For me, attending the CenterLink Leadership Summit was nothing short of life changing. I am honored to have won the scholarship to attend this year’s event and what I took away from the experience will no doubt have a lasting, positive impact on Compass Ventura and our counties LGBTQ community.

From framing conversations with our donors, sponsors, and volunteers, to program development, to inspiration, and networking, the summit has made CenterLink a pillar in our organization — a pillar I didn’t know we needed and now I can’t see how we ever got along without it.

We Are Not Alone

When I first stepped into Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the summit was being held, I felt at home. These were my people. Ventura County has a shortage of services and people fighting for the LGBTQ community and being around so many like-minded organizations and their people was a breath of fresh air — we are in this together. Small organizations and centers with multi-million dollar budgets alike were all sharing the same space and helping on another all the same.

The first thing I felt and the largest thing I took from the summit was a vision for what Compass could become, that the dream could become in even greater reality, and that many others were there to guide us all along the path that had already been made and taken.

A Much Needed Positive Change

It goes without saying just how trying our current times are. It is so easy to point fingers at politicians or other peoples failures. The CenterLink summit though, was about solutions, working together, and overcoming obstacles to be able to meet the needs of our LGBTQ community — the homeless, the sick, the suicidal… We are all here together to change lives one story at a time.

One of my favorite sessions of the summit was “Leading the Conversation: A New Narrative for Human Services” by Ilsa Flanagan. Her session was focused around steering away from engaging our community with crisis and fatalism and moving towards building well-being.

Here are two examples from Ilsa Flanagan’s lecture:

Framed with Crisis and Fatalism

As lawmakers wrestle with each other and the budget, funding for vital services are being gutted and people are suffering. The proposed budget would shut the door to critical services for hundreds of thousands of families across the state. But then what? Families in need are not going away. Our elected officials need to do their jobs.


We need a budget that is smart, reasonable and doesn’t end up costing more than it saves. Cutting in the dark is never a good idea.

Reframed with Building Well-Being

As our policymakers use our most important civic tool for peering into the future – our public budget – we must make it a priority to attend to our nation’s most important asset – our human potential. When we build a foundation of well-being, we ensure that everyone can contribute to our communities.


Call the governor today and tell him: A good budget meets our needs today and plans for the future – we need everyone’s potential for the civic, social, and economic well-being of our communities.

See the difference?

The first one is only bringing up problems and pointing fingers at people we actually need to be working with, not against. The second message is bringing value to the surface and a positive call to action that everyone can get behind and benefit from.

This is just the kind of attitude I wish for myself and for my colleagues, friends, family, and community. Hearing this at the CenterLink Leadership Summit was refreshing to say the least.

The Future is Bright

There were many wonderful talks at the summit, including one of my favorites “Branding Your Center to Drive Value” by Jayzen Patria and also a favorite “From Good to Great: How to Become a High Impact Board Member” by Marta Miranda-Straub, CEO of The Center for Women and Families — both deserving their own blog posts and the summit would be worth every penny just to see them.

Did I leave the CenterLink Leadership Summit ready to tackle the needs of the community? Yes.

Will I be using the CenterLink resources that I knew little about and now can’t wait to start? Absolutely.

Is attending the next CenterLink Leadership Summit a must for Compass Ventura? You betcha!


  1. Sean Baker, LMFT, SEP

    Thank you Michelle for the wonderful synopsis of Centerlink. I didn’t attend, but your enthusiasm and inspiration makes ME feel ready to tackle the needs of the community with YOU!

    • Michelle Rosenblum


      I am so happy to hear that! A handful of projects are in the works and your input on them would be very much appreciated. Our collaboration and efforts are just what our community needs right now.

  2. Micheal Frances Smith


    Thanks for attending this important conference on behalf of COMPASS. We hope to send you again next year but with other board members to join you.

    Your comments were inspiring and I am so please you were able to attend.

    • Michelle Rosenblum

      It was a wonderful experience. I am so glad that you became a member of CenterLink and I am looking forward to being plugged in to them.

  3. Evergreen

    Thank you for attending on our behalf, Michelle! These are great insights and I know we all eager to hear more about what you learned.

  4. Lisa

    Michelle, Among your many talents, you can write! Thank you for giving me a picture of this “life changing” conference. The folks at CenterLink were wise to select you as a scholarship recipient, as now you are a wonder spokesperson for this wonderful community service. Our community and Compass are delighted to have you along for the journey. I personally am looking forward to sharing our projects with our community!

    • Michelle Rosenblum

      Thank you so much, Lisa — very sweet! It motivates me to be working with such fine people, such as yourself. I couldn’t dream up a more wonderful person to be on this journey with.


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