Graphic with Motivo logo and images of their recent hire, Jon Stout.

This October, Jon Stout officially joined us at Motivo Health as our Chief Business Officer.

Motivo’s mission is to solve the therapist shortage by providing clinical supervision services to behavioral health employers. This allows them to fill their vacant positions with associate therapists who can develop into licensed professionals equipped to have long careers helping people heal.

48,000 students graduate from master’s level counseling programs every year. 57% of those graduates never attain licensure because of difficulties navigating employment, finances, and state regulation barriers. Motivo is changing this.

We’re excited that Jon is joining us to further this mission and we wanted to share some of his experiences and insights with our behavioral health colleagues.

Jon, you were Chief Growth Officer at AbleTo, a company that is committed to providing quality virtual behavioral healthcare and that was later acquired by Optum. After that, you spent a couple of years working in venture capital with Optum Ventures. From there, you could’ve gone several different directions. Why did you pick Motivo?

In my early days at AbleTo, back in 2015, we had to tell people that mental health matters. It sounds silly now, but a lot of big health plans didn't even have mental health departments. We had to say to them "Hey, if you don't treat these behavioral health needs, all these other things are gonna happen.

We had to educate the market. And I feel similarly here.

Nobody else is talking about the fact that almost 60% of the 48,000 graduates per year — for a variety of reasons, are choosing not to continue to licensure.  Nobody else is working to solve this provider supply problem.

We need to educate the market — Even with so much incredible innovation happening as we try to solve the mental health crisis, we're ignoring the fact that we're not bringing new providers into the marketplace. A lot of downstream benefits will come if we can unlock that 60%. Let’s go after that!

And then how about the ones who do make it through — but in one, two, or three years they’re so burned out that they can't keep going or they choose to leave the profession?

We're sending our new grads to our most vulnerable populations. In what other universe do you do that? In no other clinical specialty does that happen.

Being able to tell that story, and then have a solution to solve that problem --- it's gonna go a long way.

Jon, you’ve had an unconventional career journey to get where you are now. Can you share that?

Yeah, it’s been an incredible journey and not a path that I could’ve ever predicted when I started.

I studied accounting in college at Seton Hall University. I was the first kid in my family to go to college, and I wanted it to pay off. When I asked “What’s the best major to have a job when I get done?” I was told “accounting.” So I said, “Okay, I’ll study accounting.”

And so did you land that job?

After college, I jumped into the accounting world as a young consultant at Deloitte here in New York City.

It was a wonderful learning experience. I was thrown into problems with no real experience and little supervision — I just had to figure it out. It was a great start to my career.

How did you go from financial consulting into healthcare?

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey was trying to go public and working on its IPO. They were building a finance team and I thought it would be an incredible way to get into an actual business and work on a really cool project.

I stayed 12 years at the health plan, from when I was 25 to 37 years old — so really formative years in my career — learning how to be a professional, how to treat people, how to run meetings, how to lead and delegate and do all those important things.

I worked for some amazing, incredible leaders, people that I still keep in touch with and consider to be mentors and friends. I feel so privileged to have had that 12-year run there.

Jon at Horizon BCBS

What was so powerful about your experience with Horizon BCBS?

Six years into my run there, the COO was moving into the CEO role and he tapped me on the shoulder to be his chief of staff. He was creating a new role and he wanted me to do it. I did not see it coming. It meant I could transition out of finance and into a bunch of different things. I was excited.

Over the next three years, we built a healthcare value strategy for the health plan. You may hear terms like “value-based contracts” and innovative approaches towards reimbursement… that’s what this was. But back in 2013, no one was talking about it yet. Horizon was really on the front edge of doing it.

Once we designed the strategy, I was selected to run it.  I was the first member of our value-based program team. By the time I was done three years later, we had 30 or so people on the team, building contracts with our provider systems and hospital plans.

How did that change things for you?

This was where I really started being out in the field, representing the business. Before that, most of my work was internal. Now, I started encountering startup founders on a regular basis.

