Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ackerman Institute's 50th Anniversary Gala

Ackerman 2010 GalaThe Ackerman Institute for the Family held its fourth annual Tribute to Families on October 19, 2010, commemorating its 50 years of service. Over 350 people attended the event, co-chaired by Linda Dishy and Judith Stern Peck, and hosted by Actor Sam Waterson. The Gala, held in Gustavino’s near the East River, raised more than $650,000.

In honor of its 50th anniversary, Lois Braverman, President and CEO, paid a leadership tribute to the Ackerman Institute's board chairs that have carried the Institute through each decade of its work. "Every one of them has brought to their role at Ackerman great depth of knowledge and understanding of our work and our challenges. Without them, we could not have grown and thrived as we have for half a century," Braverman remarked. The board chairs honored at the event included Gregory Rogers (2008-present), Jane Donaldson (2003-2008), Arthur Maslow (1999-2003), Donna Laikind (1996-1999), Edwina Millington (1987-1996), Carol Maslow (1982-1987), and Mike Gladstein, the first Board Chair of the Ackerman Institute in 1960 through 1964.

The night consisted of silent, reverse, and live auctions, as well as a performance by the Tokens, the music group behind the hit song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The Tokens helped mark the significance of the event as they also turned 50 years old this year as well.

Each year the Ackerman Institute acknowledges a key individual that has contributed to its long standing growth and achievement with its Distinguished Service Award, as well as honoring companies whose business are committed to families and value-centered living. This year, Dorie Kempner was honored with the Ackerman Distinguished Service Award, the Ackerman Corporate Partner Award was given to Dirk Jungé on behalf of Pitcairn, and the Ackerman Family Partner Award was presented to Jay Hughes.

Dorie Kempner has been a member of the Ackerman Institute’s Board since 1996. The Kempner Lecture Series was established at the Ackerman Institute in honor of her late husband, Carl, providing funding for an annual lecture on work in the area of family therapy and chronic or life-threatening illness. She accepted the award for Distinguished Service: "I never imagined that standing up here in front of 400 people would feel like a family reunion, but that's just what it feels like, and, in fact, it's just what it is… I have been involved with many fine causes, but none has resonated as deeply as Ackerman."

Current Board Chair, Gregory Rogers, presented the award to Pitcairn, a financial management company that is a pioneer of the multi-family office. Dirk Jungé, Chairman and CEO of Pitcairn, accepted the Corporate Partner Award on the company’s behalf. Rogers spoke about Pitcairn’s commonalities to the Ackerman Institute: "Dirk Jungé has said that wealth management involves more than just numbers. He believes that family dynamics, particularly improving communication between members of all generations to skirt potential conflicts or face and solve existing ones, is the most critical issue facing the health of a family business today."

The Ackerman Family Partner Award was presented by Gala Co-Chair, Judith Stern Peck, to Jay Hughes, attorney and author of Family Wealth – Keeping It in the Family and his latest Family: The Compact among Generations. Jay Hughes is a well known leader in the wealth management community for his industry-changing ideas. John L. Ward, Clinical Professor of Family Enterprises at the Kellogg School of Management, calls him "the wisest of counselors to successful families" and Judith Stern Peck added that, "he is also the wisest of mentors to me as well as to my professional colleagues."

Over the past year, the Ackerman Institute has experienced unprecedented demand for clinic services: 5,500 clinic sessions – over 1,500 more than the year before. Most of the families are from economically and socially marginalized communities and face increased stress in this tough economy, but no family is ever refused services because of an inability to pay. The Annual Gala helps support these services.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Feet First into Social Work and Diversity Internship

An Intern's Perspective of the Diversity and Social Work Training
By Denise Munoz

Summer came and went. With a summer internship and a summer class, I can say that with the exception of the warm months, summer, as conceived by students on break, was never mine. With the beginning of classes and my first day of internship fast approaching I could only think "I'm not ready…just 2 more weeks." Interestingly, I wasn’t nervous about beginning my internship, just anxious about creating a schedule that would allow for self care. Giving up your Friday evenings and Saturdays is part of the Social Work Diversity Internship. This is not to say that my weekends were free prior to beginning Ackerman, but I had options. Now, for the next nine months my weekends would be spent at 149 East 78th street.

I was not worried about my sessions being taped or that a team would be watching me through a two way mirror observing my work, but I was curious and anxious about who my co-therapist would be. Yes, co-therapist: the Diversity and Social Work Internship is unique in that it requires students to work in teams. Two therapists per family/couple treated, a true example that two heads are better than one. Never having worked in this manner and understanding that energy flows between two people may possibly affect the therapeutic relationship, I was obsessing about my potential co-therapist. I perceived this person as my partner for the next 9 months, for better or for worst, in the process that is the diversity training program.

Three weeks into my internship I can say that although I am aware that as cases are assigned the semester becomes more demanding, for now the experience has been a smooth transition. The passing weeks have been filled with connecting with my fellow colleagues and supervisors, foundations class, videos, and our first case. Since I don’t have any cases yet, I do not know who will be my co-therapists. (Co-therapist plural, because I will a different co-therapist for each of the 3-4 cases I am assigned.) I look forward to working with any of my colleagues; the past 3 weeks has allowed me to get to know them and show me how much I can learn from each.

I have fantasized about training at Ackerman Institute since taking my first course in family therapy 5 years ago, and, yes, the professor was Ackerman trained (hmmmm, what would Freud have to say about that one). Has my time at Ackerman (to this point) met my expectations, fantasies and all? Yes, and I am loving every minute of it. Although I must admit, Mondays I'm at Ackerman from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and while we do get breaks, by the end of the day my mind feels scrambled. I guess in the big picture of life a scrambled brain is worth the training.

Standing along a pool of water, timid, with one toe barely touching the water, I am now ready to jump wholeheartedly, feet first.