Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority CEO resigns

The Detroit News

The president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority said he has resigned his post to seek out other opportunities.

Tom Watkins, in a Friday email, said he will finish out his contract and hopes to “find another leadership role where I can add value and make a difference.” The resignation is effective Aug. 31.

In a Thursday letter to the board, Watkins, who started in 2013, wrote he decided against an offered contract extension, but will work with the board staff “to facilitate a smooth transition.”

In four years, the authority, which offers treatment and support to about 80,000 people, has paid off legacy debt, generated tens of millions in new revenue and made other strides, he noted.

Watkins wrote he “takes great pride” in the accomplishments which also include mental health first aid training, crisis mobilization teams, and the production of award-winning anti-stigma documentaries.

“The improvements to both operations and service are remarkable and universally acknowledged,” Watkins wrote.

The board on Friday thanked Watkins for his service and said it wishes him well on future endeavors.

“DWMHA board and staff has made tremendous strides since becoming an independent Authority over the past four years,” Board Chairman Herbert Smitherman said. “Under the guidance of an extremely talented and dedicated Authority team we will continue to lead our organization, putting the community’s needs first as we uphold quality service in our system of care.”

He previously served as deputy director of administration, chief deputy and director of the state department of mental health under Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard. Watkins also has been state superintendent of schools.

The authority’s Board of Directors noted it’s established a strategic plan and is set to seek Watkins’ replacement soon.