SAMHSA Region VII
601 East 12th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
Prior to accepting the position of SAMHSA Regional Administrator, Laura K. Howard, J.D. served in leadership positions with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) for 15 years, most recently as Deputy Secretary for Operations and Chief Financial Officer. In this role, she directed procurement, budgeting, accounting, facilities and audit functions for the state's human services agency, with an annual budget of more than $2.0 billion dollars and more than 4,000 employees. Previously, Ms. Howard served as the Deputy Secretary for Health Care Policy at the Kansas SRS, where she directed the state's Medicaid program, mental health services, addiction and prevention services and supports to persons with physical and developmental disabilities. In this role she provided executive leadership in enhancing community-based services, promoting integration across service systems, and supporting consumer-centered, recovery-oriented and evidence-based practices.
Ms. Howard led the development of the State Children's Health Insurance program for Kansas, with particular emphasis on ensuring the availability of specialized behavioral health services. She also led a child welfare mental health partnership to enhance access to services for children with serious emotional disturbance in the child welfare system. This initiative was a Midwest finalist for the Council of State Governments Innovations awards. As Deputy Secretary for Health Care Policy, Ms. Howard initiated the state's first recovery conferences in mental health and substance abuse and directed the first state funding to consumer-run organizations in the mental health system. Ms. Howard also provided executive leadership for the Kansas Prevention Initiative, an organizational development initiative designed to infuse prevention principles across the entire human services organization. During her tenure forensic partnerships were developed with the Kansas Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice Authority. Under her leadership, five home-and community based services waivers were initiated or expanded, and reliance on institutional care was significantly reduced.
Before her service with SRS, Ms. Howard served as a fiscal policy analyst for the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department for more than 10 years. Ms. Howard has been honored by the Kansas Association of Community Mental Health Centers with their Outstanding Public Official Award, and received an Oscar's award from Keys for Networking, a children's mental health advocacy organization for her leadership in enhancing services for children.
Ms. Howard received her Bachelor's degree from Miami University in Oxford Ohio in Public Administration (with an emphasis in public policy analysis) and Economics. She received her law degree from the University of Kansas. She is also certified as a Master Facilitator.