2013 NIATx/SAAS Conference “Exceeded Expectations,” says Schantate Johnson

Submitted by: 08/05/2013 by Maureen Fitzgerald

With a mission to “Empower Families and Communities for Health Living,” Advance Therapeutic Concepts in Snellville, Georgia delivers behavioral health treatment services to children, adolescents, and families. In collaboration with community partners such as juvenile justice, the school district, and Child and Family Services, it serves a large caseload of adolescents. A team of bilingual therapists and paraprofessionals delivers bilingual and bicultural services to the area’s growing Hispanic population. The organization is currently awaiting approval from TRICARE (the government health program that provides civilian health benefits to military personnel and veterans) to offer services to veterans.

As Executive Director of Clinical Services for the organization, Schantate Johnson, LMSW, manages multiple tasks and responsibilities. She oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations and budget and is also responsible for strategic planning, development, building and maintaining partnerships, and creating and delivering training programs on topics such as bullying and anger management. And at the 2013 NIATx Summit and SAAS National Conference, she demonstrated that multi-tasking attitude when plenary speaker Dan Thurmon selected her to join him on stage for a hands-on lesson in juggling.

Thurmon’s message, “to live off balance on purpose,” really resonated with Schantate.

“I could relate to his message that you have to be off balance in order to learn and grow,” she says. “At Advance, we’re always looking for innovation and striving to take our agency to another level. It was a great way to kick of the conference and inspired me to keep thinking outside of the box,” she comments.

A first-time attendee to the NIATx Summit and SAAS National Conference, Schantate liked that the workshops and Deep Dive Sessions included practical tips that she could apply immediately in her agency. Each workshop was “awesome in its own way,” says Schantate.

“A lot of times you go to a conference and you get great ideas, but not the steps to apply them when you get back to the office. I left this conference with lots of ideas and ways to implement them,” comments Schantate, citing the first Deep Dive session she attended:  “Innovation in Healthcare: Surviving the Disruptions, Managing Change, and Positioning for Success,” presented by Patrick Gauthier and Angie Halvorson of Advocates for Human Potential.

“It just blew me away,” says Schantate. “It gave us so many ideas for new partnerships that we can pursue with organizations just steps away from our front door!”

Another workshop Schantate attended, “How to use data to drive agency success, The 3 As”  (presented by Deb Pantin, Executive Director of Palladia and David Bucciferro of Foothold Technology) offered strategies for looking at her agency as a whole. “It also complemented what I’d learned the in the Deep Dive session day before,” says Schantate.

A third workshop that Schantate attended got her thinking about ways to build on relationships with her existing community powers. “It helped me see that we have to examine these partnerships to make sure we’re both really benefitting,” she comments.

Back in the office, Schantate was already reviewing her organization’s strategic plan. “We’ll be looking at ways to pursue other funders. I’ll be checking on all the insurance companies in Georgia to find out how Advance can become a provider on all their panels.”

She’ll also be looking into ways to implement A-CHESS (Addiction CHESS) a smartphone application for relapse prevention that she heard about in another Deep Dive session: “Integration Triple Play: Align, Combine, or Redesign,” presented by Lynn Madden, CEO of the APT Foundation, Ray Tamasi, Executive Director of Gosnold on Cape Cod, and Andy Quanbeck, Assistant Scientist at NIATx.

“We’re thinking about implementing A-CHESS for our adults in substance abuse treatment and for those with a dual diagnosis,” says Schantate.

She and her colleague Renee Clark (Executive Director of Advance Therapeutic Concepts) also enjoyed the poolside networking event. “The karaoke was a lot of fun and it was great to meet and talk with colleagues from across the country.”

“This was my first NIATx/SAAS conference and it really exceeded my expectations,” says Schantate.

Has she been practicing her juggling since her on-stage lesson at the conference?

“I’d never juggled until I got up on stage with Dan,” says Schantate. “I really got the message that our potential is unlimited. That was a great message to bring home from the conference.”

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