WOMEN IN BUSINESS: No crisis too big for Third Level’s new director

TRAVERSE CITY – Success doesn’t happen overnight. Just in case though, Annette Marquis stayed up a few nights to see if it could. And more than a few all-nighters later, she can proudly lay claim to success.

As the new Executive Director of the Board of Third Level Crisis Intervention and Counseling Center, Marquis is back in the shoes she set aside temporarily to start her own business and co-author 23 books.

Here’s a woman who obviously craves challenge. While spending quiet time writing at her home near Buckley last winter, Marquis ran across the classified ad for the crisis center. When all was said and done, she got the job, downsized TRIAD Consulting, her training/consulting/software company, moved up north and went to work at Third Level this past June.

Third Level services include 24-hour crisis intervention; on-site crisis intervention; youth and family services; parent education/support groups; a support group for gay/lesbian/bisexual youth; community education and training; street outreach program; short term counseling; and an HIV/AIDS Wellness Hotline.

An all-paid staff, plus some very high-quality volunteers, cover 21 counties, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Dedicated and committed, everyone works every shift.

Marquis comes to Third Level with outstanding credentials. As a college grad 25 years ago, she took a job as director for a 24-hour counseling and crisis center in Albion, much like Third Level. During that stint, she got her master’s degree and went on to develop and manage an outpatient substance abuse treatment program in Hillsdale.

Her career journey then took her to Henry Ford Health System where she served as Administrative Director of Behavioral Services. It was at Henry Ford that Marquis got experience in bringing computers into the health system.

Researching electronic medical systems, Marquis worked under the premise that medical systems and technology could–more importantly–should be better integrated. Thus TRIAD Consulting was born. The focus of her research and the formation of TRIAD with partner Gini Courter, was “how to take technology and make it work in your organization.”

Although it started in the medical field, TRIAD Consulting is a service for any organization. It’s all about training and collaboration–finding solutions for how teams can work together.

“It’s exciting in this world (of consulting) to come into a place and put a system into effect,” Marquis adds.

Marquis and Courter have co-authored 23 in-depth, personal computer books, all written since the introduction of Windows 95. Published by SYBEX, in Almeda, Calif., the most recent titles include: Mastering Office XP; Mastering Outlook 2002; and Mastering Excel 2002.

Even before taking the position at Third Level, Marquis and TRIAD partner Courter had discussed bringing the business to the Grand Traverse area. Marquis’ new job just turned the decision a little faster. Courter, the active managing partner, is working to complete the move.

Marquis’ major focus, and most challenging as an administrator, is to successfully secure re-funding, Third Level’s primary financial support. Marquis explains that the 1970s brought lots of funding for crisis centers from the state level, but that has since dried up for most regions. Third Level is one of the few to survive.

Two major contracts to be re-funded are with the State of Michigan Family Independence Agency, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (funding for Runaway Youth and Street Outreach programs). Community Mental Health boards provide funding to support the crisis line after hours, and various Prevention Services provide substance abuse funding for at-risk youth.

Another goal Marquis is hoping to implement is to establish relationships with local businesses whereby the businessperson would assist in pointing out problems or potential problems with youth.

“I’d like to meet the needs of the community where services don’t exist–fill in the holes,” she commented. “There are so many holes right now.”

Inspiration comes to Marquis through “women who have stepped outside of convention and fought for what they believed in, or for what they wanted to do.”

She sees women in the WNBA, Jane Goodall and Oprah as sources of inspiration.

“I can’t compare myself to them, but I do draw strength from their stories.” BN