Ten Questions With Rich DeHaven

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

I was born in Indianapolis and lived in Columbus during most of my school days. My wife Marilyn and I have two adult children, Kyle and Kerri.  I am a graduate of Evangel College, and hold graduate degrees from Indiana University and Ball State University.  I also completed additional post-graduate work and executive training at Northern Illinois Center for Governmental Studies, Harvard University’s School of Public Health, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and the Menninger Foundation.

I am a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and I was one of the original certified Mental Health Administrators in America when the Association of Mental Health Administrators initiated certification.  I am also one of the founding members of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership. Additionally, I have served as a U.S. Delegate to the World Mental Health Congress.

How long have you worked for Aspire?

I have been with Aspire Indiana, formerly the Center for Mental Health, since January, 1975.

What positions have you held with Aspire?

While I was originally engaged to develop and implement a state-approved plan to transition a small outpatient clinic in Anderson into a full-service, comprehensive mental health center, within a few months I was also named CEO and have continued in that role ever since.

Describe your current position, including your responsibilities?

As President & CEO, I am responsible for the performance of the entire company, both managerially and legally.  My most significant activity has more to do with vision – having a broad perspective of the environment that we operate in, a sense of fostering our mission, and having an outlook on where we need to be headed as an organization.  A lot of the time, what I do is much more about “tomorrow” than “today.”  We have great management staff whose job it is to be concerned with “today.”  My job is to try to anticipate the future, what we need to do to be prepared, and decisions that will move us into the future as a viable and valued multi-service provider.  As a mental health provider, I need to make sure that I give thought to tomorrow, and that I am helping adequately resource the organization for tomorrow’s needs.

I need to anticipate what we can do ourselves, and what we need to do in partnership with other organizations to accomplish the goals of all the parties involved.  I also manage relationships.  The nature and size of what we do means that we have contact with lots of other organizations.  It’s my job to nurture these relationships.  One of my most significant roles in my job as CEO is to develop human capital – preparing people to take on more responsibility in future.

What does a typical day as the President & CEO look like? 

Is there such a thing as a typical day?  The amount of activity going on in the healthcare arena today is astounding.  We have to ensure that we are providing quality, effective services to over eleven thousand people per year.  We have to keep the organization intact and in alignment working together as staff, and connected to external parties, while at the same time staying abreast of and absorbing what regulatory and accrediting bodies want us to do.  The current environment and the Affordable Care Act are influencing us to partner with other organizations to accomplish mutual goals.  There is a lot of emphasis on outcomes and demonstrating value in what we do.  A typical day involves a lot of different agendas addressing these various issues.  I work to keep staff on course in driving these agendas with their best thoughts and efforts to find solutions.  At one point during the day, I may be in a meeting about budgets and technology, or serving as secretary/treasurer of our subsidiary housing corporations, and later, I’ll be in a meeting with an external party or partner.  It does make for some long days.  Healthcare tends to start early and finish late.

Also, with a position such as mine, you participate in a lot of community and civic affairs.  I have been involved with the Kiwanis for forty years.  Also, an Indiana statute requires that a mental health administrator or professional serve on community corrections boards, which I have done for many years.  Over the years, we have worked in partnership with the United Way, both with funding programs, and by strategically working together on community impact initiatives.

It’s not unusual for me to hear from consumers directly, so I need to see that their issues and concerns get channeled correctly and addressed by the appropriate staff.

I like to take time each day to walk around and interact with staff in order to stay in touch with what’s going on, and to lend encouragement to them and stress the importance of the work they are doing.

I also represent the organization in professional and trade associations.  For many years, Aspire has been an active member of Mental Health Corporations of America (MHCA), an invitation-only organization that’s made up of approximately 150 of the leading behavioral healthcare organizations in America.  Through this association, we gain a lot of information and collectively work on projects, products, and service development.  I recently finished serving for 15 years on MHCA’s Board of Directors.  I find myself at different times involved with manpower issues, and being involved with academic and other training institutions that provide the human capital that we need.  Because of my personal belief in the importance of work, I have been involved in different areas of employment opportunities and training, for individuals, both generally, and for those with special circumstances and needs.

