Region Ten Fires Exec. Director

The scandal over Region Ten Executive Director Philip Campbell’s background didn’t last long — he was sacked by the board of directors yesterday, John Yellig writes in today’s Progress. Board members cited his management style as the reason for his dismissal, not the revelations about incidents that occurred under his watch nearly a decade ago.

03/15 Update: Yellig has a followup article today in which one board member expresses great shock at Campbell’s firing and a parent of a client says that the staff was wrong about this.

26 thoughts on “Region Ten Fires Exec. Director”

  1. Wow! The tail wagged the dog! And it looks like (at least in the city of Charlottesville) character assassination in the public media is an appropriate way to get rid of that boss you don’t like. (I’ll have to remember that next time I want to get my next boss fired.)

    It’s also looking like organizations that say they may want or need change… well it’s looking like that’s just lip service.

    Chalk up another win for the “keeping the status quo” team.

  2. Heh…TrvlnMn, I have to acknowlege: you are nothing if not consistent. ISTR that you had the same take on Scottie Griffin.

    Can you not imagine/conceive that there is an alternate universe where it’s not the “tail wagg[ing] the dog”, but simply really, really crappy decisions being reversed? I think it’s very unlikely the boards – either for the CCS or Region10 – would be willing to so publicly ‘admit’ a mistake by reversing themselves – that’s very contrary to the nature of boards and most people individually. I most cases, these reversals are at the ‘point of a barrel’, figuratively speaking.

    The wholesale defection of all members of both of these larger organizations were the alternative. Region 10 does suffer a good bit of turnover in the lower ranks, largely due to the lousy pay with which we as a society reward such work, but that makes the stability in the upper levels of the organization even more critical. In both cases there was good evidence that the boards were confronted with institutional collapse if they didn’t reverse themselves.

    You may call that ‘shaking things up’ and “need[ing] a change”, but applying that to what was going to happen in both of these organizations amounts to a pretty nihilistic definition of those terms. It make me wonder if you have ever run an organization of this size, or at least participated in the management at some level – you seem absolutely hostile to the idea of institutional knowledge or memory – something absolutely critical for the long term success of any organization. The only other possibility I can imagine is that you are just so hostile to these two organizations, for whatever reason, that you would prefer to see them collapse rather than continue to limp along.

    What specific policy changes was Campbell making to the system of services provided by Region 10 that you feel were needed and resisted by staff? How do you reconcile or discount the legal troubles dogging both Griffin and Campbell, and their lack of disclosure in advance, with the particular (specific) merits of each?

  3. Long term success and Region Ten in one sentence–that’s the best laugh I’ve had all day. Thanks civil libertarian. And yes, how awful of Phil Campbell to try and stop a private residential treatment center from using cattle prods on autistic youth. When did losing in court for a good cause become “legal trouble” or a badge of shame? At Region Ten, that’s where, the ultimate in shaming their clients and anyone who wants them to do a good job for once. Exactly what evidence do you have, civil libertarian, that anyone in this town who has to work with Region Ten on a professional level has had any respect for them in years and years?

    Middle management was the problem, along with the board, now they remain and the clients and the people who have to deal with Region Ten’s arrogant incompetent middle management will suffer. Yes, I would prefer to see a good number of the people who have been at Region Ten for years and years leave, then there would be a chance of Region Ten actually fulfilling its mission.

  4. Personwho – So…

    And yes, how awful of Phil Campbell to try and stop a private residential treatment center from using cattle prods on autistic youth.

    …you’re asserting the board decided not to renew his contract because they are so enamoured of cattle prods and he wouldn’t use them? C’mon…Clearly the court issues Campbell was involved in took place well after the ‘aversive procedures’ (cattle prods) had already been dealt with by a court, and after the court-appointed independent monitor had established a working relationship with Campbell’s predecessor. This court case had nothing to do with cattle prods and everything to do with high- and under-handed manoevering in bad faith that Campbell engaged in, attepting to make an end run around the court monitor – for his own political purposes. This is exactly the kind of management mis-behavior people at Region 10 are complaining about, and information that would have been quite relevant in reviewing his background prior to deciding to bring him in here.

