LORAIN, OHIO – Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County former Interim Executive Director Elaine Georgas has announced she will retire effective July 30.
“It has been a privilege to serve in various roles over my career to build systems and services that enhance Lorain County’s system of care for prevention, treatment and recovery services to support our residents and their families,” Georgas said. “I cherish the expertise and friendships from our board’s committed staffs and board members, community providers, city, county and state leadership – who I worked alongside – to accomplish what we have done together. My future is still being written.”
Following the merger of the former Lorain County Board of Mental Health and the Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services (ADAS) Board of Lorain County in 2019, Georgas led the newly formed MHARS Board for more than two years as interim Executive Director. In that time, she helped the new MHARS Board navigate the challenging process of merging two staff teams, a new Board of Directors, an integrated budget, blended roster of service providers and consolidated locations among other things. During the process, the MHARS Board also was responsible for communicating those changes to the community, governmental leadership, partner agencies and countless other stakeholders. In early 2021, following an extensive search with the aid of a consulting firm, the Board of Directors announced it had selected a new Executive Director to fill the role, Michael Doud.
“I sincerely thank Ms. Georgas for all she has done to merge the two boards. She has laid a good foundation for the MHARS Board’s important work as we continue to move forward,” Doud said. “I also thank her for her 30 years of service with the ADAS and MHARS Boards on behalf of our staff and the countless others whose lives were bettered by her work.”
In 1991, Georgas joined the staff at the ADAS Board of Lorain County and became Executive Director in 1999 until the merging of the two boards. She holds a B.A. in Finance from Cleveland State University and an Associate of Arts degree from Lorain County Community College.
Some of her civic and other accomplishments include the following:
- Member of Lorain Rotary Club. Past Secretary/Treasurer – Lorain Rotary Memorial Scholarship
- Lorain County Children and Families Council – Past President (2003) and Secretary (2008- 2021)
- Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities – Past president 2018/2019, former chair – Recovery Oriented System of Care Implementation Committee
- Founder – Communities That Care of Lorain County (2003) Lorain County’s Drug Free Communities Coalition and lead developer: Lorain County Opioid Action Team
- Member – Ohio division of Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center – Regional Advisory Board
- Appointed to serve on Ohio’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (Governor Bob Taft)
- Served on development team for SB 57 – a pilot initiative for Lorain County’s First Responders – including law enforcement- to carry and use the life saving device Naloxone in 2013.
- Successful Grant writer securing $15 million in state/federal funding initiatives to benefit Lorain County’s substance abuse and mental health prevention, treatment and recovery services
“I have known and worked with Ms. Georgas for about 15 years, with both the MHARS board and the former ADAS board. In that time, she has demonstrated a strong knowledge of substance use disorders and mental health issues as well as a passion for helping others. She has always gone above and beyond to get the job done,” said MHARS Board of Directors President Dan Urbin. “I wish her well on her retirement and thank her for her service to Lorain County.”
Please save the date for a farewell event that will be held in recognition of Georgas’s tremendous work. All who would like to wish her well are invited to an open house on July 29. More info will be posted soon on the MHARS website at www.mharslc.org.
At its regular monthly meeting on June 24, the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County’s board of directors selected new leadership for the 2022 Fiscal Year. They will assume their roles beginning on July 1, 2021.
“Congratulations to the board of directors’ officers on their leadership roles. We thank them for their continued support of the MHARS Board,” said Executive Director Michael Doud. “I look forward to working with them as we continue our important work throughout Lorain County.”
The new executive leadership team includes:
- Daniel Urbin, Chairperson: Daniel T. Urbin, an Avon Lake resident, served as a Board Member of the former Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services (ADAS) Board and Lorain County Mental Health Board (LCMHB) before their merger as the MHARS Board. Urbin has 38 years of experience working with individuals on their journeys to recovery. His previous experience also includes work with the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Drug Court, Prison Ministry and as a Board Member of Lorain/Medina Community Based Correctional Facility (CBCF). He is a Certified Peer Supporter, attended the National Conference for Addiction in Washington DC and is past President of Leadership Lorain County.
- Regan Phillips, Vice Chairperson: Regan Phillips, of North Ridgeville, is the City of Elyria’s Executive Administrator for the Council Clerk’s Office. Prior to her position with the City, she had extensive experience with nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the YWCA, where she served as Program Director. She currently serves as the President of the African American Community Fund, an affiliate fund of the Community Foundation of Lorain County. Phillips currently serves as the Lorain Section National Council of Negro Women President and previously served as 2nd Vice President for the NAACP. In addition, she has served on numerous boards including Leadership Lorain County, Elyria Kiwanis and the Urban League Guild. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Steve, and her daughter, Angel.
