In late September 2010, I had the great fortune of joining the APHSA team as its executive director. It's amazing to me that 10 years have passed. In many ways, it has been a defining decade for me--both professionally and personally. In the fall of 2010, I left 19 months in federal service with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to return to my human services roots and head APHSA, where I had once been an active member as director of Arizona's human services agency. In 2010, the Great Recession and health care reform dominated the news headlines, and the impact of both was felt by our members and the association. At the time, the refrain I heard from health and human services (H/HS) leaders was of the need to radically "recalibrate" the field's focus to simultaneously meet the increased demand states and localities faced while delivering far better outcomes for people served. Our APHSA mission statement spoke to that imperative: to develop, promote, and implement public human services policies and practices that improve the health and well-being of families, children, and adults.
My first column in Policy & Practice appeared in December 2010 with the title, Looking Toward a New Horizon Collaboratively. At the time, I wrote about the pressing issues facing the field, including the rising demand for services, and noted, "We can either choose to push the reset button with a renewed focus on finding ways to build shared alliances and leverage limited resources across multiple systems or continue down an all-too-familiar path of reacting to the world around us and finding ourselves digging out of a never-ending hole." I recall being called to action, working alongside our members, partners, and policymakers, to shore up the foundation of the H/HS system at the very time that demand was reaching unprecedented levels.
The journey, of course, has not just been my own--it has been shared with many mentors, colleagues, partners, and APHSA team members. It is a story that has unfolded through the very pages of this magazine. On a recent Saturday morning, I began to peruse the more than 55 issues of the Policy & Practice that have been published since I joined APHSA. I pulled excerpts from my own writings as well as the themes, content, and expert commentary from the field that have shaped the path we've taken together. As someone who has always been driven by "what could be," rather than focused on where we are today or where we have been, I found the exercise to be challenging--but, in the end, very useful. In taking the time to pause and really reflect on what has shaped this 10-year journey, I began to see the many paths we have successfully taken, allowing us to accelerate toward our desired state, along with countless detours, roadblocks, and required course-corrections encountered along the way.
Suffice it to say, I quickly realized that I cannot do justice to the past decade in a single column or article. Over the next several issues of Policy &...