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California Health and Human Services Agency Announces Behavioral Health Task Force Members

Behavioral Health Task Force will hold first public meeting March 4 in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO – California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly today announced the launch of the California Health and Human Services Agency Behavioral Health Task Force, which will work to address the urgent mental health and substance use disorder needs across California. The Task Force will advise the Administration’s efforts to advance statewide behavioral health services, prevention, and early intervention to stabilize conditions before they become severe.

The Behavioral Health Task Force, chaired by Secretary Ghaly, will hold its first meeting March 4 in Sacramento. Task Force members include a broad range of stakeholders, including people living with behavioral health conditions, family members, advocates, providers, health plans, counties, and state agency leaders.

“More and more Californians now have health coverage thanks to Medi-Cal, Covered California and private coverage, but too many of our neighbors still struggle to access the timely mental health and substance use disorder treatment that they need,” said Secretary Ghaly. “This Task Force will work toward a behavioral health system that provides timely access to high-quality care for all Californians.”

The Behavioral Health Task Force members are:

  • Lenore Anderson, founder and president of Californians for Safety and Justice;
  • Sarah Arnquist, vice president, account partnerships, for West Beacon Health Options;
  • Charles Bacchi, president and CEO for the California Association of Health Plans;
  • Michelle Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California;
  • Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association;
  • Jessica Cruz, chief executive officer for NAMI California;
  • Mary June (MJ) Diaz, government relations advocate for SEIU;
  • Vitka Eisen, president and chief executive officer with HealthRIGHT 360;
  • Lishaun Francis, associate director, health collaborations with Children Now;
  • Le Ondra Clark Harvey, director of policy and legislative affairs for the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies;
  • Virginia Hedrick, director of policy and planning for the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health;
  • Tanja Heitman, chief probation officer for the Santa Barbara County Probation Department;
  • Emma Hoo, director at the Pacific Business Group on Health;
  • Andrew Imparato, executive director with Disability Rights California;
  • Linnea Koopmans, government affairs director for the Local Health Plans of California;
  • Dr. Tom Insel, board chair of the Steinberg Institute;
  • Kim Lewis, managing attorney for the National Health Law Program;
  • Elizabeth Oseguera, associate director of policy for the California Primary Care Association;
  • Hector Ramirez, board member with Disability Rights California;
  • Cathy Senderling, Deputy Executive Director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California;
  • Albert Senella, president and CEO of Tarzana Treatment Centers;
  • Christine Stoner-Mertz, chief executive officer with the California Alliance of Child and Family Services;
  • Mandy Taylor, outreach and advocacy coordinator for the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network;
  • Carolina Valle, policy manager for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network;
  • Marie Webber, chief administrative officer of UCSD Health;
  • Jose Zavala, a school psychologist with the Fresno Unified School District;
  • Dr. Ashley Zucker, chief of psychiatry for Kaiser Permanente.

State Representatives on the Task Force are:

  • Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health;
  • Stephanie Clendenin, director of the Department of State Hospitals;
  • Toby Ewing, executive director of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission;
  • Dr. Bradley Gilbert, director of the California Department of Health Care Services;
  • Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General;
  • Tom Herman, Administrator in the Educator Excellence and Equity Division with the California Department of Education;
  • Kim Johnson, director of the Department of Social Services;
  • Shelley Rouillard, director of the Department of Managed Health Care;
  • Stephanie Welch, executive officer with the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health.