Deb D’Arcangelo is the CEO of Council for Relationships, a nonprofit organization that provides individual, couple, and family therapy to people throughout the greater Philadelphia area. The group currently encompasses more than 60 therapists and psychiatrists (as well as more 50 clinical interns) in 10 offices and community-based locations in region. Additionally, Council also provides education and training to mental health professionals and conducts behavioral health research through a number of different programs.
EDWIN WARFIELD: Tell us about yourself. You’ve worked/served in a number of corporate and nonprofit leadership roles over the years. What led you down your career path, and what motivated you to become CEO of Council for Relationships in 2015?
DEB D’ARCANGELO: I’m the youngest of four children. My father was a Marine. We grew up in a lower- to middle-income family, and neither of my parents went to college. My mother encouraged all of us to apply to the best schools that we could. She said, “these schools have scholarships, so you should apply to these schools.” My siblings and I had the opportunity to go to fabulous schools and get a wonderful education, and so we took advantage of that. At first, I went to Phillips Exeter Academy, which is an excellent private boarding school, and had a wonderful experience there. Then I had the opportunity to go to Harvard College, and enjoyed my four years there as well.
When I came out of Harvard, my goal was to get a really good job. I went to work on Wall Street. I worked for JP Morgan for seven years, which I really enjoyed and learned a lot from, but I did want to use the opportunities that I was given to help others as well. I wanted to work with lower income, urban communities and ended up working for a Community Development Corporation in Trenton.
I worked for the Community Development Corporation for five-and-a-half years and got a mid-career Masters at Princeton University, and then I served on several boards for about 10 years. One of the boards that I served on is the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area. The CEO there was stepping down, so I was asked to be the interim CEO. I did that for three-and-a-half years. I brought that Planned Parenthood affiliate to merger with another Planned Parenthood affiliate. It was a one-county affiliate and it was really too small—didn’t have the infrastructure to provide healthcare today.
When I finished that role, I was looking for another role, and the opportunity at Council for Relationships came up. I really do like to use what I’ve been given, and the opportunities I’ve had, to level the playing field for others, so that they too can have opportunities.That’s one of the things that drives me.
Some of us have had great opportunities, others haven’t, and so how do we level the playing field? One issue is access to healthcare and high quality healthcare. So working for the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area gave me the opportunity to help people have access to high quality healthcare—reproductive healthcare and sexual healthcare. There was stigma around that. There’s stigma around reproductive healthcare. Working for Council for Relationships, I’ve had the opportunity to use my skills to help people get access to high quality healthcare in the form of therapy and mental healthcare, and there’s stigma around mental healthcare. That’s my consistent value: trying to help others get access and level the playing field, and I have had the opportunity to focus on healthcare.
Q. Is improving access to mental healthcare and reducing the associated stigma part of the group’s mission?
A. The mission for the Council for Relationships is to help people from all walks of life improve the quality of their important relationships by providing exemplary therapy, by providing education and training to therapists in the family systems approach, and by furthering research in the behavioral health field. We have the opportunity to serve more than 5,000 people a year with therapy—33,000 hours of therapy a year—and we do that with everybody we can in the Greater Philadelphia area, and so we have a sliding fee scale, so those who wouldn’t have access to high quality therapy do have that access.
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