Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Prosper Waco and Heart of Texas Region MHMR Center have agreed to a one-year contract to facilitate creation of a new behavioral health initiative called Waco Connect. MHMR’s Telawna Kirbie, a licensed clinical social worker, will work as part of the Prosper Waco staff.
Waco Connect is a collaborative effort which has emerged out of the work of the McLennan County Behavioral Health Leadership Team, a Prosper Waco working group. Waco Connect is the effort of several local entities to address social factors that affect health outcomes. Prosper Waco’s Tiffiney Gray leads the broad project, while Kirbie will focus on behavioral health aspects.
“Our local MHMR is the key service provider related to behavioral health needs in our area,” said Suzii Paynter March, chief executive officer of Prosper Waco. “Prosper Waco has worked with MHMR and others in recent months to discover workable means for addressing what are called social determinants of health. This effort, with Telawna’s important role, will help our community move forward on these critical endeavors.”
MHMR Executive Director Daniel Thompson said: “This is an exciting opportunity for both agencies to maximize resources for the good of the communities that we serve. I expect that this will be one of many collaborative efforts of this nature that will help individuals overcome obstacles to good health outcomes.”
Kirbie will develop, coordinate, and execute the work for Waco Connect’s behavioral health initiative, March said. She will be a resource for Prosper Waco staff and other community leaders in assessing, identifying, and problem solving to meet community needs, increase access and address barriers to needed community resources and supports.
“I am so excited to be a part of this partnership between MHMR and Prosper Waco,” Kirbie said. “I have been involved with Prosper Waco as a community partner representing MHMR since its inception in 2014. This offers the opportunity for MHMR to work in tandem even more closely with Prosper Waco in a highly collaborative effort to address the behavioral health challenges in our community.”Kirbie has been with the Klaras Center for Families since 2008, with her most recent position as the director of clinical services. KCF is the child and adolescent division of the local MHMR.
Kirbie holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work from Midwestern State University and Baylor University, respectively, with the latter involving studies at Baylor’s Truett Seminary. In recent years she has served in various community and state efforts, including four years as chair of Waco’s Our Community Our Future working group, which creates a forum for child, adolescent, and young adult service providers to collaborate. Kirbie also has served on the Child and Youth Behavioral Health Subcommittee for Texas Health and Human Services and on the State Steering Committee for Texas Children Recovering from Trauma initiative. She has also led MHMR’s Trauma Informed Care Initiative and enjoys collaborating with community partners to help support both trauma-informed and culturally sensitive programs and services. Kirbie said she is passionate about identifying community needs, problem-solving, and accessing resources to advance and promote success for all Wacoans and beyond.