Ann Jerome, PhD, CCH, RSHom (NA) is the President of the National Center for Homeopathy (NCH) in the U.S. Ann is founder and director of the Academy of Classical Homeopathy and was formerly Dean of Education and a board member of the National Center for Homeopathy.
AS: Greetings Ann and welcome to Hpathy. Let’s start with the basics. When and by whom was the NCH founded?
AJ: The National Center for Homeopathy (NCH) was founded by a small group of visionaries in 1974. The original incorporators were Wyrth Post Baker, Henry N. Williams, MD and Forrest Murphy. The five original members of the Board of Directors were Roger Ehrhart, Cranston Smith, Henry N. Williams, MD, M.B. Panos, MD and Mrs. Doris Waldstein. Given that glimmers of interest were just beginning to re-ignite after homeopathy had been in near total eclipse for decades, NCH’s founders had tremendous ambition in creating a national membership organization – and their ambition has proven totally warranted. I wonder sometimes what those founders might have thought if someone had told them how homeopathy would be 40 years later – all the schools and other educational opportunities, the exponentially larger and more diverse profession, laws changing to make homeopathy more accessible, remedies being sold in drugstores. NCH has played a key role in the reawakening of homeopathy in this country, even more than anyone could have foreseen at the beginning.
AS: Yes, it’s lucky that the NCH came along, because homeopathy was almost extinct here. How would you describe the mission of the NCH and how does it serve the community?
AJ: The thing about NCH that really hooked me on it years ago is that it’s an open membership organization, meaning that anyone can join. Its main purpose is education – teaching people how to use homeopathy and also educating the public about what homeopathy offers them. To fulfill that mission, NCH has done many things over the years, changing with the needs and the times; some examples are Summer School, Homeopathy On the Road seminars, publications like Homeopathy Today magazine, the annual conference, and in the past few years webinars, partnerships with like-minded organizations, representation in policymaking discussions, and an extensive website full of resources for the public.
AS: Where is the NCH located?
AJ: That’s an interesting question. The office is in Virginia, near Washington, DC. But I can’t really say that’s where NCH is, aside from our staff. Really NCH is located wherever its members are. That’s where NCH’s mission really happens: whenever and wherever NCH members talk to their neighbors about how Belladonna helped their baby get over that fever last week, or how a constitutional remedy is the reason they’re out working in the garden now instead of sitting on the porch. I think of NCH not as a place but as events, things that happen because of the passion of people who’ve experienced the benefits of homeopathy. It’s that passion that fuels the conversations with neighbors, the volunteer hours spent on preparing educational materials and magazine articles, the NCH board’s ongoing loyalty and dedication, the staff’s going the extra mile every day.
It’s interesting, too, that NCH advocates for everyone who’s interested in homeopathy, not just for its members. There are certain member benefits, of course – Homeopathy Today magazine, webinars, the newsletter, and so on – but the members and those who donate to NCH are supporting the whole homeopathic community because NCH’s mission is not just to serve its members, but to serve homeopathy.
AS: How many members does NCH have at this time?
AJ: We’ve been hovering between 3500 and 4000 members for some time. There’s a much larger group of people who’ve expressed interest in our staying in touch with them, which we do. And because it’s an open membership organization, these are people from every walk of life.
AS: When did you become President of the National Center for Homeopathy? What are your goals for NCH’s future?
AJ: The board elects officers, including the president, each year. I became President in 2012, after serving on the board for about six years. It’s so timely that you ask about goals for the future! For the past couple of years, the board has been working on various stages of visioning by conducting surveys, researching directions in the profession, reaching out to members and other organizations, and holding intensive multi-day board meetings. Our main goal for the immediate future is to spread the word much more widely about the benefits of homeopathy. About a year ago, we made the big decision to engage a company to help us put homeopathy more firmly on the map. This has given us access to specialists in caused-based nonprofit management and all the needs that go with it, from social media to database management and beyond. With this professional infrastructure in place, we see possibilities that weren’t there before. The redesign of the website is one visible example of the early fruits of the change, with others to come. Making homeopathy a household word might be ambitious, but hey, 40 years ago NCH’s founders couldn’t have imagined where we’d be today. As with any transition with big goals behind it, there have been and will continue to be challenges, which we’re committed to meeting with that same passion and dedication that has fueled NCH all along.
AS: I’m impressed! I’ve always thought that homeopathy needed help from professionals in marketing, organizational development etc. Who can join the NCH and how do they do so?
AJ: Anyone and everyone is welcome to join. The easiest way is through our website, www.homeopathycenter.org. Membership provides great benefits – but what many people don’t realize is that those benefits cost just about what the member pays. This is why we also ask for donations, because that’s what really fuels NCH’s larger work to educate the public, policymakers, and people who might want to try homeopathy. Donations, even more than membership, are what can really help us influence the future of homeopathy.
AS: What resources can people expect to find on the NCH website?
