Places for People honored longtime supporter and board member Robin Adkins on Saturday at Harvest Moon, an event celebrating the Places for People Leadership Society, with the Francie Broderick Award for Service.
In the spirit of celebrating Francie’s tireless dedication to mission of Places for People, the award was established to annually honor an individual that exemplifies the characteristics Francie personified.
In her professional career and personal involvement with Places for People, Robin Kolker Adkins’ life work has been devoted to advocating for people living with severe mental illness.
For the past 17 years, Robin has worked at Janssen, a pharmaceuticals company of Johnson & Johnson. During that time, Robin has worked to ensure that people living with severe mental illness have access to the medicine that will allow them to focus on recovery. Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies recently honored Robin as one of 12 recipients of the 2016 Volunteer Recognition Grant for her volunteer work with Places for People.
Robin was introduced to Places for People when she worked at Life Skills Foundation.
For the past 16 years, Robin has served on the Places for People Board of Directors. In her various roles as a board member over the years, Robin has been able to make a direct impact on the lives of people living with severe mental illness by helping the organization survive and thrive in volatile times for health care.
Robin’s personal experiences with extended family members living with severe mental illness allow her to serve in her leadership role with care and compassion for the people we serve.
“My favorite part is knowing that what we do can potentially reduce the stigma of mental illness. The more people we can educate about what Places for People is, the less feeling that it’s scary. One more person who might not look at somebody with mental illness differently in the future.”
Robin helped Places for People start a full-fledged development department that now brings in funds for multiple programs through grantwriting, events and donor relationships.
Over the years, Robin and her husband, Michael, have introduced hundreds of members of the community to the work performed by our organization. These relationships have resulted in countless donations and volunteer hours.
Robin has also been an advocate for mental health in the St. Louis community, helping to bring Johnson & Johnson’s “Mindstorm” schizophrenia simulator for an event held by Independence Center in 2010, and helping Places for People with its “Hear Our Voices” advocacy campaign in 2015.
That role as advocate is the priority of any board member, Robin said. “Whether we’re raising money or introducing people to the agency, we are advocates for the clients we serve. That’s our job.”
Robin’s leadership, guidance and support have been invaluable to Places for People. Robin has helped our organization successfully navigate a merger, and an ever-changing health care environment. She uses her experiences on the board to be a mentor for new members. As one of the longest-serving board members, Robin has some simple advice for new board members. “The more engaged you are, the more you’re going to get out of it. The more you’re going to learn about the clients who need our support.”
Robin approaches her role with an unmatched excitement and enthusiasm. In short, Robin is a model board member and embodies everything about this award.