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DHHS Sec. Cansler appoints two into key MH/DD/SAS leadership roles

Release Date: July 21, 2010
Contact: Mark Van Sciver, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH –  In his efforts to build a strong leadership team for the continued development and maintenance of mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services in North Carolina, Secretary Lanier Cansler brings two highly regarded mental health professionals  on board at DHHS with a focus on community  based treatment.  Cansler appointed Beth Melcher, PhD, and Steven Jordan to key leadership posts in mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services within the Department of Health and Human Services today.

Melcher has been named as Assistant Secretary for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services Development. She replaces Michael Watson who is being promoted to the position of Deputy Secretary for Health Services.

Jordan will take over the position of director of the state Division of MH/DD/SAS. He will succeed retiring director, Leza Wainwright, who is stepping down from her position after 32 years of state service.

“As the state moves forward in its efforts to build a strong network of community-based and community accessible mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services, we felt an imperative need to seek out a new generation of leadership for MH/DD/SAS services with strong roots in local services,” Cansler said.  “Beth Melcher and Steve Jordan are the leaders we need at this juncture. They possess a deep and thorough understanding of how community level services operate. They know the system’s strengths and weaknesses from a frontline perspective and their insights and knowledge will be critical as we move forward in our continuing effort to provide the finest level of MH/DD/SAS care in North Carolina.

“I would also like to publicly commend the hard work and dedication that retiring MH/DD/SAS Director Leza Wainwright has contributed to the people of North Carolina. She spent 26 of her 32 years of state service in this division or Dorothea Dix Hospital. As a Division leader she served as budget officer, deputy director, co-director, interim director and director. Her legacy is a mental health system left stronger and more resilient through her leadership.”

Melcher, who is a licensed psychologist, has headed Recovery Innovations North Carolina as president/ceo since 2008.  Recovery Innovations provides recovery and peer support services for people with mental health challenges.  Previously, she was clinical director of The Durham Center, the local management entity (LME), from 2005-08 that provided coordination of MH/DD/SAS community services for Durham County.  From 2005-07, she was a consultant to the N.C. General Assembly’s Legislative Oversight Committee on MH/DD/SAS. 

Perhaps Melcher is best known and respected in the mental health community for her advocacy work with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) North Carolina where she served as its executive director from 1994-2000 and as public policy director from 2000-03.

“I am honored at the confidence that Sec. Cansler has expressed in my ability to add to the fine work that has already been undertaken by the Department to address mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse service needs in the state,” Melcher said.  ”I am eager to partner with professional and advocacy colleagues to provide services to support recovery and self determination for our fellow North Carolinians with mental health, developmental disability, and substance abuse challenges.”

 Since 2001, Jordan has been state director for ResCare – North Carolina, a private provider that delivers services and supports to people with disabilities and special needs youth.  ResCare, which provides services nationally, operates a program in North Carolina with more than 450 adults and more than 50 children.  From 1995-2001, he worked for North Carolina MENTOR, a provider of treatment and rehabilitative services for at-risk youth and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Jordan was state director and supervised a network of more than 20 MENTOR offices that provide seven-day treatment locations and more than 400 therapeutic foster homes in the state.  He was MENTOR’s program manager in the Georgetown/Florence region of South Carolina from 1989-2001

He worked several South Carolina area mental health programs as a social worker as well in Chestnut Hill Psychiatric Hospital, S.C., and the Charter Hospital of Charleston, S.C.

“I am glad to be a part of this team. I look forward to building upon the secretary’s momentum to make service quality better for all involved,” Jordan said.

Both Melcher and Jordan are expected to begin their new duties in mid-August.

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