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Government and People
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
|OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS||ONE JUDICIARY SQUARE
441 FOURTH STREET, N.W.
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20001
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2001
|CONTACT: Peggy Armstrong
(Washington, D.C.) - On April 5, 2001, Mayor Anthony A. Williams capped a week of milestones for the District's mental health system by naming Martha B. Knisley as the first Director of the Department of Mental Health (DMH), a cabinet-level appointment.
On Monday, April 2, U.S. District Court Judge Norma Holloway Johnson issued a court order approving the plan, subject to the stipulations of the parties, developed by Transitional Receiver Dennis R. Jones, that defines the future mental health system's governance and operations. Yesterday, the District Council passed legislation establishing the new Cabinet-level Department. Once the Mayor signs the legislation, the structure will be in place to implement the plan.
"With the appointment of the new director and the emergency legislation passed by the City Council earlier this week, we continue the difficult work to bring our city together as one government," said Mayor Williams.
The appointment of the new director of the Department of Mental Health and the enactment of the legislation are important steps towards transitioning the operating control of our public mental health system from the federal court receivership to our local government.
The new Department of Mental Health will be primarily responsible for regulating the District's community-based network of mental health care, but it will also continue to provide some mental health services. The District will continue to operate St. Elizabeths Hospital, though in a more limited capacity, and it will operate a public core service agency that will provide care in a community-based setting. The plan to create a regulatory, or authority, function separate from any provider function within the DMH marks a significant shift from the old model of care. This structure will provide a clear separation of powers between overseeing and providing care. The new agency will be able to create clear performance goals to oversee the certification and monitoring of all non-hospital mental health facilities to improve service to consumers within the mental health system.
Ms. Knisley's experience as a mental health clinician and administrator spans more than 32 years. She currently works as a Senior Consultant with the Technical Assistance Collaborative, which was created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Collaborative assists state and local governments with organizing, financing and managing their public mental health systems.
In her six years with the Collaborative, Ms. Knisley has served as an expert to federal and state courts in Illinois, Arizona, Florida, and Hawaii in their oversight of mental health systems. She has also consulted with state legislatures and officials in Tennessee, Texas and Virginia on oversight and monitoring their mental health systems and state psychiatric hospitals. For the past year, Ms. Knisley has worked as a Project Manager for the Commission on Mental Health Services, where she supervised the team responsible for developing the mental health authority function. She also worked with the Receiver to develop the transitional plan.
Prior to her work with the Collaborative, Ms. Knisley served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Wake Area Mental Health Program in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 1991 to 1995. She served as the Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health from 1990 to 1991 and as the Deputy Secretary for Mental Health in the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare from 1987 to 1990.
Ms. Knisley completed her B.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and her M.A. in Counselor Education at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
Ms. Knisley will assume the title of Acting Director, Department of Mental Health, effective April 23, 2001.
Martha Knisley is a Senior Consultant with the Technical Assistance Collaborative located in Boston, Massachusetts. The Collaborative, created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, assists state and local governments with organizing, financing and managing their public mental health systems. The Collaborative also provides consultation and technical assistance to mental health, human service and special needs housing organizations across all levels of the government.
Ms. Knisley joined the Technical Assistance Collaborative full-time in 1995. In her role with the Collaborative she has been active nationwide in helping states and local communities build, organize and finance their child and adult mental health systems. She has served as an expert to federal and state courts in Illinois, Arizona, Florida and Hawaii in their oversight of mental health systems and has consulted with state legislatures and state officials in Tennessee, Texas and Virginia on oversight and monitoring their mental health systems and state psychiatric hospitals.
Ms. Knisley's experience as a mental health clinician and administrator spans more than 32 years. From 1991 to 1995 she served as the Associate Director of the Wake Area Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Authority in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the Director of Mental Health for Ohio from 1990 to 1991. As Director, and prior to that as Deputy Director, she helped build Ohio's statewide community mental health system. She also served as the Commissioner of Mental Health for Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1990.
Ms. Knisley is a leader in the development of community support systems and supported housing for persons with mental illness. She has received numerous awards and honors, including being named a Mary E. Switzer Scholar by the National Rehabilitation Association in 1988. That same year, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (North Carolina and Pennsylvania chapters) named her Professional of the Year, and the NAMI Ohio Chapter honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She recently completed a two-year term as the Chair of the Board of the North Carolina Low Income Housing Coalition.
Ms. Knisley completed her B.A. at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia in Rehabilitation Counseling in 1970 and her M.A. at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio in Counselor Education in 1973.
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