December 15, 2021

The Ally: Celebrating Many Good Things


I've written many intros to our weekly editions of the Ally since we began publishing it in April 2020. This one is particularly sweet to me. The day this newsletter hits your inbox is the tenth anniversary of my starting my job as the executive director of Families as Allies. My mind is flooded with memories and my heart overflows with gratitude.

I am thankful for the full time and contractual staff of Families as Allies: Coreaner Price, Henry Moore, Dominic DeLeo, Jackie Taylor and Nikki Flippins. They are united in their belief in our mission. I'm grateful to the board of Families as Allies, their leadership and their unwavering commitment to Mississippi's system of care being family-driven.  I appreciate all of the board presidents I have served with and what they taught me: Katherine Clarke, Sylvia Leggette, Carlyn Hicks and our current board president, George Stewart.

I am grateful for each person who is reading this newsletter and the ways that you support families, Families as Allies and me. I am especially thankful for each family who is part of us.  

I am reminded of Tessie and the legacy and memories she left. I've often said that I'll never be able to fill her shoes, but it is both humbling and a privilege to follow in her footsteps. I appreciate all of us working together to keep those footsteps going in the right direction.

It is touching to look at the articles in this week's newsletter through the lens of the last ten years. When I started this job, my first goal was to develop a comprehensive parent peer support training program based on the competencies of the National Federation of Families and to implement it in partnership with state partners. There have been quite a few twists and turns in the journey but the curriculum is now implemented in more than one system, and we are reaching out to support those working with peer supporters as well.

A few weeks after I started this job, I asked how we sent out policy information to families so they could give input into it. I was surprised to learn that we didn't have a way to do that. I am glad that we now have have ways to share policy information with families and all of you, and there seems to be increased buy-in to the importance of families always having a say in the policies that affect their children.

It is especially touching to celebrate the retirement of my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Linda West, on the day of my ten year anniversary. Linda and I have worked side by side on many projects for many years. She is a champion for families always being at the table. I am thankful for her support and inspiration. I wish her the very best. 

Thank you all very much for the last ten years. I look forward to continuing the journey. 

Joy Hogge signature


Anyone working with parents providing peer support to other parents in any system is invited for two virtual conversations in January.
Dr. Linda West, founder and executive director of Mississippi Families for Kids, announced her retirement after 40 years in social services.
Mississippi is considering Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers, a new model of providing mental health care through Medicaid.
Register for the combined Virtual 8th Annual Community Partnership Celebration and Open House on January 24th at 5:30 pm.


Join other parents for a monthly meeting and online gathering to coach and support other parents in any system.
The Mississippi Board of Mental Health Meeting will be held on Dec. 16 at 9 AM. on Lamar St. in downtown Jackson.
The Mississippi State Board of Education meeting will be held on Dec. 16th. Participants may attend live or view the meeting via live stream.
This hour is open for any family member to drop in for all or some of the time to ask questions or get feedback about IEP issues.
Family members may drop in to share any concerns or get feedback from others about handling different situations.
Join other parents for a monthly meeting and online gathering to coach and support other parents in any system.


Quarterback Dak Prescott is the Cowboys’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year Award in part due to his willingness to talk about mental health.
“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said.
A federal judge has approved funding for an independent monitor to collect and analyze data on how Mississippi’s mental health system is working to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.
STARKVILLE —  In an Instagram post Tuesday, Mississippi State women's basketball forward Jessika Carter detailed her battle with depression, opening up about two suicide attempts in a five-month span this year.
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