Baton Rouge – Alan Levine, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, today announced the appointment of Jennifer Kopke as Assistant Secretary for Office of Mental Health.  As the state’s leader in mental health services, Kopke will be responsible for planning and the delivery of mental health services, as well as the statewide development of the human services district model of care.   
 
Kopke joins the department after 10 years with the Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority, where she has served as Executive Director for the last four years.  Prior to becoming the executive director, she served as the agency’s director of the Child and Family Services Division; manager of Prevention, Education and Adolescent Substance Abuse Services; and coordinator of Prevention Services.
 
The Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority was established by the Louisiana Legislature in 1989 to provide local control in the management and delivery of mental health, addictive disorders and developmental disabilities services. Prior to its formation, these services were managed by the State of Louisiana. The success of this authority resulted in the creation of other human service districts in Baton Rouge, greater New Orleans and in the Florida Parishes. Two other such districts are in the planning stages.  
 
Levine said Kopke will provide the proper leadership as the agency implements its plan to address the mental health crisis in New Orleans and statewide.  
 
“Our goal is to move the state toward a human services delivery model similar to the great system Assistant Secretary Kopke helped develop and lead in Jefferson Parish,” said Levine.  “Her superior management of the Jefferson Parishes Human Services Authority demonstrates she has the mastery for providing human services, and she understands the importance of community collaboration.  This makes her a perfect fit for the job.”
 
Kopke will be responsible for overseeing the programs and facilities associated with DHH’s Office of Mental Health.  This includes the state’s mental hospitals, mental health clinics, the four human services districts and programs such as Louisiana Spirit, the Child-Adolescent Response Team and Louisiana Youth Enhanced Services.

“I am honored to have been asked to serve the State of Louisiana,” said Kopke. “The challenges facing the mental health care system are massive, but Secretary Levine and Gov. Jindal have already demonstrated their resolve to not only offer solutions, but to see that they are successfully implemented.  It will be exciting to be a member of this team that will make a meaningful difference to so many of our citizens.”

Kopke’s appointment is effective March 31, 2008.
 
“I want to thank our Acting Assistant Secretary, William Payne, for his incredible performance and loyalty,” added Levine.  “His dedication is unsurpassed, and I don’t think anyone cares more about Louisiana’s mental health system than he does. Our state owes him a debt of gratitude.”

Levine also announced that he will not be making any more changes at the assistant secretary level. Last month, he announced the appointment of Rony Francois, MD, as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Health. 

“Assistant Secretary Kathy Kleibert will continue in her role in the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, Michael Duffy will continue as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Addictive Disorders and Hugh Eley will continue in that role with DHH’s Office of Aging and Adult Services. These are three outstanding people with the hearts of public servants. They have my full support,” said Levine.