    Long term success and Region Ten in one sentencethats the best laugh Ive had all day.

    They aren’t in the same sentence – I was speaking of organizations in general. Moreover, I didn’t suggest Region 10 is particularly successful – not even historically – what I said is institutional culture and memory are key to the long term success of organizations – particularly when there is high turnover. Yes, if the culture is bad or counter to the mission of the organization, then sometimes it is necessary to ‘break it.’ For example, a culture of racism, the sexism (misogny really) of the military, or the current evangelization of the same. But, I don’t believe that’s the problem at Region 10.

    To direclty answer your question: I know quite a few people – starting with myself (although, my direct involvement is right on your 10 year boundary) – who have been involved professionally with them. But, how about settling for the folks who run the MR Clubhouse?

    I do agree that much of middle management is lousy – and they are exactly what you would expect to get under the circumstances. I also think the place is chock full of people who are genuinely committed, hard working and under-rewarded – I was responding to generic broadsides against those people.

    Region 10 is a provider/solution of last resort – they take the folks nobody else will take – often time, as with the City Public Schools competing with private schools – they take clients everyone else wouldn’t touch. And, I’ll hasten to add: let’s just compare Region 10 with that fine private care provider: Wilson/Brown/Whisper Ridge (or whatever it’s being called this week in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the legal system – trying to stay ahead of charges related to client abuse). The clients are Region 10 can’t afford to access anything better – or they would. In many cases, Region 10 is dealing with problems that are not really fixable – they simply do the best they can to address stuff in a palliative manner. Our societal committment to dealing with these intractable problems is weak – so support for Region 10 is weak.

    Region 10’s biggest problem is structural: the crazy funding pastiche (‘reimbursements’) that they run on. The entire organization and service structure has to be molded around whatever the insurers (primarily Medicare and Medicaid in this case) will provide coverage for. A crazy patchwork of small grants and other small sources – special state programs for this that or the other – all in tiny amounts – are used as well. Most of that patchwork, and the Medicare hoops, are there to avoid making reimbursements. In other words: everybody is trying to avoid paying for services for the clients. Region 10 wastes huge amounts of energy just keeping up with documentation requirements in order to chase dollars. Moreover, there isn’t much money for quality people.

    Just like any ‘business’ – the quality people go where they can get the most money. The best people come, work hard for a bit out of ‘dedication’ and then move on. What you wind up with are the people for whom that kind of operation is the best they’re ever going to do. Think about that. You get what you pay for. People who stick around, expect, since they aren’t getting dollars, to at least get promotions based on seniority. Yes, there are some not-so-hot folks in middle management – much of Region 10 runs on politics (like any organization anywhere).

    What this amounts to is, yes, the higher quality people who can do command the fees in the marketplace, do move out of Region 10 and on to other things. They are probably not so impressed by the quality of the talent that stays behind. I certainly know this was true in my case.

    In the interest of full disclosure: I also worked for the City Schools – over a decade ago – and left again for the same reasons – I was able to make better money elsewhere, based on skills and ability.

    You get what you pay for – and we pay very little for Region 10.

    However, bringing in a disruptor – someone who wants to just roil the waters – doesn’t address any of the structural funding problems. I am quite sure (and I won’t name names to avoid slander) that I can think of at least one individual who would have undermined or worked at cross-purposes to Mr. Campbell, purely over sour grapes. I’m glad that person didn’t get the job either – they were already peter-principled too far up the ladder. From what I hear, though, Campbell wasn’t in the business of fresh innovation – to be sure, although he was a great guy, Jim Peterson was not innovating the last ten years there. Campbell was in the business of stirring things up for the sake of stirring them up. Campbell’s antics in Massachussetts had everything to do with his political aspirations and public appearances and nothing to do with solid changes.

    This CEO myth business gets very tiresome – do you really believe ‘mission statements’ change corporate behavior or culture?

  5. I rhink you have gotten some bad information. Phil Campbell was not out to stir things up just for the sake of stirring things up, he wanted to change Region Ten’s culture to one that respected the clients it serves and he made structural changes such as adding a full time consumer advocate, creating a consumer advisory committee and bringing in consumers to interviews of key positions to affect these changes.

    I don’t really understand your point in regards to the case in Mass. Phil Campbell lost in court to a judge who had failed to recuse herself, the same judge that approved the electric shocking of youth was the judge in the case between the private provider and the state. I can’t see how you could possibly be privy to Phil Campbell’s motivations in going after the license of this facility. What the previous person had done was agree to let youth be shocked, aversive treatment which is illegal in Virginia. But no, that’s not why the board fired him.

    The board fired him because they caved to pressure from malcontented middle managers who resented the fact that their favorite person didn’t get the job before Phil Campbell ever got there and who most likely blackmailed the board by threatening to resign. They didn’t want any change, don’t want any change and will cause just as much trouble for the next director.

    You seem to be saying that there is no possibility of getting better managers at Region Ten. I don’t believe that is the case. There are a lot of underemployed professionals in Charlottesville who could do a much better job than the current folks and the salaries of the managers are competitive in the Charlottesville area. Charlottesville has the fourth largest number of MH professionals per capita in the U.S. Surely we can do better and surely we must do better. I don’t understand your last sentence–what were you trying to say? What CEO myth business? What changes corporate culture and behavior is new leadership and new managers and outside pressure. We all have to work on the outside pressure on Region Ten now that Phil Campbell is gone.

  6. My knowledge of the Massachussetts case rests on the court documents provided – in particular, the JRC/BRI case. My information is based on the findings of fact presented by Judge LaStaiti. You suggest her findings should be ignored since she should have recused herself. The facts as she presents them come across to me as entirely believeable and likely sounding.

    I’m saying: the view that we are better off with most of these organizations by simply tearing down the whole shooting match (what you will do if you have all of middle management leave in a revolt) and starting from scratch, is wrong. Perhaps judicious attrition, but not out an out destruction. The various ombudsmen/advocate type positions are a great thing. I do not believe ‘consumer directed’ policies will ultimately be successful – there are not enough goodies to dole out to go around.

    Yes, we have lots of MH professionals in C’ville – how many do we have with good bureaucratic management experience? Doctors (and would-be doctors) tend to think they are equally competent at everything, just because they made it through medical training. A little bit of knowlege is a very dangerous thing.

    I suggest that a gradual program of change, with proper compensation packages, will attract better quality folks – you think we have better quality folks on hand in town, ready to step in at current salary levels, but no openings? I disagree – I don’t think C’ville is full of competent MH/MR management types. There are also a couple of director level folks there who will be retiring soon.

    I think we do very likely agree that the problem is as the middle-management level – the first tier below the CEO and perhaps some folks just below them. There is a tendency for incompetent managers to drive off strong subordinates, and I’ve been out of the organization for too long to get a good sense of whether or not the internal pipeline is primed properly or with more of the same. I think we disagree that catostrphic ‘cathartic’ change is in order – the only people who will really suffer will be the clients.

    I do think ‘external pressure’ ought to be applied where it belongs: on Richmond – where funding decisions are made.

  7. Cville Libertarian wrote:

    It make me wonder if you have ever run an organization of this size, or at least participated in the management at some level – you seem absolutely hostile to the idea of institutional knowledge or memory – something absolutely critical for the long term success of any organization.

    While I have not “run an organization of this size,” I do have management experience.

    One of the many things I learned from that experience was that “institutional knowlege or memory” as you put it in organizations that are in need of change is becomes a hinderance and excuse that entrenched employees (who very well could be part of the problem) use to avoid changes and/or reforms that might be needed to move an organization forward in some meaningful capacity.

    The wholesale defection of all members of both of these larger organizations were the alternative.

    I seriously doubt that. I’m sure you may have lost a few people, the malcontents that didn’t want to make the prescribed changes, but thats healthy and how organizations grow and move forward.

