Jeanne PasternakJeanne Pasternak, LCSW, CGP, DFAGPA

In my previous role as Chair of the International Board for the Certification of Group Psychotherapists (IBCGP) and my present role as a member of the AGPA Board, I often speak with members about their certification and membership in AGPA. So often, in fact, that many prospective members turn and run when they see me coming! Those I can corral often ask, “What does Certification do for me?” or “How does membership in AGPA benefit me?” And I’m reminded of the famous John F. Kennedy quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Giving to the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health is one way (of many) I can give back to AGPA, to enhance the field of group psychotherapy and to fill the need for better mental health services in my community. The work that our organization does, far beyond what it does for its members, is quite remarkable. I’ve had the good fortune to be part of AGPA since the early days (way before computers!) when we recognized our role in the greater community. Listening to and reading about the work of our Public Affairs Committee and Community Outreach Task Force impresses and inspires me greatly. The amazing work our members did in the aftermath of 9/11, the support of members working around the world at the time of a crisis, our presence in the training and setting standards for the field of group psychotherapy, our efforts to include all mental health practitioners —we continue to strive. This is why I have chosen to donate as I do to the Group Foundation. 

My husband Matt and I were so moved by our AGPA involvement after 9/11, we committed to making the Group Foundation one of our main philanthropic efforts. We believe that our hard-earned dollars need to be given to an organization where it can make the greatest impact. The financial support of the Group Foundation was also instrumental in the development of the Certification of Group Psychotherapists. Developing the basic standards for education and supervision, and the commitment to life-long learning, across our multi-disciplinary field was a major undertaking. I’m proud to have been part of this from the beginning. Volunteer hours were great, but it took increased financial support to make this possible.  The Group Foundation provided that needed financial support.

I see our contributions to the Group Foundation as a way to support improved mental health in our greater community. I wish I could be a part of the many projects that AGPA has going across the country and the world. From training programs in various communities to scholarships for young professionals to attend our AGPA Connect, I know that my support helps these programs happen even if I cannot be there myself. Matt and I are hopeful that if we give what we can, our successors will also pay it forward so AGPA can continue to provide these vital services.