Thriving Mind Board Member Remembers Dr. Bob Nolan, Longtime Children’s Mental Health Advocate

Ms. Valera Jackson remembers Dr. Bob Nolan, who died last week; he had worked for decades to support children’s mental wellness in Miami-Dade County. Ms. Jackson was Founding Chair of the South Florida Provider Coalition (SFPC). The Coalition later became South Florida Behavioral Health Network, Inc., the corporate name of Thriving Mind South Florida. Ms. Jackson is currently an honorary director at Thriving Mind.

“In 1996, when Providers of Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health in Miami-Dade County gathered to form a coalition to not only increase the amount of needed treatment services but to share promising approaches in treatment, it was somewhat surprising the number of so called “silo” agencies whose directors were anxious to talk to each other. Indeed, we did not know that the incorporation of a Provider Coalition would ultimately lead to Managing Entities throughout the state with much more knowledge and emphasis to behavioral health issues and prevention of illegal substance abuse, particularly among children.

“It was during the formation of South Florida Provider Coalition (SFPC) that I met Dr. Bob Nolan and learned of the contributions he was making as Executive Director of the Institute for Child and Family Health.  Bob was not the loudest person in the room. Indeed, he spoke softly when he made a point or suggestion to help SFPC move forward, particular focusing on children’s mental wellness.  However, it was immediately evident Bob had a logic that people listened to during those discussions.  My sense is that Bob, who served as Executive Director of the Institute for over 35 years before he retired in 2012, spent his life dedicated to not only his own thriving family, but families and children who were suffering from mental illness, substance use disorders and/or behavioral issues that can insidiously break both individuals and families. Bob gave much, not only to the  Institute for Child and Family Health (ICFH) and his staff over the years, through mentoring and, importantly, testifying on behalf of suffering children and their families in Tallahassee and nationally, helping to positively change how our country deals with children who have mental illness. If I had a question about our services (or lack of them), Bob was my go-to guy.  He could look at problems locally or easily give me global insight from 30,000 feet.

“As former Executive Director of SFPC and former President and CEO of South Florida Behavioral Health Network, Inc. (now Thriving Mind South Florida), Mr. John Dow said, “Dr. Nolan was a man who lived with total focus on kids and family.” Dr. Nolan had a life well lived and his contributions, as well as the Institute for Child and Family Health continues to help and change the life projection for thousands of children and families. Thank you, Dr. Bob Nolan. Your work will not be forgotten.”

Dr. Nolan’s wife, Janet Courtney, honored his memory in this Facebook post