The Mental Health Association in Jefferson County has named Theodore R. Tedd Stiles Jr. as executive director.
Having been on the job only since July 23, Mr. Stiles said he already has a plan to help the peer-run agency move forward.
For the agency, Id like to see it grow, expand it to include more programs, and develop the staff, he said Monday from his 724 State St. office.
I want to develop them as leaders so they can move up the chain. I learned leadership from the Army; one of my biggest focuses in life is leadership.
Mr. Stiles came to the north country in 1997 when he was assigned to Fort Drum with the 41st Engineers, which has since deactivated.
He was medically discharged in 2002, but remained in the community, with his most recent position as Carthage Area Hospitals director of behavioral health. Mr. Stiles held that position for eight months before joining the Mental Health Association.
He replaced Daun M. Whittaker, who resigned June 30 to open a Christian counseling center in Oswego. She had been executive director since fall 2006.
Mr. Stiles said that as a hospital administrator, he dealt mainly with other hospital administrators, but as the Mental Health Association executive director he can focus on one of his passions: working directly with the public.
A certified addictions counselor, Mr. Stiles said he also focused his studies on post-traumatic stress disorder and its connection with addiction.
At the Mental Health Association, Mr. Stiles will oversee the following peer-run programs: advocacy, the veterans family program, the drop-in center and the rapid rehousing program.
Throughout the past week, he has spent time getting to know each agency member and staff member.
While continuing to figure out the ins and outs of the agency, Mr. Stiles said, he is preparing for what may be major changes in mental health care.
He said that aside from funding challenges, as the Mental Health Association is reliant on grants, another roadblock might be the proposed national home health concept.
Mr. Stiles said that concept would require an assigned case manager for everyone on Medicaid.
They want stuff like this peer-to-peer program, but arent putting any money behind it, he said.
Because of the many challenges the mental health field faces in recruiting and retaining professionals, Mr. Stiles said, peer-run organizations play more important roles, as they often are the first places people go for help.
Mr. Stiles received a bachelors degree in sociology from Le Moyne College, Syracuse, in 1996, and a masters degree in counseling from SUNY Oswego in 2003.
He lives in Watertown with his wife, Tammy J., and daughters Riley A., 6, and Hannah E., 5.