2/10/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - Dr. Donnell Barnett

Good Evening IDHS Staff,

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, I am excited to check in with you. While we regularly celebrate the diversity of our stakeholders, Black History Month provides IDHS the privilege to recognize our agency's impact and the Black leaders, and Black-led and serving providers that push our work forward. In today's Bright Spot, I am thrilled to highlight Dr. Donnell Barnett as our new Deputy Director, Mental Health Clinical Operations. As Deputy Director, Dr. Barnett will lead in strengthening the clinical process across the divisions programs in the interest of effective and efficient services.

Prior to IDHS, Dr. Barnett's career has been a combination of clinical and public mental health and wellness. His past experiences include serving as the District Director of Specialized Student Services at City Colleges of Chicago, and nine years as an Active Duty Army Psychologist. While this may be his first State government position, Dr. Barnett's past experience and deep commitment to mental health and wellness will be integral as IDHS works to ensure that those who need our help the most, are not excluded or overlooked. Still, in his first month as Deputy Director, Dr. Barnett's first priority is to get acclimated to systems, programs, and the dynamic people that we serve.

In addition to taking on this new role at IDHS, Dr. Barnett was recently nominated as President-Elect of The Association of Black Psychologists, which has two main goals. The first is to serve as an advocacy and professional association for the community of mental health providers who are Black/African/African-American identified. Some estimates suggest Black/African Americans make up only 5% of psychologists. The second goal is to advance the discipline of Black/African psychology, which focuses on the Black experience and is rooted in original cultural thought, and from the perspective of Black people. This summer at the annual conference, Dr. Barnett will begin his term as President.

Dr. Donnell Barnett Fun Facts:

  • Family: Married with one third grader
  • Favorite Hobby: Singing - mostly church and choral music
  • "Normal" Activity He Misses: Going out to events/restaurants and visiting with friends and family
  • Favorite author: Malcolm Gladwell

Dr. Barnett, welcome to IDHS; we are excited to have you. I look forward to continuing to celebrate Black History Month, as well as our Black employees, providers, and stakeholders who support our work.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS