Pamela Sessions’ resume is long and her 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management make her adept at upholding Renewal House‘s mission to foster healing, resilience and continued recovery to enhance family health. As CEO of Renewal House, which provides long-term, comprehensive treatment programs for women who are affected by addiction and their children, Pamela uses her passion for working in the nonprofit sector to address the opioid crisis in Middle Tennessee. We are fortunate to have such a strong leader in our community, and we’re honored to introduce Pamela as today’s FACE of Nashville.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up on a farm in a small town in West Tennessee. Most people who know me find that hard to believe, and it is always an interesting topic of conversation. I attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and earned a Masters of Science in social work. My first professional job was as a counselor in a private psychiatric hospital, and I loved it!
When did you discover your passion for working in the nonprofit sector?
I found my passion during a college internship at an emergency shelter for children. Working with children and families with multiple challenges fueled me and made me feel like I needed to do more. I decided to go to graduate school so I would be prepared to do the work.
Tell us about the mission of Renewal House.
Renewal House works collaboratively with addicted women and their children to foster healing, resilience and continuing recovery to enhance family health.
What programs are in place to help the women and children in recovery?
Renewal House has three distinctive programs to support women and their children. Renewal House has long-term family residential housing in which a mother can live in her own apartment, participate in treatment and manage her family at the same time. Children also receive services to support their social, emotional and physical well-being as part of the Family Resident Program. Renewal House also offers intensive outpatient services where women come in from the community, receive treatment and return to their lives in the community. Finally, Renewal House provides long-term recovery housing. In the long-term recovery housing, a mom can live in an affordable two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on our campus once she’s completed treatment.
Renewal House has Middle Tennessee’s only long-term, comprehensive Family Residential Program for pregnant and postpartum women with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Why is this an important focus for Renewal House?
Last year, 75% of women in our Family Residential Program had a diagnosis of opioid dependence. In many instances, these women are not able to keep their family together. At Renewal House, these mothers are able to participate in treatment without leaving their children behind. We know that when infants are separated from their mothers at birth there may be long-lasting negative implications, which may include increased anxiety, poor social and emotional development, and cognitive and language delays. Renewal House creates opportunities for mothers to decrease their involvement with the criminal justice system, the legal system and child welfare. Renewal House services provide a level playing field for mothers with substance use disorders to manage their treatment, nurture their children and prepare for future success.
What are you hoping to accomplish in your tenure at Renewal House?
I was named CEO 13 months ago. I hope to work with the board and staff to enhance and expand existing services to our community. Renewal House currently sits on 14 acres. With the opioid epidemic on the rise, it would be awesome to expand our campus to serve more mothers and their children. On the campus, I envision a medical clinic, a daycare, a fitness center, a social enterprise and additional affordable recovery housing. Renewal House is a critical Middle Tennessee resource in the midst of the opioid crisis. We must ensure everyone knows what resources are available to help their friends and family.
What distinguishes Renewal House from other opportunities you have had professionally?
As the CEO, I have a significant role in developing the strategic vision of the organization. It is a large responsibility, but exciting at the same time. Middle Tennessee needs Renewal House now more than ever.
What is an important piece of advice you have been given?
Focus on two or three of your priorities at a time as your “to do” list will always be long.
Where can we find you when you aren’t working?
You can find me at home engaged in some craft-related project. I enjoy refinishing furniture, sewing and doing custom embroidery.
What books are on your bedside table?
The Craving Brain, Living Amazed and the Bible.
Excluding friends, family and faith, what are three things that you can’t live without?
Travel, white chocolate mocha and spa days with my girlfriends.
Beth Brown speaks from experience, which is why she is such a valuable member of TriStar Centennial Medical Center’s Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Task Force. Meet the newest FACES of TriStar.