Athena - Pries

Chris McCormick Pries, clinical director of Vera French, has spent a lifetime caring for others.

Chris McCormick Pries learned at an early age how to lead and have a heart for others.

She has not disappointed.

Pries, 68, of Bettendorf, is one of the Athena Awards honorees, recognizing talented women in the Quad-Cities. Pries is being honored for her leadership in the mental health field and her community involvement.

“I was the oldest of seven children and the oldest of 19 cousins and from early on, I was in charge of babysitting and doing things to try to get people going,” she said.

An uncle had diabetes. At age 13, after she told him of her aspirations to be a nurse, he taught her how to read blood sugars and other aspects of his care. And thus, her nursing career was underway.

Today, she is an advanced registered nurse practitioner and clinical director of Vera French Community Mental Health Center in Davenport, where she had worked since 1975.

Over these years, Pries said she worked to develop her craft to become “a strong leader and be a voice for those who didn't have a voice.”

She also has been a consultant to community agencies, the court and school systems, and participated in community initiatives and with the state of Iowa, including the Scott County Child Welfare Decategorization Planning Committee and the Robert Wood Johnson Health Decatergorization Committee.

At Vera French, she has clinical oversight of the outpatient program, and is involved in other programs. She counsels people with mental illnesses.

Pries said there are several factors why people develop mental illnesses.

“There are biological risks within families for certain things,” she said. “But lifestyle plays a part, like abuse can cause emotional stress and trauma.”

She also strives to give back to her community. She has served on the Family Museum of Arts and Sciences Board of Directors, Festival of Trees Steering Committee, Junior League of the Quad-Cities, and has been a Big Sister with Mississippi Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters.

She is thrilled to be recognized.

“I am honored and very grateful for being acknowledged,” she said. “I feel passionate about mental health and if this can bring more awareness to it, that would be great.”

Pries was nominated by Kathryn Halter, CFO of Russell Construction.

“Chris has always been an inspiration to me,” Halter said. “She devotes her energies to those around her. She is a very busy person, but invests her time and talent and always seems to make the time. And she has a very big heart.”

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