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NAMI National’s Cultural Competence Self-Assessment:

An Interview with Patricia Larkins Hicks, Ph.D., founder and president, the Outcomes Management Group, LTD.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am passionate about results, hence my company’s name, The Outcomes Management Group. After earning my doctorate degree, I worked directly as a rehabilitation professional serving individuals across the life span and interacting with their families and significant others. Additionally, I have spent 30 years working in a variety of work settings prior to founding my company, including a speech and hearing clinic, university, professional association, and a Fortune 500 Company. For the past nine years I have been engaged in organizational cultural competence research and work. I am committed to “making culture count in communities, workplaces, and among diverse people.”

What is cultural competence?

The widely accepted definition of cultural competence is “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, policies that come together in a system, agency or amongst professionals and enable that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross cultural situations” (Cross, et al., 1989).

What is the NAMI National cultural competence self-assessment and what is your role?

In a six-month project, NAMI National will examine the organization’s capacity to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The Outcomes Management Group is the consultant in this effort. We are facilitating the process, analyzing the data collected and providing a summary report of our findings and recommendations.

Why is NAMI National conducting the assessment?

The first goal in the NAMI 2007-2010 Strategic Plan calls for NAMI National to become a dynamic, well-run organization that engages diverse membership. One of the eight strategies of this goal is to empower people from diverse communities and one of the identified tasks is to assess organizational indices.  Data gathered from this assessment will assist NAMI National in identifying its strengths and opportunities for improvement so that it can “move from good to great.”

How is culture defined within the assessment framework?

Cultural competence goes beyond diversity and inclusion—it is a person’s beliefs, norms, values, and language—playing a key role in a person’s perceptions and experience. There are many cultures within NAMI stakeholder groups that we are taking into account in the assessment process, including the variety of backgrounds among the National Board of Directors, National staff, NAMI Leadership, consumers, family members, etc.

How is the NAMI culture represented in the assessment process?

We have established a Cultural Competence Assessment Team to guide the process and ensure that accurate, complete, and representative data is collected in a culturally appropriate manner from all areas of the organization. Team members include representatives from 21 stakeholder groups, including the National Board of Directors, executive directors group, the veterans, consumer and president councils, and other NAMI groups.

We are utilizing a variety of data collection methods to capture many aspects of NAMI National by reaching out to the grassroots via internal and external stakeholder surveys, focus groups and interviews. NAMI’s executive director is completing an organizational profile that will provide information about NAMI National’s organizational resources. We are also reviewing NAMI National products that are used by the National board and staff as well as other stakeholder groups.

What exactly will be examined?

We will be looking at 12 key indicators of cultural competence: leadership, the NAMI vision and mission, staff composition, cultural concepts, training and staff development, work climate, communication, performance evaluation, outcomes management, policies and procedures, collaboration, services, programs, and products. These indicators provide us with an understanding of the eight major areas that address culturally competent organizations.

What are the expected outcomes of the assessment?

The assessment will result in a comprehensive report that will identify NAMI National’s strengths in cultural competence, opportunities for improvement, and provide recommendations to move forward in this area. 

How will NAMI National use this information and how will it apply to the NAMI grassroots?

NAMI will utilize the information gained to build upon its identified strengths and to create strategies to apply resources and partnerships to meet the needs of diverse communities more effectively. While we assess NAMI National, we will be developing a replicable assessment tool for NAMI states and local affiliates.

How can NAMI members get involved?

All feedback is welcome in this process.We have just wrapped up the internal stakeholders survey, but if you would still like to fill it out, please contact the NAMI Multicultural Action Center at We will also be hosting focus groups and conducting interviews in January.

What else should everyone know about the NAMI National Cultural Competence Self-Assessment?

This assessment focuses on the national organization and not its affiliates. We are looking specifically at the national board and staff: their behaviors, attitudes, practices, policies, and products. Our primary research question focuses on “How do these come together and enable NAMI National to work effectively with culturally and linguistically diverse constituents?”

Who can NAMI members contact with questions about the cultural competence assessment?

Contact the NAMI Multicultural Action Center (, call me  at (614) 445-3966 or send an e-mail to

You can view my PowerPoint presentation, giving an overview of the NAMI National Cultural Competence Assessment. You may also view a pre-recorded web broadcast about the assessment at Select the satellite icon and the word "SHOWS" will appear, and then simply select “NAMI National Cultural Competence Overview” among the list of past shows.

Additional information is available at

Cross T, Bazron BJ, Dennis KW, Isaacs, MR. Towards a culturally competent system of care. Vol. 1: Monograph on effective services for minority children who are severely emotionally disturbed. Washington (DC): CASSP Technical Assistance Center, Georgetown University Child Development Center; 1989.