SAMHSA CMHS National Advisory Council Members Biographies
Michael Biasotti, M.A., Former Chief of Police, New Windsor Police Department, New Windsor, N.Y. and Immediate Past President, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, Member, International Association of Chiefs of Police
Chief Michael Biasot recently retired as the former Chief of Police in New Windsor, N.Y., where he served for 37 years and is the Immediate Past President, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police. He has served on the advisory boards of both the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Council and New York’s Executive Committee on Counter Terrorism. He currently is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police where he is serving on a committee that is reviewing the mental health of arrestees and how it impacts the police. For more than 20 years, Chief Biasotti has been a staunch advocate for the care and treatment of persons with severe mental illness. He and his wife Barbara, a retired psychologist, have an adult daughter who has suffered with schizophrenia since 1995. During that period she has been involuntarily hospitalized more than 30 times. The Biasotti family is very familiar with the stressful challenges involved with navigating the mental health system, from both a criminal justice and familial perspective.
Of paramount concern to Chief Biasotti is the decriminalization of mental illness by the fostering programs such as de-escalation training for all law enforcement officers; training for Judges and Prosecutors; increasing programs actively geared towards encouraging those most ill to remain engaged in their treatment; and reducing homelessness.
Chief Biasotti is a member of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the only police officer to receive the New York NAMI Chapter’s Advocate of the Year Award. Chief Biasotti is a nationally recognized subject matter expert in the area of untreated severe mental illness and its intersection with the criminal justice system.
Lacy (Kendrick Burk) Dicharry, M.S., M.B.A., CEO of the Kevin and Margaret Hines Foundation, Baton Rouge, LA
Lacy (Kendrick Burk) Dicharry currently serves as the CEO of the Kevin and Margaret Hines Foundation and as an independent consultant. Prior to this role, Lacy served as a Partner and Change Specialist with Change Matrix, LLC a change management consulting firm, and served as the Executive Director of Youth MOVE (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) National, a youth-led, non-profit organization that advocates for and supports youth voice.
Lacy is an internationally known expert in youth engagement, and has lead the nation in several innovative youth-led programs and helped set standards for youth engagement practice. She was a 2014 VOICE Award winner for her advocacy efforts to promote youth engagement. Lacy had to work to overcome many challenges, including abuse, multiple mental health diagnoses, suicidal ideation, and trauma responses before finding her way to mental health recovery. Lacy also serves on the Board for the International Foster Care Organization (Secretary), and Foster Care Alumni of America (Treasurer). She continues to advocate for positive changes for youth through sharing her story and consultation for local, state, national and international initiatives and organizations. Through coaching and mentoring other young people, she inspires them to do the same.
Dennis D. Embry, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, PRAXIS Institute, Tucson, Arizona
Dr. Embry is the president/senior scientist of PAXIS Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and a co- investigator at the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention at Johns Hopkins University. He is a developmental and child psychologist and has pioneered early intervention with developmental disorders. His work on the prevention of substance abuse, violence and serious emotional disturbances in children has been featured in both national and international media. Dr. Embry is the author of more than 40 books and training materials for the science-based prevention of children’s injuries, parenting and family difficulties and is a strong advocate of promoting mental health and positive child and youth development. Dr. Embry writes extensively on behavior and the brain in a number of peer reviewed journals. He gives frequent workshops and lectures on brain development in children, prevention and social policy impacting children’s mental health. In 2006, Dr. Embry was recognized by the Society for Prevention Research as a national leader in bringing science into practice.
Wenli Jen, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer, Program Director, Pacific Clinics and Adjunct Professor, University of the West Alhambra, California
Dr. Wenli Jen is an educational consultant, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and professor. Dr. Jen has served as a consultant for the past 17 years. For 10 years, Dr. Jen directed programs in gang prevention, child abuse prevention, and substance abuse prevention. She has developed several programs for at-risk youth and families, with special considerations for low-income and underrepresented populations. Her focus on prevention programs extends to the initiatives in youth mentorship, youth development and youth leadership.
While she continues the work as a consultant, Dr. Jen is also a lecturer at California State University, Dominguez Hills in health science, with emphasis in methods in health education, community organizing and building, and health behavior. She also teaches research design and data analysis in addition to learning in psychology at the University of the West in the Department of Psychology. Additionally, she is a faculty member in business ethics and leadership at California Institute of Advancement Management’s executive MBA program. Dr. Jen speaks about community collaboration, social justice, education and other related topics in international, national and state conferences.
Her expertise in human development, psychology, and education also extends to her work in leadership, strategic planning, program development, and workforce development.
Her interests include working with diverse populations in developing strategies to increase motivation, reduce social isolation, promote resiliency and provide alternatives for health and wellness.
Dr. Jen is the Chief Executive Officer for the Southern California consulting firm Integral Prudence Solutions and former founder of Open Concept Event Production, an event planning and production company.
