While the IOCDF’s former Program Director Marissa Keegan will be missed, we’re excited to welcome a new face in the office, Melissa Smith. Melissa is part of our new education & training department and will be serving as the new IOCDF event manager. Enjoy our Q&A with Melissa below to get to know the newest face at the Foundation a bit better!
What made you interested in working for the IOCDF?
Melissa (MS): At the end of the workday, I enjoy knowing that I have contributed in some way to the advancement of health care; this is why I have chosen to stay in this field throughout my career. The mission of the IOCDF truly spoke to me, and aiding that mission is something I am very honored to be part of. Throughout the interview process, it was made even clearer to me that the staff here are dedicated and innovative individuals who come together to form a dynamic (and fun!) team.
What will you be doing on behalf of the Foundation?
MS: My predecessor, Marissa Keegan, who many of you in the OCD community know well, did an excellent job of “handing over the reins,” per se. My role in the newly-titled education & training department at the IOCDF will be to work collaboratively with other departments on all aspects of planning the Annual OCD Conference and Training Institute programs offered throughout the year to the OCD community.
Have you helped create and manage events for any public or mental health organizations before?
MS: My entire event management career has been in the healthcare world, starting with an internship at Mayo Clinic. I have managed continuing education events for an association (American Association of Clinical Endocrinology) and two major academic institutions (the University of Florida’s College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School).
Is there anything you’re especially looking forward to at an upcoming IOCDF event you’ll be managing?
MS: I am especially looking forward to meeting more members of the OCD community, both leading up to and on-site at the Conference. From what I’ve heard, this is an outstanding community, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve everyone by planning another successful event. Submissions for presentations just closed, and it’s amazing to see the range of ideas submitted. Exciting!
Why should the OCD and related disorder community be excited for you to join our team at the Foundation?
MS: I bring quite a bit of event planning experience to this role, and just as I am excited to be using my skills to give you a fun and educational Conference, I hope you are excited to work with me on making each year better than the last!
Also, it seems to me, based on previous Conference programs, award winners, and photos I’ve seen, that this community is a fun and humorous bunch. Guess what? SO AM I! I believe that humor can be the key to a healthy mind, and I look forward to seeing what presentations and award winners are in store for this year in Chicago!
Just for fun — share something cool, interesting, or unique about yourself!
MS: I am a native Floridian, born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I went to middle and high school in Nashville, Tennessee, but ended up back in Florida for college, so I am a southerner through and through — and I make some mean boiled peanuts. If you’ve never tried a boiled peanut, you should! Just make your way down to North/Central Florida, take any one-lane highway from Tallahassee to Gainesville to Tampa, and stop at any roadside stand. It will be the best decision you’ve ever made — unless, of course, you have a peanut allergy!
We’re excited to welcome Melissa to our team, and share her excitement in seeing what’s ahead for future IOCDF events! Make sure to sign up for Conference email updates here to stay on top of all of the latest news and information related to this year’s event, taking place July 29-31 in Chicago!