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Adrienne Scavera, MSW, Director of Training and Outreach for Mental Health Association of Oregon (MHAO)

Adrienne Scavera, MSW, is the Director of Training and Outreach for Mental Health Association of Oregon (MHAO), a community-based organization in Portland. Currently, Adrienne is a member of the Oregon Health Authority’s Peer Delivered Services Core Team and the Unity Center for Behavioral Health Advisory Council. She was also recently appointed to Oregon’s Traditional Health Worker Commission in addition to serving as a subject matter expert for the commission’s Training Evaluation and Metrics Program Scoring Committee. An experienced trainer, Adrienne has delivered workshops and presentations locally and nationally. Adrienne also has the privilege to supervise and educate social work students as a Social Work Field Instructor.

In her work, she prioritizes the experience of individuals as the experts on their own lives. Over the years, Adrienne has worked in research, direct service, program development, management, training, and with non profits, educational institutions, and peer-run organizations.

Number of years in management: 4 year

Tell us about your path to management:
As a teenager, I had the opportunity to participate in a year-long leadership institute through the Ford Family Foundation and Rural Development Initiatives. Through that process, and a two-year stint as the president of the International Club in high school, I learned that I had interest in leadership. Over the years, my interest turned to education and practice. Before getting my education, I would often serve as person-in-charge in my work as a residential counselor in a 27-bed behavioral health treatment center for transition-age youth. Once in school, my Master of Social Work education had a concentration in social service administration and leadership. Shortly before I graduated with my MSW, I was promoted into a management role within my organization, a small non-profit. After almost four years in a program director role, I was promoted again following a restructure of the organization – now practically seven times larger than when I had joined! My current role is as the department head for the training, technical assistance, and workforce development division of Mental Health Association of Oregon, operating out of Portland, Oregon.

What leadership qualities do you find to be the most effective in reaching your organizational or career goals?
Humility and a lifelong commitment to always being open to learning and bettering myself has been key to moving towards my goals. A willingness to grow from feedback and openness to making mistakes has been critical too. I also see integrity and accountability as important leadership qualities that have made me more effective in reaching both my organizational and career goals.

How do you motivate your team members?
I think actions are more powerful than words when it comes to motivating team members. People notice when you do what you say you will, and are working hard to support the team. I try not to ask of others what I would not ask of myself. I hold myself to the same standards as those that I work with. With my team, I strive to be consistent, supportive, transparent, and always open to learning from their perspectives. Also, remember to celebrate the successes!

Is there a leader or mentor who has inspired or assisted you along your professional journey?
There have been various individuals over my educational and professional journey that have both inspired and assisted me. Always being open to learning is a key management quality for me, and I constantly try to learn from those around me, whether our interactions are brief or years long. Mentorship is valuable to me, and I am excited about having been recently accepted into The Network for Social Work Management’s International Mentorship Program.

How has networking impacted your career?
Networking has positively impacted my career and the opportunities made available to me. Relationship building and creating connections are powerful skills. Networking has helped me to be intentional in my work – whenever I have the chance to introduce people who might be of mutual benefit to each other, I offer to connect them. I am continuously working on improving my networking skills and developing my network.

What are you reading and/or following now (book, blog, social media groups, etc)?
Currently, I am reading Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. I’m also reading Alison Green’s latest book: Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work.

Green’s Ask a Manager blog is one that I really enjoy too. I appreciate her pragmatic approach to management issues ranging from the mundane to the absurd.

Oftentimes, I will look up what Monday Morning Managers have listed on their feature to discover new reading.

What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions?
Take chances. You will make mistakes, and that is okay. Be open to new opportunities – you never know where something might lead! Treat everyone with respect. Communicate clearly. Know your worth. Set professional boundaries – that can be critical both to a work-life balance and ethical practice.

Do you have an initiative or project you would like to tell our readers about?
I would like to share about the peer delivered services movement. As a discipline, it is relatively new, although people with shared experiences have been mutually supporting one another for centuries (e.g. sober houses, parenting groups, trauma survivor groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, etc.). Peer delivered services are voluntary services that are delivered by individuals with lived experiences of mental health and/or addiction challenges. These services are an integral part of a trauma-informed approach to care, and are a person-directed, culturally responsive method of supporting individualized paths to recovery. Some states have training and credentialing processes in place for peer delivered positions – Oregon is one that does.

What do you wish you had known before you started your career?
I wish I had known the importance of negotiation, especially as it related to pay equity, benefits, and titles early in my career.

Share a mistake or failure that provided the most growth in your career.
Starting out, I experienced a bit of imposter syndrome and felt like I was not qualified for the management position I was holding. Because of that, I felt like I needed to overcompensate and do every aspect of my job perfectly, take on any additional work requested of me, and not ask for help or support lest my humanity be discovered! I thought that being a leader meant not showing anything that might be perceived as a weakness. I now know that failure is an important part of growth. We learn from our mistakes and get stronger as a result.

Where can people reach you for questions (LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter)?
I welcome connections.



*The views expressed herein are those solely of the author and not necessarily endorsed by The Network for Social Work Management.

The views expressed herein are those solely of the author and not necessarily endorsed by the Network for Social Work Management.

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