ACMHA: The College of Behavioral Health Leadership recognized four exemplary leaders in behavioral health for their contributions to the field and the college during a luncheon ceremony at its annual summit, Healthy Supports, Healthy Communities: Improving the Health of Communities Through Social Supports, held in Charleston, SC. This year’s distinguished awardees were David Evans, Gail Stuart, Henry Acosta, and Gina Calhoun.
David Evans received the Saul Feldman Award for Lifetime Achievement, which honors the sustained, significant contributions of an individual to leadership and policy in the mental health and addictions recovery field. The award is given in honor of Saul Feldman, DPA, CEO Emeritus of United Behavioral Health, and former president and co-founder of the College.
Mr. Evans is Chief Executive Officer for Austin Travis County Integral Care in Austin, TX. For more than 30 years, Mr. Evans has built a solid track record for being a leading figure in forging local and national partnerships that improve the quality of life for individuals with behavioral health disorders and developmental disabilities. He works tirelessly, devoting time as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work and St. Edwards University, serving on the Austin Wellness and Prevention Committee, Community Action Network Administrative Council, the Texas Council of Community Centers Executive Directors’ Consortium and participating as a member of over nine organizations including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Gail Stuart, PhD, RN, FAAN, received the Walter Barton Distinguished Fellow Award, which recognizes an ACMHA member who has made outstanding, sustained contributions to the leadership of the College and to the field of behavioral health leadership and policy. The award is made in honor of Dr. Walter Barton, long-time medical director of the American Psychiatric Association and ACMHA co-founder.
Dr. Stuart is Dean and Distinguished University Professor, Medical University of South Carolina School of Nursing. She has taught in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in nursing; serves on numerous academic, corporate, and government boards; and has represented nursing on a variety of National Institute of Mental Health policy and research panels. A prolific writer, she has published numerous articles, chapters, textbooks, and media productions.
Henry Acosta, MA, MSW, LSW, was this year’s recipient of the King Davis Award for Emerging Leadership in Promoting Diversity and Reducing Disparities, which recognizes emerging leaders who have directly impacted the quality of care or access to care for populations of color at the local, state, or national level. Established in 2009, the award is made in honor of Dr. King Davis, the Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy at the University of Texas at Austin and former ACMHA board member, for his exceptional contributions to the field.
Mr. Acosta is Deputy Director of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute and the Executive Director of the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health. In those roles he has made tremendous strides in improving access to high quality, culturally competent mental health care for Hispanics throughout the nation. His dedication and work has resulted in the establishment of three Culturally Competent Training Centers in New Jersey. Additionally, Henry developed his Model Mental Health Program for Hispanics which has been adopted by organizations in 10 states. He was invited to assist the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health in its first national roundtable discussion on developing a more diverse and multidisciplinary behavioral health workforce for Latinos.
Gina Calhoun was awarded the Timothy J. Coakley Behavioral Health Leadership Award, which honors consumers, family members, and persons in recovery who have demonstrated leadership in advancing the role of consumers and family members in the behavioral health field. An outstanding leader, advocate, program innovator, and visionary, Tim Coakley pioneered alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization for adolescents, initiated award-winning services for homeless families, and cultivated a broad range of psychosocial services for people with serious mental illnesses.
Ms. Calhoun was recognized for her outstanding leadership in promoting consumer participation and consumer rights. She currently serves as the national Director of Recovery and Wellness Education at The Copeland Center. She was nominated by the Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, who was working at the time to close a state hospital. Ms. Calhoun went on to meet with every individual being discharged, participated in Community Planning meetings, and stayed close to everyone who was going to have a different life in the community.
She became a trainer of WRAP and a prominent speaker across the state. She finally joined the state office as a staff person, participating on the executive leadership team. In her role, Gina had lead responsibility in the development of the Certified Peer Specialist program in Pennsylvania, which is now Medical Assistance reimbursed, and represented the state at national conferences on peer initiatives. She also led efforts to support a peer led crisis service and other peer initiatives across the state. She has taken those experiences into her role as national director at The Copeland Center and is an accomplished trainer, innovative leader, and a wonderful example of what individuals can achieve when given an opportunity to share their gifts.