The early-stage organization experience drew me like a magnet — where every decision matters and you feel the impact of what you do on a daily basis. Success or failure is due, in large part, to your focus, effort, and strategic mindset.

And that’s when you joined AbleTo as Chief Growth Officer?

To leave this big, safe job where I had this super-clear path, and maybe could’ve been CEO someday — It was the hardest decision I've ever made. To then say, "No, I'm gonna move to this early-stage startup that has a couple of months cash in the bank and one product, one client. And you know what? I think we can figure it out…"

Thankfully, we did.

Some people reading this may be in the midst of that right now with their startups. What was it like?  

It was an amazing six-year run at AbleTo before we sold the business. We experienced so many ups and downs throughout the different phases.

The first two years, it was like “I don't think this is gonna work, I don't know what we're gonna do.”

Then it was two years of "Okay, we got this figured out, let's just go execute."  

And then the last two years were "Okay, we're on this path. Now, let's get this thing sold."

AbleTo team picture

That six-year run with my friends and colleagues and our clients was just a truly remarkable and special period that I think forever will be one of the highlights, if not the highlight of my career — and I think we did a really good job recognizing that in the moment.  

There were a lot of sleepless nights, upset stomachs, and really anxious moments when my phone would ring when I wasn’t expecting it. But there were more good days than bad days — and the successes were amazing.

After that you transitioned to Optum Ventures. What did you want to find there?

As much as I love building, I wasn’t ready to just jump back into another startup — but I always had a sense that I was going to end up back in an early-stage business.

Optum Ventures had been one of our early investors in AbleTo, so I already knew firsthand the power they bring to a business and all the great reasons why OV is a special place. It has been a great honor to work with them. My time with OV was like getting an MBA in venture financing. It was truly a blessing to learn while also helping our companies grow.

So this is when you met Rachel McCrickard, Motivo’s CEO?

I met Rachel very early in my days at OV. Right away, I felt like there was something different here — in a good way. There's no BS.

How many of us deal with problems, we get through it, we move on, and we just don't ever think about it again? Or we’ll think about it and talk about it, but then we don't ever actually do anything? Most of us, right?

Rachel saw the problem — she experienced it personally. To understand what it takes to get through licensure and then to want to solve this problem for other people… and then actually do it? That’s remarkable.

The overwhelming majority of people can't do anything like that, or they won't do anything. They're too afraid to. And for her to do it, it’s amazing.

That kind of vision, tenacity, and grit right away resonated with me sitting on the investing side. I found myself thinking “I would love to jump into a place like this where I feel like the things that I’m good at could be helpful to the things that Rachel’s good at.”

Me: How do you think your journey shapes what you do?

Back in college, my professor explained that accounting is like chess. You can’t memorize every potential move in chess because there are billions upon billions of moves based on how the board is laid out.

But if you're a master chess player, you can look at a board that's three quarters of the way completed, and work your way back to the beginning — because you understand the logic and the rules behind it.

Same with the financial world. If you can understand that logic and reason, you can understand how things work together… and I think that has served me very well.

I also just naturally lean towards discipline. In mental health businesses, most employees are genuinely nice, caring, thoughtful, people who always want to do what they perceive as the right thing.

Of course, we always want to do the right thing, but we’re not a charity. We don’t take donations. We’re running a business. If we’re not focused on managing that business well from a financial perspective, we won’t be helping anyone.

It’s like you said in the meeting, “No margin, no mission?”

That’s exactly right. Winning enables us to do more.

So when we grow in the market, we bring in the business, then we can hire more people and do these things we want to do. But until such time as that happens, we watch every dollar… so that’s where my financial discipline naturally helps.

At Motivo, we’ve got a dynamic, infectious CEO who people want to be our brand. And Motivo is at a stage where we've figured out how to grow. Rachel has built very responsibly and prudently, in my opinion. So we've got some exciting choices in front of us. It’s going to be a great ride!


Motivo solves clinical supervision for behavioral health companies. We match therapists with top-rated, vetted clinical supervisors for all license types in all 50 states. Our platform helps your company increase recruitment, encourage retention, and ensure overall quality of care for your patients.