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Moving from Good to Great: Cultural Competence Self-Assessment

by Patricia Larkins Hicks, Ph.D., Founder and President, The Outcomes Management Group, LTD. and Majose Carrasco, M.P.A., Director, NAMI Multicultural Action Center

August 2007

For the past five years, NAMI has been striving to become a truly inclusive and diverse organization. We have made significant progress on this area hosting events and implementing initiatives that focus on African American, Asian American, Native American, Latino and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities (GLBT). 

We’ve developed information resources in English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and Italian; we host four multicultural leadership development groups; maintain strong relationships with multicultural mental health organizations; and are working on the Spanish language versions of our signature programs. 

Our 2007-2010 Strategic Plan reflects our commitment. Goal one of the Strategic Plan calls for NAMI to become a dynamic, well-run organization that engages diverse membership.  One of the tasks to accomplish this goal is to assess organizational indices.  Given that one of the eight strategies is to empower people from diverse communities, NAMI is proud to embark on a cultural competence assessment of the National office. 

Cultural competence is a set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in an organization to enable it to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (Cross, 1989).   NAMI’s six-month, cultural competence self-assessment will examine the organization’s capacity to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The Outcomes Management Group has been identified as our consultant in this effort. Additionally, 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 the national board of directors, executive directors group, the veterans, consumer and president councils, and other NAMI groups.

NAMI plans to examine key indicators of cultural competence within an organization. These include leadership, vision/mission, staff composition, cultural concepts, training and staff development, work climate, communication, performance evaluation, outcomes management, policies and procedures, collaboration, services, programs, and products. Determining the perceptions, practices, and satisfactions of staff, consumers, family members, and other key participants are an essential component of the assessment.

The assessment will result in a comprehensive report that will identify NAMI’s strengths and provide recommendations.  NAMI will use these findings to build upon its identified strengths and will plan strategies to apply resources and partnerships to meet the needs of diverse communities more effectively.

We invite you to join us in this process which marks a significant continuation of our work toward truly becoming the nation’s voice on mental illness, a voice for our country’s rich diversity.  We will provide updates on this process through e-mail Friday Facts, the NAMI Web site, the Multicultural Action Center’s newsletter, Web casts, and other venues.  Meanwhile, if you would like to provide input or receive updates, please e-mail us at

Cross, T. L. (1989). Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care. Vol. I: A Monograph of Effective Services for Minority Children who are Severely Emotionally Disturbed. Washington, DC: CASSP Technical Assistance Center, Georgetown University Child Development Center.


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