Little did Edward G. McPherson IV know when he first walked into Newport Mental Health to begin as the Director of Marketing and Development in February 2020 that the world would be thrown into a pandemic that would require both medical and mental health professionals to work at a fever-pitch like no other time in history.

 “I had no idea of the scope of the work that would unfold,” said the 34-year-old McPherson, who was the Executive Director of the Island Moving Company in Newport, RI. “Typically fundraising and marketing practices carry over between industries, but those playbooks were almost useless when Covid-19 began.  But element of crisis created opportunities that I may not have had so readily. The crisis allowed me to gel with the management team quickly.”

McPherson is no stranger to mental health. In his first career as a ballet dancer, he recounts his experience at the Interlochen Arts Academy where mentor Mark Borchelt “took the time to empower me with the tools to take care of my mental health. Too often, we only think about mental health when we are in crisis.”  

Edward G. McPherson IV | Photo provided by Newport Mental Health

Meanwhile, McPherson’s five-year experience as the Program and Education Coordinator of the Midland County Public Library system in Midland, Texas helped him know how to approach his new position. 

McPherson began by setting up an infrastructure to capture and analyze constituent and performance outcomes. “Taking an evidence based approach is so important, not only from fund-raising perspective, but especially in our marketing landscape. Internal stakeholders understand what we do, and why it’s important, because we share the data behind it.” Through the pandemic, for example, Newport Mental Health has raised just over $8 million, and reached Newport County residents with accurate, informative, uplifting, and positive mental health messaging 1,096,981 times.

“Despite the pandemic interrupting all of our planned fundraising events, Edward’s expertise and ability to innovate was amazing. He pivoted to not only maintain our fundraising efforts but to grow them,” said CEO and President Jamie Lehane.

At present, McPherson is the President-Elect of the RI Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and serves on the nominating committee for the national board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Regarding his goals and aspirations for 2021, McPherson said many community members know someone with a mental health challenge. Uncovering the challenges their friends have faced getting the care they need helps Newport Mental Health fine-tune the services and treatments they provide to the community.

“Deepening our organizational commitment to listening, and continuous improvement, is a part of the relationship building with our supporters that I’m looking forward to as we start to gather in person again.”

Newport Mental Health, a federally Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic offers evidence-based mental health services to the 82,000 residents of Newport County, regardless of ability to pay. On an annual basis, NMH serves over 1,450 high risk adults and children at its five locations.

Source: Newport Mental Health

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