    Can you not imagine/conceive that there is an alternate universe where it’s not the “tail wagg[ing] the dog”, but simply really, really crappy decisions being reversed? … In most cases, these reversals are at the ‘point of a barrel’, figuratively speaking.

    No I can’t imagine that alternate universe. Especially not in organzations mired in the swamp of “Institutional memory.” And a reversal at ‘the point of a barrel’ hardly seems to me to be a situation where anyone is ‘admitting’ a mistake.

    All thats happened is that people have learned how to use the politics of character assassination, and the media, to undermine an unpopular boss. And because of the public nature of these organizations they’re vulnerable to that tactic.

    If changes are or were needed its a win for those resistant to change, and as I said in my first post it’s a win for the status quo.

  8. Waldo Jaquith Says:
    “Dang. You two are substantially smarter than I am.”

    No kidding, regression is setting in! Soon, you’ll claim suburbanite status… LOL! I just knew it!

  9. Hi All- I used to work for Phil in MA. Phil sees himself as a change agent and, given that the last Exec you had was there since the 70s, that’s probably why he was hired. Unfortunately, his management style, although well-intended, looks like it hasn’t changed in the past decade. Managing organizational change is tough work and inevitably requires some bruised egos along the way. But there are lots of ways to take it on, one of which is some level of subtlety, maybe not a strong characteristic in this particular person… Hope you find a great replacement. and by the way, regarding the lawsuit- the state was in the right but was represented poorly by the Attorney General. An unfortunate case of a Republican Governor with a Democratic Aspiring Governor running the AGs office. Truth will out one of these days. But no reason the judge should have recused herself.

  10. TrvlnMan – I am in management too – and I rely very heavily on strong independent subordinates who use our institutional memory as a way of guiding their own independent thinking – I’m a big believer in it. It makes it possible for employees to think for themselves and operate independently, and we get much better solutions when they aren’t all dictated from the top down. I do agree that it can cut both ways.

    I disagree that bad employees are the problem at these two operations – yes, there are a few problem people at both – but not enough to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We probably just have to agree to disagree on that score.

    Neither of these people would have been vulnerable to these “character assassinations” if they didn’t have substantial dirt under their nails. Griffin in particular had quite a history. An arab proverb says, “If one man calls you an ass, pay him no heed; if five men call you an ass, best you go out and buy yourself a saddle”. (I happen to have a few saddles myself).

  11. The problem with insitutional memory at Region Ten is that it is a memory of prejudice and condescension towards the clients they serve. Jim Peterson wanted and achieved a “hospital without walls” rather than a community mental health agency in line with the goals even of Virginia’s conservative DHMMRSAS. Other CSB’s offer adequate outpatient counseling to people with mental illness, Region Ten stands out in its decision to stop offering these much wanted services and its disregard of the choices and needs of the clients they serve among Virginia’s CSB’s.

    The problem with putting pressure on Richmond is it won’t work. DMHMRSAS simply doesn’t ask the CSB’s to account for how they spend their block grant dollars and beyond demanding tons of unneccessary paperwork, has no way of knowing how individual CSB’s are actually performing. There is the joke which is the consumer satisfaction survey, but that was designed to give a 70% satisfaction rate in every state. There is no real acountability at all. CSB’s can and do act as they like as far as Richmond is concerned.

  12. Has anyone specifically described what changes RT should have made under Campbell that won’t happen now that he’s gone? Global complaints won’t cut it. Maybe it’s worth testing the more positive assumption that RT is receptive to good ideas.

    What about the quieter changes effected pre-Campbell? Were they not enough? Did they take too long? Well, in the eyes of any advocate worth his/her salt, of course they’re inadequate or tardy. But, what’s feasible in the real world of funding and politics as described by cville_libertarian isn’t always consistent with what an advocate may demand.

    There must be a great deal more to this story than what’s in the _Progress_. (Duh!) As to the inside story, don’t speculate on what you don’t know; that info may or may not ever come out. I’d rather look forward to how RT handles things now that the advocacy issue is more overt.

