Ten Questions With Jerry Landers

As a behavioral healthcare provider, we sometimes get so lost in the different programs and treatment modalities that we use to treat our consumers that we forget one of our most important assets – human capital.  Our aim with the “Ten Questions With” series is to spotlight some of our human resources – staff members who have special skill sets that enable Aspire Indiana to truly be a comprehensive community mental health center.

photo of landers

Tell me a little about yourself – your background and your education.

As for my background, I didn’t want to be in this field.  I wanted to be a cop.  I took a job here out of desperation because I needed a job.  And as it turns out, I fell in love with the mission of mental health.

As for my education, I have a Master of Science degree in industrial psychology, and a Master of Business Administration degree.  I am currently pursuing a doctorate in business administration.

How long have you worked for Aspire? 

I started working here in July 1993.

What positions have you held with Aspire?

It seems like I’ve held every position in the agency.  I was going to work here as a part-time night-shift residential coach in the summer of 1993.  But once I got involved in the challenging and gratifying work of the mental health organization and started helping residential patients with their mental illnesses, I knew that I had found my home, and I signed on for a full-time job.  I worked my way up through several positions over the last twenty years, and I am now Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Aspire Indiana.

Describe your current position, including your responsibilities?

As the Vice President and Chief Development Officer, I think that I have the best job in the agency.  I am constantly working on new projects across the scope of the entire agency.  My role is broad because of the diverse portfolio of projects that report to me – from a state-of-the-art electronic medical record to Harvestland Farm to marketing.  Most people in the agency think of me in terms of social media, but that’s actually a very small part of what I do.  In summary, my job is to explore and help facilitate the development of new business for Aspire and its ancillary corporations.

What does a typical day as a Vice President/Chief Development Officer look like?

Well, I spend more time in the office than I used to.  No two days are the same, which I like.  I spent lots of time researching and reviewing opportunities.  This means that I spend a lot of time on the Internet and phone.  I also spend a lot of time gathering information from internal and external stakeholders.

What in your educational background and work experience prepared you for your current position?

That’s an interesting question because I’ve been told many times throughout my career that I didn’t know enough to know that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.  Academically, knowing accounting principles and how to prepare budgets have been the most useful skills in my skill set.  In my position, it’s very helpful to know how to use Excel quickly and efficiently.

If you weren’t working in this field, what would you be doing?

I probably would have gone back into the military, or I would have pursued a career in law enforcement.

What is it that drew you to Business Development?

Actually, chance.  I never aspired to be in business development, but I wanted more responsibility within the agency.  I am lucky because I work for a company that believes in investing in employees, and in allowing them to use their natural skills.  I discovered that I had a knack for business development while managing the Elwood office, when I was tasked with growing the program.  It was there that I realized that I had a unique way of approaching problems which allowed me to be creative in solving them.  The best example is Aspire’s HIV program.  The goal was to get additional funding for addictions services.  I saw an overlapping population between HIV and addictions, so I approached the Indiana State Department of Health for funding.  The HIV Program’s dedicated staff have grown the program from ten clients initially, to the program currently serving more than one-third of state.

What impact do you feel your work has had on Aspire and its clients?

I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have touched almost every single program that Aspire offers.  Some of these programs wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t facilitated or implemented ideas.  However, I’ve never been the sole creator of anything.  I have always worked with a team of talented individuals.  It is this partnership with teammates that has made the impact, not me individually.

What things do you do to help you cope with the demands of your job?

I like to run when I can find time, but the best stress relief is the bantering that occurs among my teammates.

Jerry Landers is the Vice President of Business Development for Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mr. Landers you can learn more about community mental health and how it intersects with business and media athttp://www.facebook.com/AspireIndiana
You can also follow Mr. Landers on Twitter @JerryELanders

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