Deepa Avula currently serves as the Director of the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Substance Abuse Services with responsibility and oversight of the public community-based mental health, intellectual and other developmental disabilities, substance use, and traumatic brain injury system in North Carolina.

Deepa joined the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services in May 2021 as Chief Operating Officer/Deputy Director after serving as Chief of Staff and CFO at SAMHSA. During her 20-year federal career, Deepa provided national leadership on policy, data, budget, and operations issues related to all aspects of behavioral health. Most recently, she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the $10B federal agency comprising 500 staff. Deepa also led the national response related to COVID-19 and behavioral health implications including the establishment of the Provider Relief Fund providing thousands of providers across the country funding to remain sustainable during the pandemic. Deepa was responsible for all aspects of formulation and full execution of SAMHSA’s budget and worked to ensure the agency’s strategic plan was implemented successfully. During her tenure at SAMHSA, she served in varying capacities in the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment including serving as the developer of the agency’s real-time data entry and reporting system used to measure performance and improve quality of behavioral health services nationwide. Deepa holds a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from George Washington University.