Genesis Behavioral Health Elects New Board Members, Announces Award Recipients (668 w/ 2 three col photos Genesis Holbrook, Genesis Harris)

LACONIA — The Board of Directors of Genesis Behavioral Health welcomed two new members at its 47th Annual Meeting, held on October 22 at The Common Man Inn & Spa in Plymouth.

The new members include Cinda Shepard of Gilford and Kim Sperry of Meredith. Ms. Shepard is employed by Wellpoint – Blue Cross of California in the Information Technology department, and is pursuing her Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Plymouth State University. Ms. Sperry is the Executive Vice President of the Lakes Region Tourism Association, and brings experience in fundraising, public relations, and marketing to the Board.

Susan Stearns, Board President, said "With the addition of their leadership, we are well-prepared to meet the challenges facing the community mental health system in New Hampshire."

Genesis Behavioral Health honored two community leaders for their commitment to mental health. Each year, the Helen Holbrook Leadership and Service Award is presented to an individual who leads by example and gives of themselves to strengthen the cause of mental health in the Lakes Region. This year's recipient was Ellen Wolff, RN, MS, who serves as the Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice-President of Patient Care Services at LRGHealthcare. Ms. Wolff was instrumental in advocating for and establishing the Designated Receiving Facility at Franklin Regional Hospital and has been a partner in ensuring a continuum of care for people with mental illness.

"It's an honor to receive an award named after Helen Holbrook, one of our community's true leaders," noted Ms. Wolff, "I will continue to be a champion for mental health and look forward to a continued partnership between LRGHealthcare and Genesis Behavioral Health."

Genesis Behavioral Health also recognizes an individual who promotes increased awareness, sensitivity, understanding and acceptance of mental health issues in the Lakes Region with the Dr. George "Pete" Harris Community Service Award. This award, named after the physician who founded Genesis Behavioral Health, was presented to Deb Naro, Executive Director of CADY, Inc. and a former State Representative.

Ms. Naro is an advocate for mental health and substance abuse, and her work helps local youth make safe and healthy choices by partnering with schools, parents, youth, and communities to prevent and reduce youth alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. "The Harris award is very meaningful and personally significant because my heart is dedicated to community," stated Ms. Naro, "I believe the most effective solutions come from the grassroots, and the award represents this ideal."

"It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to work with these two women, both of whom have done so much for their community and for mental health," said Maggie Pritchard, Executive Director of Genesis Behavioral Health, "Their energy, leadership, and perseverance are an asset to the Lakes Region, and our organization is fortunate to have them as advocates and friends."

Attendees participated in the last night of bidding for Genesis Behavioral Health's 3rd Annual Mental Illness Awareness Auction, which raised over $8,500 to support programs and services for people living with – and recovering from – mental illness.

"The auction isn't possible without the generosity of our community," said Kristen Welch, Director of Development & Communications, "We are grateful to Bank of New Hampshire, 98.3 LNH, WEMJ, The Hawk, Northway Bank, and The Standard for serving as sponsors for this event, to the many businesses and individuals who donated items and services, and to the bidders. We look forward to another successful auction in 2014."

Genesis Behavioral Health is designated by the State of New Hampshire as the community mental health center serving Belknap and southern Grafton Counties. A private, non-profit organization, Genesis serves over 3,000 individuals each year. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 524-1100.