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2010 Behavioral Health Champion: William J. Sette

July 1, 2010
by root
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“Leave the world a better place as a result of your contributions.”

Position: President and CEO

Organization: Preferred Behavioral Health of New Jersey

Location: Lakewood, N.J., serving 13 counties at 50 locations

Services: 60 mental health and substance abuse programs including outpatient therapy, day treatment programs, integrated case management, medication monitoring, residential services, supported education, vocational services for adults, specialized services for seniors, and children's services including an adolescent shelter, school-based programs, supervised visitation, and foster care support

Staff: 450

Like many young people in the 1960s, Bill Sette grew up with a social conscience and a desire “to do something” with his life. After graduating from Rutgers with an MSW degree in 1969 (he also holds an LCSW credential), he got involved in social services work in Ocean County, which-then and now-is one of New Jersey's fastest-growing counties. By 1977, the county still had only one mental health service provider, a long waiting list for services, a dearth of inpatient beds, and one of the highest admission/readmission rates to state psychiatric facilities. Additional services were desperately needed.

Sette, seeing the problems, seized the opportunity, and with the assistance of others, established a new center, now known as Preferred Behavioral Health of New Jersey (PBH). Over the 33 years under his direction, PBH expanded and developed new services to meet community needs and now employs 450 staff, operates in over 50 locations in 13 counties, and has a budget of over $24 million. Bill is president and chief executive officer of Preferred Behavioral Health of New Jersey and its affiliates-Preferred Children's Services and Preferred Behavioral Health Consulting Group-and serves on the board of Preferred Behavioral Health Foundation.

Bill is also a founding member of Peer Partners LLC, the group that developed the Peer Collaboration model, a guide for executive-level peers to help each other find solutions to the things that “keep them awake at night.” This process is being used by over 40 organizations nationally and internationally, encouraging leaders at all levels to learn from each other by sharing their knowledge and experience.

Known for his camaraderie and sense of humor, Bill has also been instrumental in establishing and supporting other community organizations, and he serves on many of their boards. He encourages his staff to participate at all levels of government and in all the major community institutions to improve the health of the communities and consumers they serve.

“Working in the non-profit sector requires business acumen, leadership skills, and a passion for a mission that can leave the world a better place as a result of your contributions,” says Bill. “That passion drives my commitment and has led to a career filled with the rewards of serving others.”

Bill cites the influence and support of others as a critical factor in his success. Through his involvement with public policy on the state and national level, he came to know Debra Wentz, PhD, president and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA), whom he thanks “for her leadership, encouragement, and support.” He also thanks Donald Hevey, president and CEO of the Mental Health Corporations of America (MHCA) for his support and for “developing an unparalleled membership of entrepreneurial leaders,” along with PBH's administrative team and staff “for their loyalty, support, encouragement, and tireless efforts to fulfill our mission.” A longtime member of The National Council, Bill commends Linda Rosenberg and her staff “for their advocacy at the national level on behalf of the community behavioral health system.”

Bill serves as president of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute, as a member of the Board of Directors of NJAMHAA, and as a member of MHCA's Board of Directors. He is certified as a trainer in the Ken Blanchard model of High Performance Teams. Photo by Keith Woods

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