CSU alumna relishes challenging leadership role in agency providing crises mental health services

Emily Blomme is a proud 2000 graduate of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University. “I have always loved CSU and when I graduated from the HDFS program, I knew that I was going into a field that would provide immense personal satisfaction. I was right,” said Blomme.

Blomme serves as the executive director of Foundation 2, an agency that provides crisis mental health services to children, adults and families.

Emily Blomme, Class Of 2000

‘Dream job’

After graduating from CSU, Blomme moved to Iowa, where she has lived and worked ever since. “I provided direct service for many years and then, about 12 years into my career, I decided that it was really leadership that I wanted to pursue,” recalls Blomme. “I wanted to work to remove barriers for those doing the challenging face-to-face work and provide guidance and support so they could do their job well. I ultimately changed my career path – and for the last two years, I have been the executive director of Foundation 2, a dream job that I love! ”

Foundation 2 provides crisis prevention and intervention, as well as short-term services that help stabilize clients before referring them to a long-term service agency. There are many things that can cause a crisis, including suicide, divorce, illness, financial stresses, or substance abuse. Youths sometimes stay for a brief period in the Foundation 2’s youth shelter. Suicide assessment and prevention is a key part of their services.

“As executive director, I report directly to the board of directors, with all of the staff of the agency underneath me,” explained Blomme, “All of the leadership, guidance, day to day function and fiscal management are my responsibility. I also try remove barriers for staff to allow them to be successful at their jobs and positively impact our clients. If I can remove those barriers, then my staff members can come to work and do their jobs well by changing lives before we all go home.”

HDFS program important to success

Knowing about all ages across the lifespan was really important in the positions Blomme has held, and was a core portion of the HDFS curriculum. “Even if you’re just working with one person,” Blomme explained, “you need to know about their connections with other people in other age groups.” Blomme also appreciated the importance placed on the philosophy of trauma informed care, which is the concept that everybody has their own story, and that it is important to be open minded because it is impossible to know what their experiences are when first interacting with a client.

Blomme explained that the HDFS program was very comprehensive and flexible. The possible jobs she could fill were numerous and her diverse school experiences made her feel competent working with many different groups. When in classes, Blomme felt that each instructor was an expert on the topic he or she was teaching in the class.

Two CSU alumni in leadership roles

Sarah Nelson Miller, Class Of 2003

Last year, Blomme was looking for someone to serve as operations director, essentially a second in command. When she was reviewing applications, one candidate stood out from the rest. Sarah Nelson-Miller, a 2003 graduate of CSU’s HDFS program. “I knew what the HDFS program offered – and how it prepared me for work. When I interviewed Sarah, it was obvious how her care and concern for others and her client-centered focus were right in line with mine – and exactly what I needed at our agency,” said Blomme.  “Sarah and I are where we are at – doing what we love – because of this comprehensive program.”

Today, Foundation 2 has a budget of $4.3 million and 95 employees, with two CSU HDFS alumni collaboratively leading the agency.

“We are confident and often talk about how the HDFS program at CSU successfully prepared us for working in this field and supporting others,” said Blomme.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.