At the beginning of May, after much contemplation, I made the decision that it was time to bring my work at Friends Association to a close. It’s been almost 5 years- a pandemic, a million-dollar renovation of a 200-year-old building, a chronic housing problem that has become acute, a mural, a 200th Anniversary, the launching of an eviction prevention case resolution program and a new SAFE home for women coming home from jail-non-profit and social impact work is not for the weary or faint of heart. I’ve learned and grown as a human and a leader, I’ve had my butt kicked, I’ve encountered some pretty amazing people and hopefully will leave Friends and the world better.

Last December, the leadership of the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency asked me to serve as chair of the Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee. I’ve been a member since its inception in 2009. We call it MHJAC (read magic) and I’ve been honored to play a small part in many firsts and a bit of magic as a member supporting the training of 90 incarcerated individuals as certified peer specialists, funding mental health courts, training 15,000 correctional staff in Mental Health First Aid, the list goes on. In May, I was appointed by Governor Shapiro as a member of the Commission and appointed by Lieutenant Governor Davis as Vice Chair. This is a volunteer role and it’s truly an honor to serve and I’m eager for the work ahead.

Another door opened almost as soon as I made my decision, later this year I’ll be mapping trauma services and working on a pilot program for women incarcerated in the Philadelphia prison system. As one door closes and I walk across the threshold of the next I’m filled with awe for my colleagues at Friends Association and the heart they bring to our transformational work every day, for our courageous, relentless, fearless partners in this work, and our resilient neighbors who fill me with hope. And above all, I’m filled with deep gratitude to have the space to spend some time caring for my small but mighty granddaughter, soak up her precious littleness, and experience her magic.

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” -Angela Davis

– Jennifer Lopez, CEO of Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children.