Counseling Center of the North Shore Executive Director Lenna Silberman Scott was on the phone with a woman when the woman’s voice began to quiver.
The woman cried shortly thereafter.
“I spoke with her, and she calmed down,” Silberman Scott recalls. “The woman had been dealing with a serious issue. She met with one of our therapists that day.”
A couple of days later the woman called Counseling Center of the North Shore (CCNS) — formerly known as Family Service of Winnetka-Northfield — and asked to speak with Silberman Scott again.
“You should have heard her, heard the excitement in her voice,” says the 47-year-old Silberman Scott, named in early August to succeed the retiring Dr. Robert Mardirossian as executive director of an agency, founded in 1893, with its original mission to distribute food and clothing to needy families.
“The woman told me, ‘I was at the end of my rope on the day I met my therapist.’ She later said, ‘I love my therapist.’ I realized, as a I hung up, This is why we’re here.”
The CCNS mission today: “Helping people through life’s challenges and transitions by providing counseling, therapy and community education.”
CCNS therapists are experienced licensed mental health professionals who offer high-quality care to all, regardless of the ability to pay. Types of services provided at the Winnetka-based organization include child, adolescent and adult therapy; couples and family therapy; and substance abuse and addiction therapy.
“The level of experience of our therapists is unparalleled, with some having been involved in their field of expertise for 30-plus years,” says Silberman Scott, who grew up in Glencoe, attended New Trier High School (Class of 1988) and is working toward an M.A. in counseling psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
“Our therapists,” the former journalist and marketing/public relations professional adds, “believe in our mission. Giving back to the community is a priority for each of them. And our clinical director [Dr. Louis V. Haynes] has incredible energy and desire, along with a tremendous amount of training, to support the communities we serve.”
The woman who skipped lunch hour in her senior year at New Trier in order to take an extra theater class has joined me for breakfast at Café Aroma in Winnetka. A resident of Buffalo Grove, with two children (Lauren, 18, and Andrew, 15), Silberman Scott orders coffee and a wild mushroom omelet with breakfast potatoes.
“I was a theater geek in high school, and I sang in the choir-opera musical,” says Silberman Scott, who, as a student at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, was encouraged to consider a career as a theater critic but got her M.S.J. at Northwestern University-Medill School of Journalism and worked instead at CNN, CLTV, WFLD-TV and for several local print publications in the Chicago area. “One of my theater professors was John Bush Jones, who invited Marvin Hamlisch [an “EGOT”, winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony] to the school to conduct a workshop. Real cool. I appreciated that so much. His energy, his perseverance, his attitude … everything about Marvin Hamlisch was inspiring.”
Silberman Scott has performed for The BG Singers, a troupe of approximately 80 adult warblers, for 11 years. The singers hosted a benefit performance, “A Night of Wishes”, for Make-A-Wish Illinois at the Buffalo Grove Park District Community Arts Center earlier this month.
Silberman Scott, a second soprano who stands 5-foot-10 ½, also entertains as a member of The BG Singers’ little sib, BG Singers Encore! Audiences have gathered at senior centers, the Wilmette Theatre and the Glen Fest in Glenview, among other venues, for the ensemble’s concerts. The group presents a variety of music, from jazz to pop to Broadway classics.
“I love interacting with an audience, and we’re able to do that with [Encore!] more than we are with The BG Singers,” says Silberman Scott, whose parents, Alan and Margaret, live in Glencoe.
Alan attended Von Steuben High School in Chicago, while Margaret grew up in Detroit.
“My dad has always been passionate about giving back to the community, with donations and with his time,” says Silberman Scott. “My mom went back to school to get her Ph.D. in psychology, when I was in junior high. Here I am, in my 40s, going back to school to earn a master’s degree and become a therapist. My mom and dad — great people, tremendous role models.”
They watched an 11-year-old Lenna, making her stage debut, narrate Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at North Shore Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park. Years later, their resourceful, spirited daughter would, in no particular order, serve as executive director of the Glencoe and Greater Lincolnshire chambers of commerce; cover the G7 Summit in London for CNN World Business News; craft award-winning copy for a suburban newspaper chain; create and manage marketing programs for an online organization (iGive.com/iConsumer.com) that supports charities and causes in the United States and Canada; support marketing efforts for a start-up nursing home management company; and win a Midwest Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement for News Specialty.”
“I’m excited to be back in the area, working so close to where my parents live and where I grew up, as well as helping [CCSN] partner with other wonderful, important services along the North Shore,” Silberman Scott says. “I love partnerships; I’m passionate about them. There’s a connection between physical health and mental health, and it’s critical that people in our community — people everywhere — take their mental health as seriously as they take their physical health.”
For more information about Counseling Center of the North Shore, please visit ccns.org or call (847) 446-8060. CCSN is located at 992 ½ Green Bay Road in Winnetka.