“I have always been drawn to the power of a well-articulated vision and turning it into a personal mission,” began John Van Camp, President and CEO of Southwest Solutions, as he accepted a Visionary Leadership Award at the 2018 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference.
“Perhaps it is because my mother was one of the thirteen founding members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers in the 30’s, and my dad was the Midwest campaign manager for Norman Thomas who ran for President on the Socialist Party in the 40’s on a platform of public works, social security, and conservation.
“I was drawn to the vision of the Peace Corps and went to India in 1964. When I went to social work graduate school to become a community organizer, I asked for placement at a community mental health agency, as I was drawn by the emphasis on community. With all the myths and stereotypes and discrimination about mental illness, it required intervention at the community level because the community owns the resources and opens up or closes down access to them based on their values.
“So this community organizer was drawn to Southwest 45 years ago to help the community open up their hearts and minds and hence their resources to people with mental illness. I have spent much of my time building community because in the end I believe community is an intervention, and when you have community it is so much more powerful than any government safety net.”
The Visionary Leadership Award came with a $10,000 honorarium, which John has committed to the diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Southwest Solutions.