AJ: The website was redesigned just a few months ago and it has a wealth of information – general info for those new to homeopathy; instructive articles (members can search back issues of Homeopathy Today magazine, an enormous trove of information); a directory of practitioners, organizations, and schools; a calendar of events; a resource library including recorded materials and a list of recent and current research, and more.
AS: I’ve found your directory of practitioners one of the best for U.S. practitioners. Would you tell our readers what study groups are and what purpose they serve? Also, how would someone find a study group near them? How does one join a study group? How would someone start a study group?
AJ: NCH has supported a network of study groups for decades. From its heyday about 15 years ago, the number of study groups has declined with the success of homeopathy schools and the proliferation of information available on the web. A study group could be three or four friends who meet over tea to share information about helping their kids when they’re sick, or an open meeting in a public library, or a group working systematically through a series of lessons from a book or the NCH study guide. Most people in study groups are interested in learning how to use homeopathy for themselves and their families, but over the years study groups have been a starting point for lots of people who’ve gone on to study professionally. You can locate an NCH-affiliated study group through the NCH website, but there are unaffiliated ones too, and meetings are generally open to anyone interested.
Starting a study group is a great way to meet people who care about their health in the same ways you do. Public libraries may offer meeting space and ways to spread the word; health food stores and complementary and alternative practitioners may be open to helping or to providing space. Preschools are a great place for young families to start taking charge of their children’s health. To start a study group, all you need is a place, a topic (use a book or invite a local practitioner), and the energy to advertise.
AS: I ran a study group for 5 years and it’s a great way to start. If someone wanted to learn homeopathy, what sort of classes and or seminars does the NCH provide?
AJ: The NCH provides webinars regularly for members, including both introductory and more advanced ones. Many of the webinars are recorded so members can view them later through the members-only area of the website. We’ve also provided webinars for like-minded groups such as the Holistic Moms Network, and we’re working on a grant-funded educational series for nurse practitioners. Our Facebook page has a regular flow of information, and Homeopathy Today magazine is full of educational articles. The annual conference is another great place to learn; the next one will be May 8-10, 2015 in downtown Philadelphia, and all are welcome.
As outreach and community-building, the NCH website also has a comprehensive calendar of events throughout the homeopathic community.
AS: Does NCH have an advocacy or lobbying role in promoting homeopathy?
AJ: NCH is a Partner for Health with the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium, which gives homeopathy a “place at the table” for high-level discussions and initiatives about the future of healthcare. As a nonprofit 501(C)3 organization, NCH can do very little direct lobbying. We focus mainly on educating, facilitating connections and conversation, and sharing solid information to demonstrate the value of homeopathy. NCH’s long and distinguished track record makes us a respected voice, and we’re grateful to be able to use that in service of homeopathy.
AS: Does NCH respond to attacks on homeopathy?
AJ: Yes, we do, to the extent allowable for a 501(C)3. Here again, our role is to provide solid, accurate information. We keep our members apprised of issues they might like to engage, and we help to connect people and organizations so they can coordinate their responses.
AS: Can you tell us about NCH’s new Webinar Series?
AJ: NCH launched a new, free webinar series for moms, the Homeopathy Academy for Moms, in partnership with Hyland’s, Inc. this year. This series teaches mothers how to use homeopathy and naturally heal a variety of common health issues that every mom faces.The six-part webinar series began in March, and the next installment in the series will be July 28th from 8pm-9pm ET with a program about using homeopathy to help ease some of the common complaints of breastfeeding. Thanks to the support of Hyland’s, each webinar is free and open to the public. The series will cover how to use homeopathy to treat a variety of common problems including ear and upper respiratory infections; cuts, scrapes, and bruises; colds and flu; pregnancy (pre- and post-natal); and urinary tract infections. The series will continue throughout 2014.
AS: What is NCH’s Annual Joint American Homeopathic Conference?
AJ: The NCH’s mission gives us so many reasons to sponsor the JAHC! It’s open to everyone, it provides opportunities for networking, and it’s a rich educational experience with eminent speakers from around the world. It has evolved from what used to be the “NCH conference” to include other organizations inviting their members to meet there, and over the past six or eight years it has steadily matured into a true crossroads of homeopathy today. There are presentations at all levels, so it brings together beginners, students, and practitioners.
The next Joint American Homeopathic Conference will be in Philadelphia, May 8-10, 2015. With Philadelphia’s rich history in homeopathy, and with the easy accessibility of the location, it promises to be one of the best conferences yet.
AS: The NCH is now one of the most important influences for preserving and growing homeopathy in the U.S., and I really urge everyone to support it. Thank you Ann, for the important work you do and for sharing with us today.
Editor’s Note: On September 29 the NCH will participate as a sponsoring organization for a Washington, DC symposium. The event will educate over 100 legislators, staffers, and insurance industry executives about complementary approaches. The NCH will be the only representative of homeopathy! Readers can visit the NCH at http://www.homeopathycenter.org/
An excellent interview. It’s good to know that homeopathy has a strong and informed voice in the U.S.