KINGSTON – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan has announced the appointment of Tara McDonald as Mental Health Commissioner. McDonald, who currently serves as Acting Mental Health Commissioner, has overseen mental health work for Ulster County as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Health and Mental Health since 2017. Prior to his job in the county, McDonald served for more than a decade. at the New York State Office of Mental Health. In the 2022 Ulster County Budget, County Executive Pat Ryan restored a fully functional Mental Health Department, helping to make mental health services a top priority.
“Tara McDonald is a dedicated public servant who will bring tremendous experience, knowledge and compassion to the vital task of providing our residents with the mental health care they need and deserve,” said County Executive, Pat Ryan. “At a time when we see more and more of our residents struggling with mental health and addiction, Tara is the right person to be at the helm to help us step up our game and recommit Ulster County to providing quality mental health care. ”
“The prospect of being able to serve the community in which I live, work and raise my daughter is the greatest honor of my career,” said Tara McDonald. “I am grateful to County Executive Ryan for the appointment, and I am fully prepared to lead the Department of Mental Health in the effort to help Ulster County residents achieve and maintain a optimal mental health, in these very difficult times.”
“Expanding mental health services in Ulster County is essential to the health of our community and is at the heart of our work at Access, where we tailor supports to the behavioral health needs of each individual and family. ,” Ron Colavito, president and CEO of Access: Supports for Living, mentioned. “Working with Tara McDonald on initiatives such as the Ulster County Mobile Mental Health Team and other crisis response services, we know that her compassion, management experience and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter are exactly the qualifications needed to lead Ulster County’s new Mental Health Department. We are huge Tara fans and enthusiastically support her nomination.
Most recently, McDonald served as chair of the Behavioral Health Task Force, a group of nearly 30 leaders from the mental health and addictions care community. The task force has produced a document, based on nearly five months of gathering expert opinions and frank discussions among themselves and with the public, that identifies existing gaps in the mental health and addictions care system. while offering solutions to support and expand current services.
“As Chair of the Ulster County Community Services Board, I am pleased to extend our congratulations and support to Tara McDonald on her appointment as Mental Health Commissioner,” Barbara Hill said. “Tara has developed an excellent team of knowledgeable staff over the past few years as Deputy Commissioner of Health and Mental Health. The Board of Directors is grateful for a strong collaborative relationship with Tara and looks forward to helping strengthen existing services and providing assistance in the development of new and innovative services.
McDonald received a bachelor’s degree from SUNY at Stony Brook and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Marist College and a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University. McDonald is a resident of the City of Kingston.
Last month, in Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan’s third State of the County Address, he announced his administration was beginning reinvestments in mental health services that were proposed in the 2022 Executive Budget. , restoring a fully functional mental health department. , and become one of the first counties in the state to build a Crisis Stabilization Center.
Earlier this week, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced that applications for a crisis stabilization center were being accepted until April 7. The construction of a Crisis Stabilization Center was one of the key recommendations of the Ulster County Behavioral Health Task Force, which published a report in September 2021, and was announced by the County Executive Ryan as a top priority in the 2022 Executive Budget Speech. Tara McDonald’s nomination is pending confirmation from the Ulster County Legislature.