- Dr. Denise Eacott, Secretary: Dr. Denise Eacott, a Lorain resident, is the owner of Mindful Wellness Psychological Services, LLC in Amherst. She is a licensed psychologist with 20 years of experience in psychology and counseling throughout Northeast Ohio. She is a graduate of Cleveland State University (CSU), from which she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Arts in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and her Doctorate in Urban Education with a specialization in counseling. Dr. Eacott’s previous volunteer work includes service on the former Lorain County Board of Mental Health, CSU’s Counseling Center and CSU Student Life’s advisory committee.
- David Ashenhurst, Chief Governance Officer: David Ashenhurst, of Oberlin, will continue his role as the MHARS Board of Directors Chief Governance Officer. He is the founder and president of the nonprofit Oberlin By Design, Inc. He has extensive experience in the realm of nonprofit administration with the Pew Charitable Trusts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Rotary International. Ashenhurst is also a past member of the Oberlin City Council and former executive director of the Nord Family Foundation. Highlights of his volunteer experience include work with the former Lorain County Board of Mental Health, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lorain County Board of Elections, Friends of Oberlin Underground Railroad Center, Inc. and Ohio Citizen Action.
In addition, the MHARS Board staff and its board of directors thank outgoing members Brandon Bobbitt and Dr. Tracey Frierson for their service to the board. Their terms will expire June 30, 2021. At the June 24 meeting, Mike Babet was sworn in, replacing the position to be vacated by Dr. Frierson. The Membership Committee of the Board of Directors is working to fill the position left by Bobbitt.Learn More
LORAIN, OHIO – The Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County serves as the local authority for community mental health and substance use services. The Board is dedicated to improving the well-being of all members of the community by planning for, establishing and maintaining an effective, efficient, and quality system of mental health, addiction and recovery services for Lorain County.
After a four-month intensive search, the MHARS Board is pleased to announce the selection of Michael K. Doud as its new executive director. Mr. Doud follows the MHARS Board’s Interim Executive Director, Elaine Georgas, who assumed the interim position when the former Lorain County Board of Mental Health and Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board merged in 2019. The MHARS Board selected Mr. Doud after an extensive regional search led by a team of current Board Members and executive search firm Waverly Partners of Cleveland.
Under Ms. Georgas’ dedicated leadership, the organization built on its strengths, developed new relationships, and strengthened existing relationships with partners and supporters. The MHARS Board would like to thank Ms. Georgas for her dedication and outstanding service during the rapid merger of the two boards and the issues facing the organization during the COVID pandemic.
The MHARS Board anticipates that Mr. Doud will leverage these achievements to help the organization expand its services to reach even more Lorain County residents in need.
“We are very excited to have Michael taking on the role of Executive Director of the MHARS Board,” says Dr. Hope Moon, the Board Chair. “Michael brings to the job an exceptional combination of energy, sensitivity, and proven leadership. Both the Board and Staff are impressed with his extensive knowledge of Northeast Ohio, his three decades of service within the mental health/substance abuse area, and his strong management skills. We expect Michael to not only continue the MHARS Board’s excellent programs, but to work with partners and funders to help expand the MHARS Board’s programs to more people in need.”
Mr. Doud joins the MHARS Board after 32-years of work in the behavioral health arena. Most recently, Mr. Doud was the Chief Operating Officer of the Emerald Development and Economic Network, a non-profit community housing development agency in Cleveland. Earlier in his career, he spent almost 20 years at the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County and also worked at the Nord Center and St. Joseph/Community Health Partners in Lorain. Mr. Doud has a BA degree from Cleveland State University and an MS degree in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University.
Mr. Doud said “I’m honored to be identified to lead such a dynamic, community-driven organization as the MHARS Board of Lorain County.” “I am optimistic about MHARS Board continued success and look forward to working closely with stakeholders and partners as we build upon our initiatives to support the recovery process of individuals in our communities.” “I look forward to joining the MHARS Board in continuing to advance collaborative, cross-sector efforts to improve behavioral health services and access to quality care.”
Mr. Doud will assume the Executive Director position on June 1, 2021.
COVID Care Teams are dispatching across the state to help neighborhoods recover from the social and emotional health challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board has launched Lorain County’s team to offer community-based outreach and education to relieve stress and anxiety, especially if those stresses are or may become health concerns.
