Giving Thanks | A Time for Reflection at AKEDA
Updated: Nov 27
Wow, has it been a whirlwind in my first three months as the first Executive Director of AKEDA, and as I’m beginning to settle into my role, I’m excited to start sharing from this point of view some of the work that AKEDA is doing.
At the end of September and beginning of October I was in Anchorage and had a jam-packed week. I attended the Alaska Behavioral Health Association (ABHA)’s fall conference in which I was able to speak on a panel on behalf of AKEDA. AKEDA was then invited to be a member of ABHA. It is very exciting to be a part of ABHA, as they do incredible work in behavioral health, which includes eating disorders. As a member we are able to attend stakeholder meetings that involve health care organizations throughout the state, as well attend their youth provider affinity group, which focuses on issues providers of youth mental health are seeing.
In October I was also able to attend the ANTHC Diabetes Conference, host an AKEDA table, and listen to an incredibly informative presentation from one of our board members, Dr. Meg Carlson Cosentino, on eating disorders and diabetes. It was really interesting to meet providers across the state, listen to what they are seeing in their practices, and hear about ways they felt AKEDA could help. It was a common theme to hear that providers don’t feel equipped to treat eating disorders. I resonated with that, as I too had that feeling of not having enough background in my education to effectively help patients. After Dr. Cosentino’s presentation, many providers were at our table asking questions, and seeking more information. This underscores that providers want more training so they can feel more confident in their ability to help their patients. It was a really impactful experience overall. One statement that really stuck with me was from a nurse who mentioned after hearing Dr. Cosentino’s presentation, “I never really thought about eating disorders in my diabetes patients in this way until today”.
Starting in September and concluding in November, AKEDA hosted our Fall 2023 Eating Disorders Project ECHO series. We had four different Thursday evening sessions featuring five experts who presented, as well as four different Alaskan providers who offered case study presentations. It was amazing to see the number of providers from across the state (and even the world!) in attendance. It made for some long Thursdays on our end, but when I was able to take a pause and sit back and listen to the presenters, I was able to learn quite a few things myself!
AKEDA truly is in a growth and transition phase, which makes things both exciting and quite busy! Our board met in person in Anchorage in October to work on a new strategic plan that will guide AKEDA over the next three years. With generous technical assistance from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, facilitators from Agnew::Beck guided our board in this process. After an intensive and productive full day experience we are continuing to work with Agnew::Beck in this follow-up process to finalize our strategic plan. I really look forward to seeing the final product of all this time and effort to be able to utilize it as my guidebook to move AKEDA forward each year.
In part of the growth phase we realized there was just not enough hours in the day to meet the demands AKEDA has right now, so we began the process of hiring a new Program and Outreach Associate. After interviewing an incredibly talented pool of candidates we welcomed Kailyn Hooley to our team in November. We are thrilled to have her on board, and you can read more about Kailyn in our newsletter.
In these last three months I’ve gotten to meet a lot of new faces and organizations, some in person, and a lot over Zoom. I know there are many more of you out there that I haven’t yet met. I would love to get to know you, and how you ended up on our newsletter list. Please feel to send me an email at email@example.com and introduce yourself, no matter where you’re from and no matter your reason for finding AKEDA. I would love to hear from you!