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Carol understands the needs of peers as a constant and committed advocate for their needs. Never one to seek recognition nor the spotlight, she volunteered for several years to assist peers and family members while working behind the scenes on committees with the State Office of Individual and Family Affairs at AHCCCS, NAMI AZ and with the Peer and Family Coalition. Carol possesses an ability to get things done and allows others to move the system towards a place of power.
Compassion and creativity are hallmarks of the Tucson Police Department's (TPD) Mental Health Support Team (MHST) that has developed and grown under Sergeant Jason Winsky's leadership. Sgt. Winsky joined TPD fifteen years ago and was tapped to lead the department's Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. Sgt. Winsky, in collaboration with his Pima County Sheriff's Office counterparts, developed a regional training center of excellence serving Southern Arizona, including many rural departments, school and campus police, and federal agencies.
More recently, MHST has expanded its scope to include a focus on addiction. Via collaboration with community providers, individuals in need of substance use services are deflected away from the justice system. Peer co-responders engage with and connect them to treatment instead of jail. Today, the Tucson Police Department MHST team consists of two detectives, three sergeants, and twelve officers. It is an integral part of the Tucson behavioral health system and is increasingly being recognized as a national model. The MHST team would not be where it is today without Sgt. Winsky's leadership and his dedication to reduced justice involvement, improved safety, and compassionate customer service.
Senators Bowie (D, District 18) and Mesnard (R, District 17) worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass SB1468: Schools; Suicide Prevention Training.
Both senators saw a tremendous increase in suicides in their districts and were approached by parents of children who died as a result of suicide. The legislation requires schools (public and charter) to provide training in suicide awareness and prevention for school counselors, teachers, coaches, custodians, principals, and other school personnel who work with students in grades 6 to 12 beginning in the 2020-21 school year. $100,000 will be appropriated to AHCCCS for a suicide prevention coordinator to assist school districts and charter schools in suicide prevention efforts. Training options will be identified by AHCCCS, posted on their website, and required at least once every three years.
Arizona ranked 17th in the nation for deaths by suicide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Arizona teenagers 15- to 17-years old made up 68% of suicide deaths, according to the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program Annual Report released Nov. 15, 2018.
“There are teachers and educators who want to help, they just don't know how, and this training will hopefully give them the tools they need to be helpful when a young person is having a difficult time," Bowie said.
Arizona Council of Human Service Providers Deputy Director Bahney Dedolph notes, “It is essentially unheard of in recent history that a Democrat and Republican would work together, testify in committee together, and pass a piece of bipartisan legislation together.”
The bill, also known as the Mitch Warnock Bill, passed on May 5, 2019 and was signed into law on May 8, 2019.
Markay Adams has been a driving force in the collaboration and partnership with Indian Health Service, Tribal and community partners to promote accessible behavioral health care to American Indian and Alaskan Natives in the State of Arizona. She facilitates meetings, conference calls, and site visits to bring various entities together to address crisis issues in rural communities.
She worked as a team member to address suicides across Arizona, greatly contributing to a reduction in deaths during suicide contagion incidents. Markay brought representatives from AHCCCS, various contractors, and community partners to the table to address these issues by organizing transportation resources, sharing information, advocating for accountability, and working toward balanced care. Her leadership has provided guidance to tribal communities through the AHCCCS Complete Care changes. She remains supportive to rural communities in their efforts to obtain care for their members.
“Markay provides the strongest level of support for behavioral health services on behalf of Native Americans from AHCCCS, from an individual, that has been seen in at least a decade,” says Derek Patton, Phoenix Area Indian Health Service Division Director Integrated Behavioral Health & Substance Abuse Consultant. “She is an advocate for people in need, and often goes against the grain of bureaucracy to assist others.”
If you don’t know Vicki Staples, you should.
“Vicki is one of the strongest, most caring, and passionate advocates for behavioral health services in Arizona. She is sincere, strong, and compassionate with an unrelenting belief that if it is the right thing to do, there has to be a way to accomplish it,” shares Kathy Dutridge of MIHS.
