Julie Payne’s Story

How and when you first became involved with the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center?

I know the Finnegan family and have supported the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center since its inception because I believed then, and still believe now, in its mission. Former board chair, Alex Gallagher, spoke with me about the potential of serving on the board, and I was so honored and excited to have the opportunity to join such a smart and passionate group whose values aligned with my own.

What are your strongest beliefs on why mental healthcare is so critical?

Mental health resources have typically not been accessible or affordable to so many people in our community, even if one has insurance. I remember many years ago, I first sought out therapy as I struggled with pregnancy loss. I had an idea of where to find help and once I did, I was stunned at how expensive everything was. I eventually found a trusted therapist. I have continued to seek counseling over the years to work on my anxiety, and issues with all types of grief and loss. I am so thankful that I have this lifeline, always knowing that I have a safe place to work through the hard and confusing parts of my life. Therapy is a resource I will use forever.

As a member of our Advisory Board, what are you most proud of in terms of the work NFCC does?

I’m continually amazed at the flexibility and speed with which the staff pivoted at the start of the pandemic to continue to provide services in a completely new way via telemedicine and Zoom. No time was lost as they formulated their plan to continue to serve the Houston community. Many organizations may not have been able to pivot as quickly once the pandemic began. It takes excellent leadership and a good relationship between the staff and board to do so, and NFCC is fortunate to have both. 2020, and the start of 2021 has been so hard for so many, and I believe it would have been devastating if NFCC had not been able to pivot and continue to offer mental health services during this global crisis.

What do you hope to see NFCC accomplish over the next few years?

I believe NFCC is on a great path, guided by their strategic plan, to continue to serve more and more people in the community while remaining accessible and affordable. I do want to see more counselors added to the staff so that we can reach more people in the community. I also want NFCC to continue to be in touch with the diverse needs of the community and work to meet those needs by offering a greater variety of mental health counseling and resources. I personally want to continue to serve as an ambassador for raising the profile on mental health and sharing the really great work of the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center.

What keeps you involved with NFCC and mental healthcare?

I have had the opportunity to serve on a variety of boards, and to work as a social worker and therapist in different organizations, so I have seen first hand what a thriving organization looks like and feels like. NFCC is one of those special organizations that truly is organized, well-run, fiscally minded, and in-touch with the diverse mental health needs of the Houston community. It is a privilege for me to be around and to work with such a smart and caring team.