Tanya Young Williams: “Crisis reveals character”

We have learned to prioritize and nurture our relationships. We’ve learned that less really can be more. Crisis reveals character. We’ve learned much about ourselves and others. There is a light at the end of the Tunnel and it’s a vaccine — not another train. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

We have learned to prioritize and nurture our relationships.

We’ve learned that less really can be more.

Crisis reveals character. We’ve learned much about ourselves and others.

There is a light at the end of the Tunnel and it’s a vaccine — not another train.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place. As a part of my series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing T​anya Young Williams.

Tanya Young Williams is an African American businesswoman, advocate and wife of former basketball star Jayson Williams who had his own highly publicized challenges with substance abuse. She is an outlier in the addiction recovery world, as is black, female CEO in the addiction industry, making two years of positive outcomes at Pivot Treatment & Wellness Centers. As CEO and Co-Founder of a rehab facility, Tanya’s goal is to reverse the stigma against seeking help for addiction through recovery programs. She is a lawyer, former spokesperson for the Domestic Violence Hotline and appeared on Basketball Wives.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I have had no shortage of experience in dealing with addicts throughout my life. In 2009, I filed for divorce from my husband, and father of my two daughters, former NBA star Jayson Williams. As is known from the headlines that followed us for years, Jayson was an addict.

The process of dealing with a loved one who was addicted to substance abuse opened my eyes to the absolute need for recovery treatment. But I also was awakened to the fact that many clinics, even posh ones, fall short of turning out, not only sober but also people who are “well”, emotionally and psychologically.

I realized that many clinics only deal with the sobriety aspect of recovery. They don’t, however, deal with the behavior and attitudes that are often part of the problem. People come out of recovery sober, but if they are still a jerk, is that a good thing?

As a result, I come into this with the perspective of experiencing the ramifications of someone with addiction and how it can negatively impact a family.

Jayson, my estranged, was troubled with addiction for many years. He had the resources to go to some of the best treatment facilities available. He did come out sober, but he didn’t come out as a more engaged father. And he came out without changing his behavior a bit.

I thought, how can someone spend 30 to 60 days in an expensive program and not come out as a better person? What are they doing wrong? That’s what fired me up because I saw the pain that my children were still suffering because he hadn’t become a better father.

I decided to create a center that would treat issues surrounding the whole person, rather than just the substance abuse portion of the problem. I took what I’ve learned in my life experience and studied it. That includes my time as spokesperson for the domestic violence hotline and years working with individuals to inspire and motivate them to find peace, passion and purpose.

Then I took all of this and implemented it into Pivot.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

After launching our business, but before we were licensed as Substance Abuse and Mental Health facility in Florida, my business partner wanted to learn what people — who had been to rehab — thought treatment facilities did well, and where they failed. So, my partner Dr. Jacob Elefant and I sat with about 20 young people ranging from the age of 22 to 35. We brought in sushi and soda and after about two hours, we had learned more about the industry we were entering, then we would have learned in 20 trade conferences. The experience was raw, honest, shocking, funny, educational, powerful and enlightening. That experience of learning directly from the source helped Pivot Treatment & Wellness Centers make a crucial pivot in the manner in which we would approach client engagement. And I can confidently say that was the best 1,000 dollars sushi investment that I have ever made!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people

Yes, super excited to announce the following: Pivot Treatment & Wellness Centers recently announced it joined the Florida Department of Health Volunteer Health Services program, and in the process becomes the only behavioral health program in Florida to offer free services in mental health. Through the program, Florida residents that identify as impoverished, unemployed or 200 percent below the poverty line can now get access to the mental health support they need at no cost.

The Volunteer Health Care Provider Program, s. 766.1115, F.S., which is part of the “Access to Health Care Act” enacted in 1992, allows private licensed health care providers to volunteer their services to the medically indigent residents of Florida with incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and be under the state’s sovereign immunity. Through a contract, a provider (like Pivot Treatment) can be designated an “agent of the state” and have sovereign immunity for uncompensated services rendered to clients determined eligible and referred by DOH.

To participate, residents should visit the Florida Department of Health website or call 850–245–4104 and request mental health services. After providing the necessary information, qualifying individuals will be approved to meet with Pivot Treatment & Wellness Centers’ Clinical Director free of charge.

Through the program, Blanchard will provide individual and group services at her Delray Beach office on Wednesdays; she will also be offering group therapy and individual sessions every other Wednesday for the residents currently living at Tent City in John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida.

