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2008 Behavioral Health Champion: Dennis R. Jacobs, PhD

December 1, 2008
by root
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Photographer: James Lady of Still Water Studio, LLC

Position: President/CEO

Organization: New Passages Behavioral Health and Rehabilitation Services

Service area: 14 Michigan counties

Main services: Specialized residential services, homeless outreach, supported housing, crisis residential and mobile crisis stabilization services, psychosocial rehabilitation, employment and vocational services, case management, outpatient psychiatric services

Number of staff: 750

Most vivid behavioral healthcare memory: “Some time ago, I visited one of New Passages' ‘clubhouses.’ I just happened to catch the clubhouse singers practicing for an upcoming event. I was struck by the amount of talent in the new group and how far they had come since starting at the clubhouse. Recently, we asked them to sing at our signature event. They brought the house down. There was not a dry eye in the place. Twenty years ago, many of these same people would have been living in an institution.”

Personal mission statement: “My personal mission is to help guide our organization to greatness by providing community-based services, which promote recovery, independence, and community integration. I believe the most important thing I can do is to create an organizational culture that believes passionately in the recovery process and one in which every person in the organization contributes in his or her own way to this goal.”


“I started my career as an educator almost 40 years ago. I think in many ways, I still see myself as a teacher and mentor. As I look back over my career, it is clear that more than anything else, I entered the behavioral health field because I believed that I could help create an organization that believed it could demonstrate new, creative, and innovative ways of supporting and serving people coping with serious mental illness. “I often tell people that what keeps me going in this job is the fact that I get to lead an organization that profoundly affects people's lives. All I have to do is visit one of New Passages' programs to feel inspired all over again. I love the fact that I get to be part of a dynamic, purpose-driven, successful organization that assists people in their recovery and helps them become active community members. “I am also most proud of the growth and successes that New Passages has had over the last 21 years. Last year New Passages served 7,900 consumers in 14 Michigan counties, making New Passages one of the largest behavioral health organizations in the state. This was a 2,500% increase from 7 years ago. Our budget during that same 7-year period doubled from $12.4 million to $24.5 million and the number of employees increased 74%. “I am lucky to be able to work with a core leadership team, who are the best and the brightest. Equally important is the fact that I have a remarkable board of directors who have supported me and the organization through thick and thin.”


Behavioral Healthcare 2008 December;28(12):8-15

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