Meet our 2019 nominees

2019 AMFTRB Ballot Nominees’ Biographies

President-Elect

Jennifer Smothermon

M.A. LMFT-S, LPC-S, RPT-S, Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, Chair

Why are you seeking a position on the AMFTRB Board and should you be elected, what do you hope to accomplish in this position?
My primary goal is to be of service in accomplishing our mission to support MFT member boards in their task of protecting the public. I plan to facilitate communication between member boards and the board of directors and to collaborate to accomplish identified goals. I hope to aid member boards by providing research and resources that promote best practices in professional regulation; to continue work on licensure mobility, global practice, and common licensure standards; and to empower boards with board member training, support in rule-writing, and professional regulation in an anti-regulatory climate. I look forward to working together to plan and promote development within the organization.

How can AMFTRB best support member boards during the next 5 years?
Boards must continue to promote transparency and consistency, and to address effectively handling complaints and violations while taking into consideration remediation versus punishment. AMFTRB can provide members with frameworks for handling decisions and for board member training materials. Boards will be faced with the need to accomplish more with less and with the reorganizing of board composition based on legislative mandates for active state supervision. Boards will need to engage in continued conversations about how to facilitate multi-state practice. AMFTRB can continue to help states identify and remove unnecessary barriers to licensure, collaborate on ways to facilitate mobility through compatible standards and interstate agreements, identify issues related to continued competency, and addressing re-entry to practice.

What are the top (5) current regulatory issues faced by regulators?

  • Legislative issues related to the impact of NC Board of Dentistry vs. Federal Trade Commission which challenges Boards to better balance public protection with the professional’s rights.
  • Creating common standards for the regulation of practice mobility
  • Removing unnecessary barriers to licensure
  • Creating rules for minimum standards for teletherapy
  • To continue to create researched regulatory practices that promote both transparency and consistency while protecting the public.

How are you currently leading in your profession?

  • I serve on the Board of Directors for AMFTRB as the Member-At-Large;
  • By serving on the Teletherapy and Mobility Committees for AMFTRB.
  • I am Chair of the Texas State Board of Examiners of MFTs and led the Board during the TMA v. TSBEMFT lawsuit regarding MFTs right to diagnose and practice independently.
  • I currently serve as the Director of Development and the Graduate Internship Coordinator at the Ministry of Counseling and Enrichment.
  • I supervise graduate students from 2 different universities.
  • I supervise LMFTs, LPCs and Registered Play Therapists.
  • I serve as a presenter at national, state and local levels on various topics related to regulatory issues and MFT.

What are your greatest strengths/assets?
Two of my greatest strengths as a leader are listening empathically and working collaboratively. I bring leadership as a member of the AMFTRB board of directors and of the Teletherapy and Mobility committees. The challenges and learning acquired during service as a state board chair have been invaluable. These included winning a lawsuit over the ability of MFTs to diagnose and practice independently, Sunset Reviews, rule promulgation, and work with the legislature. I have also served on various state committees including Licensing and Standards, and Professional Development. I am experienced in developing and implementing board member training. I am also skilled in strategic and long-term planning and organizational growth.

List of Affiliations with related groups/organizations:

  • AMFTRB Board of Directors as Member-At-Large; AMFTRB Teletherapy and Mobility Committee Member; State Delegate (TX)
  • Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and Current Committee Placements: Ethics Committee and Rules Committee
  • American Association Marriage and Family therapy, Clinical Fellow, Supervisor
  • Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Clinical Member
  • Abilene Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, (former) Clinical Member
  • American Association for Christian Counselors, Clinical Member
  • Texas Counseling Association, Clinical Member
  • Big Country Counseling Association, Clinical Member
  • Association for Play Therapy, Clinical Member, Supervisor
  • Texas Association for Play Therapy, Clinical Member

 

David J. Norton

Ph.D., LMFT

Why are you seeking a position on the AMFTRB Board and should you be elected, what do you hope to accomplish in this position?
I believe in the mission of AMFTRB and enjoy interacting with the people that I have met there. This role seems to be a good match of my skillset with the needs of the organization.
I want to build an increasingly responsive and supportive organization. I also hope to strengthen our collaboration across jurisdictions, helping each to do an excellent job of public protection without creating needless barriers to high quality practice.

