A Blueprint for Change
When considering how to use her post-retirement time, Chris Corken had one condition: “I was only going to spend it on things I cared deeply about,” she says.
After learning about the Community Foundation’s initiative to improve access to brain health services, the career prosecutor, who served the Dubuque area for 30 years, knew she found a project worthy of her time.
That was in 2016, not long after the Foundation learned through a needs assessment that barriers to brain health care were impeding many Dubuque residents’ ability to thrive.
“Throughout my career I saw how circumstances kept people from getting the help they needed and the frustration caused by a system that didn’t function the way it should,” she says.
Corken, already a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, jumped at the chance to be part of the solution. With deep knowledge of government, law enforcement and social services, she volunteered to help convene community leaders to address the problem.
Since Corken’s work began, significant progress has occurred, thanks also to a $50,000 Telligen Foundation grant. By connecting brain health providers and law enforcement, the foundation facilitated expansion of a “mobile crisis unit” that enables police to call for support from Hillcrest Family Services when they encounter someone having a brain health emergency.
Additionally, a new initiative helps people jailed for misdemeanors — and also diagnosed with brain health issues — move through the criminal justice system more quickly to ensure they remain connected with social safety net programs and other well-being resources upon release.
This work also led to the approval of a Dubuque County access center— one of six required statewide — to serve people with urgent brain health needs.
Through her work, Corken hopes to inspire others, particularly “ordinary people” like herself, to support the Community Foundation’s work addressing emerging needs in the community.
“The Community Foundation is uniquely positioned to do systems change work,” she says. “We can forge partnerships among local leaders to find solutions to regional issues. That’s the blueprint for change.”
Are you interested in supporting access to brain health services? Contact Faye Finnegan, director of donor relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 563.588.2700.