Vicki has 29 years of experience promoting recovery and wellness in persons struggling with behavioral health issues. She influenced policy changes within the Regional Behavioral Health Authority, Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health Services, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), and added numerous behavioral health programs in her role as Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at Maricopa Integrated Health System. She is responsible for the oversight of Integrated Behavioral Health Services at the Family Health Centers, the First Episode Center, Family Support and Education Programs, Assertive Community Treatment, and SMI Supportive Teams. Vicki was instrumental in forming a collaboration with AHCCCS and the Arizona Department of Corrections ensuring that inmates being released from prison can be seen by a physician and behavioral health clinician within 24-hours of release to assist in the re-entry process, improve whole health, reduce recidivism, and prevent poor health outcomes. Vicki also served as the Associate Director for Clinical Initiatives at the Arizona State University's Center for Applied Behavioral Health and on the Board of Directors as a Chairperson and Advisor for CHEEERS Recovery. She is an inspirational and motivating speaker who presents at NAMI meetings and advocacy events.
Vicki fully comprehends the need to treat the whole person and she never misses an opportunity to participate in the annual kickball tournament, encouraging well-rounded holistic programming to improve the mental health of our community.
Mary Jo Whitfield is on the Executive Leadership Team as the Vice President of Integrated Health at Jewish Family and Children Services. She has 40 years of experience in the behavioral health field, with 35 of those years spent in Maricopa County. Mary Jo has wide-ranging experience developing and implementing programs within Medicaid systems providing services to children and families, people with substance abuse disorders and people with serious mental illness.
Mary Jo also created the Maricopa County Peer and Family Mentoring program for Direct Care Clinics. Her other accomplishments include the Zero to Five Project and the Integrated Health Project. She also established the successful Youth in Transition to Adulthood Program for young adults between the ages of 16 and 21 who need help preparing for the future. The program helps with career planning, college enrollment, housing, daily living skills, finance management and behavioral health issues. Today the Maricopa County evidence-based program is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States.
Mary Jo has worked in direct service at the provider level and for the Regional Behavioral Health Authority. She brings an enduring commitment and unswerving passion for programs that promote wellness, self-determination and the interdependence and/or independence of the service recipients and their families by connecting them with the communities where they reside.
“I realized that if you help one person, there’s a ripple effect that makes a difference for many,” Whitfield told The Glendale Daily Star in an interview. “A lot of people in this country have mental health and substance abuse issues. They just need a helping hand to break the cycle. The struggle is real. In public health, we work with people that others don’t want to take care of but we know that if we don’t help, who will?”
Shana Malone currently serves as the Clinical Initiatives Project Manager for AHCCCS’ Office of the Director. Among her many duties and responsibilities, Shana has personally spearheaded the Arizona Opioid State Targeted Response initiative, working across multiple sectors with amazing energy to move the needle on Arizona’s opioid crisis. Read more.
Blanca Acosta serves as the Executive Director at Constructing Circles of Peace in Nogales, Arizona. She has been working in the social and behavioral health field since 1999, where she started her service as a Health Promoter in various programs providing education, training and advocacy for low income families. Read more.
Arizona State Senator David Bradley has been an Arizona resident for over 50 years. He was raised in Phoenix, attended high school in Tucson, and after earning his degrees while serving in the Navy, he returned to Tucson where he currently lives with his family. Dave was a member of the Arizona State Legislature from 2003 to 2011 serving District 28 in Tucson. Read more.
Anyone in the treatment arena in Arizona likely knows the name Haley Coles, founder and Executive Director of Sonoran Prevention Works. Within only a few years, this organization has successfully collaborated with stakeholders to improve health outcomes for Arizonans that so often fall through the cracks. Read more.
Dr. Frank Scarpati has had a brilliant and robust career and has contributed countless hours, time and energy to leading efforts of change and innovation across our State. Read more.
Kathy Bashor serves as Manager of the Office of Individual and Family Affairs at the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) - Department of Health Care Advocacy and Advancement. She earned a Master of Counseling degree from Arizona State University and holds a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Kentucky. Read more.
Michael Franczak currently serves as the Chief of Operations for the Marc Community Resources in Mesa, Arizona. Dr. Franczak has been involved in Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Development Disability services in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Arizona for the past 40 years. Read more.
Peggy J. Chase is President and CEO of Terros Health, a growing integrated, whole health care company that has been helping Arizonans on their recovery journeys since 1969. Terros Health is an industry leader in substance use disorder treatment; counseling and recovery services for those challenged with mental illness; family and adolescent in-home and outpatient counseling; mobile crisis response services; HIV testing and treatment; and community prevention. Read More.
Benjamin C. Runkle currently holds the position of Associate General Counsel for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the government agency responsible for administering the Medicaid and behavioral health programs for the State of Arizona. Read more.
The Legacy Award for a career of behavioral health leadershipis awarded to Thelma Ross, CEO of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), Greater Phoenix Area. For 28 years, Ross has provided humane, person-centered substance abuse counseling, supportive services and housing for women and families facing domestic violence and trauma. At NCADD-Phoenix, where she served as clinical director for nearly 10 years before becoming CEO in 2010, she has created and supervised a number of successful, innovative programs and advocated for evidence-based services and monitored outcomes.
The Cultural Heritage Award for bringing cultural distinction to the behavioral health field recognizes Anthony Johnson, director of social services for the Phoenix Area Colorado River Service Unit of the Indian Health Service. Johnson is also a board member of the National Association of Social Workers – Arizona Chapter. In addition to serving as a clinical provider, medical social worker and social services director, he oversees behavioral health services in numerous outlying tribal areas, where he has directly increased access to care for Native Americans in a manner consistent with cultural values and traditions.
The Leadership in Advocacy Award for championing policies that enhance behavioral health services is awarded to Emily Jenkins, president and CEO of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers. As health care attorney, Jenkins served on the boards of Community Legal Services and Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. Her volunteer work with state and national initiatives, and as chair of the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, have improved outcomes for children affected by family violence and parental incarceration. Jenkins served on the Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence, and she now serves on St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center’s board of directors.
The Leadership in Services Award for excellence in providing behavioral health services recognizes David Rhodes, a 22-year veteran of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, where he is commander of the Detention Services Division. He is a strong supporter of decriminalizing mental illness, using trauma-aware approaches and promoting health and wellbeing among persons affected by mental illness. Rhodes has worked with community partners and the criminal justice system to develop collaborative pre-arrest and post-arrest approaches to jail diversion. He has also collaborated with other agencies to provide mental health treatment to prisoners and coordination of care from booking through release.
The Legislative Leadership Award honors Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, who has served in the Arizona Legislature, as representative and senator, for 30 years. Since her initial election to the Arizona House of Representatives three years after graduating from ASU with a degree in sociology, she has consistently advocated for access to mental health and addiction treatment, and has lent a strong and steady voice to the issues of child safety and welfare. Her legislative record reflects her dedication to education, health care and improving the safety and resilience of Arizona communities. McCune Davis also spent 12 years as a community relations specialist in behavioral health for ComCare, a former Regional Behavioral Regional Behavioral Health Authority serving Maricopa County.
Leading off this year’s awardees with the ASU Behavioral Health Advocacy Award is attorney Ms. Anne Ronan. Ms. Ronan has served on the legal staff of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest for many years and has been a tireless and relentless advocate for Arizonans experiencing mental health and substance use issues, and those involved in the criminal justice, child welfare, and other systems.
Joining Ms. Ronan will be this year’s ASU Behavioral Health Services Awardee, Dr. Teresa Bertsch. Dr. Bertsch has been the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBHA) since 1992 while concomitantly providing direct patient care, at a local mental health agency and more recently a Federally-qualified health center (FQHC).
The 2015 ASU Behavioral Health Cultural Heritage Award recognizes Mr. Derek Patton, who currently serves as the Acting Division Director for Integrated Behavioral Health for the Phoenix area Indian Health Service (IHS). Mr. Patton is a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma. In his capacity, Mr. Patton is responsible for overseeing all urban- and reservation-based behavioral health programs administered through the Phoenix area office of IHS, encompassing ten service units, two youth regional treatment centers and a network of health care facilities spread across the states of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah and over forty tribes.
Rounding out this year’s Behavioral Health Award recipients is Mr. Neal Cash who will be presented with the ASU Behavioral Health Legacy Award. Mr. Cash has more than 35 years of service in the behavioral health care system of southern Arizona, beginning as a rehabilitation counselor, after attending graduate school at the University of Arizona, before becoming CEO of CODAC Behavioral health Services and then Community Partnership of Southern Arizona.
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