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Devereux’s Champions Conference sparks belonging, connection


Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s recent Servant Leadership and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Champions Conference provided nearly 50 emerging leaders – selected as Servant Leadership Champions/Champions-in-Training and DEI Champions – the opportunity to connect with each other during a three-day event. The conference culminated with Champions developing project plans to support continued focus on Devereux’s Servant Leadership culture.

New to the annual conference, held virtually, was the inclusion of Devereux’s DEI Champions, bringing these teams together to collaborate on further instilling a sense of belonging and community among their colleagues, as well as the individuals and families served by the organization.

Guest speakers included James Lemoine, Ph.D., associate professor and faculty director at the Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness School of Management, University of Buffalo SUNY, who discussed how to reverse the Great Resignation, and Misty Resendez, Ed.D., associate professor, University of Arizona Forbes School of Business and Technology, who shared how to build a culture of belonging.

Connecting the theme of “belonging” to conference attendees’ daily work, Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rhea Fernandes, Psy.D., said, “According to research, a sense of belonging at work consists of four main elements: 1) being seen for your unique contributions; 2) being connected to your co-workers; 3) being supported in your daily work and career development; and 4) being proud of your organization’s values and purpose. These elements are all, in a single word, about belonging. When we feel like we belong, we are more committed to our work, we expect more from ourselves and each other, and we can face any potential challenges at our organization because we feel a higher sense of purpose.”

About the Champion role

Devereux’s Servant Leadership and DEI Champions advocate for, and work toward, meaningful and positive change. These team members observe, guide, instruct and monitor various practices at our centers to ensure they align with Devereux’s Servant Leadership philosophy/culture and DEI organizational transformation.

Speaking to participants about the role Devereux’s Champions play in bringing ideas to the table that will enhance the nonprofit’s culture, programs and services, Devereux President and CEO Carl E. Clark II shared, “I am grateful to all of you, and for your continued commitment to help Devereux be the best behavioral healthcare employer we can possibly be.”

What our Champions are saying …

According to Devereux’s Champions, the thought-provoking conference inspired them to create an even greater sense of belonging where team members feel welcomed, supported and connected to the organization as a whole. Look below to see what a few Champions said about the event:

“The conference exceeded my expectations, featuring presenters who motivated and inspired me, and who were aligned with our Servant Leadership and DEI culture. The conference allowed us to share and cultivate new ideas. I look forward to the next conference and continuing to expand on our Servant Leadership and DEI initiatives.”
– Devereux Florida Regional Administrator
   and DEI Champion Tia Glover

“The conference is always such an energizing experience, in part, because of how engaged our national leadership team is in moving these initiatives forward. Part of this year’s conference focused on supporting the fundamental need for belonging. What I found inspiring was the emphasis placed on how practicing inclusive leadership can help employees become their best selves and attain a sense of belonging in the workplace. I feel fortunate to work for an organization that ‘walks the walk’ every day.”
– Devereux Massachusetts/Rhode Island Campus Administrator
   and Servant Leadership Champion Jennifer Darrell

“I had the privilege of attending my first Champions Conference, and I walked away feeling empowered and ready to bring this invaluable resource to our staff. From the opening remarks, to the wonderful people I met, to the outstanding speakers, to the final workgroup session, I felt a total sense of belonging.”
– Devereux TCV Community Services Director of Facilities/Safety Officer
   and Servant Leadership Champion Casey Monaghan

“My biggest takeaway was the importance of creating a safe space where everyone feels free to be themselves. A safe space can teach respect, inclusion, empathy and healing. It also seeks to provide respect and emotional security, often for individuals from historically marginalized groups. Sometimes, the journey to safety feels like we are ‘walking through peanut butter.’ If we continue to take one step at a time, we will reach our goal of finding a safe space for all.”
– Devereux Arizona Learning Specialist
   and DEI Champion Cat Baker

“This year’s conference was re-energizing. I appreciated the focus on creating a sense of belonging, which is important to Devereux’s culture. Jim Lemoine’s presentation was insightful, and helped me gain a better understanding of key factors for job satisfaction. Another critical theme for me was the importance of consistent and genuine communication with our workforce. I’m looking forward to the year ahead, and what I can do to help further a sense of belonging at Devereux.”
– Devereux Information Resources Manager
   and Servant Leadership Champion Juan Rivera

Going forward, Devereux’s Champions will continue to foster an environment where everyone feels valued, respected and included. Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s commitment to Servant Leadership and DEI.


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