Reflections on Week 1 from Jody Levison-Johnson, COA’s New President & CEO
Last week I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to join the Council on Accreditation as the organization’s 6th President and CEO. As I have said to staff several times, I feel like the luckiest person alive. Leading COA is the realization of a lifelong dream to shape the human services field in ways that profoundly impact the lives of people in need.
The work we do at COA is deeply meaningful to me. After suffering a personal loss to suicide as a high school senior, I made a commitment to change the system. Far too often, I have seen inadequate or ineffective services negatively impact children, youth, and adults. At COA, we have changed and will continue to change the human service system by supporting private and public organizations in their ability to offer services of the highest possible quality.
I bring to COA a variety of lenses that will help to inform what we do and how we communicate about it. My background includes work in direct service organizations, oversight and funder settings, and national policy and advocacy arenas. Across these environments and from a variety of angles, I was able to influence the caliber of services offered to vulnerable populations. Arriving at COA is what I hope is the final step on my journey, where I can advance the value of accreditation and its impact on the end user.
I think that for a long time and for many people, accreditation has just been another box to check, a means to an end to ensure eligibility for funding streams or to meet regulatory requirements. What I hope to elevate within COA and its accredited organizations is the true value of accreditation for the end user: the consumers--children, youth, families, and adults --who rely on the services of those organizations. Our end game is really to help organizations to improve the quality and effectiveness of the services they are offering, to ensure that they can refine their offerings to align with best practice based on the standards we have established. Ultimately, this is about doing our best work and ensuring that those in need of support get the best support possible.
I am fortunate to succeed Richard Klarberg, whose 17-year commitment resulted in a vast expansion of the COA portfolio and a deeper understanding of the value of accreditation. I thank him for turning over the reins to an organization filled with dynamic and passionate staff, a robust team of talented and dedicated volunteers, and a versatile array of accredited organizations, all of whose commitment to quality is unwavering. I look forward to partnering with each of these groups, our Board of Trustees, and each of you to continue to advance quality care and deliver excellence in human services.
As Richard said in his post, my hope is that the best is yet to come.