COVID Care Team members provide free, friendly advice and connections to local resources. Officially known as a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program, the local COVID Care Team has trained, knowledgeable Care Counselors ready to help people navigate issues that are causing them stress and anxiety, or to find treatment for anxiety-related concerns.
MHARS Interim Director Elaine Georgas describes the personal connection and resourcefulness of the COVID Care Counselors as “extraordinary.” She says that the teams have already helped navigate people through everything from lack of hot meals to fear over COVID-like symptoms to unemployment challenges to grief and loneliness due to being physically separated from family members.
“These are all things that were causing people anxiety that could lead to health conditions or challenges,” said Georgas. “A member of our COVID Care Team listened, and helped.”
This is a local partnership between the MHARS Board, El Centro, and the Elyria YWCA, and is part of Ohio’s COVID Care program from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The Lorain County COVID Care Team is part of a federally funded short-term disaster relief grant awarded to states after a presidential disaster declaration. The grant supports community-based outreach, counseling and other mental health services during the COVID pandemic.
The neighbor-to-neighbor approach of the COVID Care Team also inspires the community to get involved in supporting each other, said Georgas. Community conversations have led to food drives, check-ins on elderly residents, and other connections that can be a protection to an individual’s mental health and well-being.
“The beauty of this assistance is that it is for everybody,” says Tim Williams, who is leading the CARE Counselors at the YWCA. “So often when communities receive this type of support, it’s like, ‘Do you qualify? No, you don’t meet all of this eligibility criteria.’ The COVID Care Team recognizes that everyone is struggling in some way right now; everyone has anxieties. We are here as a friendly resource, for anyone who lives in Lorain County.”
Williams noted that his team has supported people who are homeless, and people who are running businesses. He said that the COVID Care Team can help regardless of a person’s walk of life, and the team is serving people countywide.
Thelma Cruz with the El Centro outreach group echoed Williams’ remarks.
“We are here to help, whether you speak English or Spanish, are employed or unemployed, are a mom, dad, live alone. We offer help where you are and hope when you need it,” she said.
To connect to the Team, call 440-240-7025 or 440-322-6308, and ask for a COVID Care Counselor. Visit mharslc.org/covidcare to learn more.
The MHARS Board is the local behavioral health authority. Its mission is to improve the well-being of all members of our community by planning for, establishing and maintaining an effective, efficient, and quality system of mental health, addiction and recovery services for Lorain County.
Brought to you by your Board and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, this program for participating counties reimburses employers for:
- Development and legal review of employer policies and procedures about substance use issues.
- Training for employees to understand substance use and their employer’s related policies.
- Training to equip supervisors and managers to better manage employees in recovery.
- Drug testing for prospective and current employees in recovery.
The program also provides access to a free employee wellness incentive program, BWC’s Better You, Better Ohio.
To sign up, or for more information, visit www.bwc.ohio.gov. Or contact:
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Director, Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program
FREE Virtual Training on January 26: Recovery Supports and Tools for Families Suffering with a Loved One’s Substance Use Disorder, presented by the MHARS Board’s new Dissemination and Implementation Officer of Prevention Services, Tonya Birney. Free CEUs. Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/401076965213593103Learn More
The Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board announces four new members of its clinical team. The team is essential to the Board’s mission of planning, funding and monitoring a network of mental health and substance use services for Lorain County residents.
“I am pleased to tell the community about the talented individuals who will be working on their behalf at the Board,” said Interim Director Elaine Georgas.
|Mark Johnson now leads the team as the Community Services Director. He is a Licensed Independent Social Worker-Supervision, with a Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University. He started his career as a therapist serving children and families. Then, he held several roles including Clinical Services Director over two decades for a community-based mental health and substance use disorder treatment agency with multiple Northeast Ohio sites. He now brings his clinical and administrative aptitude to his work in Lorain County.|
|Tonya Birney joins the team in a new role as Dissemination and Implementation Officer of Prevention Services. Birney earned her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Walden University. She is a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor, Ohio Certified Prevention Consultant, and Licensed Professional Counselor, and a trainer for multiple programs. In a previous role, she provided administrative oversite and supervision for behavioral health and public health, including alcohol and drug outpatient treatment, behavioral health prevention, and harm reduction services. Birney lives in Grafton.|
|A resident of Lorain, Rebecca Jones joins the team as the Child and Adolescent Services Director. Jones is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor-Supervision with a Master of Education in Community Agency Counseling. Most recently, she served as a clinical director at the largest mental health care provider in the MHARS Board network. She has worked in community mental health for 20 years, with extensive experience in providing clinical oversight of behavioral health services to diverse populations. She is known for developing and implementing best-practice clinical programming to meet the needs of the community.|
|Amanda Divis will serve as the Board’s Treatment and Recovery Services Director. Following graduate school at Case Western Reserve University, Divis began her career conducting in-home community-based therapy for adolescents with co-occurring substance use and mental health concerns. She has addressed mental health and recovery needs with people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds in the individual, group and family-based settings. She is dedicated to community-based mental health, addiction recovery and harm reduction programming. Divis is a resident of Avon Lake.|
At their December Board of Directors meeting, the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board of Lorain County approved funds to four local school districts for prevention programming. The funding will support the social and emotional needs of students, teachers and families.