  13. What quieter changes were effected under Jim Peterson? Now who’s not being specific? Jim Peterson changed things for the worse as far as I am concerned. Region Ten used to have a good outpatient counseling program and a partial hospitalization program, now they have neither. That decision was made before the money was cut on a philosophical basis, because Jim Peterson and the people who worked under him for years believed that people with psychiatric illnesses weren’t able to benefit from outpatient counseling even if it was what they wanted. They prefer to intrude into client’s lives and keep them dependent for their every need with PACT which is enormously expensive. The clubhouse which was supposed to be based on the Fountain House model is warehousing clients and treating them like children. So where exactly were these quiet improvements pre-Phil Campbell?

  14. Let me get this right.

    You had in Philip Campbell……..

    1. A man who had to pay an ethics violation because while on the clock for the Commonwealth of Massachussetts he did a little work on the side for the State of Texas.

    2. A man who was forced to resign his position in Massachussetts amid reports in the Boston Globe that — among other issues — “employees were reluctant to discuss their problems for fear of losing their jobs.”

    3. A man who failed to inform Region Ten of any of this when he interviewed for his position here.

    4. A man who received an “overwhelmingly negative report” from a management consultant.

    5. A man whom people described as “tyrannical,” “bullying,” “oppressive,” and “dictatorial.”

    6. A man who needed the direction of a consultant to “coach him on better management techniques.”

    7. And a man who was fired by a “unanimous” decision of the Region Ten Board.

    …..and yet some of you want to say that this is a problem of “disgruntled employees,” “malcontented middle managers fueled by resentment,” a “staff discontented by change,” and a staff who, through “character assassination in the public media,” got rid of their boss.

    Look. It’s not character assassination if it’s the truth, and it’s not the sneaky dealings of the few if it’s the open action of the many.

    “The staff” didn’t fire anybody. The Region Ten Board did, and nobody was holding a gun to their heads.

    Stop looking for a scapegoat and correctly identify the problem: Philip Campbell and his lack of management skills.

    The moral of this story is simple: when you hire a narcissist you often get narcissistic fallout. Region Ten sure did.

    For the sake of everybody involved, I sure hope they can pick up the pieces.

  15. Since you have provided no documentation nor citations for your accusations numbered 1 and 2, you must either not have any documentation, or you must be disclosing information you are not supposed to be disclosing because you obtained it under a seal of confidentiality and are violating the rules of either your position on the board or of your employment at Region Ten. Either way, yup, that’s character assassination. Oh, and if you are a licensed mental health provider, you are violating your ethical code by diagnosing someone not in treatment with you. But hey, don’t let any of that bother you, it’s okay for you to be unethical because your side won, right?
    Feh. I’m sad to say I bet you consider yourself a good liberal too.

  16. 1. Just do a good Google search. This is very public information.

    2. Boston Globe, October 18, 1995, and other issues.

  17. This ought to get you started:

    From the Editor
    By Keith Hearn
    CAPT Outreach magazine
    August 1999

    Internet discussion group debates the
    qualifications of DDS leadership candidates
    The Internet has a discussion forum called Cal-DD where various people in California’s developmental disabilities field exchange views on the topics of the day. More than 130 people are signed up for this e-mail “newsgroup,” though most are “lurkers” who read the messages but rarely send any.

    One recent hot issue concerns two Massachusetts applicants for DDS director and deputy director, and Psych Techs might be interested in seeing what’s happening “behind the scenes” as it were.

    Several community advocates have recommended Philip Campbell for director and Mary Cerreto for deputy director. While the two have impressive credentials in the DD field, their entanglements in the court system has caused quite a stir.

    A letter to Governor Davis from Barbara Turner, state president of California’s developmental center family association, gives a flavor of what the controversy is all about.

    She said the association opposes the appointment of Campbell and Cerreto. “We are very disturbed by Mr. Campbell’s actions that have resulted in punitive actions and/or criticism by the courts, a legislative committee and the state Ethics Commission, and his resignation under fire,” she wrote.

