Congratulations to a most amazing family advocate - Barbara Huff

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huffThe Children's Mental Health Network was thrilled to learn that Barbara Huff has been selected as the co-recipient of the Blanche F. Ittleson Award for 2013. The American Orthopsychiatric Association gives this award annually, and we can't think of a more deserving family advocate. The American Orthopsychiatric Association's oldest, largest and most prestigious award, the Ittleson Award is given for outstanding achievement in the delivery of children's services and the promotion of children's mental health. Ortho is honoring Barbara's career contributions to the development of a humane and responsive mental health system for children with emotional disturbance and their families. The award will be presented during the Symposium ,"Changing the Culture Toward Humane and Just Communities" which will be held April 10-12, 2013, in Greenville, South Carolina. The symposium is jointly sponsored by Ortho, the Clemson University Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, the Haruv Institute (of Israel), the International Family Therapy Association and the International Society for child Indicators. You can read about the award recipients for 2012 here.

I first met Barbara in the mid-1980's when she was the Executive Director of Keys for Networking, Topeka, Kansas. Since that time, our lives have been intertwined with the birth and growth of the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, which she was the Founding Director. After serving a term on the Federation Board in the early 90's, I started a wild ride with Barbara as the conference planner for the Federation annual conference. (For you youngin's, in the old days, Board members organized and put on the conference). After leaving the Board, I took on the task of organizing the annual conference each year, giving Board members a break, which consequently meant that Barbara and I spent a lot of time talking on the phone. What always amazed me was her unwavering commitment to families. In that distinct Midwestern accent of hers, I can clearly hear her saying (as she often did), "Well Scott, we are just going to have to have our call later tonight, around 11:00 pm, because right now I have a family member who needs help." Now, mind you, this would be at 7:00 or 8:00 pm in the evening already! Think about it - the national leader of the Federation on the phone with a parent somewhere in the United States helping them through a crisis. And you wonder why I would do absolutely anything for Barbara? And why she is so loved and revered by families and professionals (even the ones she irritated the hell out of) across this great nation? This woman has given her heart and soul to families across America who have children with emotional challenges in a most unselfish way.

Her motto was always, "Whatever it takes, Scott, whatever it takes. We need to make sure that all families of the Federation feel special, because they are." Ortho - you got it right on this one. I feel so blessed to have been able to know Barbara on both a personal and professional level. Forget the advocate part, people like Barbara are a rare breed, and when you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to be in the presence of such a humble, wickedly smart and tenacious advocate for families like Barbara... well, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Congratulations Barbara. Well deserved.

Scott Bryant-Comstock, President & CEO
Children's Mental Health Network


  1. Jim Dyk's avatar
    Jim Dyk
    | Permalink
    My dear friend.
    After all these years that all of us have known how remarkable you are, it is nice to know that you have been recognized.
    The world is a much better place because you are here.
    Thank you for being a part of my life
  2. Brigitte Manteuffel's avatar
    Brigitte Manteuffel
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    Congratulations, Barbara! What a well-deserved honor for all that you've done for families, children and the services they desperately need.
  3. Juanita Panlener's avatar
    Juanita Panlener
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    Barbara – A well-deserved award for your perseverance and for the love you have demonstrated to families over the years. It was a privilege to work by your side at the Campaign. I learned so much from you in every one of the trainings we did together. I am so thrilled for you. Congratulations!
  4. Denine Anderson-Regan's avatar
    Denine Anderson-Regan
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    Many, Many Congrats Barbara!! You know that I'm one of your biggest fans. This is well deserved. Hugs!! :)
  5. Adrienne N. Spires's avatar
    Adrienne N. Spires
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    Congratulations! I am enthusiastic that you have been selected for such an award that compliments your work ethics and concerns for families. I wish you the best on your future endeavors.

    God Bless!
  6. Richard Donner's avatar
    Richard Donner
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    Barbara- no words can express how proud I am that you are receiving this award. You deserve it more than ever. You have helped more families than you know and providers as well. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of your work and life. We are truly blessed to have had you be and still our a leader in children's mental health. You are the personification of advocacy and parent professional partnerships.
  7. pat hunt's avatar
    pat hunt
    | Permalink
    Barbara – You are a rare and wonderful being. You have shown us all tenacity with grace; passion with compassion; endurance with dignity; integrity with risk; candor with diplomacy; accountability with responsibility, and hope with expectations. You have met arrogance with humility and ignorance as an opportunity. While this award is impressive, there are not yet any awards that meet your merit. Thank you for it all.
  8. Deborah Edwards's avatar
    Deborah Edwards
    | Permalink
    Wow Barb Congratulations How far you have come from an office and shared desk with Families Together in Topeka,Ks. You will be glad to know that Aaron continues to do well and is still my best friend,my hero and my next door neighbor. Would love to hear from you
    Best of everything and more
  9. Marlene Penn's avatar
    Marlene Penn
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    Barbara, Congratulations to you. You have led the way with courage, tenacity and such compassion. This is a well deserved honor.
  10. Jane Adams's avatar
    Jane Adams
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    Congratulations Barbara, I have been one of the people on those late night calls. You always helped me. You are my hero. You deserve this award and gratitude from all of us in this country--You are the heart of the family movement, then and now. Thank you.
  11. Teresa King's avatar
    Teresa King
    | Permalink
    Congratulations, you have set the Gold Standard which the rest of us in this work try to achieve. I'm so lucky to be able to watch and learn from your example on how to work with our families!
  12. Arnold Woodruff's avatar
    Arnold Woodruff
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    Congratulations, Barbara! I cannot think of anyone who deserves this award more.
  13. Kim Williams's avatar
    Kim Williams
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    Like Scott and others have so eloquently said, the organizers and voters of this award that you so very much deserve, "Got-it-right." You are an exceptional leader, whose footsteps I am proud to walk in! You so deserve all the accolades already afforded to you and more! I am so happy and proud of you!
  14. Sandra Spencer's avatar
    Sandra Spencer
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    Congratulations Barbara, you are really a great advocate and mentor to all of us trying to continue to have a voice in this work. I continue to learn so much from you. You are most deserving.
  15. Theresa Early's avatar
    Theresa Early
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    Congratulations, Barbara! Glad to see such a nice recognition of the difference you have been making these many years since we met back in Kansas.
  16. Melanie Funchess's avatar
    Melanie Funchess
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    I'm so happy that This organization is recognizing what we families have known for years, BARBARA HUFF IS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING WOMEN ON THE PLANET!!!!!!! You are absolutely fabulous and I am so happy for you. Congratulations and thanks for being an inspiration for so many of us in work and in life....
  17. Barbara j Burns's avatar
    Barbara j Burns
    | Permalink

    What wonderful recognition for your leadership which paved the way for families. You developed a powerful organization and managing the politics of government and the field with such sensitivity. I recall great contact with you as systems of care were developing and fun with you at conferences. I would love to know what you are doing these days....
  18. Sheryl Schrepf's avatar
    Sheryl Schrepf
    | Permalink
    Fabulous! I will always remember you calling me in Lincoln, NE late on a Friday afternoon to tell me how much you were impressed by our F3 packet! You are an inspiration!
  19. Shandra's avatar
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    Congratulations Barbara!!! You have been such a champion in Children's Mental Health and you deserve this honor... I am blessed that I know you!!!
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