It is a new year and a new era for F.E.A.S.T.!
Leah Dean is our new Executive Director and I now step down to Policy Director. Starting next week I will be going back to my full-time writing. I will still do ED work (two of my manuscripts are ED-related, and even my novel has some characters with interesting symptoms…), and still do work for F.E.A.S.T. but it will be on a part-time and not an on-call basis.
Leah is in charge now and we are in good hands. Our Board of Directors and other volunteers are all stepping up to make this transition and move us to a new era. That may sound like the usual bla-bla-bla politeness as someone passes the torch, but it isn't. I'm genuinely relieved and happy and ready.
Leah has been working with me for F.E.A.S.T. for some time and brings professionalism and creativity and fresh focus at the perfect time. I admire her warm, calm approach to problem-solving and her ability to prioritize in a crisis! I look forward to working for her and supporting her work and the team of volunteers.
I didn't start F.E.A.S.T. to be the leader. I did it because I thought it needed to be done. I believed that a parent-led, parent-focused, and financially independent organization was needed to change the landscape for families facing eating disorders. I felt the world in general was on the wrong track about EDs if it even noticed them. I believed the existing eating disorders advocacy and treatment world were far too entwined and that financial influences was leading policy. I felt that evidence and science were missing in the advocacy world and that parents, burdened with a legacy of being blamed and marginalized, were not stepping up in large enough numbers or with their special concerns. It seemed that the job of parents was to be contrite and in the background.
I still believe all these things. Change is happening, though, probably in some small part to what we are doing as a parent community. That is the key: a community. This is not and cannot be about one person or one small group of people. The point of F.E.A.S.T. -- and my book and starting the Around the Dinner Table forum and my blog and starting Maudsley Parents and joining the Academy for Eating Disorders and giving speeches and volunteering and showing up and speaking out for ten years -- has always been to gather and harness the power of a parent perspective in a bigger way.
Personally, I'm tickled to pieces to pass it on. I am really looking forward to watching and cheering for others doing this work. Of watching it go in other directions and other talents being brought to the "table." I have always hoped that our collective work would eventually become obsolete because it would be mainstream to have parents fully involved in treatment and advocacy, to be led by science, and have the media be aligned with the science. Really: let's all hope for the day of breakthroughs that make eating disorders an obsolete topic, a condition for the history books.
It is going to be very hard to cut the cord for me – emotionally and functionally – but I'm afraid I have to learn. Although I know I'm not needed any more I can't pretend it is unemotional to phase myself out but it is time. I'm terribly proud to have started this path and nurtured it and to have the luxury of letting it go on without me!