Sybil Goldman, a true champion of the children’s mental health movement in America, passed away over the holidays after a long battle with cancer. If you have ever worked in children’s mental health in the public sector, you would be hard-pressed not to know the name, Sybil Goldman. As Director of the Georgetown National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health, Sybil was one of the pioneers of the movement, beginning with the advent of the Child and Adolescent Services System (CASSP) program in 1985.
Over the past 30 years, the field of children’s mental health has faced its share of adversities and change. In all of it, Sybil was there, lending her quiet, yet firm, voice of reason to challenging discussions around issues important to developing quality systems of care. Whether the topic was family involvement, cultural inclusion, community-based services, or peer support, you could always count on Sybil to ask the question that no one had thought of, the question that typically moved the conversation forward to identifying a better way. Sybil just had that knack, a talent that will be sorely missed.
For me, it was a gift to know Sybil from afar in my early days in the movement. We were colleagues, but not close friends. But here was the gift that Sybil had. When she stopped to visit with you or ask you a question, you could be in a room full of people, but feel as though it was just the two of you enjoying a deep conversation over a cup of coffee. What a gift.
Later on, after I started the Children’s Mental Health Network, I spoke with Sybil a bit more frequently. Her passion for advocacy burned bright, and her interest and inquisitiveness about my work and advocacy in general always left me feeling a little bit better about the challenges ahead after we spoke. She had a gift for doing that. Sybil Goldman was one of the keepers of the flame, sharing it far and wide. And with that great responsibility, she never wavered.
The way she lived her life and the example she set is something to which I aspire every day. What a gift to humanity she was. Man, I am going to miss her.
Contributions can be made to the following charities in Sybil’s memory.