WA-AIMH Past and Present
The Washington Chapter of the World Association for Infant Mental health (WA-AIMH) was founded in 2001. Colleen Huebner, PhD, MPH, was the founding president and the original members were a small group of individuals wearing many hats (often simultaneously) including psychoanalysts, teachers, nurses, pediatricians, psychologists, child development researchers, students, and parents, to name just a few. All were lifelong learners and all, of course, had been infants and children. Many original WA-AIMH members were also involved in the Secure Beginnings program created by the Northwest Development Center (COR-NWFDC).
In 2011, the organization wished to increase its multidisciplinary membership and began a planning process that relied heavily on input from its members. Two summits were held in 2012. One of the key decisions reached was to create the position of executive director for WA-AIMH. The summits also identified key areas of focus for WA-AIMH, including:
- Exploring bringing an endorsement process for Infant Mental Health as a practice specialty
- Expanding membership to be truly statewide
- Raising awareness throughout the early childhood and related fields about the importance of the early years and infant mental health
Identifying reflective process resources and growing professional development opportunities throughout the state.
In 2013, Nina Auerbach was hired as the organization’s first executive director. Once hired, Nina began traveling the state to learn about the needs of WA-AIMH members and worked to make membership meetings more accessible to members outside of the Seattle area through the use of a remote access service.
In early 2014, WA-AIMH’s first strategic plan was developed by its newly expanded Board of Directors. One of WA-AIMH’s top priorities was to research different endorsement models throughout the country and develop a plan for bringing endorsement to Washington. An Endorsement Work Group consisting of Board members and WA-AIMH members at large formed and made recommendations to the Board about next steps. The result of this working group’s activities was the Endorsement Application System (EASy) was purchased from MI-AIMH and our state began accepting endorsement applications in May 2015.
Between July 2016 and October 2016, WA-AIMH’s history continued to unfold:
- Dr. Sabine Thomas is hired as WA-AIMH’s new Executive Director with a focus to move WA-AIMH’s strategic plan forward and infuse new energy into our existing programs,
- Washington State is one of the fastest growing state to recruit, enroll and review endorsement portfolio for over 100+ applicants,
- Kristi Armstrong LMSW, IMH-E (III) joins WA-AIMH to support statewide endorsement efforts as Endorsement Coordinator.
In Fall of 2017, Bridget Lecheile, MS, MSW, PhD joined the team as the Program and Training Manager. Spring of 2018 Jamie Elzea, MPH, LICSW became WA-AIMH’s new Executive Director and is leading the team in a new Strategic Planning period, deepening the organization’s policy engagement, and embarking on new partnerships throughout the state in Reflective Supervision efforts, expanding Endorsement Support, and more.