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Mental Health Trust Authority Elects New Board Officers


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (September 11, 2017) — At a meeting on September 7, 2017, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority board of trustees elected new officers. Mary Jane Michael, will serve as the board chair. Michael is a long-serving trustee and has been actively engaged in disability advocacy and community development for more than 25 years. She served as the executive director for the Office of Economic and Community Development for the Municipality of Anchorage where she oversaw city planning, public lands, and major city initiatives. She also served as the executive director for the Arc of Anchorage for nearly 20 years, advocating for services and legislation for persons with developmental and other disabilities. “I am really looking forward to leading the Trust. This is an exciting time for the Trust as we are hiring a new CEO, establishing new governance structures, and continuing to protect and grow our assets so we are able to advocate and fund programs that benefit our beneficiaries,” said Michael.

Vice chair is Christopher Cooke. Cooke lived and worked in Bethel for more than 30 years where, both as a private attorney and for 10 years as a State Superior Court Judge, he traveled extensively to Alaska’s small towns and villages. Moving to Anchorage in the late 1990s, he continued to represent clients primarily from rural Alaska until retiring in 2016.

Secretary is Laraine Derr. Derr is a Juneau resident who spent much of her career in public service. She served two years as director of the Alaska Boards and Commissions Office. Prior to that, she was president and CEO for the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association and also previously served as commissioner of the Department of Revenue.

The Trust is overseen by a seven-member board of trustees. Trustees are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature. Trustees provide oversight and direction in achieving the mission of the Trust by managing principal and assets of the Trust, preserving and protecting the corpus while maximizing income now and in the future, and investing income and using assets to fulfill the Trust’s purpose.

About the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority

The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority is a state corporation that administers the Mental Health Trust, a perpetual trust created to ensure that Alaska has a comprehensive mental health program to serve people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chronic alcoholism and other substance related disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, and traumatic brain injury that results in permanent brain injury. The Trust operates much like a private foundation, using its resources to fund system change, demonstration projects, funding partnerships, technical assistance and Trust-initiated projects.

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