Coming to you live from the 19th Annual Conference in Chicago! We have record-breaking attendance this year, and it’s been so wonderful to meet all of our members, professionals, family members, etc. Welcome!
Today, we are honored to have an interview with Joy Kant, who will be the recipient of the Patricia Perkins Outstanding Service Award at tomorrow morning’s Keynote breakfast. If you are here in Chicago, please be sure to congratulate Joy as you see her around the conference this weekend.
Please tell us a little about your history with the IOCDF? When did you first become involved?
I was asked to join the IOCDF (formerly called the OCF) after I gave the first fundraiser, “A Coffee and a Talk” with Dr. Michael Jenike in our home in Massachusetts. Many of our friends and relatives came to hear Michael speak.
While on the board, I was on the following committees: Executive, Finance, Audit , Affiliates, Website, the PSA, RTB (Relocation to Boston), Search, Governance, Development, Public Relations/ Marketing, BTTI, and OCD in the Classroom Task Force. In addition to the above, I was also the President of the Board for four years, Co-President and Treasurer for two years.
What does receiving the Patricia Perkins Service Award at this year’s conference mean to you?
When Denise Egan Stack, current President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, called to say that the board had voted to give me the Patti Perkins Service Award, a recognition that was usually given to mental health professionals, I was rendered speechless. I never imagined that my work should be recognized in this manner. Those who live with OCD deserve to be praised for their courage to get up every morning and work to overcome the difficult challenges they face every day.
From your unique insight as long-time board member and former President of the IOCDF, tell us what you like about the Annual Conference. What makes it unique? Are there any other meetings or conferences like this?
As far as I know, there are not any other meetings or conferences in which consumers and mental health professionals jointly attend. That is probably what made it so special for me the first time I attended an Annual IOCDF Conference in 1995 (held in Boston that year). I was able to meet other parents of children with OCD and to hear treatment providers discuss various approaches to treating individuals with OCD. It was a place where for the first time since our son was diagnosed I did not feel alone or overwhelmed by what lay ahead for our family. There was a sense of hope that enveloped me. I suddenly felt more confident that I knew what I had to do to help my son and others living with OCD.
Do you have a favorite talk from past year’s conferences?
There have been many talks through the years that I have enjoyed: Dr. Michael Jenike’s questions and answers on Medications, Dr. Jeff Syzmanski’s talk on “Perfectionism”, Patti Perkins’ workshop on Disability, Jeff Bell’s Media Panels, Virtual Camping with Jonathan Grayson, Randy Frost and Gail Steketee’s work on Hoarding, my daughter’s workshop for Siblings and my son’s panel discussions on what it is like to attend college having OCD.
Which workshops/ sessions are you most interested in this year and why?
I am very interested in hearing more about PANS/ PANDAS as I really question whether or not that is when it all began for our son.
Anything else you are looking forward to at this year’s conference?
I am actually looking forward to having my whole family together this year at the conference. It will be a celebration not just for me, but for every one of us. Alexis just received her doctorate in clinical psychology and Jared, a social worker, will be returning to the conference as a professional. I am also looking forward to seeing friends that I have made since I began this journey eighteen years ago.
What are you most excited about doing in Chicago while you are there for the Conference?
I am looking forward to visiting the new wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, a spectacular addition to the art community.
If you could give any advice to someone who is not sure about attending the conference, what would you tell them?
Find a way to go. It is well worth the time and the money. Without the support of the Foundation and the OCD Community, I am not sure that our son would be living the life he is today.