How can AMFTRB best support member boards during the next 5 years?
AMFTRB can provide a diverse and relevant annual conference that addresses issues facing board members. AMFTRB central office should increasingly promote its availability as an important resource for state member boards. AMFTRB must continue to maintain an excellent exam and support an excellent exam experience for candidates.

What are the top (5) regulatory issues faced by regulators?

  • How to resolve the standard of equivalency. It remains non-existent.
  • Licensure portability and reducing barriers to worker mobility without compromising the protection of the public.
  • The differing of jurisdictions regarding licensee discipline.
  • Supporting the State Boards in regulating technology-modified therapies.
  • Gaining acceptance by all jurisdictions of the AMFTRB licensing exam and thereby gaining strength and integrity for the profession in the future.

How are you currently leading in your profession?

  • Recently honored by receiving the Significant Contribution to MFT in Illinois award.
  • Offering workshops at the annual state conference.
  • Past member of the Illinois LMFT Licensing and Disciplinary Board.
  • Having maintained a private practice for over 38 years; recently sold the same after building it to a point of employing 40 clinicians and 3 locations.
  • 22-year career at Wheaton College teaching MFT courses

What are your greatest strengths/assets?
After serving 15 years on the Illinois licensure Board, most often as Chair, I find that I am attuned to many of the issues that the States face. I have also recently served as Treasurer of AMFTRB and have a sense of the inner workings of the Board. I have also served as a delegate to AMFTRB for many years and have participated in many discussions on regulatory issues that the States come up against. I am also organized, responsive, able to multitask and conscientious about hitting deadlines. As a former business owner with management experience, I can contribute this knowledge to AMFTRB.

Please provide a list of all affiliations with related groups/organizations.

  • Fellow, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Approved Supervisor, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Member of the Illinois Affiliation of Marriage and Family Therapists.
  • Founder of Centennial Counseling Center in St. Charles, Yorkville and Sandwich, Il.
  • Developer of GrowingOurPractice.com

Secretary

Karen Cunningham

M.A., LMFT, LMFT-S, Board President Alaska Marriage and Family Therapy Board

Why are you seeking a position on the AMFTRB Board and should you be elected, what do you hope to accomplish in this position?
I am seeking the Secretary position with AMFTRB in part because of the work I’ve done the past few years. Last year was a year of significant growth for me as I worked with legislators to gain government approval on several important issues for Alaska’s community, and I would bring that hard work and ambition to the national stage to work to create an even greater impact.

How can AMFTRB best support member boards during the next 5 years?
One major task AMFTRB has coming up is to figure out how licensees can move within the country and maintain their status as Licensed Marital and Family Therapists. Currently, there is no perfect portability process that works for every state. I would like to work to continue AMFTRB’s past work on mobility to create as uniform and simple a portability process, as is possible, that every state would accept or incorporate the major elements of into their regulations and rules. The ability of clinicians to practice outside of the US is an important part of this issue.

What are the top (5) current regulatory issues faced by regulators?

  • Ensuring that MFT Associates are fully competent through both educational and supervision components.
  • For AMFTRB to work with states needing to adjust some parts of their statutes and regulations.
  • To help protect the public by educating potential MFTs and their clients about our moral, ethical and value stances and by being vigilant in our own states for violations requiring disciplinary actions.
  • To have the states come together and agree on a portability compact in order to enhance the movement of both clients and therapists.
  • To ensure protection of the public.

How are you currently leading in your profession?

  • I was involved in creating and adopting legislation that added Marriage and Family Therapists to the list of providers accepting Medicaid in Alaska.
  • I want to share that research and provide that process and information to other states for their work with underserved populations around our country.

