pre-empt any confusion, I have been a professional musician since the early 1980s, releasing lots of original music until 1998 when I joined the Brat Pack. I am especially good at loading equipment and running the backstage. And I’ve been sober for over 35 years.

Finally, thank you for the thoughtful gestures of sympathy at the beginning of the year. They helped!

ACMHAI Committee Meetings

  • Legislative Committee: February 21 at 9:00 am
  • Membership Committee: February 28 at 10:00 am
  • I/DD Committee: March 14 at 10:00 am
  • Children's Behavioral Health: March 23 at 10:00 am
  • Medicaid Committee: TBD

CoP Crisis Response Monthly Discussion Group

  • Monday, February 13 at 12:00 pm 

Topic: Behavioral Health and Justice

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Professional Development Webinars

Don't miss our March 21 Webinar on Peer Parent Support with Regina Crider, Founder of Youth and Family Alliance. Click here to download the flyer.

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