Jody McVittie, MD


A native Seattleite, Jody began her journey in the work world as a family doctor in Modesto, California. She moved back to the northwest in 1986 and practiced medicine in Everett. As her family grew, she realized that her own parenting skills were not creating the kind of family she hoped for. At the recommendation of a school counselor, she and her husband attended a parenting series that was life changing. More than just tools, it offered a way to see her children and the world through a different lens; recognizing that all of us, adults and children, need a sense that we belong and matter to thrive and grow.

Using these tools in her medical practice brought the understanding that many of the concerns and illnesses that her patients brought to her were founded on a deep sense of dis-ease. The sense of, “I belong and matter” that we can get from our families and social networks (including schools) are critical to our well-being and, ultimately, overall health. She went on to get more training in Positive Discipline, leading workshops for parents, and collaborating with Terry Chadsey to support teachers in creating the classrooms that help young people thrive.

This deeper understanding of the upstream impacts of adverse experiences in the community, and in schools in particular, led Jody to leave medicine and explore how Positive Discipline and an understanding of human nervous systems might be able to provide support for families and educators to reduce the inadvertent harm being caused. Working with families and educators seemed like an important preventive public health measure: healthier schools and healthier families create healthier human beings.

After spending almost 10 years learning together and alongside a variety of families and school groups, Jody and Terry co-founded Sound Discipline (now BELONG Partners) to begin to more intentionally shift traditional educational systems. Sound Discipline offered tools for practice, data for reflection, and invited deep questioning of traditionally held assumptions that disproportionately harm specific groups of young people.

Though the organization started small, with a few contracted facilitators, it has always focused on partnering with and learning from the people it served. That learning has resulted in significant growth in the number of schools and families served and to a more nuanced way of providing resources and support so that our partners can grow as well.

One of the challenges in doing this kind of work is how to bring it to more communities and at the same time stay financially sustainable. With the support of the Board, the organization proposed a District Model – with the aim to train educators to lead the work in their own communities. Jody stewarded this pilot program in collaboration with the Southern Oregon Educational Service District (SOESD) and the Southern Oregon Regional Educators Network (SOREN). The highly skilled educators in Oregon are now leading a significant part of the work and there is hope of expansion and replication.

Over her time with the organization Jody served as the coordinator, then Director of Program, then Executive Director. Recognizing that as a co-founder it was important for her to gradually step back and let the organization follow its own path, she moved into the position of Strategic Advisor in early 2020, and retired in June 2023.

Jody notes, “I’m so grateful for the time I worked with Sound Discipline/BELONG Partners. The people who work for the organization are remarkable human beings; always learning, creative, caring, and deeply committed to making the world a better place for everyone. I’ve been delighted to watch the organization grow and recommit to its values of connection, courage, and liberation. I’ll remain a big cheerleader from the sidelines as the organization learns and grows with the community into its next phase.”