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For Immediate Release
May 10, 2016

Contact Julie Naughton, Communications and Legislative Services, (office) 402-471-1695 or (cell) 402-405-7202, or

 Cynthia Harris Named Administrator of the Office of Consumer Health, Division of Behavioral Health
Harris had served as interim administrator since September 2015

Lincoln—Cynthia Harris has been named administrator of the Office of Consumer Affairs for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Behavioral Health.

Harris most recently served as the cross systems specialist for network operations and interim administrator for the Office of Consumer Affairs for the Division of Behavioral Health, the latter a role she assumed in September 2015.

In her new role, Harris will be responsible for developing and implementing plans to increase consumer involvement in behavioral health service planning, delivery and evaluation; will direct the People’s Advisory Council; direct the implementation of a peer support work plan and develop collaborative relationships with consumers who have experienced mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. Harris will continue to report to Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health for DHHS.

“The Nebraska Behavioral Health System is undergoing transformation through the implementation of systems of care for children and adults,” said Dawson.  “Cynthia will play a key role in these efforts to increase consumer and family involvement and lead peer support initiatives. She will serve as a change agent within DHHS and work with consumers and system partners to ensure recovery principles are embedded throughout the service delivery system.

“I have dedicated my educational and professional careers to human services and public administration in an effort to help create a recovery-oriented and trauma-informed system of care for children, youth, families, and consumers across Nebraska. I believe in working to eliminate barriers to accessing effective treatment and services through ensuring inclusion of system of care values and principles in all system planning processes. My experience with poverty, childhood abuse and neglect, the foster care system, domestic violence, and trauma have had a significant impact on my life. These experiences drive my passion to serve others. It is an honor to be able to use my story to help others like me, have a voice and experience recovery and resiliency.”

Harris holds a bachelor of arts in sociology and a master of science in human and family services/public administration, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is currently working on a master of public administration degree at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, to be completed May 2017.