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A message from Courtney Rennicke, new incoming Chair of the DDPI Board

26 April 2021
Courtney Rennicke

Dear DDP Community,

I wanted to briefly introduce myself, my name is Courtney Rennicke and I am the new incoming Chair of the DDPI Board.

For a little background about me, I am a White, CIS-gendered, hetersexual woman who lives and works in New York City. I would consider myself a true New Yorker after living here for the past 21 years. Someone told me once that the cut off is 10 years, so I’ve made that and then some! I am single and do not have biological, adopted or foster children of my own.

Courtney and friends sitting in front of the Hudson River and Jersey City, New Jersey

My COVID family, me, on far left, friends who are family to the right, and the Hudson River and Jersey City, New Jersey sparkling behind us.

I used to get very uncomfortable saying that I did not choose to have children to an audience of attachment-focused family therapists or to the parents I work with because I couldn’t pull out my phone and easily show a photo that captures who my family is nor share wisdom from my lived experience of parenting with the families I work with.

Now I see that maybe that discomfort was wrapped up with some of my heteronormative biases and it is not easy for any of us to capture with one photo the people in our lives that through biology, adoption, fostering, love and friendship hold and support us, marvel at our triumphs, see us through health crises and thoughtless mistakes, who form the families in our hearts. In my own life, my gay and lesbian friends really taught me the power and beauty of found families, and I am profoundly grateful to them for their collective teachings and care. Also, I am an auntie to two biological nephews, and to many other younger people, like friend’s children and other professionals I mentor, and it is literally the best! JOY!! I know all the aunties and uncles out there know what I mean.

In taking on this new Chair role, I am awestruck and extremely grateful for the incredible network of women and men who volunteer their very precious time away from families, jobs, clients, and lives on the DDPI Board, DDP Connects UK Board of Directors, on DDPI Committees, particularly Shani Sephton, RESJ Chair, and all my Racial Equity Social Justice Committee (RESJ) colleagues, our DDPI admin team, particularly George Thompson who makes sure we have money to keep the lights on, Roxy Sharpe, who really runs DDPI and finds ways to somehow makes it all happen, and Leah Crane and Liz Tower, DDPI’s Director of Communications who let the world know what we are up to.

There is no full time DDPI staff and we exist as an organization through the sheer will of a few part-time staff members and a lot of people volunteering to meet and work on weekends, before and after working hours and as most people’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th commitment. Phew… what a dedicated group, right?!

Betty BrouwerOne of these amazing people is Betty Brouwer, who finished her three year term as the DDPI Board Chair last month in March after guiding the Board and the organization through a phase of significant growth and development. Betty was the first Chair elected by the Board who was not Dan Hughes, DDP’s Founder.

The task of trying to figure out who we were as a board and what DDPI was without Dan’s direct day-to-day leadership was a massive adjustment, and still is. Betty took on the complexity, chaos, and challenge with incredible grace and poise. She always told us she was the middle child and peacemaker in her family. These qualities served us all so well. Betty’s steadiness, pacing and PACE-ing of the Board, curiosity about process and power slowly, surely moved us through these growing pains. In the process of being mentored by Betty to take on the Chair role, I spent many early morning meetings with her and treasure the bond we’ve forged over coffee, unshowered (me) and wet headed (Betty) trying to figure out how to do this Board thing, one meeting and day at a time.

Kim GoldingJulie HudsonIn addition to Betty stepping down as Chair of the DDPI Board, two founding DDPI Board members also stepped down last month. Julie Hudson and Kim Golding have both been essential and foundational DDPI Board members. In short, we would not be here without them.

The countless hours, meetings in person and over Skype and then Zoom, thinking and reflecting that both Julie and Kim have done to promote DDP, support its training through their mentorship, supervision, writing and leadership is almost too much to comprehend. I am comforted to know that Julie and Kim will both be sticking around and are continuing to serve as directors for the DDP Connects UK CIC (Community Interest Company), which allows us all ongoing access to their wisdom and friendship as we continue to evolve as an organization.

During this time of organizational transition and global health crisis, it has been a balm to have a virtual place to see many faces, 64 total from the DDP community, in Nikkia Young’s Racial Equity Workshop Series, Anti-Racist Discussion Groups and BIPOC Affinity Space that began in February of this year.

I am very grateful to Dr. Young and to Shani Sephton, DDPI’s internal racial equity consultant and lead on the workshop series for their generosity of time, energy and spirit to create an experience for myself and so many others in our community to begin and to deepen our journey towards greater racial consciousness, and to create sanctuary to amplify the voices of BIPOC DDP members that have long been unheard or silenced. There are several powerful personal Reflective Articles from DDP members about their experiences in the Racial Equity Workshop Series up on the website with more to come as the year unfolds.

Lastly, thanks to the incredible efforts of Leticia Gracia, Director of the Institute for Trauma at Attachment at George Hull Centre for Children and Families in Toronto, Ontario in Canada, Sian Phillips, Betty Brouwer, and many others, we are very excited to announce that DDPI will be holding its first virtual conference on June 14-16, 2021. The registration link is live and the conference line up of speakers is amazing and includes Patricia Vickers, Indigenous teacher, artist, psychotherapist and spiritual director; Helen Minnis, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow; Jon Baylin, Clinical Psychologist and author; Jean Augustine CBE, advocate for social justice and former politician; and Randy Maldonado, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and DDPI RESJ Committee member and incoming RESJ Chair (beginning in May 2021). Please come join us for virtual connection and community this June!

With great warmth and humility,

Courtney Rennicke