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NRI's Board of Directors

NRI's Board of Directors is composed of 16 leaders in the behavioral health field who serve as program directors, researchers, consultants, advocates, and finance experts. Their individual and collective competencies provide strategic guidance to NRI as it fulfills its mission to benefit both providers and consumers of health and behavioral health services. The term of office for all Board members is two years.

Dena Stoner

Dena Stoner, Director of Innovation Strategy for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s IDD / Behavioral Health Division, has over 38 years of design and implementation experience, including long term services, acute care, managed care and behavioral health. She currently concentrates on behavioral health integration, including research and demonstration projects, Medicaid state plan and waiver initiatives. Her work has been featured in peer-reviewed publications. She also chairs the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors’ Finance Policy Division, serves on the NASMHPD Research Institute (NRI)’s Board of Directors, is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) and chairs NASHP’s Long Term and Chronic Care Committee.

Vice President
Ann Marie Sullivan, M.D.

Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan serves as Commissioner for the New York State Office of Mental Health.  Previously, she was the Senior Vice President for the Queens Health Network of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Dr. Sullivan is an active advocate for her patients and her profession, is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and has served as the Speaker of the American Psychiatric Association’s Assembly and on its Board of Trustees.

Val Mielke

Valerie L. Mielke, MSW

Valerie Mielke is the Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) in the Department of Human Services and serves as the Single State Agency (SSA) for Substance Abuse and the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) as designated by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Katherine Warburton, D.O.

Dr. Warburton is the Medical Director, and Deputy Director of Clinical Operations, for the California Department of State Hospitals. Dr. Warburton is board certified in adult and forensic psychiatry. She is an Associate Professor on the Clinical Faculty at the UC Davis School of Medicine. Dr. Warburton has lectured and published on forensic topics related to violence and competence to stand trial. She is editor of a textbook titled Violence in Psychiatry. In 2021, she published a textbook called Decriminalizing Mental Illness.

Immediate Past President
Lynda Zeller

We want to thank Ms. Zeller for her exemplary service as Board President for the last several years as she has stepped down from the board and taken a key position with SAMHSA. She is the former Senior Program Officer, Behavioral Health at Michigan Health Endowment Fund. She previously served as the Deputy Director for Michigan's Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities Administration, where she provided policy leadership for public behavioral health and developmental disabilities services, and oversight for operations through the Bureau of Community-Based Services; Bureau of Hospitals and Administrative Operations; and the Children and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders Section. She has more than 27 years of experience serving the behavioral health community.

Past President and Member-at-Large
David Shern, Ph.D. 

Dr. Shern served as the interim President and CEO of Mental Health America. Previously, Dr. Shern served as Dean of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida, one of the largest research and training institutes for behavioral health in the U.S. He also founded and directed the National Center for the Study of Issues in Public Mental Health within the New York Office of Mental Health.

Wendy Bailey

Member at Large
Wendy Bailey

Wendy Bailey is the Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Mental Health. She has been with the agency for 16 years beginning her career at Mississippi State Hospital in 2005. During her years at the agency, she has focused on strategic planning, performance development, and budget management.

Member at Large
Barbara Bazron, Ph.D.

Barbara J. Bazron, PhD was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser as Director of the Department of Behavioral Health. Dr. Bazron previously served as Interim Director and Senior Deputy Director of the District’s Department of Behavioral Health where she led initiatives to expand evidence-based practices for children and youth, integrate peer leadership in treatment models and increase access to care in non-traditional settings 

Sonja Gaines

Member at Large
Sonja Gaines

Sonja Gaines is Deputy Executive Commissioner for Behavioral Health. Gaines has more than 20 years of community mental health experience. She previously served as chief of mental health services with My Health My Resources of Tarrant County.

Member at Large
Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D.

Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D., has a life-long commitment to social-justice, particularly racial, gender, and health equity. This is reflected through a career that spans national work with the Congress and Administration, federal agencies, NGOs, and university teaching. He serves currently as Principal at Capstone Solutions Consulting Group and as Adjunct Professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, and the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, University of Southern California. Until recently, he was President/CEO, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and National Association for Rural Mental Health. Both organizations represent county and local authorities in the DC community. Concurrently, Dr. Manderscheid serves on the boards of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the National Grand Challenge for Social Work Initiative, the Danya Institute, and the NASMHPD Research Institute. He also served until recently as the Co-Chair of the National Coalition for Whole Health.

Wendy Morris

Member at Large
Wendy Morris, MSN

Wendy Morris is a Senior Behavioral Health Advisor at National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). Morris was commissioner at Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities and joined BHDID in 2013 as deputy commissioner after previously holding various leadership positions in the field of behavioral health, including in-patient, out-patient and home health. She previously served as the executive director of Appalachian Regional Healthcare’s (ARH) Psychiatric Center in Hazard, community chief nursing officer for ARH’s Regional Medical Center, and clinical nurse specialist for ARH’s Division of Home Services, where she implemented a corporate-wide psychiatric home health care program. Morris has also worked in community mental health, general hospital, and academic settings where she taught and mentored many who remain colleagues in the field today.

Member at Large
Joe Parks, M.D.

Dr. Parks serves as the Senior Medical Director for the National Council for Behavioral Health. He most recently served as the Director of the Missouri HealthNet Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services. He oversees th Medicaid program that provides health coverage to about 850,000 lower-income children, custodial parents, disabled residents and seniors. He previously served as the Chief Medical Officer for the Missouri Department of Mental Health.   

Marie Williams

Member at Large
Marie Williams, LCSW

Marie Williams, LCSW is the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). In her previous position as Deputy Commissioner, Ms. Williams served as top advisor to the Commissioner.

Tim Knettler, M.B.A., C.A.E.

Executive Director / CEO
Tim Knettler, M.B.A., C.A.E.

Mr. Knettler has over 20 year's executive level experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. He has provided strategic planning, global strategies, transition (Interim) management, revenue/membership growth, public policy/advocacy, and other leadership expertise to associations and other non-profit and government organizations. He is the main contact for new initiatives and works closely with our federal partners, colleagues, and multiple associations to inform the public mental health system through our research and analytical capacities.