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

I took my first job in fourth grade delivering newspapers in Columbus, Indiana.  It was a seven-day-a-week route.  I learned about marketing, distribution, collecting, and accounts receivables.  It was a great job to learn about business and about what makes it work.  Since then, I have always worked.  While in high school, I worked as a farm-hand, a soda jerk, and helped run a pizza business.  During college, I worked at Cummins during the summer, and in the college bookstore during the school year.  I have two graduate degrees, along with a lot of other post-graduate training.  One of these degrees addressed the services we provide.  The other provided more administrative training, and helped me understand the business side of the work we do, along with human resources issues.  While I was in graduate school at Indiana University, I worked at Franklin College developing their Office of Career Counseling and Placement.  While in graduate school at Ball State, I ran the community office in Fort Wayne for Richmond State Hospital, and then went on to be in charge of mental health planning in northeast Indiana, having a role in developing the mental health centers in Fort Wayne, Warsaw, and Kendallville.  I feel my background has given me a good understanding of the value of the services we provide, and of the business and operational side of delivering services.

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

I would probably be doing something else that put me in a position to have a lot of interaction with people.  I love people, their stories, interaction, and giving and receiving inspiration from those around me.   I think I would still be in the service industry, helping people.

What is it that drew you to the field of mental health?

I like the fact that we are a mission-driven organization, and that what we do impacts people.  Initially, I started working in the field to get experience to return to get a doctoral degree so that I could work in education administration.  But once I started, I never left.  I completed other graduate work to prepare for the mental health field.  It’s been forty-two years, and I’m still doing it.  My being drawn to mental health was a combination of seeing how great the needs were, and feeling that there could be better answers, more effective services.  I started when the field was going from being institutionally-based to community-based care.  Today, we provide services in the community using evidence-based practices.  We have come a long way.  There’s a continuing theme – how do we work alongside individuals with effective programs and the right tools that will assist them in their recovery process.  I continue to be energized through the development of newer, more effective services.  The relational aspect is still most important, but how do we use other things to help as many as we can as effectively as we can?

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

I’ll leave the answer and the judgment of that to others.  I’ve given my energy, my sweat, and sometimes my tears to create an organization that is both compassionate and accountable.  That really is the balance we have to hit, because of all the demands of this kind of work – what people need, want, and expect, and the expectations of payors – wanting things done a certain way.  There are so many compliance issues.  I hope I would be judged as someone who attended to both of these effectively, and that clients who needed help could get it at Aspire.  I have also actively tried to mentor the next generation of leaders.  You have to have the right people and right experience to be prepared to carry on with the organization’s work in the future.  I try to coach people without being overly involved in how they should do it.  We need to coach on the work to be done and how to do it better, but as leaders, we also need to let them have the experience of doing it.  This fosters confidence and gets them the experience they need.  I am also a firm believer in people learning through their mistakes.  My grandfather used to say, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

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

I golf as a means to get outside.  I truly love nature.  I find different golf courses to be some of the most peaceful, tranquil places on earth.  The game can be frustrating, but I love the environment and the camaraderie with fellow players.  I like to joke and banter with my fellow players.  I also love music, all kinds of music.  I grew up in a musical family, playing trombone and singing.  When we did the merger to form Aspire Indiana, I was reunited after many years with someone who was a band mate of mine in the Columbus High School band.  I learned to appreciate music at an early age.  I also like to travel, to see new things, historical things, things you read about in books, like the Rockies out west or the Smithsonian in DC.  I am an avid fan of the Indiana Hoosiers and the Indianapolis Colts, and I enjoy theater and good cinema as well.  And last but not least, I draw on my faith.  I believe God has a plan and a purpose for us.  The scriptures tell us, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Rich DeHaven is the President & CEO of Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mr. DeHaven, you can learn more about Aspire Indiana at https://www.facebook.com.  You can also follow Mr. DeHaven on Twitter @richdehaven.

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2 Responses to Ten Questions With Rich DeHaven

  1. John L. May says:

    As a retired member of the Board, serving over 30 years, I must give Rich much of the credit for the success of the Center For Mental Health and Aspire. His leadership skills were utilized year after year in the service of mental health and our communities. Serving with Rich has been the icing on the cake for me.
    John May

  2. Rich DeHaven says:

    The feeling is mutual Mr. May. You are one of the most thoughtful, conscientious, and encouraging
    volunteer board members I have even known. I am so proud of all we were able to accomplish together and the significant role you played in it all!

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