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Thursday, February 17, 2022, 3:00 pm–4:30 pm EST

Hosted by the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD) and Optum

Efforts nationwide to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are critical to advancing a more just and equitable society. However, the strategies and approaches to promoting equity can be drastically different given the organizations leading these efforts as well as the regional and cultural contexts in which they occur. Please join NACBHDD and Optum as we explore DEI efforts nationwide from state, local, and corporate partners. Our expert panel will also highlight timely resources to help your organizations promote similar efforts.


Cost: FREE

Speakers include:

  • Introductory remarks by Dan Ohler, Vice President, Public Sector Growth at Optum Health; Former Board Chair, NACBHDD
  • Moderated by Ron Manderscheid, PhD, former President and CEO, NACBHDD; Adjunct Professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, and the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, University of Southern California
  • Michelle Cabrera, Executive Director, County Behavioral Health Directors of California
  • Gilbert Gonzalez, Director, Bexar County Department of Behavioral and Mental Health
  • Graham McLaughlin, Vice President of Social Responsibility, Optum
  • Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D., President and CEO, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA)
  • Lynda Zeller, Senior Fellow, Behavioral Health, Michigan Health Endowment Fund; former Commissioner for Behavioral Health & Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Administration, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Panel Bios

Dan Ohler
Dan has over 25 years of experience working with state and local government in the behavioral health space, including being a past President for NACBHDD. Since joining Optum in 2014, he has worked with state and county government clients in the behavioral space. Dan has a master’s degree in business administration from Xavier University and a Bachelor of Science in business administration from West Liberty State College.

Ron Manderscheid, PhD,
Ron Manderscheid, PhD, is the former Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors. Concurrently, he was Executive Director of the National Association for Rural Mental Health, Adjunct Professor at the Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, and Adjunct Professor, School of Social Work, University of Southern California. Dr. Manderscheid serves on the boards of the Cosmos Club, the Employee Assistance Research Foundation, the Danya Institute, the Council on Quality and Leadership, the NASMHPD Research Institute, and the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. Previously, he served as the Director of Mental Health and Substance Use Programs at the Global Health Sector of SRA International and in several federal leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Throughout his career, he has emphasized and promoted peer and family concerns. He has also authored numerous scientific and professional publications on services to persons with mental illness and substance use conditions.

Michelle Cabrera
Michelle is the Executive Director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, a statewide association representing the behavioral health directors from California’s 58 counties, in addition to the Tri-City (Pomona, Claremont, and La Verne) and City of Berkeley Mental Health Authorities. In addition to her current work, Ms. Cabrera has been appointed to the California Disability and Aging Community Living Advisory Committee and served as an appointed member of Governor Newsom’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors. She graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science degree in foreign service.

Gilbert Gonzalez
Gilbert has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of substance abuse and mental health, crisis prevention, and treatment provision. He currently serves as Director of the Department of Behavioral Health for Bexar County. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Mr. Gonzales received his bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Trinity University.

Graham McLaughlin
Graham leads the health equity-focused social responsibility program for Optum, a global health services organization with over 175,000 staff members across 150 global offices serving 124 million individuals, 4 out of 5 US hospitals, over 200 health plans, and over 100,000 healthcare facilities. Prior to Optum, Graham launched and led the corporate responsibility program at The Advisory Board Company, a publicly traded health services firm, and has also been a management consultant for Fortune 500 organizations and a wilderness therapy instructor.  Graham graduated Summa Cum Laude from UNC-Chapel Hill with a dual degree in psychology and management.

Debra L. Wentz, PhD.
Debra L. Wentz, PhD, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NJAMHAA and Executive Director of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute. Dr. Wentz holds numerous board and committee positions and appointments on the state and national levels, including several at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. She currently serves as the Chair of the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma. Dr. Wentz earned a doctoral degree from University of Paris, Paris, France; a second PhD and MA degree from the University of Connecticut; and an executive MBA from the Alternative Careers Program of the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. She completed undergraduate work at Goucher College, Maryland. She is bilingual in French and English.

Lynda Zeller
Lynda is the Senior Fellow, Behavioral Health for the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. Prior to this role, she served for seven years as the deputy director for the Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In this position, Lynda functioned as the State Authority for all community-based mental health, substance use disorder, and intellectual and developmental disabilities policies and services.

A new report finds that there have been substantial gains on the issue of making addiction and mental health coverage equal to physical health coverage. Much work still needs to be done, especially for children, according to Ron Manderscheid, PhD, Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD) and the National Association for Rural Mental Health. “Children can’t speak for themselves on the issue of parity,” Manderscheid says. “That’s why it’s very important for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and state health insurance commissioners to protect the rights of children around parity. Any child who has health insurance coverage through the individual marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, is entitled to parity protection, but we don’t really know how well it’s working.” The estimated 8.4 million children enrolled under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is part of Medicaid, are not covered by parity protections, Manderscheid noted. “The field has so focused on problems with implementing parity with adults that children haven’t gotten equal attention in this process.” In October, the White House Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force issued a report that concluded that overall, state-level substance use disorder parity laws have helped to increase the treatment rate by approximately 9 percent across substance use disorder specialty facilities and by about 15 percent in facilities that accept private insurance. This effect was found to be more pronounced in states with more comprehensive parity laws.

“The concept of parity is simple, but the implementation of it is incredibly complex,” said Manderscheid. The trickiest part of parity is a concept called non-quantitative treatment limitations, which are processes that managed care firms use to determine who will and won’t get care, he explains. Currently, the burden chiefly falls on the consumer to report to the federal or state government if their claims for addiction or mental health treatment are denied. “The enforcement burden should fall on HHS, state insurance commissioners, and the insurance companies themselves.”