Martha Dismont To Retire From Family Centre

September 12, 2019

[Updated] Family Centre today [Sept 12] announced that Martha Dismont, the organization’s Founder and Executive Director, has decided to retire effective June 2020. Dr. Sandy De Silva, current Director of Services, has been appointed as Executive Director Designate, to succeed Mrs. Dismont next year.

A spokesperson said, “Originally from New York State, Mrs. Dismont was widowed shortly after moving to the island and has one daughter. She has spent most of her time developing Family Centre.

“In 1996, the organization shifted its focus from a tutorial service to a wraparound clinical service, to respond to the needs of families with children with “acting out” behavior due to unaddressed issues, including trauma.

“Through Mrs. Dismont’s leadership, the organization was shaped to provide services that had the child at the center of treatment and included the entire family in those treatment services, recognizing that “Johnny’s acting out behavior” was based in wider family challenges.

“Family Centre began with four staff, and a small budget. With the increased demand for services over the years, the number of staff has grown to 21, and the current budget stands at $2.9mil.

“The effort to maintain the necessary services, and to keep the organization adequately funded has been a major part of her role, and one in which, with the help of the Board of Directors and strong resource support at Family Centre, the organization has been successful.

“Recognizing that Family Centre could not work within a vacuum, Mrs. Dismont became a constant advocate for improved services and an expanded Continuum of Care. She co-founded the Inter Agency Committee for Children and Families, to establish a collaborative body of social service agencies and individuals who would work together to address the gaps in services.

“In 2002, Mrs. Dismont spearheaded the effort, and the achievement, of Family Centre becoming the first social service agency in Bermuda to receive international accreditation from the Council on Accreditation, based in NYC. The Council on Accreditation stated that it was the first time COA had accredited an organization outside of North America.

“Mrs. Dismont has had been given numerous awards in recognition of her exemplary service to the Bermuda community including The Queen’s Certificate of Honour in June 2002 in recognition of her services to education as Founder and Executive Director of The Family Centre, the Cablevision Rollin R. Nathan Community Service Award for Outstanding Service in the Community in 2015, and Member of the British Empire [MBE] in 2016.

“Key community and advocacy roles include her service as Chairperson for the Performance Committee on the Bermuda Government SAGE Commission in 2012 and as Board member of the Board of Education and the XL Foundation.

“She currently serves on the Bermuda National Standards Committee and is a former co-chair of the Inter Agency Gang Task Force Community Response Team. She is also a current member of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce Executive Board.”

Board Chairman, Justin Freisenbruch, stated “Martha’s unwavering commitment and dedication in her role as Executive Director for the Family Centre has been second to none and on behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank her for all that she has done over the past 30 years to ensure children in Bermuda are in safe, loving homes.

“We wish her all the best next year in her retirement. We are looking forward to Sandy continuing to work closely with Martha over the next 10 months as Executive Director Designate to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and I have full confidence that Sandy will continue to run Family Centre with the consistency of quality service delivery and the high standard of which we are all accustomed.”

The spokesperson said, “Dr. Sandy De Silva, Psy.D. is a Bermuda Registered Clinical Psychologist. Dr. De Silva first worked for Family Centre as a university summer student in its very early days. She returned to Family Centre in 2009 as a full-time employee. Prior to that, she was a Clinical Psychologist employed at Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute for 6 years.

“Dr. De Silva is an active member of our community having served with the Human Rights Commission, Bermuda Hospitals Board Ethics Committee, the High-Risk Interagency Team, Child Development Programme Interagency Team, Bermuda Psychologists Registration Council as Chair, Well Bermuda, the Bermuda Health Council and is currently a member of the Bermuda Hospitals Board [BHB] and Chair of the BHB Board Human Resources and Engagement Subcommittee.”

Dr. De Silva stated: “I am humbled and honored by the appointment of Executive Director Designate to succeed such an exceptional leader as Mrs. Dismont. I look forward to continuing to serve Family Centre’s Board, staff, and clients with honesty and integrity. 

“Through Mrs. Dismont’s leadership and inspiration, Family Centre has evolved into a centre of excellence for the social and emotional care of vulnerable children and families in Bermuda.  I am dedicated to maintain this commitment to the care of children and families in our community.”

Mrs. Dismont stated “I have great confidence in Sandy and the wonderful supporting team here at Family Centre.

“It is time to give our future generation of leaders the opportunity to take this very vital organization to its next level of success. My years at Family Centre will remain very special to me and have provided me with the inspiration and platform to continue to advocate on behalf of our most vulnerable population.

“I will miss the staff and my day-to-day colleagues and friends. I ask all supporters of this critical charity to get behind its next leader, Dr. Sandy De Silva, to ensure her success, so that the work supporting the children and families who need our help can continue.

“I will still be involved in this work on a part time basis, remaining closely connected to Family Centre as a member of the Advisory Council, and on the Board of its’ overseas charity, Friends of The Family Centre.”

Update September 13, 5.33pm: Deputy OBA Leader Leah Scott said, “I learned today that Martha Dismont is retiring from the Family Centre. 
”Martha has been a part of my life, on a personal level, since 1992. She is, to me, friend, family, mentor and woman extraordinaire.  The  contribution Martha has made to this country and to countless other Bermudian families is immeasurable.  I have watched what is the “Family Centre”  grow from strength to strength, starting from its humble beginnings in the Bermuda Sun Building on Victoria Street, to Sunshine House on King Street, which was gifted to her by the Sunshine League, another charity of which I am a former board member.
”It is my belief that had any one of us been exposed to just a portion of what Martha has seen and experienced within our community, we would have run for the hills a long time ago.  But Martha has stayed the course  - for our people, our families and for our country.  Her strong leadership, passion and dedication has steered the direction of the Family Centre and the level of trust and confidence that she has built in our community is untold. 
”Marth is a strong woman of faith and she has not and will not take no for an answer. She believes in the impossible, and expects each of us to do the same. 
”Martha Dismont, you have made a lasting impression on this island.  Your legacy will live continue in and through the lives of all of us that you have helped.
I wish you much success on the next phase of your journey.”

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Comments (7)

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  1. Leisha Choe says:

    All the best to you Ms. Dismont. You will be a miss. A big thank you for your hard work and dedication.

  2. Well done says:

    Plaudits and Damehoods to Ms Dismont who has worked valiantly over the years as a champion for children and support arms and legs for parents. Greater things are in store for her I am sure and less worry about finding resources. Best wishes.

  3. Navin Johnson says:

    An amazing dedicated women….

  4. Say Whaaat? says:

    Oh wow! These will be big shoes to fill. All the best!

  5. Jeremiah Burrows says:

    Dame Martha, you have done so much good for those who needed help and taught many of us to have more compassion for those who have endured much.

    Grace and peace and may you have many happy healthy years of retirement.

    Governor please nominate this lady for a Queen’s birthday honours lisy

  6. Charlly X says:

    Thanks for your time and devotion to your Community. Many Blessings to you!!!!!!