People in my city are lost…You will make such an amazing change for them. I imagine if all people had the CMBM [model], we would have a peaceful world.

Ihab Khudair, Child Protection Officer, Save the Children, Mosul, Iraq

When I founded The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in 1991, my goal was to make self-awareness, self-care, and group support central to all healthcare, to the training of health professionals, and to the education of our children. I wanted to create a community of healers and a healing community. And I wanted to be sure that we brought our healing program to those who needed it most.

In 2018, that vision is becoming a reality. What began as an idea and a gathering of like-minded volunteers in Washington, D.C., has grown into a thriving international community of 25 full-time paid staff and 160 faculty.

More than 6,000 clinicians, educators, clergy, leaders of women’s groups, and other community leaders have come through our Professional Training Program in Mind-Body Medicine. More than 5,000 other people have attended our Food As Medicine training programs and our Comprehensive Cancer Care conferences and CancerGuides trainings. We have an actively engaged, gifted Board of Directors, a distinguished Board of Advisors, and a deeply committed community of superb, compassionate faculty and staff.

James Gordon, MD Founder and Executive Director

The power of this small group process to transform has been so evident.

Ellen Fox-Snider, Parent, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida

Amy Shinal, LCSW, our Clinical Director, Julie Staples, PhD, our Research Director, and Tina Fisher, our Senior Program Manager have worked with CMBM for 20 years, as have Board members, Ann Hoopes, Dennis Jaffee, and Dave Levy. A number of our faculty, including Kathie Swift, RD, who co-leads our Food As Medicine trainings, have been with us for just as long, and many core staff, including Rosemary Murrain, Ed.M, MBA, our Managing Director, have been working closely with me for 10 years.

In 1996, I wanted to see if a model that was beginning to work so well here in the U.S., could be helpful to people in some of the most troubled places on the planet. I travelled, sometimes alone, sometimes with colleagues, to communities, regions, and countries devastated by war and natural disasters. Though much of what we taught was unfamiliar, even a bit weird to some of the clinicians, educators, and community leaders we met, they appreciated the effectiveness of our techniques, the spirit in which they were taught, and the common sense and humanity of our approach. By 2012, we had established programs in Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel, Gaza, and Haiti, with New York City firefighters and their families after 9/11, in Southern Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, and with active duty U.S. military and veterans.

We came to understand that stress and trauma are universal, challenging in themselves, and predisposing those who are overwhelmed by them to future psychological and physical distress and disability. Our focus sharpened. During the first years of our work, we discovered that the model of self-care and group support we were creating was remarkably well suited to relieving that stress and to transforming trauma – from an unmitigated disaster to an opportunity for individual and community renewal.

This is the first time [since the war in Iraq] that I’ve really felt alive again.

Dylan Tête, U.S. Army (Ret.) Director, Bastion Community Resilience

The research we began to publish in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals showed the effectiveness of our small group model, reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder by 80% in war-traumatized children and adults who participated in our 10 week long Mind-Body Skills groups (in Kosovo and Gaza). Meanwhile, other studies were demonstrating the effectiveness of our programs for helping U.S. medical students and health professionals to reduce their stress and burnout, enhance their performance, and find new hope for their healing missions.

Now, in 2018, the work that we have done is entering a new phase of growth and development.


Where once I and a few faculty were the only ones traveling to new territories to establish new programs, many of our faculty are now taking the initiative. Bob Buckley, Judith Pedersen-Benn, Lora Matz, Matt Erb, Kathy Farrah, Noshene Ranjbar, and Julie Kilpatrick laid the foundation for our work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, a proud but desperately poor community suffering from an epidemic of youth suicide. Jennifer Phelps, an internist, created a CMBM program for oncology professionals. Our team in Gaza led by Dr. Jamil Atti continues to provide much needed emergency trauma relief work in Gaza. We have partnered with Islamic Relief France to bring hope and healing to orphans and families of those lost in the ongoing conflict and violence in Gaza. And Toni Bankston and Cherie Snyder, social workers, are developing community-wide initiatives in Baton Rouge, La, and Allegany County, MD.

These Mind-Body Groups are saving lives.

Alice Bad Heart Bull, School Counselor, Pine Ridge School

Our program graduates are also becoming ambassadors. In the last year, Gwen Brehm, a psychotherapist in the Houston area has collaborated with our staff to bring CMBM’s program for healing population-wide trauma to post-hurricane Harvey Houston, Adair Look, a psychiatrist, was instrumental in calling together leaders in health and public health who invited us to Sonoma County following last year’s fires; Lilly-Marie Blecher, a naturopathic physician is working to integrate our program into the care of all indigent people in Taos County, New Mexico. And, most recently, Anyieth D’Awol, a human rights lawyer from South Sudan has brought us with her to Southern Africa to address the profound psychological distress of people overwhelmed by war, mass rape, and starvation.

