City Club of Chicago: Crisis in Mental Health Policy

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(L-R) Nneka Jones Tapia, Kelly O’Brien, and Karen Teitelbaum speak at the Crisis in Mental Health Policy panel at the City Club of Chicago, June 27, 2017 (City Club of Chicago)

June 27, 2017

Crisis in Mental Health Policy: Treatment vs. Incarceration – Nneka Jones Tapia, Kelly O’Brien, and Karen Teitelbaum

Nneka Jones Tapia

Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia is the Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections. Prior to assuming that role in May 2015, Dr. Jones Tapia was the First Assistant Executive Director of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office where she oversaw mental health strategy at the Cook County Jail. Sheriff Thomas Dart has long decried the criminalization of mental illness, a tragic byproduct of widespread mental health service cuts throughout the county and state over the past decade. As such, mentally ill individuals are routinely incarcerated for small offenses such as petty theft, panhandling, trespassing, prostitution, disorderly conduct and drug-related crimes. On any given day, Cook County Jail is home to 2500-2800 mentally ill inmates, making it the largest mental health institution in the country. In an effort to slow the revolving door of mentally ill re-entering the jail, Dr. Jones Tapia developed the Mental Health Transition Center to build a support system for the successful reentry into the community. In addition to the Mental Health Transition Center, Dr. Jones Tapia spearheaded several programs geared toward increased health in the inmate population and the community.

Prior to joining the Sheriff’s Office, Dr. Jones Tapia served as the Chief Psychologist at Cermak Health Services, the onsite medical and mental health provider at Cook County Department of Corrections, where she developed and chaired numerous mental health programs and committees and advised the Cook County DOC on mental health-related issues.

Dr. Jones Tapia has maintained a decorated academic career, earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her master’s in clinical psychology from East Carolina University and her doctorate of psychology from the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.

Kelly O’Brien

Kelly O’Brien is Executive Director of The Kennedy Forum Illinois. The Kennedy Forum Illinois is a state-based initiative of The Kennedy Forum, the national organization founded by Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy. The Kennedy Forum’s mission is to end stigma and discrimination against those with mental health and addiction challenges. By providing bold leadership, strategic partner alignment and concerted action, The Kennedy Forum is driving the dialogue about transforming the mental health system and building the support needed to do it.

O’Brien is also the founder and President of Ideaction Corps, a full service social change agency. Ideaction Corps is a certified B Corp and a legal Benefit Corporation entity in the State of Illinois.

Previously, O’Brien has served in public health policy leadership positions in the public and private sector, including public health advisor to Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senior Legislative Aide for health for Congressman Jerry Kleczka (D-WI), Program Analyst/Congressional Liaison in the Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC); Director of Government Affairs for Partnership for Prevention, Associate Executive Director for the American Public Health Association, Vice President at Wilhelm & Conlon Public Strategies in Chicago, Executive Director of Girls on the Run Chicago and Vice President of Corporate Partnerships and Marketing at United Way of Metro Chicago.

She holds a B.A. in history and government from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame and an M.S. in public administration (policy analysis) from George Washington University School of Business. An avid athlete and adventure seeker, O’Brien balances work with endurance sports, sailing, travel and reading.

Karen Teitelbaum

Karen Teitelbaum is the President/Chief Executive Officer at Sinai Health System, an urban, teaching healthcare system comprised of four hospitals, an epidemiological research institute focusing on healthcare disparities, a community institute with over 25 distinct programs, over 800 medical staff members, and 4,000 employees. Focused on the delivery of high quality services in an efficient and cost effective manner, Sinai Health System has achieved national recognition in quality while reducing costs by millions of dollars due to greater efficiency and management of population health.

Teitelbaum serves on the boards of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (Nominating and Governing Committee), Women in Health-Life Sciences, the David Lynch Foundation Advisory Council, and has served on the boards of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, Family Health Network, the Theraplay Institute, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Foundation, and the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School. She is a member of the American Hospital Association Task Force on Ensuring Access for Vulnerable Communities, the American Hospital Association Council on Maternal Fetal Health, and chaired the Building Committee for a significant Federally Qualified Healthcare Center. She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, The Chicago Network, and the Commercial Club of Chicago.

Teitelbaum has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in managed care and marketing and strategy for nonprofit organizations and is a frequently requested national speaker on healthcare delivery topics such as population health management in an urban environment. She has been named one of “130 Nonprofit Hospital & Health System CEOs to Know” by Becker´s Hospital Review, as well as being named one of the “Leaders of Chicago Healthcare” by the same publication.

Teitelbaum holds an M.M. from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.

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