As has been the tradition at PRA for 8 years, the word of the upcoming New Year was revealed by Hank Steadman, President of PRA, during his State of the Firm address on the day of our company holiday party. And this year’s word is…TRANSITIONS! Here are some transitioning moments PRA is about to experience in 2014.
- On January 15th, Deb Dennis, PRA’s VP for Technical Assistance, will “change her relationship with PRA” (aka retire). We put it this way because Deb, we hope, will always have a substantive role in the important work we do. As Hank said during the Address, back 1998 when Deb started with PRA the field of homelessness was “unformulated.” It was Deb’s knowledge and expertise that helped PRA win the contract for The National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness – a cornerstone project for many, many years to follow at PRA. Today, the aspect of homelessness has a firmly rooted place in the world of behavioral health research and technical assistance. While we wish Deb nothing but happiness in the next phase of her life, her day-to-day absence will surely be evident at PRA and will be among one of our biggest transitions this year.
- In the wake of Deb’s change, directorship of The SOAR Technical Assistance and Training Center will be handed over to Kristin Lupfer. Kristin has been Co-Director of the SOAR Center since its inception over three years ago. We are confident that with her many years of experience around issues related to SSI/SSDI, Kristin is the right person to lead The Center and as a result, this will be a smooth transition.
- On a personal note, Hank acknowledged that he turned 70 in 2013! Hank was 44 when he started PRA and in the 26 years PRA has been around he has seen many changes, both in the field and at the office. The natural evolution of technology has brought many changes to research and research methodology. For example, in the early years PRA was built upon a foundation of “distiller”-type projects – ones where the key function was to bring people together and churn out information. Typically, this was done through large-scale national conferences. Today, many of our projects take on a trimmer approach where individual project staff head out to conduct site visits or collect data using field laptops and tablets and when we do conduct meetings, they are usually for smaller audiences who have been hand-picked by federal project officers or after responding to a specific solicitation. And, more connected to evolving technology, we shouldn’t forget to mention all of the virtual meetings that we now hold on all of our projects.
- Change is something that excites PRA, so just as we go with the flow of the behavioral health field we also embrace change when it comes to our little office in Delmar (and NYC, NJ, CT, GA, CO, and NC). While we prefer to stay small, PRA is bigger than it has been in a long time. As the years go on, the management style at PRA has also evolved to keep up with external and internal changes. One of the most exciting outcomes of this transition to a (slightly) larger staff is that we have more people bringing really interesting ideas to the table and generating new projects.
Pardon the cliché, but for PRA the sands are always shifting and we are no strangers to change. Whether it be on a macro level (ACA and its implications for the behavioral health field) or on a micro level (sending off a staff member integral to everything for which PRA stands) we are ready for the transitions that 2014 will bring.