The Rebirth of LA-CAMFT

Jonathan Flier, LMFT
Past President, LA-CAMFT
CAMFT Board Directors

The Rebirth of LA-CAMFT
by Jonathan Flier, Past President

Many of you reading this article have been enjoying attending our fabulous Networking Events and Special Interest Workshops for the past several years. These great community offerings were created and honed after our Chapter was reborn in 2009.

The Los Angeles Chapter had a crisis of leadership, direction and support. At that time, The Board of Directors informed CAMFT that the Los Angeles Chapter could no longer sustain itself and wanted to know the process for closing our doors. I was an inactive member of that board as Newsletter Editor, and had shifted my energy to help build a new Westside Networking District for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. That group created networking events quarterly that included a breakfast, a short lecture and interactive networking opportunities.

The CAMFT Executive Director asked us to call a meeting to see if we could create a new Board. Everyone at that meeting was looking for a way to keep LA-CAMFT from faltering and fading away. We all felt the value that our chapter could provide all of us; whether we were students, interns, newly licensed, struggling professionals, seasoned supervisors or semi-retired. Eleven people at the meeting stood up and said they wanted to share the responsibility and pledged to do whatever they could to re-create, revitalize and refresh the Los Angeles Chapter. We all shared a vision of LA-CAMFT as a hub for innovative networking, educational programming and supportive professional and social activities.

I reached out to each of the “skilled” people at the meeting and took them each to breakfast. We discussed ways to rebuild the chapter, and I noted for them the successful structure of the AAMFT meetings. I brought in the concept of “community connection” as the key to success, and how the warm friendly experience we had created with the AAMFT District became the new narrative for the Los Angeles Chapter. I then went to the leaders of the AAMFT group and got them to commit to being on the LA-CAMFT board.

The following week, I created a follow-up meeting to brainstorm a vision of for the Los Angeles Chapter that would fulfill our professional and personal needs as MFTs. An image emerged of LA-CAMFT as a central gathering place for therapists that reached beyond the MFTs. Our vision was to include others in the healing community including: Psychologists, Social Workers, Mediators, Lawyers Medical Professionals and those working at community agencies. Those at the meeting wanted real opportunities to know and be known by others in the community, to refer to each other, mentor each other, and learn from one another. A structure of multiple committees was conceived, some dedicated to organizational needs and some to fulfill the many interests, social groupings and expertise of our members.

I decided to try out a new monthly schedule of General Networking Meetings on alternate Friday and Saturday mornings with two free Sunday special social afternoon gatherings. We found a new venue with easy freeway access at a tree lined Cheviot Hills location with free Valet parking, and a delicious breakfast buffet. We had plenty of space to grow while maintaining a warm intimate atmosphere conducive for networking and experiential educational programs.

So a vision was honed, the structure grew and solidified. People gathered and created an atmosphere that filled educational, social and professional needs that was exciting, welcoming and fun.

Our first meeting was in March 2009, and for the first time we were sold out! Our next scheduled meeting in April was going to create a conflict with the AAMFT Networking meeting so I proposed to the AAMFT board that we combine forces and create a co-sponsored AAMFT and CAMFT event. Historically the two organizations were considered fierce competitors and fought against each other nationally and locally in California. Our successful joint efforts created a shift in that culture that has led to a cooperation and coordination representation of MFTs all over America.

This success moved us forward and the next necessary step for the future was for me to find a leader who would be willing to step into my shoes to carry on and grow the legacy we had created. After serving as President for 4 years, and overseeing the development and solidification of an organizational structure I knew I had to find someone willing to step in as the next President. After all, it was a crisis of succession that had caused the Chapter’s failure. I had to find someone who shared the collective vision I had for the chapter, and who could bring in skills that were missing in my leadership style.

I looked within our community and noted the skills, warmth and vision of Randi Gottlieb. I recruited her to join the board as Secretary. That gave her a front row seat of the organizational structure and her keen eye started to see the changes that would need to occur to move the Chapter to the next level. She then agreed to be Vice President and did an amazing job of streamlining, outlining and defining the organizational structure. We worked closely together and collaboratively refined the vision and mission of the Los Angeles Chapter. In 2014, Randi felt ready to step into the Presidency and has made her vision for our community a lived reality.

Soon after beginning her Presidency, she began to put into motion looking for her replacement. This year she has completed that all important task for the future of the Los Angeles Chapter by finding and preparing her replacement, Shelley Pearce. We are all very excited to see how the organization will grow under Shelley’s sharp eye, warm heart and sensitive professional style. I look forward to being one of her guides for the next couple of years.

*Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, Founder and Karen Wulfson, LMFT, Co-Founder of SM-WLA AAMFT Networking District, were the leaders of the AAMFT Group from 2007-2014. From 2009-2013, the highly successful LA-CAMFT SM-WLA AAMFT Collaboration presented monthly networking meetings that were well attended, interesting and invigorating, along with joint gatherings for the members of both organizations, and the local therapist community.

Jonathan Flier, MFT is currently serving on the Board of Director of statewide CAMFT. In 2008 he became President and restarted the Los Angeles Chapter of CAMFT. He has supervised interns for over 20 years at the Southern California Counseling Center and has a thriving practice that specializes in working with men, treating trauma and anxiety with somatic based therapies including EMDR, high conflict couples and passionless couples and consultations with licensed MFTs and LCSWs.