Dr. Jen holds her doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of Southern California, master’s degree from Harvard University, and B.A. from University of California, Irvine. She continues to serve as the regional co-chair for Harvard Graduate School of Education in addition to the Executive Alumni Advisory Council for UC Irvine School of Education. Currently, she is the President of United Nations Association – Pasadena and serves as a board member for Rosemead Educational Foundation. She has been a committee member in organizations such as the Women’s Political Caucus – LA Metro and PBS SoCal Community Council. Dr. Jen is a licensed esthetician and credentialed teacher. She has two published stories in the Asian American anthologies, Pho for Life and Miso for Life and was a featured speaker for TEDxPCC and TEDxYouth@CityofIndustry with more than 15 years of public speaking experience. Dr. Jen is also the 2012 Woman of the Year for the 24th Senate District of California, 2013 Woman of the Year for the 49th Assembly District of California and the 2014 Distinguished Alumni in Community Service. In 2015, she received recognition from Beijing University of Technology Department of Economics for her leadership and service to the local and international community. In 2016, she began her appointment for the U.S. Health and Human Services SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council.
Jeff Patton, M.S.W., Chief Executive Officer, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Jeff Patton became the Chief Executive Officer for Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (KCMHSAS) on October 1, 2001. In 2011, Mr. Patton was one of five individuals selected as a Champion of Behavioral Healthcare by the Vendome Group. In addition, the Community Network Services’ (CNS) Board of Directors in Oakland County chose him as “A Friend of Mental Health” in November of that same year.
Prior to coming to KCMHSAS, Jeff was the Deputy Director for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), known today as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Jeff was the Director of the Bureau of Community and Hospital Services at MDCH before his appointment as Deputy Director and Executive Director of the Family Health Center, Inc. (FHC), in Kalamazoo, before that.
Graduating from Western Michigan University with a Master’s Degree in Social Work, Mr.Patton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to any position he holds. While with MDCH, Jeff served as Director of several departments, hospitals and programs. As Executive Director of FHC, Jeff negotiated and implemented the first and largest State Medicaid Capitated Clinic Plan with the Michigan Department of Social Services, Medical Services Administration.
As a resident of Kalamazoo, Jeff also serves on the Board of Trustees of Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
Juanita Price, M.Ed., Chief Executive Officer, Hillcrest Children and Family Center, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Price’s work focuses on providing direction to improve the delivery of healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and social services to residents of the District of Columbia and advocates for the improved status of children, adolescents, families and elders. Ms. Price is the Executive Director of the Hillcrest Children and Family Center and is responsible for providing executive leadership for a private non-profit comprehensive behavioral health organization providing services to children, adults, and families in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Ms. Price has spoken and consulted with various organizations around the country, including the National Council Behavioral Health, National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health; D.C. Department of Mental Health, and the Toledo Police Academy.
Stacy Rasmus, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Arctic Biology, Fairbanks, Alaska
Dr. Rasmus mission is to eliminate disparities in suicide and substance use disorder and increase American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) wellness by advancing strengths-based, holistic health strategies and developing tribal networks for research to practice success. As an AIAN health disparities researcher, she brings both her indigenous and western science background and training to bear in efforts to reduce the unacceptable burden of suicide and substance abuse on our Native populations. She has worked consistently on research projects with AIAN populations for the past two decades and has established productive and lasting collaborations with tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest region of Washington State and the southwest region of Alaska.
Her research primarily focuses on understanding the intersections between culture, health and wellbeing and the role of resilience and protective factors in reducing health disparities among AIAN peoples. She is trained in the social and behavioral sciences and has a broad background in medical anthropology and psychology with specific expertise in the translation of cultural knowledge and practice into health interventions. She utilizes tribal participatory and collaborative approaches to engage AIAN communities in qualitative, quasi-experimental and mixed-method research designs while remaining responsive and respectful to cultural and social norms and practices. Her research faculty position allows her to work exclusively on developing and administering a program of health disparities research.
She is currently PI of several NIH, NSF and SAMHSA grants that all involve the meaningful engagement of AIAN and other indigenous populations in research and evaluation to address risk and resilience as part of a larger social and historical process leading to contemporary community conditions.
Katia Reinert, Ph.D., CRNP, FNP-BC, PHCNS-BC, FCN, Ministry Director, Adventist Church of North America, Laurel, MDM
Dr. Katia Reinert is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Public Health Clinical Nurse Specialist practicing internal medicine at Shepherds clinic in Baltimore, MD. She recently served as the Health Ministries & Recovery Ministries director for the Seventh-day Adventist church in North America and now serves as Health Ministries Associate director for the Seventh-day Adventist Worldwide.
Dr. Reinert holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Washington Adventist University, a Master of Science in Nursing from Catholic University of America with focus in public health and the treatment of vulnerable populations, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, focusing on interdisciplinary research on violence in the family. Dr. Reinert has served in the nursing profession at Washington Adventist Hospital for 15 years as a critical care nurse, occupational health nurse practitioner, Faith Community Nursing coordinator and Health Ministry Clinical Supervisor for Adventist Healthcare.
