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Will County Community Mental Health Board Holds First Meeting
Matthew Libs

Will County Community Mental Health Board Holds First Meeting

Newly-created board elects first President and Secretary; Establishes Bylaws

The Will County Community Mental Health Board held their first meeting to elect officers and establish Bylaws. This marks the first key step for the newly created board to establish their plan to evaluate and improve community mental health services in Will County, including the treatment of mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use.

Board members voted to elect Katrina Jones of University Park to serve as the board’s first president. President Jones is a nurse with 22 years of experience in the medical field and has received various specialized mental health training during her career. As president, Jones will chair meetings, prepare agendas, and appoint committees and task forces.

“I am thankful for the residents of Will County who voted to create this new board to help the mental health needs of all of our communities,” said President Jones. “I feel honored to be chosen as the Board’s first president. I will do my best to perform my duties in partnership with all board members to ensure the needs of the community are met. We have a great team, and they are willing and ready to meet the needs of the residents.”

The board also elected Michael Flanagan of Green Garden Township as board secretary. Flanagan is a retired firefighter with experience providing peer support for firefighters, police officers, and military veterans. His civic involvement includes the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Group, 100 Club of Illinois, National Association of Down Syndrome, and the Will County Historic Preservation Commission.

Per statute, County Executive Bertino-Tarrant convened the first meeting and swore in board members to their terms of office. The County Executive’s office has provided administrative support to the new board since its approval by Will County voters in the 2022 general election.

“This is a significant step for the board as they begin to outline their plans for the future,” said County Executive Bertino-Tarrant. “Many organizations throughout the county have identified the need for expanded resources for responding to the increase of reported mental health and substance use issues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with the newly developed mental health board to make these resources available to our communities.”

The Community Mental Health Board will be tasked with evaluating the community’s mental health needs, creating targeted local support, and coordinating a comprehensive system of services to help with mental health issues, intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as substance abuse issues. The State of Illinois Community Mental Health Act empowers local boards to create a written plan for expending resources to improve upon and increase services as it relates to mental health.

“The Community Mental Health Board will determine where gaps may exist and how they may be addressed with future tax dollars,” said County Board Chair Judy Ogalla. “This is a job that cannot be taken lightly and the excitement of the new Board members is very encouraging. I look forward to working with them to ensure tax dollars are allocated with the best interest of our Will County residents.”

The approved bylaws for the board establish its purpose as providing Will County residents with community mental health facilities and services, either directly or indirectly. Board members are now tasked with outlining a plan and proposing a budget and levy for approval by the Will County Board.

Members of the board include Elnalyn Costa (Bolingbrook), Orlando DeYoung (Plainfield), Michael Flanagan (Green Garden Township), Katrina Jones (University Park), Terri King (Plainfield), Jessica Parks (Bolingbrook), and Ashley Searing (Joliet).

Future meetings of the board will be posted at www.willcounty.gov.

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