In today’s climate, where so many are struggling, this is needed. People rely on state resources as their only means of support, so without this program and volunteers like us, these individuals that need support would have no way of receiving mental healthcare at all.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way? Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I was first inspired by Mrs. Gladys Ross. She is the COO of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, one of the largest Christian denominations in the world. The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is still very traditional in many aspects. Therefore, women do not hold the most-senior liturgical or executive positions. Yet, because of Mrs. Ross’ indispensable experience and key relationships in the world of finance, she commanded a seat at the table. What I learned from Ms. Ross is that when you are the best at what you do, you’re invaluable, and people will make exceptions to the rules to acquire your expertise, no matter who you are.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

In my business, I must go to into the office and can rarely work at home. However, my teenage daughters are at home and I sometimes struggle with feeling that I am away from them for too many hours of the day. It’s not about safety; it’s about being emotionally distanced from them during this time. I am concerned that they are spending all day on social media or in front of a computer, detached from the real world because they can’t do the things they would traditionally do. I want to make sure we stay connected and it’s difficult to do that from afar.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

​I decided to take my daughters to work with me two days a week. I give them projects that are helpful to me, for which I compensate them, and I get to know they’re spending their time in a healthy way at least twice a week It’s a win-win situation.

Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

As a woman in business, I am constantly worried about my employees and their families’ well-being. I find myself spending a considerable amount of time discussing the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, etc., and the ripple effect one person or their respective family’s conduct can have on the well-being of other people, including my staff.

As a single mother of two teenage daughters, it is a grueling exercise to lead and save your business, while simultaneously protecting both the mind and body of your children from COVID-19.

Each of my daughters has their own needs, personalities and interests. For example, one didn’t mind being locked in for days on end, as she got to bury herself in a book with no distractions. Meanwhile, my other daughter is social and missed her friends immediately. It was hard to have to tell her, no, you can’t hang out with your friends at this time (even when some of them were allowed to socialize). You have to stay home with your immediate family.

It was a difficult time to have to put such strict parameters on all of us…even though no one did anything wrong, or to deserve to. But in the end, both my girls understood the importance of staying safe, and still do.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

At work, I’ve shared my thoughts, and done my best to make the work environment safe, flexible and virtual whenever appropriate or needed.

At home, as a family we did our best to deal with the situation. I made sure that we spent time together outside every day. Whether that was walking, riding bikes together, or swimming in the pool, we used this time as an opportunity to breathe in the fresh air and try to make things seem normal. I also organized activities for us to do to break up the day and get our creative juices going, such as painting.

My younger daughter celebrated her 16th birthday or “sweet 16” during the Pandemic lock-down and my other daughter and I did our best to celebrate her at home in our backyard with a surprise birthday dinner and dance party under a tent. It was just the three of us, but we had signs, photos and balloons, and we made it special.

For fun, we made signs greeting golfers as they played on the golf course behind our house, reminding them to stay hydrated, and offered complimentary bottles of water.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Through the last few of months of working from home (initially), distance learning for my two daughters, and so-on, I’ve learned to stay in my lane. And my workday, as a result, is now quite productive! As a single mom of teenagers, I experienced an epic fail at the onset of the lock down when I periodically checked in on them during their zoom classes throughout the day. They were not happy. I also thought they should look presentable for Zoom. Williams Women Civil War ensued. In my house now, during work hours and school hours, it is “You do you boo!” All’s right in Williams Women’s World again!

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

If you are able to, it is important to have your own space, somewhere you can escape to so you can quiet your mind and just “be.” When I feel that I am becoming overwhelmed, I go into my meditation room. It is vitally important to find a space, and to never be afraid to take that time out when you know you really need it. It’s beneficial to everyone!

It is also important to have an established dinner time with my family. Being together all of the time can very often result in everyone actually being separated. Therefore, knowing we have a set dinner time every evening is essential. It is a great way to stay connected. And in my house, it’s always very interesting to see where the dinner conversation goes.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons to Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

We have learned to prioritize and nurture our relationships.

We’ve learned that less really can be more.

Crisis reveals character. We’ve learned much about ourselves and others.

The way we live, engage and conduct business has evolved. We will take what we’ve learned and what works and make our personal and business lives better because of the Corona Crisis.

There is a light at the end of the Tunnel and it’s a vaccine — not another train.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

First of all, let them know that it’s okay not to be okay. We’re all struggling here and it’s inevitable that we’re going to feel a little wonky at times. Just breathe and know that you are not crazy. These are unprecedented times and you are not alone. Remember, that just because we need to physically distance ourselves from one another does not mean that we need to be emotionally distant. Don’t forget to connect with friends and family, check in on each other and tell them about what’s going on with you. There are also resources and support groups online that can be very helpful.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“I will not be less of who I am so you can be more of who you are.”

As a Black woman, who has been the “only” woman or the only black person in a professional business space on many occasions during my adult life, I must always be mindful to be the best of who I am. This is because I am representing the few executives, upon whose shoulders I stand, and I am the example of who, I hope, will also be offered a seat at the table. As a result, I cannot afford to let others minimize my contributions just to build themselves up…because for myself and those I represent, the stakes are just too high.

How can our readers follow you online?

Website: www.PivotCenters.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PivotTreatmentAndWellnessCenters/

Instagram: @PivotCenters

Twitter: @PivotCenters

You might also like...


Joan Steinberg On How To Leave a Lasting Legacy With a Successful & Effective Nonprofit Organization

by Karen Mangia

Dr Maha Hosain Aziz On Redefining Success

by Karen Mangia

Debra Miller On How To Leave a Lasting Legacy With a Successful & Effective Nonprofit Organization

by Karen Mangia
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.