Barbara is a leadership coach, yoga teacher, writer and bereaved parent. Her diverse business background includes 27 years experience in the manufacturing, sales, marketing, engineering, education, and government sectors. Barbara’s career was derailed by nearly a decade of debilitating illness. This gave her the opportunity to refocus her energies toward reducing suffering in the world. This new direction motivated her to establish Forward Flowing Consultancy in 2002.
Tragically her beloved son, Jim, died in February, 2003. He struggled with the disease of addiction for almost 22 years losing the battle to an overdose of heroin and alcohol. Since the disease began when he was 13, Barbara pushed herself to learn about addiction, to help Jim where possible and to let go when it was appropriate. This experience has been a life defining challenge. She considers Jim one of her greatest teachers. In his eulogy, she committed to learning even more about life and addiction as a result of his death.
Additionally, Barbara’s brother, Bill, and niece, Amanda, also lost their lives as a result of this disease. The ups and downs of these three important people and promises made at Jim’s death have led her to the work she does today. Establishing James’ Place, Inc. and its educational arm Shatter the Stigma® are important means to share knowledge and help other parents know they are not alone.
Finding grief support within The Compassionate Friends (TCF), Barbara has been an active member since 2003. She previously served as Vice President of the TCF national Board of Directors and Chapter leader for the Patapsco Valley Chapter in Ellicott City, Maryland, and often speaks at conferences and other gatherings. She moderates two Facebook pages with over 6,000 parents, grandparents and siblings who have lost loved ones to this disease. She serves as a subject expert insuring these families are not marginalized in their grief due to stigma.
Today she divides her time between supporting those who have lost loved ones to SUD and working to eliminate the stigma and to bring hope through needed changes to systems of prevention, treatment, insurance, after care, laws on the local, state and national level.
Her decades of work and skills as a senior executive in academia and corporate organizations bring together her passion for saving lives and providing hope. As a long time educator within corporate and university settings Barbara’s public speaking skills are well honed. Barbara is straight-spoken with a coaching and teaching style that is direct, open-minded, and collaborative. She intentionally integrates humor into her work.
To collaborate with others to bring change and hope to the State of Maryland is an honor. Barbara serves on numerous committees and coalitions within Maryland (MD), Howard County (HC) and nationally:
- MD Behavioral Health Advisory Council – Co-chair for four years; completed 6 years of service 9/30/2021
- MD BHAC Recovery Services & Support, Co-chair – six years.
- Maryland Stabilization Center Advisory Board (Baltimore)
- MD Parity at 10 Coalition
- MD Behavioral Health Coalition
- MD Children’s Behavioral Health Coalition
- National Council on Addiction and Drug Dependency Coalition, Maryland
- Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition
- Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health, Lt. Gov. Rutherford
- Opioid Operational Command Center – Grant Review Committee
- HC Opioid Intervention Team
- HC Opioid Collaborative Community Council, Chair
- HC Local Behavioral Health Advisory Board
- HC Leadership HCHD/OCCC
- HC IOAD Chair
- HC Local Health Improvement Coalition
- HCPSS Mental Health Community Advisory Council
- HC Joint Community Advisory Board (LEAD)
- HC Healthy Minds & Suicide Prevention Workgroup
- SAMSHA REGION 3 – Task Force
- Citation from Governor Hogan 2018
- Woman of the Year Howard County 2020
- Citation from Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford 2022
- Executive Appointment County Executive Calvin Ball 2022 (LBHA)