OACBHA Announces Leadership Transition

OACBHA Announces Leadership Transition:

Cheri L. Walter plans to retire, Liz Henrich selected to serve as next CEO

After 22 years of dedicated service to the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA), CEO, Cheri L. Walter, has announced her planned retirement. Since Cheri was appointed as the first CEO of OACBHA she has been integral in creating and leading the organization. Her retirement marks the end of an era, while opening the door to a new chapter and opportunities for OACBHA.
Cheri’s service to OACBHA began as three former behavioral health associations decided to merge into one, to ensure that local ADAMHS boards were speaking with one voice. Cheri established the Association’s office and worked with the executive council and the members to establish a working vision, mission, values, and goals as the Association began its work as one entity.

Throughout her tenure Cheri helped boards navigate the many changes to Ohio’s behavioral health system. This included seeing seven Community Mental Health, seven Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Boards, and 43 Mental Health and Addiction Boards become 50 combined Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Boards serving all 88 counties; the lifting of Medicaid from Boards to the state; Medicaid Expansion; dealing with Ohio’s opiate and addiction epidemic; and working to address Ohio’s mental health crisis. During her time as the CEO at OACBHA, she has helped Ohio's ADAMH Boards to continue to evolve and meet the demands of local communities.

Under Cheri’s Leadership, OACBHA with its member Boards, created the Culture of Quality peer certification program, that provides for Boards to be certified by ensuring that they are meeting over 150 standards that look at fiscal, program, and operational functions, setting new benchmarks for board operations.

Cheri also worked to establish a yearly, nationally recognized opiate conference, and an annual recovery conference that allows individuals in recovery to celebrate and strengthen their recovery.

Throughout her career, Cheri has been open about her recovery, and has been an unwavering advocate for families and children needing help, along with celebrating individuals who have experienced mental illness and/or addiction who are now in recovery. Cheri has also worked to reduce stigma and normalize recovery.

OACBHA would like to express its heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Cheri for her outstanding contributions and leadership. Her collaboration with behavioral health stakeholders and policymakers across Ohio has been instrumental in advancing our mission and achieving positive outcomes for Ohioan’s dealing with mental health and addiction issues.

Cheri’s retirement will take place in July 2024, with the beginning of the new state fiscal year. 

After a months-long screening and interview process, the OACBHA Executive Council is pleased to announce that Liz Henrich has been selected to serve as the Association’s next Chief Executive Officer. Henrich will assume the role in July. 

Liz has been employed at OACBHA since the fall of 2006, most recently serving as an Associate CEO. During her tenure at OACBHA she has spearheaded advocacy activities, managed multiple grants, guided policy discussions, coordinated conferences and events, and established lasting relationships with partners and stakeholders. She has a wealth of expertise and experience working with Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Boards and stakeholders throughout the mental health and addiction system. 

Liz brings strong policy and operational knowledge to the role. She has a bachelor’s degree in business from Carroll College in Helena, MT and a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Ohio State University. Like many others, Liz’s family experience with mental illness and addiction helps drive her passion for this work. 

Cheri and Liz are committed to working with the OACBHA Membership to ensure a smooth and successful handover of leadership for the association.