Beth began her undergraduate degree in criminology because she wanted to be an FBI profiler. But it wasn’t long until she realized that she wasn’t actually interested in studying the criminal mind, but that she was interested in studying everyday people.
In a sociology class, Beth recalls a professor who spoke about her advocacy work and involvement in the community and remembers thinking, “This is how social work happens.” The next day, Beth switched her major to Social Work.
Advocacy as a Driving Force
As an undergraduate, Beth had the opportunity to do an independent study shadowing a homeless outreach worker where she helped connect folks to physical health services. She also worked a part-time job in a residential treatment center for adolescents, where she realized, “There was a lot of work that needed to be done in order to change and improve the system.
Early on in her social work career, Beth understood that “the healthcare system wasn’t set up to help people in the way that they needed to be helped.” Recognizing that she was “passionate about the macro system and building change,” Beth started graduate school in Social Work.
After graduate school, Beth went into direct practice where she saw inequities and barriers in communities. With social justice as a guiding principle in both her life and career, Beth moved into roles that offered her opportunities to call out injustice and make meaningful change. To Beth, social justice is the principle that all people are equal and have equal rights to meet their basic needs. “It’s the belief that every person deserves equal access to information, services, resources, and opportunities.”
A notable time in Beth’s career was her time at Touchstone Mental Health. Beth worked as a Case Manager there, where she enjoyed helping individuals get connected to the care they needed. As leadership opportunities presented themselves, Beth welcomed the chance to “make a bigger impact on the larger picture, especially on systems.”
As the Director of Community Mental Health at Touchstone, Beth got the opportunity to directly affect positive changes. After eight years at the organization, Beth found herself ready for a change and came to Guild in 2019 as the Director of Coordinated Health and Residential Services.
“Guild appealed to me because I was able to take on new challenges and work with a residential population again—something I hadn’t done since I was young. It gave me the ability to learn and grow as a person, leader, and practitioner.”
A Holistic Approach to Systems Advocacy
As the Director of Coordinated Health and Residential Services at Guild, Beth felt she had the comprehensive experience needed to do real systems advocacy work.
“Working with people through the continuum of care from hospitals to residential facilities, case management and housing services to step-down, community-based services—I felt like my holistic experience equipped me to do the work because I was involved in the systems. I knew where they were strong, and I knew where they had shortcomings. I have an understanding of what I can and want to improve or promote. I believe this lets me lead authentically.”
Beth worked hard as a Director to create systems that look at the individual and actually support the work that needs to get done. Whether that work is getting rates that can sustain services, making sure staff have the right tools, or having the right partners at the table, Beth fights for consistency in how structures and systems are set.
“For a long time,” Beth notes, “the fight has been about having services that people understand and know how to access because the entry point into the entire healthcare and social services world is a barrier for most people. Even as a person who has the privilege of my education and experience, I still find our healthcare system extremely confusing. So, imagine someone who is trying to get their basic needs met—housing, food, etc.—trying to understand the system. It’s confusing! So, obviously, people aren’t getting the care they need because they can’t access it.”
Shaping the Future
In 2020, after Guild’s Chief Clinical Officer retired, Beth applied and was offered the job. “It was never on my agenda to keep moving into leadership roles,” she explains, “but when those opportunities presented themselves to take a seat at the table, talking about lasting systems change, I couldn’t pass them up. Guild CCO role allows me to do that.”
As Guild’s CCO, Beth works hard to create a sound structure for Guild, her staff, and the clients. She has gotten the chance to know each Guild program and understand each service line, giving her the ability to support Guild teams as they do their work.
“We are doing exceptional work to meet our clients’ needs,” Beth praises, “and hearing about the detail and finesse and work that goes into making our services successful is the favorite part of my job. I get to support that as it happens by providing a strong structure… making sure we’re getting the rates we need and that we’re getting our clients access. I can make those things happen on a larger level. And, I love that work.”
When asked about the future of Guild, Beth answers, “I feel like Guild is in its second phase. For 30 years, we were Guild Incorporated, building a reputation for exceptional service. Now, we’re moving into the next phase, where we are focused on growing into what our community needs us to be. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we can have a really big, positive impact.”
Outside of Guild, Beth looks forward to spending time gardening, kayaking, and enjoying the outdoors. In her free time, she loves traveling—her favorite trip was a four-month excursion volunteering across South America. When at home, she enjoys watching movies and spending time with her partner and cats.