The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Board of Trustees elected three new officers last week, including a new chair of the board of trustees.
Mary Jane Michael, a longtime trustee and former executive director for the Office of Economic and Community Development for the Municipality of Anchorage, was elected the new board chair. She’s spent more than a quarter-century engaged in disability advocacy and community development, having been the executive director for the Arc of Anchorage for nearly 20 years, advocating for services for those with disabilities.
The board of trustees also elected Christopher Cooke as its vice chair and Laraine Derr as its secretary. Cooke worked as a private attorney and a State Superior Court Judge before retiring in 2016. Derr, a Juneau resident, is the former director of the Alaska Boards and Commissions office and former president and CEO for the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association.
There are seven trustees on the board, all of whom are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature. Trustees provide oversight and direction for the Trust, which provides services for Alaskans living with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chronic alcoholism and other disorders.