    Ms. Turner sent Davis the text of Boston Globe articles and court documents that detail perjury, contempt of court, violation of state ethics guidelines, abuse of power and costing the state more than $1.5 million in legal fees and settlements.

  18. Here, I’ll do all the work for you.

    From the Boston Globe:

    Published on January 6, 1996

    Department of Mental Retardation Commissioner Philip Campbell agreed yesterday to pay $1,500 to the state as punishment for violating state Ethics Commission guidelines when he worked as a consultant in Texas while holding office in Massachusetts, the Weld administration said yesterday. The embattled Campbell, however, will keep his position as head of the state’s second largest agency.

  19. Nothing “confidential” about this, it’s all over the Internet.

    If only folks had Googled Mr. Campbell before they hired him.

    Published on October 31, 1995

    Gov. Weld yesterday softened his support for Department of Mental Retardation Commissioner Philip Campbell, saying he has asked his legal counsel to investigate Campbell’s work as a consultant in Texas. The Globe last week reported Campbell was paid $25,376 by the state of Texas for consulting work performed since 1992 and that he received dozens of calls at his state office for work related to the consulting contract. “That is of some concern,” Weld said

  20. BTW, “personwho” —

    1. I’m not on the Board of Region Ten.
    2. I’m not an employee of Region Ten.
    3. I’m not a licensed — or unlicensed — mental health provider.
    4. I don’t even personally know Philip Campbell.

    I’ve simply been following this story in the news.

    I’ll have to tell you that I do enjoy watching all of you throw mud at one another while avoiding what seems to me to be the simple truth of the matter: You hired a raging narcissist — it takes no clinical training to figure that one out — who brought with him significant skeletons in his closet. Seems to me that he did his thing in Virginia just like he did his thing in Massachusetts, having to leave both places with his head hanging. I’ll bet he does his thing in his next setting, if someone is crazy enough to hire him.

    What I find most curious, however — “personwho” — is your consistent support for this man in everything you write in this blog. Seems to me that you might be the board member, or employee.

    Cripes, you might even be Phil himself!

    You got one thing right, however. I voted for Kerry.

  21. Cerebus – I don’t know Phil Campbell personally either, but navel gazing is endemic to the MRMHSA business. It was kind of a relief when I left the second CSB I worked for and suddenly a cigar was just a cigar again. Thank YOU for a good chuckle!

  22. Perhaps Mr. Campbell had more of a past than anyone ever knew about. He was Director of Student Information Services at the Wachusett Regional School District in Holden Mass. He also served as an Assistant Superintendent as well. It seems the office of the Inspector General inspected the executive office of the Wachusett Regional School District for allegations of wasteful spending from FY 2000-2004. Mr. Campbell worked at the School District from 1999-2003. The report concluded that the executive office may have wasted nearly $139,000 as follows: questionable expenses including unapproved vacation buybacks, excessive vacation pay, $19,500 in insurance payments for insurance never purchased, more than $14,000 in bonuses and merit pay increases for executive staff and more than $28,000 in meal and travel expenses and a $32, 000 stipend for attending district functions. The report goes on to say that while the district spent without clear controls and enjoyed sizable pay increases, the rest of the school dealt with dramatic cuts resulting in the loss of 60 positions, the elimination of AP classes in the High School, significant reduction in elementary education programs. This information is significant considering Mr. Campbells high ranking position during this time period..This letter reporting this information is signed by Gregory Sullivan, Inspector General.

  23. Happy to give you a chuckle.

    What makes me laugh is “personwho’s” conclusion that I broke a “seal of confidentiality” by surfing up what any twelve year old can find on the Internet in about ten minutes time.

    A simple search of the Archives section of — “Your Connection to the Boston Globe” — returned 73 articles on Philip Campbell and his problems in Massachusetts.

    Region Ten ought to request a refund from the head-hunting firm they paid to find this guy. In this day and age everybody knows you Google before you hire.

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