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A Great Year for Gratitude

A Great Year for Gratitude

By Dan McCormick, MHA | November 24, 2014

Gratitude. It’s one of those qualities most of us aim to cultivate in our lives, and something we have a chance to genuinely ponder at this time of year.


I asked our staff at a recent all-hands meeting, “What are you grateful for?” I learned that it’s been a great year for gratitude at ETR.

Friends on the Mend

The first answers, from across the agency, reflected people’s gratitude that two of our staff who recently had calls a little too close for comfort are both on the mend. These wonderful employees, in the midst of complex and serious hospitalizations, were talking about how important it was for them to get back to their work.

Each and every one of us feels privileged to work with these fine men. We’re all glad they’re doing better, and, as a result of these incidents, every one of us has also had a chance to reflect on what’s most important in our own lives—lots of hugging our kids and smelling the flowers.

Gratitude Within

Staff also expressed gratitude about our work within ETR, including appreciation for our strong leadership team, who are bringing together a new vision and a positive direction for the agency’s future; for committed staff, already doing high-quality work, who are ready to grow and do more; and mentors, who are challenging us to take on more responsibility, stretch our capabilities and develop into stronger leaders.

Our partners in dfusion, a new small business that will be collaborating with ETR in developing and testing innovative strategies for better health, are glad to be up and running after several months of intensive planning. They’re moving forward on their first funded projects, and we can’t wait to see the outcomes!

Coleen Cantwell, ETR’s Director of Business Development and Planning, does a lot of the footwork that helps us get our funding. “I am so appreciative,” she told the group, “that I work with such incredibly talented people. I take my colleagues to meetings with funders, figuratively and sometimes literally. Funders are always so impressed with our staff. I can’t tell you how much this increases the power of these encounters.”

Shout-Out Time: Fantastic Partnerships

We also discussed some of the extraordinary partnerships that have enriched ETR’s work over the past year or more. Much-deserved shout outs include:

NYC Department of Education’s Office of School Wellness Programs: ETR National Sales Manager John Henry Ledwith praised Executive Director Lindsey Harr’s entire team. Their long-running commitment to health education in the New York City School System is having a direct impact, resulting in positive health outcomes in students. They are making a difference every day!

Bronx Teen Connection: John Henry also expressed great admiration for the entire staff of BxTC. Under the leadership of Dr. Jane Bedell, this dynamic group continues to demonstrate that innovative, community-wide efforts can reduce teen pregnancy and birth rates. They have the data to prove it!

SF Wellness Initiative: ETR Project Coordinator Amy Peterson waxed eloquent about the exciting work we’re doing with folks from the San Francisco Unified School District’s SF Wellness Initiative—especially Stacy Blankenbaker from SF Wellness and Susan Stone, PhD, at University of California, Berkeley. “Fun meetings,” Amy explained, “strong partnership and incredible work—they’ve been fantastic.”

Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts: ETR Editor/Product Manager Suzanne Schrag and Director of Professional and Organizational Development Deb Christopher described an enriching partnership with Jen Slonaker and Shira Chan-Lipman on the Get Real curriculum.  Deb praised “their undying willingness to elevate professional development practice and their leadership in revitalizing the Get Real curriculum training!” Suzanne commented that, “It’s always interesting to be doing editing and design work with new people. They’re learning things from us, we’re learning things from them, and that’s why the partnership is so rich and strong.”

Public Health-Seattle & King County: Deb and Suzanne are also working with Andrea Gerber and Kari Kesler, health educators and developers of the FLASH curriculum. “It’s been wonderfully gratifying,” Deb commented, “to work with these exemplary partners and collaborators in revising and expanding FLASH.”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America: Leslie Kantor, Vice President of Education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is part of a growing partnership with ETR, and recently wrote a fantastic My Take column for our newsletter. Her support is most appreciated.

University of Texas Health Science Center: Senior Research Associate Jill Glassman is delighted to be working with Elizabeth Baumler at UTHealth in Houston on some of her analyses. “It’s really fun to work on statistics with other people—to talk things over, hear different perspectives and see things in new ways.”

Positive Outcomes, Inc. and CARDEA Services: ETR’s Community Impact Solutions project has been offering a series of highly regarded webinars addressing care and prevention strategies for HIV service agencies. ETR Administrative Assistant Jacqueline Peters expressed appreciation for the work of our webinar series partners, Dr. Julia Hidalgo, CEO of Positive Outcomes Inc., and Wendy Nakatsukasa-Ono, Erin Edelbrock and Beatriz Reyes of CARDEA Services. Jacque mentioned that ETR’s own Melanie Graham and Cori Kocher have also helped make this a great series. You can find the webinar recordings and download slides here.

California Tobacco Control Program: ETR CFO Dave Kitchen appreciated the support over many years of April Roesler, Branch Chief of CTCP. She has demonstrated great confidence in the services and resources ETR provides to the State’s funded projects, allowing us to deliver some of the best tobacco prevention efforts in the business.

Mind Matters: Director of Professional and Organizational Development Deb Christopher praised mentor Pat Wolfe, who continues to influence ETR’s work in the application of neuroscience to the learning process.

CDC Division of Adolescent School Health: ETR’s DASH program staff expressed thanks for Carmen Ashley and Mary Schauer, our DASH liaisons, for ongoing support for ETR.

Foundation and Business Donations

ETR is also grateful to receive support from a number of foundations and businesses for software and technology support. These include:

It’s Right in This Room

In my own view, ETR is also fortunate to have such resilience among the people in the room—in all of ETR’s locations. Indeed, this was one of the constant themes in our conversation about gratitude.

We are grateful to be part of a workgroup that is committed, innovative and experienced. To be part of an organization that is making a true difference in the world. And to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

ETR is moving forward in some entirely new ways, and we appreciate every bit of the encouragement, support and affirmation we’ve received from our partners, funders, clients and customers. Thanks to you all!

Dan McCormick is CEO of ETR. You can contact him at, or find him on LinkedIn.


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