We now have what is likely the world’s most effective program for dealing with population-wide psychological trauma. And, increasingly, those who are hearing about the effectiveness of our work and the compassion with which we do it, are inviting us to their communities: local leaders coping with the ongoing collective pain following the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Broward County Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas.

The Mind-Body Group gave me hope and life meaning again.

Marwn, 14 years old, East Gaza

2018 was also a breakthrough year for forging major partnerships. We are now working with national and international organizations to bring our work to more people than ever before. HIAS (The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) has invited us to begin work with refugees in Kenya. Islamic Relief is supporting our work in Gaza. Save the Children has begun a partnership with us in the Middle East. And a major division of the Veterans Administration is bringing us to Florida and the Caribbean.

Many donors have been committed to providing major ongoing support, including the Irene Meister-Armington Trust and the OLP, Gordon and Llura Gund, Windrose, Nordberg Family, Lipshy Family, Mental Insight, Hellman and MIMI Foundations.

We are now finding new and generous sources of support. Major community foundations have made it possible for us to move quickly to meet emergencies in Houston and Sonoma County. A grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative allowed us to do the same in Broward County. The Simon Family Foundation is supporting a significant expansion of our program at Eskenazi Health, the largest safety-net health system in Indiana.

Recently, new donors have invited us to participate in efforts that are dear to them: Physician Mehmet Oz is raising money for our work with Syrian refugees in Turkey. Actress Robin Wright will be bringing our program to women devastated by violence in Eastern Congo. And Dennis Rivera and Terry Bischoff of the Foundation for a Better Puerto Rico, are leading our effort there.

We are also using the Internet more robustly and creatively. Thanks to grants from the Scheidel and Sampson Family Foundations, we are developing a CMBM Membership Program and expanding all of our website communications. The Simon Family Foundation and Eskenazi Health are supporting an online learning platform focused on providing nutrition information for all the people of Indianapolis, which will also support and expand our CMBM healing community.

Our budget in 2018 is 50% greater than it was in 2017. It is likely to increase by as much more in 2019.

Still, our need for support is significant, particularly for general operations; for our ongoing humanitarian work in places like Haiti and Gaza, which the world too easily ignores; and for critical emergency outreach to communities in crisis.

You are really amazing, and we give great thanks to God for the remarkable work you are doing in so many places where God’s children are hurting.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond TutuNobel Peace Laureate

When you look at our website (cmbm.org), you’ll see that we’ve had some wonderful press, including very favorable stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Jerusalem Post, and a CBS 60 Minutes segment that features our work with war-traumatized kids in Gaza and Israel.

As we continue to do this work, and as our scope grows, so do we – psychologically and spiritually as well as geographically and financially. People who meet us in trainings and workshops, on the phone and by email, comment on the compassion and respect that they feel in their interactions with us and in the way our faculty and staff relate to one another.

Many of you who are reading this have helped make our vision a reality. I want to thank all of you, and also to express my particular gratitude to Chuck Feeney and Don DeLaski.

Chuck, the co-founder of Duty-Free Stores saw in our work in Gaza and Israel, a program that reminded him of the Irish Peace Process, which he had funded. He believed we could reduce tension and relieve the trauma of Palestinians and Israelis, build mutual understanding, and perhaps even help create peace.

My dear friend, Don DeLaski, who founded the Deltek software company, was for twenty years, a CMBM Board member, advisor, major contributor, and thoughtful, loving, supportive spirit.

Don and Chuck gave clear-eyed advice and funded us with open-handed, open-hearted generosity. Don’s support continues through the DeLaski Family Foundation led by his daughter Kathleen.

As we ready ourselves for the New Year, I want to invite you to join with us: to renew, or initiate your connection to CMBM; to learn more and come closer; to participate in our work and our community of healing; and to continue to support us.

It feels right, as we share our message of self-awareness, self-care, and mutual support, of community and peace building, ever more widely, to remind you of what our Lakota friends and colleagues have been teaching us, that “you are all my relations.”

I look forward to hearing from you, and to being with you in the year ahead.

Jim

 

 

 

 

James S. Gordon MD
Founder & Executive Director
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine