You might say that Change Matrix began because of pilates, Georgetown University, and a passion for improving the lives of others.
The idea of Change Matrix began in 2006 when Liz and Rachele’s families were moving away from the DC area. At the time, we were both on faculty at Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD). Liz had been there since 1998 and Rachele since 2002. We had many opportunities to work together through our focus on children’s mental health, including on a monograph entitled, “A Public Health Approach to Children’s Mental Health: A Conceptual Framework.” More importantly, we were also Pilates buddies – it was not uncommon to find us in empty office space squeezing in a pilates session for a mid-afternoon break. Upon finding out that we were both leaving the DC area, we were eager to figure out a way to maintain our professional connections despite moving to different states.
We soon engaged in dialogue with Suganya, who had also been on faculty with the National Center for Cultural Competence at GUCCHD from 1999 to 2005, and had been an independent consultant for several years already. We explored the values that brought us together, our interest in being part of a company, rather than working as individuals, and our commitment to balancing our work and personal lives. We chose our name, Change Matrix, to reflect our work as supporters of change within systems and in communities to improve lives.
In the early days, Rachele and Liz were fortunate to stay on part-time with Georgetown until 2008. This provided us with some economic security, as we also happened to be launching our business during an economic downturn. Our first contract was with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to serve as the National Facilitation Center for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (the NNED). This virtual network is focused on community-based approaches to eliminating disparities in behavioral health. This contract has been an anchor project for us for many years. Suganya brought the focus on public health and addressing disparities with her work with the Federal Office of Minority Health, Nevada State Department of Health, and private firms such as the Altarum Institute.
We’ve definitely learned a lot about business development along the way. As one of our colleagues like to say, “we’re building the plane as we fly it.” Although this is true to some degree, we have also taken a very deliberate approach to our growth while remaining true to our original values. In fact, we just brought onboard our new partner, Lacy, last year. Lacy brings so much experience and capacity in topics complimentary to CM core competencies. She also rounds out our multi –generational approach.