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TDMHSAS Announces New Roles, New Faces

New Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners Announced
Monday, January 08, 2018 | 09:49am

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is reorganizing one of its divisions under new leadership and adding a new deputy commissioner and a new assistant commissioner.

Matt Yancey is moving into a new role as Deputy Commissioner for Behavioral Health Community Programs.  He started with TDMHSAS in 2015 as Director of Special Projects and most recently served as Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Mental Health Services.  Yancey moves into the position held by former Deputy Commissioner Sejal West who resigned her position in early January after seven years of dedicated service to TDMHSAS.

Rich Coté, Ph.D. joins TDMHSAS as the new Assistant Commissioner for Substance Abuse Services.  He has extensive experience in organizational management with special expertise in behavioral healthcare.  Dr. Coté’s career includes 22 years of active-duty service with the U.S. Air Force.  He retired from military service in 1993 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 

As the department marks the retirement of Assistant Commissioner Marthagem Whitlock after a distinguished 41 year career with TDMHSAS, the Division of Planning, Research, and Forensics will be reorganized.  Planning, Policy, and Legislation will be united under new Assistant Commissioner Kurt Hippel.  Hippel’s service with TDMHSAS includes nearly a decade serving as the department’s voice in the legislature.  He will be working closely with the department’s new Legislative Liaison, Jim Layman who comes to TDMHSAS from the Department of Health.  

The Office of Forensics and Juvenile Court Services, under the leadership of Director Jeff Feix, Ph.D., will move under Bo Turner, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner of Operations and Hospital Services.  The Office of Research, under the leadership of Director Karen Edwards, Ph.D., will move under Matt Yancey, Deputy Commissioner of Behavioral Health Community Programs.

“All of these changes and more position us to produce the innovative solutions that Tennesseans facing mental health and substance abuse disorders need,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams.  “I am so happy to add Dr. Coté to our team and watch Matt Yancey and Kurt Hippel excel in their new roles.  My team truly shares the drive and passion to make our department’s vision a reality.”