IDHS Announces Important Changes in the Department's Top Management

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler today announced that Dr. Lorrie Rickman Jones will leave the position of Director of the Division of Mental Health (DMH), effective January 31, 2013, to join Governor Quinn's policy team. Dr. Jones will serve as Senior Policy Advisor for Behavioral Health. Dr. Jones has been Director of DMH since 2005 and has a track record of several noteworthy accomplishments in state hospital operations, forensic services and in the development of the community system of care. She has led the transition of the community mental health system from a grant system to a fee-for-service financing strategy improving the system's productivity, accountability and quality.

Dr. Jones also led the implementation of the Williams consent decree which has received national recognition from mental health professionals and the advocacy community. Under Dr. Jones' leadership, DMH, in collaboration with mental health and stakeholders across the state, successfully redesigned the crisis care systems in two regions following the closure of two state psychiatric hospitals.

Dr. Theodora Binion, currently Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA), will continue as DASA Director and will lead DMH until a permanent appointment is made. Dr. Binion will oversee DMH and DASA together as a temporary behavioral health division and will have leadership support from Dr. Debra Ferguson, Senior Deputy and Chief of Clinical Operations in the Division of Mental Health. We will also look into the advisability of merging these divisions over the long term.

Dr. Binion was previously the Director of Behavioral Health for the Chicago Department of Public Health. She became Director of DASA in 2003 and has been in the alcoholism and other drug treatment field for 32 years. As Director she converted the DASA system to a post-payment fee-for service reimbursement methodology; implemented performance-based contracts; and provided leadership that guided the conceptual framework, stakeholder development and successful implementation of more than $80 million in federal grants.

Dr. Ferguson served as a Psychologist in the U.S. Army at the rank of Captain. She has been in her position at IDHS since 2010 and also previously served as Chief Psychologist at Alton Mental Health Center. She has overseen quality and safety improvement in all of the state hospitals and worked to develop community-specific crisis care systems to replace the services previously provided by the Tinley Park and Singer Mental Health Centers.

We are pleased that IDHS and other state agencies will continue to work with Dr. Jones in her new advisory position, and we ask that you join us in welcoming Drs. Binion and Ferguson in their new leadership roles.