Today, Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH), Dr. Keith Schafer, announced his plans to retire June 30, 2015. He leaves after giving more than 28 years of service to the mental health field, including DMH Director for a total of 16 years serving two different times, 1986-1994 and from 2007-2015.
“The Commission is grateful for Dr. Schafer's years of service to the Department of Mental Health,” said Neva Thurston, Chair of the Mental Health Commission. “It has been a privilege to work with such a dedicated, respected and innovative mental health advocate.”
Keith Schafer has been an outstanding leader and dedicated public servant to the thousands of Missourians with mental illness, developmental disabilities and addiction disorders. Last year he was recognized by the National Council for Behavioral Health with the Inspiring Hope Award during its Awards of Excellence ceremony in Washington DC. Specifically noted was his ability to connect data and metrics with real-life stories of recovery which has helped sustain essential services in Missouri.
During his tenure, Schafer has provided tireless leadership for DMH through some of the toughest budgetary times, and yet it was during those times when he was able to bring about system changes which have dramatically impacted funding and the range of service options for DMH clients. He has been at the helm for critical programming changes including Inpatient Redesign, Healthcare Homes, Partnership for Hope, and most recently the efforts to gain bipartisan support to rebuild Fulton State Hospital.
“I have always felt that public service is the noblest of professions,” said Schafer. “My greatest satisfaction has been to take part in shaping a lasting system change that makes a difference in the lives of the individuals DMH serves.”
The Missouri Mental Health Commission will begin a 60-day national search for a new Director on Friday, March 20, 2015. Commission Chair, Neva Thurston, has appointed Commissioner Steve Roling to lead the search process which will include assembling a group of statewide representatives from behavioral health and developmental disabilities stakeholder organizations. The Commission expects to have a new Director hired this summer.
Up-to-date information regarding the search process and timeline will be available Friday, March 20, 2015 on the DMH website www.dmh.mo.gov , by clicking on the button that says “New DMH Director Search.” You can also contact Debra Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (573) 751-1647.
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