Dalia Smith Recognized by Michigan Department of Community Health and Association for Children's Mental Health

The Gail E. Lanphear Award is given in recognition of a parent that has met the challenges of parenting a child with serious mental health challenges through creativity, dedication and an unwavering belief in their family.

“Dalia not only holds an unwavering belief in her own child and family’s ability to be successful, but she holds that same belief for other children and families in her community,” said Terri Henrizi, Education Coordinator and Saginaw County Team Leader for ACMH. “Dalia is also incredibly passionate about system’s change in her community and has worked tirelessly to help create authentic family and youth involvement in all levels of System of Care.”

The Michigan Department of Community Health’s Office of Recipient Rights presents the Cookie Gant Spirit Award annually to a person who exhibits the dedications, demonstrates the tenacity, and advocates diligently for persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

In Smith’s nomination to receive the Cookie Gant Spirit Award, her former coworkers and supervisors at ACMH are quoted describing her as a “steadfast advocate for children and families even when it may be unpopular. She works tirelessly to empower other parents and help them gain the confidence and skill they need to speak for themselves.”

Smith has been an active member of the mental health community in Saginaw County since the early 2000’s as the parent of a child with serious emotional challenges. Through receiving treatment for herself and her son, Smith became involved in mental health awareness and education in Saginaw County by serving on teams and committees that include the local human services collaborative body in Saginaw County, SCCMHA Citizen Advisory Committee, Improving Practices Leadership Team for SCCMHA, System of Care Planning in Saginaw County, Great Start Collaborative, DHS Family to Family Initiative, and more. In 2006, the Michigan Association for Children’s Mental Health hired her as a parent advocate in Saginaw County where she worked until 2011 when she took on the roll of Lead Family Coordinator for Saginaw MAX System of Care. Smith continues to work for Saginaw MAX System of Care where she recently transitioned into the position of Cultural and Linguistics Competency Coordinator.

“We are all extremely proud of Dalia,” said Wardene Talley, Director of Saginaw MAX System of Care. “Her voice challenges us to stop and think about how we are accomplishing our core values without even having to be in the room; that’s the sign of a true leader. The sky is the limit for Dalia and Saginaw MAX is lucky to have her.”