She has been appointed a member of the National Advisory Council at the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) in the US Department of Health and Human Services. She has a special interest in Lifestyle & Preventive Medicine and the wholistic treatment of physical and mental/emotional disorders. Dr. Reinert has lectured and published on these topics while also been involved in faith-based partnerships to improve the health of individuals, families and communities globally.
Originally from Brazil, she enjoys bicycling, hiking, traveling and exploring the world and its beautiful natural scenery.
Gilberto Romero, B.A., Former Board Member of National Latino Behavioral Health Association and Latino Tenemos Voz, Santa Cruz, New Mexico
Mr. Romero has extensive knowledge of the mental health system on the national, state, and local level, strong communications skills, and valued experiential knowledge as an advocate and consumer of mental health services. He hosted a radio program in New Mexico on mental health awareness for 18 years.
Mr. Romero has a wide range of expertise on mental health policy issues including education, public awareness campaigns, media, community services, peer support, homelessness, criminal justice issues, cultural diversity, discrimination and social exclusion, and co-occurring disorders. He has a long history of mental health advocacy and has been recognized with prestigious awards from many national organizations (the New Mexico Governor’s Recognition of Achievement in Aging Award 2007, National People of Color Consumer Survivor Network, Esperanza Hope Memorial Award, Latino Behavioral Health Institute, New Mexico Public Health Association, American Association for World Health, Parents of Behaviorally Different Children and the National Association of Social Workers, and the Public Citizen of the Year Award). Mr. Romero was appointed by the Governor to the New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners.
Mr. Romero received his Bachelor of Arts from the Northern New Mexico College on May 13, 2017.
Jeremiah David Simmons, M.P.H., M.S. University of Mexico
Jeremiah Simmons is a third-year doctoral fellow at the University of New Mexico's (UNM) Center for Health Policy, and a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. He graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor degree in Human Biology, a Master of Public Health from the University of Arizona, and a Master of Science in Psychology from UNM. Jeremiah, a native New Mexican, was raised in Mescalero, New Mexico, and while he associates himself with the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation, his family originates from the Lakota and Navajo tribes.
His research activities are broadly focused on adolescent health disparities with an emphasis on mental and behavioral health, behavioral health policy, and co-occurring disorders. He is also affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry’s Division for Community Behavioral Health and works on SAMHSA related grants that serve children, youth, and families.
In the years prior to matriculation at the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at UNM, Jeremiah coordinated a 4-year SAMHSA GLS Youth Suicide Prevention grant for the Mescalero community. To successfully reduce suicide rates, his team helped restore hope in his community through targeted interventions while promoting the idea that eliminating suicide was a “shared responsibility.” They knew that they needed to take quick action and began looking at communication tools teens use every day. He began to use social media as a way to provide much needed support, reach out to teens in need, and create an emotional safety net for those who were not sure of where to turn.
Jeremiah continues to expand his knowledge of public health practice in suicide prevention. As a firm believer that there are not enough American Indian mental health professionals, he is currently pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. In 2013, he was awarded a UNM Health Policy Fellowship affiliated with the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy, which will allow him to focus on adolescent health through behavioral health policy initiatives for American Indians.
Jürgen Unützer, M.D., M.P.H., M.A., Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington
Dr. Unützer is an internationally recognized psychiatrist and health services researcher. His work focuses on innovative models of care that integrate mental health and general medical services and on translating research on evidence-based mental health care into effective clinical and public health practice. He has over 250 scholarly publications and is the recipient of numerous federal and foundation grants and awards for his research to improve the health and mental health of populations through patient-centered integrated mental health services. Dr. Unützer is Professor and Chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. He holds adjunct appointments as Professor in the School of Public Health (Department of Health Services and Department of Global Health) and as Affiliate Investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, WA.
Dr. Unützer directs the AIMS Center (http://aims.uw.edu) dedicated to ‘Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions’ and the IMPACT Program (http://impact-uw.org) which has supported the development, testing and implementation of an evidence based program for depression treatment in more than 1,000 primary care clinics in the United States and abroad. IMPACT has been shown in randomized controlled trials to double the effectiveness of usual care for depression while lowering long-term health care costs. In recent years, Dr. Unützer’s work has focused on developing local, regional, national, and global partnerships that support workforce development and capacity building in primary and behavioral health care.
Dr. Unützer has served as Senior Scientific Advisor to the World Health Organization and as an advisor to the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. He works with national and international organizations to improve behavioral health care for diverse populations. His awards include the Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars Award from the American Foundation for Aging Research, the Gerald L. Klerman Junior and Senior Investigator Awards from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, the Research Award from the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, and the Senior Health Services Scholar Award from the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Unützer trained in Medicine (MD, Vanderbilt University), Public Policy (MA, University of Chicago), and Public Health / Health Services (MPH, University of Washington). He completed fellowships in Geriatric Psychiatry at UCLA and in Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Washington.