Multiple school districts are working with MHARS Board staff to assess their needs and resources, and develop creative plans for wellness. The first cohort of districts to finish their plans and receive funding approval are Avon Lake City Schools, Clearview Local Schools, North Ridgeville City Schools and Wellington Exempted Village Schools.
“The funds will be utilized in a variety of ways across the district,” North Ridgeville City Schools Social Worker Chelsea Freeman said. “We are very lucky to be awarded such a grant in the middle of a pandemic.”
Freeman added that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of students are increasing.
The goal is to develop effective evidence-based strategies to help children build resiliency and reduce risk factors that contribute to behavioral health conditions including substance use, anxiety and depression.
“Prevention education is so important, now so more than ever, and the K-12 prevention funding is allowing Avon Lake City Schools to not only keep our programing going, but to make adjustments that will help even more students,” said Superintendent Bob Scott.
Strategies that were approved across districts include expanded screenings for students, mentoring, trauma-informed care training for staff, mindfulness opportunities for students, and family engagement enhancements.
“The Wellington Exempted Village School District is excited to partner with the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County to bring exciting new programming to our students including the Second Step Program, Yoga in the Classroom, and the ROX girls curriculum. These new programs are ideal to support our students in these difficult times,” noted Edward Weber, Wellington’s Superintendent.
At the high school, the Ruling Our Experiences, or ROX, program to will build leadership skills for young women.
“I think the ROX program is going to be an amazingly beneficial program for many girls including myself,” said Wellington junior Harley Wallace. “Personally, I believe I will benefit from being a ROX girl because I will become more confident in myself, and be more comfortable in a public setting.”
“The K-12 Prevention Education Initiative is a partnership with our Board and local school districts to help achieve Ohio’s goal of prevention services for every child in every grade, every school,” said MHARS Interim Executive Director Elaine Georgas. “School districts complete an assessment either for their district or a specific building in key areas: planning, partnerships, family engagement, data informed decision-making school planning teams, policies, program identification and selection, peer opportunities for students and staff support and professional development. This assessment is used to create a plan for which MHARS offers technical assistance.”
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) distributed $18 million to support prevention education for students in grades K-12. The MHARS Board received an allocation of $433,986 for local public, private and charter schools that successfully complete the funding request process.
Jerome Davis, the Superintendent of the Clearview Local Schools, said that the prevention funding is an exciting opportunity to create new approaches, like a calming room on a school’s campus.
“As more and more young people are facing issues with fear, anxiety, and disappointment, it brings me great pride in there being a safe space in our school district whereby we can help ease some of the anxiety and traumatic experiences,” he said. “Trauma encompasses a lot from divorce to illness to death. We will have that comforting space to help deal with these stressful situations. It is truly exciting to have the opportunity to provide that space for our students.”
“We are pleased that the four districts have moved forward to create sustainable plans focused on the well-being of their students, school personnel and the families of the students particularly during this school year, which has been unique due to COVID-19. Now more than ever, the social-emotional needs of students are a priority,” said Georgas.
“Together we can get through this crisis and together we can help those in need,” added Superintendent Scott.
Other districts are in the process of developing their plans. To learn more about the K-12 Prevention Initiative and how your school districts can access Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programming supports and receive technical assistance from Tonya Birney, the MHARS Board’s Dissemination and Implementation Officer for Prevention Services, contact 440-434-5713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MHARS Board is the local behavioral health authority. Its mission is to improve the well-being of all members of our community by planning for, establishing and maintaining an effective, efficient, and quality system of mental health, addiction and recovery services for Lorain County.Learn More
Join an informational Hope Hour to introduce the Community of Hope Transitional Age Youth Volunteer Mentorship program to Lorain County. The program connects young adults ages 18 to 25 to a group of adult volunteer mentors called communities. The Hope Hour will be held via Zoom, on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, at 6:30 pm. Registration is required.Learn More