What are your greatest strengths/assets?
I would have to say that my greatest strength is my perseverance. Throughout my life I have set goals and tackled them not giving up until I had met the goal. Now as an adult, I can solve that Rubik’s Cube, juggle 3 (almost 4) balls, and walk across a gym floor on my hands. I have strong research skills and effective rule writing language skills, which resulted in the creation and adoption of legislation for LMFTs being added to the list of Medicaid providers in Alaska. I have efficient organizational skills for managing diverse ideas and combining relevant resources to generate collaborative decisions for successful meetings.

Please provide a list of all affiliations with related groups/organizations.

  • Vice Chair for the Alaska Marriage and Family Therapy Board
  • Fellow, American Association of Marital and Family Therapy
  • Member, Alaska Association of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Former Commissioner of Health and Wellness for Special Olympics, Alaska

 

Jeremy B. Blair

LMFT, MBA, Alabama Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy

Why are you seeking a position on the AMFTRB Board and should you be elected, what do you hope to accomplish in this position?
I am impressed with the mission and drive of the organization. We seek to improve our services and knowledge for the state boards while serving our primary role of protecting the public. I have enjoyed experiencing firsthand the excellent effort and teamwork that occurs within the organization through my participation in the Teletherapy, the Joint Teletherpay and Mobility, and the Reserve Fund committees. I look forward to serving alongside the board members to continue in this mission. I would like to continue working with states to improve licensure by endorsement, especially for military families and to continue our board’s history of being on the forefront of impactful change such as teletherapy and endorsement.

How can AMFTRB best support member boards during the next 5 years?
Our first role is to listen to the members to understand their challenges and opportunities. While many states are similar, each state is unique in its political environment, board composition and licensee structure. It will be important to get to know each delegate and to learn about their states as the board seeks to serve them. The Board will need to continue learning and being aware of the national landscape as it pertains to licensure so that we can bring that information to our delegates to give them the best information possible so that they may make informed decisions at their state level.

What are the top (5) current regulatory issues faced by regulators?

  • Sexual misconduct by licensees and other ethical violations by licensees.
  • Reducing barriers to obtaining a license. There is a growing sentiment that we require too many certifications and occupational licensees. MFTs may be included in this deregulation movement.
  • Inappropriate online relationships between licensees and clients. As the lines continue to blur between professional and personal presence online these types of issues will likely increase.
  • Telehealth regulations, complaints by the public receiving telehealth services by out of state providers, and how to resolve those conflicts.
  • Licensees practicing outside the scope of their expertise.

How are you currently leading in your profession?

  • By using my position as CEO of a large mental health center to reaffirm the benefits of using a systems approach to impact a client’s well-being.
  • By serving on the Alabama Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy.
  • By promulgating rules for teletherapy as a member of the Alabama Board.
  • Through the promulgation of rules regarding on-line supervision as a member of the Alabama Board.
  • By serving on various boards of directors outside of my profession, giving me broader perspective of boards serving individuals from different needs and backgrounds.

What are your greatest strengths/assets?
I work well with a team and enjoy the time spent with them. There is an African proverb that says, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” There is so much truth in this proverb. Great things have been accomplished by great teams and great boards. As a CEO, I am able to dream big and put the larger picture into context for the employees that I serve. I have a passion for those in behavioral health and in discovering new ways to drive systemic change to improve their lives. I believe AMFTRB contributes to that systemic change in its own unique way as it prepares and verifies those licensed clinicians who provide valuable services to those who need it.

Please provide a list of all affiliations with related groups/organizations.

  • Governor-Appointed Board Member of the Alabama Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy — July 2013-Present.
  • Board Member of the Alabama Association of Marriage and Family Therapy — 2003-2013 Past President, 2012-2013; President, 2010-2012; President-Elect, 2009–2010; Secretary, 2003–2008
  • Member of the National Council for Behavioral Health
  • Board Chair of HAPPI Health (Federally Qualified Look A Like Health Center) June 2017–Present
  • Board Member of Life South (blood center in the southeast), September 2018– Present