Charles Neff to Retire; Board of Mental Health Names Dr. Kathleen Kern as Director

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Charles Neff to Retire; Board of Mental Health Names Dr. Kathleen Kern as Director

Charles Neff to Retire After 30 Years of Service; Board of Mental Health Names Dr. Kathleen Kern as Next Executive Director

On December 8, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health (LCBMH) appointed Dr. Kathleen Kern as the agency’s next leader. Dr. Kern will become LCBMH Executive Director on May 1, 2017, upon the retirement of present director, Charles Neff.

Currently the Associate Director of the Board, Dr. Kern is a licensed psychologist with 18 years of experience in behavioral health, including more than a decade serving the Lorain County community.

“For nearly four years, Kathleen has supervised all facets of our agency. She is uniquely positioned to understand how every aspect of our highly functional Board works together, from clinical services for adults and children to operations and finance to administration,” says Neff, who will reach 30 years of service with the Board before retiring on May 1.

Neff notes that he and Dr. Kern have worked together at the state level in partnerships with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, other county Boards and government associations.

“Dr. Kern’s appointment gives me complete confidence in the future direction and stability of our Board,” says Traci Shed, Board Chair. “Kathleen has the right combination of head and heart for this role. She provides strong leadership and consistency, and has compassion and proven ability that benefits the people of Lorain County.”

During her tenure at the Board, Dr. Kern has designed and developed multiple major programs in response to community needs. She established the Crisis Liaison Program, which resulted in a dramatic reduction in both the number of youth who are psychiatrically hospitalized and the number of youth who lack connection to a provider after a crisis assessment. She also implemented the youth-led “You Belong” program, now in eight local middle schools. Additionally, she has helped bring new dollars to Lorain County through co-authoring grants for pilot projects, and has provided vision and support for multiple community coalitions.

“It’s bittersweet to announce my retirement,” Neff says. “I feel privileged to have given 30 years of my career to the clients, consumers, and providers of the Lorain County mental health network. Our Board is a strong organization, and I am thrilled to be leaving it in very good hands.”

Dr. Kern expressed her gratitude for Neff’s mentorship and guidance, and thanked the Board of Directors for their faith in her leadership. Dr. Kern and the Board of Directors will collaborate to craft a contract for her new role in the coming months.

LCBMH is the local public agency that plans, funds, monitors, and evaluates a system of services for residents with mental illness in Lorain County.

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