How Our Chapter Began
By Anita Eagleton, LMFT
In the summer of 1979, I was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Chapter of CAMFT, which served MFT's from San Jose to Sonoma and beyond. Board members traveled long distances to meetings and our phone bills were high. It had been resolved in previous meetings that we would disband as a Bay Area Chapter and reorganize into several chapters closer to our practices, more manageable and locally oriented. At that time I was the only Marin representative and it became apparent to me that I would have to take on the job of starting a Marin Chapter or become disenfranchised and isolated.
It was brought to my attention that Gertrude Cherry, LMFT from San Anselmo shared my interest in having a Marin CAMFT. Soon she and I were sending postcards to other MFTs in Marin, inviting them to join our effort. In Gertrude's living room, in the fall of 1979, we had the first organizational meeting. Present were Rae Ellen Mercer (now Godfrey), Duncan and Joyce Cameron, and I. Many phone calls, more postcards, and much enthusiasm later on December 2,1979, we held the second meeting at Catholic Social Services. Rae Ellen was Director of Family Services there and arranged for us to use their conference room. Approximately twenty-five LMFTs came and there was a great deal of interest in what was going on!
At that meeting, I was elected President; Elin Modjeska, Vice President; Susan Holland, Secretary; and Adrienne Hoke, Treasurer. Gertrude was to become the first Program Chair and Rae Ellen the first Parliamentarian. We had no Bylaws so the election was very informal. The CAMFT State office provided us with a generic set of Bylaws, the State Board chartered us and we were official.
Our small group was to provide the bulk of energy and work in the coming months of organizing, building structure and launching membership meetings. It wasn't long before we were joined by other willing members: Marvelle Greenwood, Victor Barbieri, Joyce LeBeau, Susannah Henderson, Carol Trahms, Barbara Smith, Toula Silver, Annette Sonneborn, Michael Tonjum, Chuck Billings, Lenore Cantrell and others. We created a telephone tree to reach every possible MFT and divided those long calling lists between us.
There were many functions that we wanted to incorporate into the Chapter agenda but there were never enough people-hours. We met at the YWCA, Whistlestop, California Federal Savings and at the Mental Health Association. We convened on Sunday evenings, alternating general membership program meetings with informal potluck dinners in members' homes. Members were invited to present areas of their expertise at these potluck meetings.
As new people came forward we grew committee by committee: Bylaws, Ethics, Newsletter, Legislative, Publicity and Speakers Bureau. We reached out to students and appointed our first student representative, Tina McMillan from Dominican College. Twelve members began the Telephone Information and Referral Service, linking us to the people of Marin County in a new and important way. We put together the first Chapter Directory, which was disseminated to County referral resources. We put on our first Chapter Conference, on the new DSM-III, at Dominican College.
By January 1982, CAMFT's Legal Counsel Dick Leslie had almost single-handedly won the legislative battles involved the passage of Freedom Of Choice laws, giving third party payment to LMFTs. With the prospect of an exciting future, we were off and running as a viable Chapter!
It gives me great pleasure today to see how the Chapter has grown and become such an important source of professional and personal richness for Marin LMFTs. My thanks and acknowledgements to subsequent Chapter Presidents and Boards.
Marin CAMFT Chapter Presidents