DMH Director Search

Director of Department of Mental Health Announces Retirement

On Tuesday, October 12, the Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH), Mark Stringer, announced his plans to retire January 1, 2022. He leaves after giving more than 34 years of service to the mental health field, with 24 years at DMH including the last seven as Director. More information can be found in the full announcement.

The Missouri Mental Health Commission began a national search for a new Director on Friday, October 15, 2021. Commission Chair, Teresa Coyan will lead the search process which includes assembling a group of statewide representatives from behavioral health and developmental disabilities stakeholder organizations. The Commission expects to have a new Director hired to begin in January 2022.

More information regarding the search process can be found in 630.015 RSMo. For any additional information contact Debra Walker at or at (573) 751-1647.

Job Description

The Missouri Department of Mental Health is seeking a State Department Director. The seven-member Mental Health Commission, made up of citizens that are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, appoints the Missouri Department of Mental Health Director, again with confirmation of the Missouri State Senate.

With advice from the Commission, the Director is responsible for overall Department operations and programs in three divisions: Division of Behavioral Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities, and Division of Administrative Services. The Department has annual budget of over $2.5 billion and more than 6,500 FTE.

The Department of Mental Health Director oversees a department which serves approximately 170,000 Missourians annually through state-operated facilities and contracts with private organizations and individuals. State operated facilities include six psychiatric hospitals, four habilitation centers, three community support agencies, regional offices, a crisis program, and the Sexually Violent Predator program.

Full Job Description


October 12, 2021
Announcement of Mark Stringer’s Retirement

October 15, 2021
Mental Health Commission begins national search for Director Position

October 30, 2021
Stakeholder Advisory Panel of 12-15 individuals finalized 

November 5, 2021
All applications must be received by Close of Business (5:00 p.m.)

November & December 2021
Stakeholder Advisory Panel conducts interviews
Mental Health Commission conducts interviews

January 1, 2022
New Director begins duties

Stakeholder Advisory Panel

Mental Health Commission announces Stakeholders for the Advisory Panel

The Missouri Mental Health Commission announced on November 1, 2021, the names of those who will serve on the Advisory Search Panel for the new Department of Mental Health Director search. The following 15 individuals were chosen by their statewide organizations to represent the fields of behavioral health and developmental disabilities.

Jessica Bax, Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities
Dr. John Constantino, former Mental Health Commissioner
Teresa Coyan, Mental Health Commissioner
Ladell Flowers, Missouri Coalition of Recovery Support Providers
Dr. Rick Gowdy, retired, Department of Mental Health, Division of Behavioral Health
Jeff Grosvenor, Missouri Associations of Rehabilitation Facilities (MARF)
Dana Hockensmith, Mental Health Commissioner
Denise Mills, Missouri Advisory Council, Mental Health Disorders Committee
Nancy Pennington, Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services
Ida Rosser, Department of Mental Health, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
Mark Schwartz, Missouri Behavioral Health Council
Animesh Shah, Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities
David Stoecker, Missouri Advisory Council, Substance Use Disorders Committee
Gena Terlizzi, NAMI Missouri
Lynne Unnerstall, Mental Health Commissioner

The Advisory Search Panel will serve as an advisory group for the entire Mental Health Commission. The panel, chaired by Teresa Coyan, will review applications and recommend individuals to the Mental Health Commission. The final decision will be made by the Mental Health Commission after it conducts its own interviews with the top candidates.