Anne Combs - Staff Expert Profile
GCB Staff Expert – Anne Combs
Vice President of GCB’s Child and Family Division
Tell us about yourself – what was your path to GCB? Can you describe your role and how long have you worked here?
I have a BA in Sociology from Murray State University in Kentucky and a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va. I started my career as a therapist at Shawnee Mental Health Center in Ironton, Ohio where I worked for five years before moving to Cincinnati in 1984 and went to work as a therapist at the Clermont Counseling Center (CCC) in Milford. From there, I became the associate director and then chief operating officer. In 2009, CCC merged with Family Service of Greater Cincinnati which created LifePoint Solutions. As chief operating officer, I was in charge of most everything programmatic and operational. I participated in strategic planning, developed and managed budgets, wrote and reported on grants, did program development, managed staff and everything in between. In 2014, LifePoint Solutions merged with GCB and Clermont Recovery Center and I took on a new role as vice president of the Child and Family Division of services that include Integrated Counseling and School Based Services in both OH and KY, Every Child Succeeds, Language Bank, Be Wellness, and Primary Behavioral Health Care (PCBH).
I manage services in two states, 14 schools, six GCB offices, eight primary health clinics and various other sites in the community. I have about 100+ staff, three directors, two program managers, a number of coordinators and many clinical supervisors. My division has very little turn over and includes many staff who have been here for over 15 years.
How did you become interested in your field?
I don’t think I really know. Who majors in sociology? I seem to be more interested in sociology today than I ever was in college. Somewhere along the way, I found a tremendous fascination with human behavior. I love working with people, and developing and growing programs, and I particularly love nurturing and coaching new supervisors.
What about your field or clients do you think more people should know?
No one is immune to emotional problems or to a serious mental illness or substance abuse addiction. Everyone can benefit from someone to help guide, coach, and/or teach them the skills to survive and recover to become a productive member of their family and community. It may take three sessions or three years, but what we do works.
I would also like people to understand better the mind-body connection and how it can impact positively and negatively on one’s life.
What are the biggest trends in your area of expertise?
Integrating behavioral health and primary care is a huge trend that has been moving forward for some years. There are many people in the world who would never come to a mental health center but who may desperately need what we have to offer. But they will go to their primary care doctor. And there are not enough of them to go around, and they don’t have time to do therapy or social work. So let’s join together! And that is what we do at GCB by placing therapists (Behavioral Health Consultants/Health Coaches) in eight primary care clinics throughout the city as well as bring primary care providers onsite at Amelia and Madison.
What is life like outside of work?
I live in Milford with my wife who is a retired jail charge nurse and my adult stepson who has muscular dystrophy. We love to travel and do so as much as possible. We are trying to stay active except we both hate exercise. We are voracious readers, love playing bridge (except no one plays anymore) and other games. My 93 year-old mother lives in Lexington and is beginning to require a lot of assistance, so I tend to her needs as well as I can along with my sister and nieces who live in Lexington.
What do you love about your work here at GCB?
Given the place I am in my career, I am 68 and very near retirement, I still love getting up and coming to work in the morning and will likely continue for a few years. I like the work, my colleagues, the variety, the challenges, and the opportunity to really think and contemplate things, to solve puzzles and to find solutions. I can’t believe the commitment and devotion of the staff who work day in and day out with people who are traumatized or mentally ill or just suffering, and the power of the work we do to help make their lives better.