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Collaborative ConversationsGetting to Know Elisha Contner Wilkins

July 10, 2015

At Veritas Collaborative, we envision a world in which all persons with eating disorders and their families have access to best-practice care and hold hope for a cure. This idea is integral to who we are and how we grow as a company.

We are pleased to announce that Veritas Collaborative is growing and will be expanding our services to Richmond, Virginia.

In anticipation of this expansion, we welcome Richmond local, Elisha Contner Wilkins, to our Leadership Team. Elisha comes to Veritas with a wealth of eating disorders knowledge & experience. She is also passionate about advocacy, continued education, and best-practice care.

We sat down with her to learn about her experience in the field and what drew her to Veritas. Here’s what she had to say:

Elisha Contner Wilkins

Name: Elisha Contner Wilkins

Position: Executive Director, Virginia

Years in the eating disorder field: I’ve been doing counseling/clinical work for approximately 17 years.  I’ve treated disordered eating and eating disorders during this time frame but have focused solely on eating disorders for the last 10 years.

Tell us about your experience working with persons with eating disorders:

Although I’ve been doing counseling and clinical work for approximately 17 years, I started working with eating disorders even prior to this. I developed an interest in treating eating disorders during my undergraduate years, so on occasion I would assist the college counseling center with clinical work; I also facilitated a support group on campus. It was during this time that I set my sights on becoming a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS). After graduate school, I primarily worked in foster care and outpatient community mental health, however, I was always referred the cases with disordered eating, as I continued to learn as much as I could about this population. During this time, I attended national eating disorder conferences to stay abreast clinically and completed the coursework to become a CEDS. I also had the opportunity during this time to work as a clinical supervisor and administrator. This experience really prepared me for the next 10 years of my career. These last 10 years of my career have focused solely on eating disorders. During this time I maintained a private practice and also focused on developing and managing programs for the inpatient, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient levels of care.

What drew you to Veritas?

I met Stacie and Chase at a national eating disorders conference while I was managing the inpatient eating disorder unit at Central Florida Behavioral Hospital. To say the least, I’ve always been inspired by their work and passion. I have stayed in touch with them over the years and connected with them at conferences. Having moved to Richmond from a city with an established eating disorder network (now an IAEDP Chapter) and many local resources, I quickly realized that eating disorder patients were underserved in the Richmond area. I also found that I had to refer many patients to treatment centers since Richmond lacked an intermediate level of care and other resources. When Stacie and Chase decided that Veritas would open a satellite program in Richmond, it was an opportunity that I could not turn down. Working in a higher level of care environment has always been my passion.

What drew me to Veritas is not only their philosophy of care but also the collaborative and engaging work environment. Veritas not only provides quality clinical care, but also participates in other arenas to make a difference in the lives of individuals with eating disorders and their families. Veritas is involved in the training and education of therapists and other professionals on eating disorders and involved in advocacy work. To treat this population we have to do more than the day-to-day clinical work. We also need to focus our efforts on training, education, networking, advocacy and staying on top of cutting edge treatment and research. We have come a long way in the eating disorders field but still have some things to accomplish. I am excited to join Veritas on this journey.

What is something people might not know about you?

Well, I am sure that there is a lot about me that people don’t know! Most people know me as being from Florida. Although I spent about 25 years in Florida, I have lived several other places. I am originally from Connecticut, and I moved with my family to South Florida when I was in middle school. Interestingly, I do have some ties to the Richmond area. When I initially went to college, I matriculated at the University of Richmond for three semesters and lived in Richmond one summer. I initially never applied to any colleges in Florida. I guess you could say my goal was to move out of state. While I loved the University of Richmond, I wanted to be closer to home and actually missed Florida, so I transferred to Rollins College in Winter Park (Orlando), Florida. I also went to graduate school in Florida. I spent some time after graduate school living in Atlanta, Georgia, and then moved back to Florida.  So, it is ironic that I met and married someone from Richmond and now live here; we moved here about a year and a half ago for my husband’s work. Basically, I am a Yankee living in the South!

What brings you joy and happiness in your life?

My 2-year old daughter has brought me so much joy!  She was definitely worth the wait. My husband and family also bring me much happiness.

What are your favorite things to do in Richmond? 

Richmond has so much to offer even though it is a smaller city than other places I have lived, and it is a great place to raise a family. Richmond has amazing restaurants, and apparently we are in competition with Durham for being a “foodie” city (although I think the staff at Veritas would say that Durham is in the lead and that there is no competition). We enjoy trying new restaurants. Richmond also has many outdoor pursuits to explore. There are great areas in which to hike, which we enjoy doing on occasion. We enjoy visiting neighborhood parks as well as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). And, in the summer, you can find us at the pool! We get out much more in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Winter is a different story!

Do you have a favorite recovery or inspirational quote? 

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson