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News Release
Oregon Health Authority appoints new behavioral health director - 03/11/19

March 11, 2019

Contact: Saerom England, 971-239-6483, om.y.england@dhsoha.state.or.us">saerom.y.england@dhsoha.state.or.us

Oregon Health Authority appoints new behavioral health director

Steve Allen is a national policy expert with a track record of state-level reforms

Salem, Ore. – The Oregon Health Authority announced today that it has appointed Steve Allen, a skilled clinician, national expert on behavioral health policy and state government reform, and experienced behavioral health administrator, as the new state behavioral health director. He will begin work April 29.

Steve Allen will fill the role created in July 2018, when OHA reorganized its behavioral health program. Mike Morris had been serving in the role on an interim basis until he retired in February.

Steve Allen’s current position is senior policy advisor at the Council of State Governments, where for the past four years he has worked with 10 states, including Oregon, to develop strategies to improve behavioral health services and outcomes for individuals involved in the criminal justice system. It was through this work that Steve Allen and OHA Director Patrick Allen crossed paths in 2018.

"He knows how to look under the hood of a state’s behavioral health system, diagnose its weaknesses and set a strategic road map to ultimately improve the accessibility and effectiveness of a state's behavioral health system," OHA Director Allen said. "I have full confidence that Steve has the experience and leadership qualities that we need to build a person-centered and recovery-oriented behavioral health system."

Steve Allen also has first-hand clinical experience and understands the operational rigor necessary to operate successful organizations. Before his work with the Council of State Governments, Steve Allen served two years in the Minnesota Department of Human Services as the executive director of mental health and substance abuse treatment services, where he oversaw the operational functions of 19 transitional, residential and acute behavioral health facilities. He was responsible for strategic direction as well as building and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders and advocates.

In his current capacity at the Council of State Governments, Steve Allen has become familiar with Oregon’s behavioral health stakeholders and advocates and has visited many communities across the state.

"I have been impressed by the level of dedication, passion and sophistication of Oregon’s behavioral health stakeholders and advocates," Steve Allen said. "I am excited for the opportunity to influence statewide strategy to transform Oregon’s behavioral health system and better support recovery for Oregonians."

Rachel Solotaroff, MD, president and CEO of Central City Concern, a federally qualified health center in Portland, said she is impressed by Steve Allen’s broad experience as a leader and clinician.

"Steve’s experience in complex behavioral health issues is precisely what we need right now in Oregon," Solotaroff said. "His background not only as a systems-builder, but also as a deeply empathic clinician, allows him to address the intersection of behavioral health with other crucial issues, such as safe and affordable housing and meaningful employment. I look forward to the transformative effect he will have on human-centered systems of care, for those who need it most."

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