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BNC Welcomes Returning Team Members

2022 was a year of big changes for the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.


CARF accreditation, salary market adjustments for staff, Certified Behavioral Health Clinic certification, launching of the Assertive Community Treatment and the Mobile Response teams, continued focus on inclusion, diversity, equity and belonging, and the WRAP school-based mental health program celebrated its 25th anniversary, to name a few of those changes.


The past year also saw the return of 15 team members who had previously been part of the Bert Nash Center (BNC) staff.


“We love that so many former BNC team members have chosen to return,” said CEO Patrick Schmitz. “We think that’s a good indicator that we are moving in the right direction as an organization and a recognition of the progress that is ongoing to create a positive, inclusive and transparent work culture.”


Here’s a sampling of comments from some of those former team members who returned.


Kris Rawls, Treatment and Recovery Center therapist:

Kris Rawls, TRC therapist

“My reason for returning had to do with the expansion of opportunities that will allow me to be a well-rounded clinician and grow. I was a WRAP therapist for three years in Baldwin City, which means, I was in many ways separated from the Bert Nash culture for as long. I got to a point where I needed a change in my position but wasn’t sure if there were any other opportunities. It turns out that Bert Nash had other areas I could serve because of the work being done related to growth. Also, the work culture is very attractive because it truly lives up to the sentiments of caring for their employees. Lots of organizations say they care, but Bert Nash seems to really act on those beliefs. Bert Nash’s current culture is also something that I am proud to have had a hand in building since I was here for almost six years the first time around. Coming back definitely has felt like a family, and in some ways, I feel like there isn’t any better place to serve our community.”


Diane Werner, case manager:

Diane Werner, case manager

“I will tell you this, on our team when the going gets tough, the tough get going. We all jump in there for each other, whether it’s to cover for a client or to just check in and see how your day is going. When working on the front lines of mental health, there is no time to compete or argue with each other. We seem to get on the same page as fast as we can and engage in creative interventions to solve some pretty interesting situations. I feel we have struck a healthy balance of interdependence with our team, yet I am trusted to work independently. I feel 100 percent supported by my supervisor and team. I appreciate the transparency of the administrators. I know they can’t tell us everything, but they can approach us with confidence and willingness to be vulnerable and open to learning new ideas. I feel safe to ask questions and am OK if they tell me they don’t have an answer … it’s a process. Still, we can safely put our cards on the table, I feel.”


Gage Brookman, Mobile Response Team therapist:

Gage Brookman, MRT therapist

“It’s great being back at Bert Nash. Previously, I was a case manager but left to go back to school. Around the time I was graduating, I happened to look at Bert Nash because I really enjoyed working here in the past, and I also appreciated being a part of the Lawrence community. The willingness on everyone’s part to get me back at Bert Nash was a huge reason why I returned. I also thought the opportunity to be a part of the Mobile Response Team was perfect. Crisis services are a necessary part of every community, and with this team we can respond where and when people need it most. So far, the work culture is very similar to what I experienced when I worked at Bert Nash previously. Being able to quickly visit someone’s office and ask questions or offer support between teams and individuals is something that doesn’t happen everywhere. The addition of the Treatment and Recovery Center to the Lawrence community is also a necessary facet of comprehensive mental health services. This will make the community much more resilient and capable of quick and efficient coordination of services and care of individuals. There are many reasons why Bert Nash is a great place to work, and these are just a few of them.”


Colleen VandeVoort, HR recruiter:

Colleen VandeVoort, HR recruiter

“When I left in early 2017, I was experiencing a lot of stress, depression, and physical pain due to a recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Honestly, though I loved Bert Nash and my job, I did not feel the support necessary to pursue staying and felt, however wrong I may have been, that my only option was to leave employment. Fast forward through a few years of experimenting with medication and making big lifestyle changes and by 2021 I was ready to return to the workplace. I found a position elsewhere, but I kept thinking about Bert Nash. Despite some negatives, I remembered that I had been happy to work for an organization vested in caring for a community that I love. I was initially nervous about applying for the HR position when I saw it last spring — Would they hire me back? -—but my heart was calling me back and I hoped for an opportunity to prove myself. I had been aware there were some leadership changes and growth at Bert Nash, but I was not prepared for the culture shift that I saw when I interviewed and was ultimately hired for the position as HR Benefits Specialist. HR Director Amalia Mendez immediately made me feel at ease with her approachability. I feel that the leadership team is dedicated to making Bert Nash an exceptional place to work by raising salaries, offering optimal benefits, and celebrating the work done by this amazing team.”


Alison Fullen, case manager:

“For me, I think I needed to do some different jobs for a while to test out other companies and case management positions. After four years being away, I realized this is the job I am supposed to be doing. I am so happy to be back! I feel like I’ve come home from college … Community Support Services Program Manager Brad Cook and my whole team have been so welcoming, and it feels great doing this work again.”


Kellie Schmick, case manager:

Kellie Schmick, case manager
Kellie Schmick, case manager

“I chose to return to Bert Nash, because it is simply a great place to work. While working elsewhere, I realized the level of passion I had for the citizens of Douglas County. I knew that I had to return, to get back to providing care for those who need it most, right inside my own community.


The impact I get to create each day is what drives me to continue showing up each day. It has been so exciting to watch Bert Nash grow into something bigger than any of us probably could have imagined. Going forward, I am eager to be part of Bert Nash’s continued growth as I meet and interact with Douglas County residents every day.”


Jill Rohde, therapist:

Jill Rohde, therapist
Jill Rohde, therapist

“I got Covid in July when I was in Florida. My father-in-law was on his death bed, so we were called to come down there. I had to be quarantined, but we were right on the beach. I was forced to rest and be alone and reflect. I was an essential worker who had been working through the pandemic and I was really burned out. That’s a scary place to be in that position for a clinician. I thought I was doing all the things you’re supposed to do to care for yourself. But I was exhausted and burned out. So, getting Covid forced me to rest and reflect. Then I got this text about this job posting. I thought, I used to work at Bert Nash — I was a receptionist in Child and Family Services. Working in that role, I was fascinated with the work they did. I left Bert Nash in December 2006 to go to grad school to become one of them, but for adults. When I got the text about the therapist position, I thought here’s an opportunity to expand my field of practice. So, I came back, 16 years later. I’m still inspired and motivated by a group of people who are clearly brilliant and passionate and committed to doing the work; that hasn’t changed. I’ve been impressed with the strategic plan, the transparency, and I connected with the values. There’s a real community spirit.”

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