Friday, June 26, 2009

5 Questions for Lynn Fahey, Executive Director

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Lynn Fahey
Job: Executive Director
Time with BCI: 16 years

1. Lynn, congratulations on becoming BCI’s new Executive Director. Tell us how you got your start in addiction treatment, and how you got to where you are today.
It’s funny, I kind of fell into addiction treatment. Coming out of college, all I knew was I wanted to help people. I applied to a couple of different non-profit organizations, and was offered a position at Brandywine, took it, and pretty much fell in love with addictions counseling. I started off as a Core Counselor. Cindy Lobis hired me, and Janice [Sneed] was the Clinical Director. Brandywine was one building. There were 30-35 employees at the time. I worked there for about two and a half years. I left and worked in the mental health field for about two years, and came back to Brandywine in the adolescent department.

The reason I came back to Brandywine was because of the organization. I think a lot of it had to do with Sally and the environment she created here. I actually took a cut in pay to come back to Brandywine, because the atmosphere and the supportive environment was more important to me than the money. The ability to focus on the treatment and care we provide, and the compassionate side of what is still a business, and that compassion and care extended not just to the clients, but to staff as well. So, to be able to help people, and to be able to grow as a person at the same time, I thought was an extraordinary opportunity, and something that I just wanted to continue to do.

And then I went back to school, got my certification, worked in the adolescent unit, then worked in the women’s department, eventually ran the women’s department. When Brandywine continued to grow and get bigger, I took on more and more responsibilities, and eventually became Site Director. I was moved around from Riverfront to Alpha, wherever I was needed. When [we started] Alpha, we only had two counselors, and maybe thirty clients in the drug free program at Brandywine, and of course since then, it’s been expanded to over 300 clients, and lots of staff. And from there, I worked closely with Sally and everyone else. Learned a lot. Went back to school again, got my doctorate in administrative, because by that point, I’m realizing that I’m more and more in administrative, and less in the clinical end, and knew that could be very beneficial to myself and Brandywine.

2. Tell us about your plans for Brandywine. What challenges are ahead and how will you approach them?
It’s all very exciting. [I’m looking forward to] working with everybody in the organization to take Brandywine to the next level. As far as the organization’s mission, just expanding that a little bit, to verbally include things we’re already doing, like our HIV services, mental health, and co-occurring treatment.

What Sally’s managed to do with this organization is nothing short of extraordinary. So, to take it and continue to grow and look towards the future, and what’s coming in the field, and being a viable, sustainable company that continues to provide the best services available to our clients, is very, very exciting. What has been said to me, even by Sally, is, I’m not Sally. So, to say that there won’t be change, wouldn’t be realistic. To say that I want to change the culture of Brandywine, is not what I want to do. I want to expand and change some of the services we provide to our clients. Those are the types of changes that I would focus on.

To state the obvious, [our biggest challenge is] the financial situation that the state of Delaware, and obviously, the country at large, finds itself in. When I talk about expansion of services, it’s all contingent upon obtaining additional funds, so there may be some really tough decisions coming about where to maintain our focus. Some of the goals that we have may end up being more long-term than short-term. I would love to see us create programs, or come up with plans for programs that we want, and look for funding to fit those programs. That might mean being more selective about what funds we go for, too.

3. What would you like to say to our clients?
I want to reassure them that the high quality care that they’re getting will continue. And that, as always, I welcome constructive suggestions on how we can improve. If they’re noticing things that are lacking, or not quite working, I would want to hear that in a way that provides solutions to those issues. I’m going to try, in the next couple of months, to make myself available to them. Maybe I’ll come into some groups in the different locations, or have a town hall meeting in each location, so they can speak, and meet me directly. I know a lot of the clients know me, but a lot don’t, so I think it’s important for them to know who I am and what I’m about, and to hear it directly from me, in person.

4. What’s been rewarding to you about working at BCI?
When I get a call from a client I worked with, years and years ago, and they tell me that they’re doing well. They mention the counseling they received from Brandywine, but just to hear that people are changing and growing, and creating better lives for themselves and their families, is why we’re all here. So, to hear those stories, and hear from recovering people, and know that we’ve been able to make a difference in their lives.

When I worked with the women and children’s program, we had an individual come in on a Friday afternoon at 3:00. She was pregnant, homeless, some health issues. Unfortunately, she was prostituting. Heroin, cocaine, relationship issues, mental health issues. She came in, basically, with most of the issues that someone can have, suffering with addiction. And I was able watch her, in the program, get into sobriety, and give birth to a healthy, beautiful, gorgeous baby girl. And she went back to school, because she didn’t have a high school education. Just the transformation, physically, mentally, spiritually, that this woman went through. Watching it happen, and then watching the way she was able to parent her child, was very exciting.

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI, what would you do with it?
There’s so many important things. I think I might focus on developing a parenting curriculum that targets the parents and the children, so that I would be able to train the staff appropriately in an evidence-based practice, that would impact and break the cycle of addiction, and the generational issues that addiction has. It’s sad when you see individuals come in and they report that mom and dad had an addiction issue, and they were raised in an abusive home, and grandma and grandpa had an addiction issue. Some of our clients aren’t here for extended periods of time, and if we can get to their children, then maybe we can plant a seed that will help them take a different direction in life, and obviously help the parents become better parents as well. So to me, taking that $30,000, and utilizing it that way, has the potential to have a magnifying or rippling effect in the community, and with our clients.


Sally said...

Lynn, I am sure you will put your own stamp on this great organization. I will be watching and may your higher power watch over you.

Anonymous said...

hey Lynn,

Just wanted to tell you that i am happy for all your success and compassion and you are right. Just seeing the transformation of one person makes a difference.
Kendra Clough

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn,

I can see that you are growing and becoming more and more successful. Keep growing personally and professionally.

If you would like to bounce any ideas off of anyone, you can send me an email.

Gigi L. Gross